Epic Calculators!

PaleoPosse, I have an epic question for you today.  A question many a scientist has pondered when judging the skill and potential of fellow colleagues…

What calculator do you use?

Believe it or not, here is the calculator that I got through 4 years of undergraduate Aerospace Engineering with…

Piece of crap, right?

As I walked around my office today, I’ve recorded the broad range of calculators seen on my colleagues desks, for your enjoyment.


Ah, the venerable Ti-83 (and 84…and lets just toss in all the Texas Instrument programmable graphing calcs into this).  The Ti-8x series has kept many a high school student entertained with hours of Drug Wars and Linerider, while scorching the pockets of their parents with the price-point that never seems to drop.

Unfortunately I lost mine after High School, but whatevz…they weren’t allowed in half of my classes anyway.  HAH!


A favorite among old engineers, the HP-48 was the predecessor and main competitor to TI’s line of graphing calculators.  HP’s line of high-end calculators are notable for always including an option to use Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) to input operations.  You can think of RPN as the equivalent to Dvorak keyboards: It’s mathematically proven to be faster and more efficient at inputting data, but no one is willing to use it.

Older engineers almost exclusively use RPN, such to the point that they won’t use someone else’s calculator unless it uses RPN.


Yes, there’s a guy that I work with that actually uses this calculator.  This was apparently the first calculator that would tell you what the error was when you tried something stupid.  “DIVIDE BY ZERO”.  It was programmable and even included 4 “expansion packs”, kinda like the N64 jumper pack.

In all likelihood, this thing is probably more capable than my own current calculator, which is…

TI-30 (and subsequent models)

The original Ti-30 heralded the use of scientific calculators in primary education, as it was actually AFFORDABLE at around 25$ each (compared to 100$ for the crappiest HP calc).  Over the years, TI realized that children really hate memorizing sine and cosine tables, and that this market would be a goldmine.  So they iterated on their design, making it look less like a Dalek and more like a Hot Wheel.  The latest and greatest version of the Ti-30 (which happens to be the only multi-line calculator approved for Professional Engineering Exams), is the TI-30XS Multiview.  This is my new baby.


The Open Sci-Cal

This is going to be my next calculator…

Anyone else have an epic calculator that I missed? Shout it out in the comments?


2 Responses to Epic Calculators!

  1. PatrickNo Gravatar 17 August, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    What about the TI -9x series? Those would integrate functions for you. I never had one.

  2. Kyle U.No Gravatar 17 August, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Oh man. Patrick got to this before I did. Jacob you even asked me! I use my bad a$$ Voyage 200. Which is the new-er version of the TI-92 series. It was the sweetest piece of geek pocket computing power you could buy in 2002 when it came out. The 89-Ti edition and the newest TI calc have more memory but many of the same functions. I’ll have to think about those when my screen dies on this one. Geek ON!

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