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TI vs. Calculator Hackers 463

Nyall writes "So a bunch of TI calculator programming enthusiasts got together to factor the keys Texas Instruments uses to sign the operating system binaries for the ti83+ (a z80 architecture) and the ti89/v200 (a 68k architecture) series of calculators. Now Texas Instruments is sending out DMCA notices to take them down."
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TI vs Calculator Hackers

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  • first post (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:29AM (#29491917)
  • Math (Score:5, Funny)

    by daveywest ( 937112 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:32AM (#29491959)
    Somehow, this just doesn't add up.
  • Wikileaks link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brian Gordon ( 987471 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:33AM (#29491971)

    I'm a lurker in that community and I have to say I'm extremely disappointed with TI. The community has had to reverse engineer every component of the hardware with no help from TI, and has done an amazing job writing development tools and mapping out which memory addresses do what.

    Here's the wikileaks link [wikileaks.org] to the keys.

    • Re:Wikileaks link (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:39AM (#29492045)

      And thousands of people will mirror it....

      What will they do with people outside the US where the DMCA does not apply?

      The ease of which students can make their own programs is one of the reasons my college asked us to buy TI-brand calculators and not Casio (which is the other choice they give.. hp is not supported at all :-p)


      • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:52AM (#29492233) Homepage

        What will they do with people outside the US where the DMCA does not apply?

        Get the US government to invade them?

      • Re:Wikileaks link (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:55AM (#29492259)

        And here's the Freenet [freenetproject.org] key for the zip file: freenet:CHK@cua6vt6OGoe8dBOY2D4PR13jt~FvyvmHlMJKXPcXUgs,gFqVGC6lWjlSdE0cizGzWcyE5Y9f5J0QyWo-GNmLluY,AAIC--8/keys.zip

      • by TrentTheThief ( 118302 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:15PM (#29492553)

        I wonder if it's mirrored here: http://crystalwind.com/index.html [crystalwind.com]

      • No HP??? (Score:5, Funny)

        by volpe ( 58112 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:48PM (#29492987)

        hp is not supported at all

        I that they so shortsighted would be can't believe!

      • Re:Wikileaks link (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @01:02PM (#29493169) Homepage Journal

        The DMCA doesn't protect hardware in the U.S., either. Since AFAIK TI doesn't sell copyrighted software that is protected by DRM, this is clearly not a DMCA violation, and unless TI's lawyers haven't read any of the cases that have clarified this beyond a reasonable doubt, it also qualifies TI for perjury charges for deliberately making a false DMCA claim---not that any attorney general will actually have the guts to make an example of them....

        IMHO, all these folks need to do is file a proper DMCA counter notice and then go about their business. Of course, IANAL, and they should consider getting advise from one.

      • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @01:16PM (#29493371)

        What will they do with people outside the US where the DMCA does not apply?

        Put them on a hacker terrorist watch list and disappear them the next time they partake in a terrorist training camp (e.g. a math conference).

    • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:53AM (#29492247) Homepage

      While the TI engineers would probably be happy to share the info, a bunch of management suits still living in the 1960s want to keep everything secret and in-house because they're sure They Know Best as to what everyone wants. Well we all know where this sort of blinkered thinking leads - users eventually just give you the finger and move elsewhere especially if a large part of your core market is the very type of hacker (in the old sense of the word) that they want to stop.

      And who are they kidding anyway , these are just fscking calculators! They can't even argue that installing new stuff on them is going to lose them any income anyway. Its not like the average user upgrades his calculator OS every year!

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:00PM (#29492337) Journal
        The weird thing is that TI is actually quite good about open source support in other divisions. They make OMAP reference platforms available at very reasonable price (BeagleBoard, OMAPzoom) for open source hackers.
      • by 644bd346996 ( 1012333 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:03PM (#29492381)

        The TI calculator division is all about placating teachers and standardized testing agencies. If it's too easy to install custom software in a relatively undetectable fashion, then the calculators won't be approved for testing and classroom use.

        It's not TI that's the control freaks - it's the teachers.

        • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:42PM (#29492901) Homepage Journal
          It is about teachers and standardized testing, and that is one of the reasons why the software in the TI calculator needs to be secure. But it is unlikely the primary reason. Prior to use on test, TI has an application that clear the calculator to essentially factory state. This application only runs from the calculator installed, and cannot be transferred to other calculators. This calculator could be modified to actually reinstall an OS, which would be time consuming, but the safest thing to do for testing. Control freak teachers do run the application. Most don't. Real control freak teachers don't even let students use a calculator because there is nothing a calculator can do that a students should not be able to do faster. It takes more time to put in the equation of a graph or table than to just find the roots or the regression equation by hand. The problem is those middle of the road teachers that have sympathy for the students who can't add two integers, but still want them to, at least in some cases, manipulate variables by hand.

          The desire to keep the code secure is in a fact a desire to insure sales. For instance, the TI application for the computer is not free, and, IIRC, not site licensed. If the ROM were available, like it is on most of the HP calculators, then someone could easily develop an OSS application and make drive TI sales away. I know that some applications are available, but they require a calculator to download the ROM, and the solutions are not as elegant as the HP calculator.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by s73v3r ( 963317 )
            I don't know if I'd put the teachers that don't allow calculators on tests in the "control freak" category. When I was in college, some of the most laid back teachers were of that variety. Typically, they'd make up problems such that you shouldn't need a calculator to solve them, unless you really sucked at arithmetic, in which case they'd have some dumb calculators available.
        • by I'm not really here ( 1304615 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:44PM (#29492921)
          If it's that much of a concern, why don't the schools have a set of TI calculators that are available for standardized tests? Stagger the testing properly, and you don't actually need one for each student. This way, the student has their own calculator, can do whatever they want with it for homework, etc, but for testing purposes, they are required to use the school's TI hardware and software.

          If the school is concerned with the costs involved, I'm sure they could work a deal with TI to receive the "in-class only" calculators for free or at cost. I mean, if you think about it, free (pirated) copies of Windows is the main reason for the success of the Windows operating system... most likely, having easy access to TI calculators in school would get students comfortable with them, and would likely boost TI's market share... it's a win-win situation, and TI can wholeheartedly support the hack/homebrew crowd at the same time without worrying the teachers.
        • by HeronBlademaster ( 1079477 ) <heron@xnapid.com> on Monday September 21, 2009 @01:10PM (#29493285) Homepage

          If it's too easy to install custom software in a relatively undetectable fashion, then the calculators won't be approved for testing and classroom use.

          They're already disallowed by many teachers because students learned they can simply type their notes into the calculator. (Who needs to remember equations when the calculator stores them for you?) The TI-89 and TI-92 are not allowed in ACT tests because they're designed to allow note-taking (the 92 more than the 89, but still). (That particular requirement made my parents buy a new TI-83+, even though I already had a TI-89.)

          Honestly I've always disagreed with resistance to calculator use. Why can't I use a calculator to do calculus, or physics? The hard part isn't remembering the equations, anyway; the hard part is remembering which equation to use. Storing the list of equations in the calculator doesn't magically make you know which equation to use, it just helps you remember what the equations are in the first place. Sure, you could probably type notes into the calculator telling you which to use when, but all that effort is going to make you learn it anyway, so it most likely wouldn't make a difference.

          I always hated losing points because I transposed two numbers or something somewhere in the calculation (which would not have happened had I been using a calculator), or because I'm simply terrible at doing math by hand. I honestly have no idea how I got a 4 on that AP Calculus test.

          If I were hiring someone for a position that required a lot of math, and he proudly declared that he never uses a calculator, I don't think I would hire him. I would want my employees to use calculators - even if only to check their work.

          Um... end rant.

