Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Things Remembered: The TI-82

Before Blackberries, iPods, or smatphones, my generation's in-school electronic entertainment came from the TI-82 graphing calculator. Its killer app was the Programs menu, where you could setup mini-applications to handle, for example, converting Fahrenheit to Celsius or solving the quadratic equation.

Mainly, though, we used it for games. One classmate proved particularly adept at programming, creating "Guess the Number" and "FASTKEY," where you had six seconds to press a key over and over (the record holder maxed out at 82, which remains impressive). Pre-wifi, you could link your TI-82 to another via a cable, allowing for easy swapping of programs. People came back from band competitions with new games, such as Blackjack and Archery. I created a few programs of my own, mostly involving profanities.

Remarkably my calculator and the programs remained intact for more than ten years. It wasn't until this past weekend when a memory failure wiped out my archive. As it was the same weekend that I moved from the city into the suburbs, it was hard not to feel that a larger break from the past was occurring. Having long since lost the linking cable, I have no way of getting those programs back or to download new ones off the Internet.

So I bid adieu to the TI-82 and its bulky, low-tech technology. Because of you, I never really learned pre-calc or understood trigonometry. And for this, I thank you.