Ti-84+ Graphing Calculators Get Color!

After, I don’t know, 20 years of monochrome?

Ah graphing calculators, those expensive little gadgets we buy as children for our advanced math courses. These big screen gadgets were capable of graphing points, calculating long problems, and course, installing MirageOS or some form of ION shell to play assembly games on. For many young geeks, the plastic device was also their first introduction to the world of programming via TI-BASIC and perhaps, assembly:

Still, despite ongoing improvements in mobile graphics, processors, and display technologies in the past decade, Texas Instruments hasn’t been very keen on improving the performance on the machines (while keeping the price the same).

Of course, Why should they improve it? With school testing regulations set by the American ETS on calculator functionality, extra performance could lead to their precious product being banned. Thus, each new iteration of the Ti-83 (1996), from the Ti-83+ (1999) to the Ti-84+ Silver Edition (2004), have had small, incremental improvements. For instance, the Zilog z80 processor inside the Ti-84+ SE only runs at 15 MHz, an incredible improvement of just 9 MHz from the Ti-83’s 6 MHz z80.

Despite this, they at least shared a similar trait to the IBM Model M keyboard: durability. 8th grade middle school students aren’t exactly the most careful bunch when it comes to electronics, and there are plenty of dings and scratches on the cover shell. Even after all this abuse, my 12-year-old Ti-83+ still functions to this day.

Times are changing however, and this time, TI has decided on jumping. Perhaps buoyed by the color-equipped Ti-Nspire CX, Texas Instruments has finally confirmed the development of the Ti-84+ C Silver Edition, the first color model for the z80 line of calculators shown here:

Since the battery drain will be greater, I’m expecting TI to also equip this one with a rechargeable battery instead of having to swap out quad-AAAs every so often. No word yet on internal specifications, but one would expect a significant memory upgrade.

It does however, come at an odd time with Texas Instruments trying to shift educators to the Ti-Nspire series; we’ll see how this develops. Until then, I’m waiting for a color port of Patrick Davidson’s Phoenix for z80.