    • Re:Wikileaks link (Score:4, Insightful)

      by VernonNemitz ( 581327 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:03PM (#29492377) Journal
      TI is certainly mistaken about the reach of Copyright Law in this matter. Out of all the code in a calculator, which they might copyright, then according to that Law, it is:
      A. Fair Use to publish two numbers!
      B. Not Applicable if the numbers were never in the calculator code!
      • Even worse, how can publishing two primes which multiply into a particular third number be unlawful? It's just a math result, you HP crooks! :p Now get over it and design stuff that people want.
  • Worst move ever, (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Icegryphon ( 715550 )
    If TI really wants to sell them calculators they would push the hobbyist market more.
    Instead they stifle the enthusiast groups, but whatever I never really got into TI programming and hacking anyways.
    • Exactly. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:36AM (#29492009) Journal

      If they want to be as successful as HP calculators, they need to do more to encourage more enthusiasts...

      • Re:Exactly. (Score:4, Informative)

        by plague911 ( 1292006 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:40AM (#29492059)
        They are more successful than HP calculators. As a MS/Phd engineering student I haven't seen a HP calculator in 6 years except at a store.
        • Perhaps you didn't see the "ellipsis of sarcasm" at the end of the sentence.

        • by maillemaker ( 924053 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:19PM (#29492591)

          I've been using HP scientific calculators since the 32S (the one that opened up like a book). At the time, in 1989, they were state-of-the-art, and math teachers had no idea that they could do definite and indefinite integration and differentiation.

          Now, of course, math teachers have figured out that modern calculators are essentially full-blown computers. The last calculus course I took a year ago did not allow any calculators, but the last time I was in a math class that allowed them only TI calculators were allowed. I could not use my HP50G as it was too powerful and would enable me to cheat.

          I think we've seen the end of high-end calculator development because the main market of those devices - college students - can't use them anymore in their classes.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            While math classes like calculus and ODEs typically ban calculators from tests, there are still all kinds of chemistry, physics, and engineering classes where a 50g is both allowed and incredibly useful for homework and tests. More than any other feature, the efficient units system in the 50g really helped me in physics and was a great check that my calculations were correct.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by virtualXTC ( 609488 )
          I still have my HP48G (sitting right in front of me). I can't stand working with non-RPN calcuators.
      • In my 4 years of undergrad and beyond (started as a EE major and switched to chemistry), I never saw a HP calc.

        • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

          I once saw an HP calc in the discount bin at office depot. Buried deep, under a pile of rubbish, scrawled on the back in angry sharpie it read:
          Not a TI-83!
          I left it there and went to find a TI calc

        • In my 4 years of undergrad and beyond (started as a EE major and switched to chemistry), I never saw a HP calc.

          That's really sad. But from the looks of those on the HP website, I can see why. Some don't even have an Enter key. Most look like they're something else that's been re-badged "HP", except for the 35s which seems to have gone the new Mustang/Challenger/Camero/Mini Cooper route. The rest look as toy-like as the TIs.

    • by qoncept ( 599709 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:41AM (#29492061) Homepage
      I really have to wonder what dope modded the parent post as insightful. Enthusiasts aren't any manufacturer's target audience. There are (say) 10 million kids who need a graphing calculator for college or high school, and (say) 100 that are hacking them. Claiming those few are the key to success is just plain wrong.
      • by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:58AM (#29492309)

        Those few calculator hackers (there are a lot more than 100 of them; they're a minority, but not that small a one) aren't just a few users. They're busy writing games and other useful programs. Those programs appear on just about every TI calculator out there, and plenty of people who aren't even remotely enthusiasts or geeks are using them. The enthusiasts have a disproportionate influence on how popular the platform is, because they make it more useful for everyone.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          The point isn't that they're the target market, but that they are somewhat useful and completely harmless. I hacked on every calculator I used (you have to do something while watching the dry as paint lectures and they're an allowed tool in school. Hey, perhaps I do think this English lecture needs some mathematical analysis, who are you to judge?) and I have no earthly idea how exploring their deeper workings did any harm at all to the maker. Also, this is the group that will (I've noticed) be asked what c
      • Those 100 release things that make the calculator more useful to the millions of others.

        TI is in the business of selling calculators, and only makes an OS for it because a calculator this sophisticated without an OS is just a circuit board. If a bunch of hackers wants to make a better OS, it's in TI's best interest to let them.

        • Because those '100' other features aren't certified, tested or controlled.

          As someone said above, if you let in a ton of extra features, this won't be certified for use on standardized tests. When I took it the TI-89 was allowed on the SAT.

          Imagine a hacker putting in 100x extra functions which could do almost anything the CPU could handle, including stuff the original TI-89 couldn't do AND that the SAT board doesn't want it to do. Is it TI's fault? Is the student 'cheating'?

          It wouldn't be too hard to create

      • Really, that's funny because who is it that implements software that the manufacturer didn't think of or didn't want to spend time on? It's kind of an odd statement to make, because having a thriving enthusiast community is something which sells an awful lot of units. People tend to be pretty jaded about certain things like marketing, having enthusiasts to make the recommendations and help out new owners is a pretty significant resource to have.
    • I have to agree. I never got much into writing my own apps for my calculators (which have been predominantly TI - I started on a TI-83 in high school and moved to a TI-89 in college), but man on man did I download and install a lot of community apps. They really added a lot of usefulness to the machine (particularly the TI-83 whose built in feature set was very lacking compared to the TI-89). If those apps weren't available I likely would have looked for a calculator that did have them.

      It's strange too t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sunking2 ( 521698 )
        This is exactly why they are not a big fan. The reality is there is very little difference hardware wise in the lesser and more expensive models. If all you need to do is upgrade some software to get your cheaper model to behave like the more expensive then TI loses a ton of money. It's all about trying to get people to upgrade to a model with a higher profit margin.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hatta ( 162192 ) *

          Personally, I'm appalled that kids are still using the TI-83, and it still costs about $100. I used a TI-83 in high school, almost 15 years ago, and it cost $100 back then too. Haven't we had any advances in calculator technology since then?

          Someone needs to get the DOJ on these guys for anti-trust violations. This is clear evidence of an abusive monopoly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        This isn't about 3rd party apps. This is about signing for the OS.

        TI doesn't care what programs you write, in assembly OR TI-Basic. They do care if you overwrite their OS.

  • by gblues ( 90260 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:35AM (#29492003)

    Texas Instruments makes damn fine graphing calculators, but would it be so hard to write a damn x64 driver? I can't use the USB interface with either my home PC or my laptop because both are running x64 (7 Pro on the desktop, Vista Home Premium on the laptop). And I'll be damned if I go back to 32 bits just to make the calculator happy.

    I did googling and didn't find anything existing; has anyone tackled writing a homebrew x64 USB driver? I think all the information needed is already out there, but I don't have the time/motivation to write the driver myself (especially having never written a driver before).

  • Streisand Effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:35AM (#29492005) Homepage

    You'd have thought that Texas Instruments would have learned when the Blu-Ray consortium tried to stop the spread of the '09 F9 ...' key.

  • by zavyman ( 32136 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:39AM (#29492043)

    It's highly unlikely that the factors of an RSA private key are subject to copyright protection. Therefore the groups may have a viable claim for DMCA misrepresentation under subsection (f):

    (f) MISREPRESENTATIONS- Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under this section--
        (1) that material or activity is infringing, or
        (2) that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification,
    shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys' fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner's authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it.

    Texas Instruments may just have Diebolded [eff.org] itself.

    • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:50AM (#29492205)


      Wouldn't this be more likely come under the circumvention of cryptographic protection techniques which the DMCA also outlaws?

      • by zavyman ( 32136 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:03PM (#29492379)

        Two sections of Title 17 (Copyrights) are relevant. 17 USC 512 (safe harbor) and 17 USC 1201 (anti-circumvention). The notice [brandonw.net] is styled as one under 17 USC 512:

        It has come to our attention that the web site www.brandonw.net, contains material and/or links to material that violate the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"). This letter is to notify you, in accordance with the provisions of the DMCA, of these unlawful activities. Pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, we request that you remove any whole or partial reproductions of and/or disable links to the following:


        I hereby confirm that I have a good faith belief that use of the Illegal Material in the manner complained of in this letter is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law, that the information in this letter is accurate, and that, under penalty of perjury, I am authorized to act on behalf of TI, the owner of the exclusive rights in the TI-83 Plus operating system software that are allegedly misappropriated using unlawful methods.

        TI appears to be claiming that the copyright in the TI-83 Plus operating system software is infringing. This therefore appears to be a notice under 512(c)(3). Anti-circumvention is a totally different section of the copyright code, 1201. There is no takedown procedure for access control circumvention materials.

        But with regards to anti-circumvention claims: It appears that TI is claiming that the signing keys circumvent a "technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title." This is a term of art.

        (A) to "circumvent a technological measure" means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and

        (B) a technological measure "effectively controls access to a work" if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.

        Are signing keys necessary to gain access to the TI 83 Plus operating system binary? As far as I know, no. My understanding is that they are only used to prepare operating system images for installation onto the calculator.

        • by Cubeman ( 530448 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:32PM (#29492757)
          The keys are not required to access the binary. There is no encryption; the keys are just to verify that the OS image hasn't been corrupted. The entire binary has always been completely accessible from both the PC side (before transferring) as well as on the calculator. Furthermore, the community has had the ability to load its own operating systems on the TI-83 Plus since 2002. TI had stated in 2004 that they had no problem with independent third-party OSes being loaded, as long as (understandably) no one distributed modified TI OS files. The only new development here is that third-party operating systems can now be loaded onto the calculators without any hacks or preparation. In other words, they can be loaded in a user-friendly manner like the TI OS is loaded, and transmitted from calculator-to-calculator without having to run a special program beforehand. This is a huge deal in gaining acceptance for third-party operating systems, because end users do not want to have to pull out a battery during validation or run a strange program before loading the OS. They'd rather just click and be done.
    • And just in case, I think someone might have placed the keys, here: http://crystalwind.com/index.html [crystalwind.com]

  • This is about calculator keys, right?

    That shark jumping thing has just happened. DMCA, please go home now. You're drunk and you're scaring the remaining guest, the family dog and our kids are shuddering in their bedrooms in fear.

    Also. . , you want a calculator hack? I'll give you a calculator hack!

    Type the following number. . . "07734" on your calculator and then invert the screen for a pleasant surprise!!!!!

    (Ooooh, it's so exciting and. . , welcoming!)


  • subterfuge (Score:5, Funny)

    by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:46AM (#29492137) Homepage Journal

    Someone in TI's legal dept. who knows what the Streisand Effect is wants these keys publicized.

    Well, we can hope that's the reason.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2009 @11:50AM (#29492213)

    I'm shocked to hear that TI is even bothering to sign things. What exactly could be in a calculator that you would want to protect from hackers or end users?

    "Oh no, a virus has replaced all my Fourier transforms with Laplace transforms!"

    • When I was in college, we weren't even allowed to use calculators with memory, and in some exams we had to use slide rules only.

      Someone could be sneaking in exam answers in a ROM that didn't show up until you entered 1337 and hit "=" five times to hide it from the proctors...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThePyro ( 645161 )

      One of the reasons that TI signs things is to provide a form of copy protection for the 3rd-party applications which are sold via the online store. The calculator operating system will not run a flash application for which it does not currently have a license. The operating system binary is signed so that you can't tamper with it in order to disable the copy-protection. A modified operating system could potentially run flash applications without a license.

      As far as user-created software goes, TI doesn't

  • ...use some of my spare CPU time to help out. Any easy way?

  • by Deathlizard ( 115856 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @12:36PM (#29492817) Homepage Journal

    I've been working with Ti calcs and the Ti community for years, and Frankly, I feel that Ti have been giving us programmers a slap in the face.

    First off, they keep resurrecting the Ti-82 series of calcs with endless versions and case updates while killing off more capable OS designs like the 85 series. I have a feeling the 92 series (which inclueds the 89, 89ti, and Voyage 200) is next.

    Then, they remove program editing from their windows app as well as letting it stagnate with documented link bugs still included.

    Finally, they release the Nspire. The Nspire is such a leap backward from their previous calcs that they actually had to make a version that emulates the 83. (again with the 82 love) It has a neutered programming language. no draw support. no 3d support, removed math functions, no proper input or output channels, ETC. I don't know who this calculator is going to appeal to. K-12 don't want it cause its more expensive than an 83, Higher education doesn't want it cause it's neutered vs other calcs in it's class and programmers don't want to touch it cause it's basically useless with no SDK or useful programming language to speak of.

    I could probably talk about the SDK and it's lack of updates and support as well, but I'd rather let the Ti Flash community programmers do the talking here.

    I'm not a fan of the key facoring, because it's just going to make Ti clamp down on the community that keeps their calc business (and my hobby) alive, but I don't blame the Ti Community, Not when Ti listenes more to a 9th grade teacher whining about little Johnny playing games on his calc instead of the professor or engineer thats using his calc as a cheap portable way of processing a complex algorythm or data probe accqsition device.

  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @01:58PM (#29493975) Homepage Journal

    Sending out false DMCA notices opens up TI to some very serious penalties. And this point every member of the team can hire and lawyer and get TI to pay for it, plus be charged with some additional fines. The DMCA in this instance is not a gray area at all. There is no copyrighted being circumvented by this perfectly legal reverse engineering, and a kind of reverse engineering expressly allowed by the DMCA itself.

    I am guessing TI executives decided they didn't like something, and forced their lawyers to make a very bad legal decision. Using the DMCA to bully people works, but only if you don't trip over the DMCA itself as TI has done.

  • by Perky_Goth ( 594327 ) <paulomiguelmarques @ g m a i l . com> on Monday September 21, 2009 @05:07PM (#29496583)
    I bought (well, my parents) two calculators when I needed them because I could install whatever I felt like at the time. Without it, I probably wouldn't have cared.
    On the other hand, I see that what you sell is basically what I bought 10 years ago, so that tells me a lot about your business sense.
    However, stagnated companies usually die, no matter how much they squelch. At least the OMAP is cool.
  • by rdebath ( 884132 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @06:14PM (#29497347)

    I haven't looked a 'high end' calculators in years, I use computers all the time. I kind of knew they were still around but really, these machines are terrible!

    My expectations were, a modern cheap processor ... like the arm, possibly underclocked for power consumption; well looks like the HPs have that. An infinite amount of memory; well probably 64M each of RAM and flash. That's infinite for a calculator. And a small, but usable screen, probably 320x200x16(4) grayscale, (colour's supposed to consume a lot more power). And a pair of USB cables that allow you to connect to a PC or an external flash drive. The PC software would let you copy the entire calculator and run and program it on the PC (emulator) or the actual hardware.

    Well, These TI's with a z80 processor, sorry you only use a z80 mask nowadays if you're a complete skinflint, "high end" gear uses processors that are easier to program. The 68k sounds reasonable; but it's probably a powerhog compared to the Arm (most 32bit+ processors are).

    Probably the thing I'm most shocked about is the screen, those 132x64x2 displays are at least 15 years old and have never been big enough for a reasonable graph. But here we are stuck in the 90's or even the 80's.

    Quite simply these machines should be two chips, a screen, a load of buttons, usb connector and a battery.
    They should no longer be expensive; but are being sold for about the same prices as the smaller netbooks. Or this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GP2X_Wiz [wikipedia.org]

    They are all so very disappointing.

  • by okmijnuhb ( 575581 ) on Monday September 21, 2009 @07:37PM (#29498107)
    a classmate showed me a computation on a scientific calculator in about 1983, which caused the calculator to go blank for about 15 seconds before outputting the answer which might have been an error message.
    Does anyone know or remember that one?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by toddestan ( 632714 )

      Probably the factorial function, as that's about the most computationally intensive thing you can do on a non-programmable scientific calculator. Try 69! as that's the biggest you can do assuming that the calculator maxes out at an exponent of 99. Usually takes several seconds to several tens of seconds on slower calculators to run.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972