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Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus

Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus
We can now add 'playing music' to the list of things we can do with calculators

After we learned to master Texas Instruments' graphing calculators for tasks such as, well, graphing, we found it possible to program formula applications and some 'memory refreshing information', as I like to call it, to make things a bit easier on us during math and science exams. We then found it possible to create programs which allowed us to draw and eventually the ability to program games like Tetris, mini-golf, and even Super Mario Bros. and Wolfenstein on our little TI-xx calculators. What next?

A story posted on Engadget today informed us of yet another possibility with Texas Instruments' little plastic wonders. It seems as though a man by the name of James Montelongo, who has coded a few other small programs for TI products, has also found a way to play audio through the TI-83+ SE and TI-84 series graphing calculator products. James has also taken a demonstration video of the calculator outputting a Green Day song to his computer speakers. The video is a bit choppy but it shows James starting the music.

With so much functionality being developed into such single purpose devices today, at what point can we throw in the towel and call them PDAs?

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By ksherman on 3/22/2006 1:51:44 AM , Rating: 2
defnitely a wasted feature... Though I have to say that with out my TI-89 Titanium, I would not survive college calculus and engeneering physics...

RE: ug
By ksherman on 3/22/2006 1:54:21 AM , Rating: 2
sorry... I didnt realize at firat that it was something that was programmed... kudos to the guy that figured that out! BUT TI calcs have been able to output sounds for quite some time now

RE: ug
By Hypernova on 3/22/2006 4:24:02 AM , Rating: 2
Haha I have no such luck at University of Auckland (NZ), here calculators with advanced function are banned from exams. Anything that can store equations or are capable of graphs are banned.

RE: ug
By gooser on 3/22/2006 9:16:41 AM , Rating: 2
LOL, same here at GT, I just sit behind the biggest guy in class and put my TI-89 right up behind one even knows.

RE: ug
By Xenoterranos on 3/22/2006 9:42:07 AM , Rating: 2
HA! My Computer Architecture teacher said that if we could pass one of his tests _without_ a calculator, he'd pass us for the semester.

RE: ug
By Jedi2155 on 3/22/2006 4:54:24 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, sounds fun....

The only thing I use my calculators for in my classes is to basic math with large numbers.

Luckily so far most relativity based physics has been simple math. My calc teacher doesn't even allow any sort of calculator (not even a $0.50 one!) on our exams forcing us to do square roots of large numbers in our head or through partial derivatives :P.

RE: ug
By Myrandex on 3/22/2006 5:54:58 PM , Rating: 2
I am an applied math major and I have to say I have never heard of figuring out square roots with partial derivaties. But yes I have been through plenty of math classes that don't allow calculators, and a couple that do (and my TI-92 is awesome when it is allowed). What is great is I know someone that took a ti-83 shell and put a ti-89 inside of it to allow usage on an ACT or SAT test :)

Old news for caLCULATORS
By RMSe17 on 3/22/2006 8:57:40 AM , Rating: 2
I remember back in the day when Ti-85 and 82 were the latest greatest from TI, and a pong game on 85 would make beeps and stuff if you would plug in your headphones into the jack...

But as far as graphing calculatos go, at the time, HP-48GX had a built in speaker, and could play digitized versions of songs , had games with greyscale and sound (my personal favorines were Dune 2, Eclipse and bomberman. Sadly the zelda projects didnt seem to make it passed the map stage (though greyscale maps looked great). Up until TI-89, the HP series were superior in every respect to the TI calculators, except maybe in simple graph generation, and after TI-89, HP still had more features and power behind it's calculations. I mean, some features like time and date, alarm, directory based storate structure and sound are not that relevant to exam taking, but they certainly made for a great palmtop :)

RE: Old news for caLCULATORS
By Fox5 on 3/22/2006 11:08:39 AM , Rating: 2
HP calculators are still more powerful.
The TI-89 titanium has what, a 10mhz 68k cpu, while the top of the line HP calculator right now has something like a 90mhz Arm9. Too bad it doesn't have what these calculators could really use, a rechargable Li-Ion battery (instead of those way too heavy and big 4x AAs), a color screen (come on, Casio had those years ago!), and a backlit screen.

RE: Old news for caLCULATORS
By hoppa on 3/22/2006 1:10:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah seriously, why are these calculators still the same price and specs as they were 10 years ago? By now, for $100 you could have a quite nice device. Just look at cell-phones. Yet they still stick on these pathetic resolution, 2-tone screens, negligable memory, wimpy procs...

Kinda cool but...
By McTwist on 3/22/2006 9:50:43 AM , Rating: 2
Kraftwerk was making music with calculators back in the '80s.
"I'm the operator with my pocket calculator. beep boop boop, booooooop"

RE: Kinda cool but...
By Xenoterranos on 3/22/2006 10:07:51 AM , Rating: 2
I think that made my brain die a little

RE: Kinda cool but...
By Dfere on 3/22/2006 12:29:30 PM , Rating: 2
Good to know someone here is aroudn my age. Ijust missed out on the graphing calcs- I had to do everything by hand or on a HP financial calculator. We were allowed one sheet of equations in the more challenging math classes for an exam. Then again-I was business honors math - same as enginnering but perhaps a different focus.....

Not PDAs
By bunnyfubbles on 3/22/2006 2:10:39 AM , Rating: 2
While cool, the ability to play music is merely a neat trick, nothing more. The Ti calcs are simply too limmited to do much else other than their intended purpose (calculations and graphing). Yes, you can play some retro games, but not much more, the memory is just too small.

RE: Not PDAs
By RobbieMc on 3/22/2006 4:26:17 AM , Rating: 2
yeah they had this about 5 years ago, the thing that makes this different is the quality of the sound; its pretty impressive. The one huge drawback is you can hold hardly any music. It doesn't compress that i know of, and the apps that store the song are huge, even by computer standards (considering they can only be 90 seconds & are a couple megs for that)

spelling error
By whitelight on 3/22/2006 1:50:41 AM , Rating: 2
It seems as though a man buy the name of James Montelongo

by the name

Uh, old news?
By Viper007Bond on 3/22/2006 1:51:37 AM , Rating: 2
I remember reading about very simple versions of this like 5 years ago.

While it's cool, it's nothing new. ;)

Finally getting attention...
By Ackbar on 3/22/2006 9:22:26 AM , Rating: 2
I played music on my TI-85 in '97 (in fact the same song). At the time, I completed a brief demostration of feasibility but went no further with it. But back in '97 these graphing calcs had practically no onboard memory, now its feasible to store an entire song (at the time, I stored only a portion of the same Greenday song)!

Congratulations to the guy for showing this, but he's definitely a follower and not an innovator when it comes to playing music with his graphing calc (as it has been done before as early as '97).

By TomZ on 3/22/2006 9:34:48 AM , Rating: 2
Not sure why this is newsworthy. What is the signifance of this? The calculator has the ability to make sound, and he wrote a program to play a song. Big deal.

Ti-89 titanium
By Xenoterranos on 3/22/2006 10:07:15 AM , Rating: 2
Any chance of streaming that audi over the titanium's USB port?! Pleeeeeease.

TI is evil
By tjr508 on 3/22/2006 2:52:00 PM , Rating: 2
Ever since like 1998 when the ti-89 came out, engineers and physicists (including myself) have forgotten how to do math.

wow...time to get with the times
By Madskillz on 3/23/2006 11:12:14 PM , Rating: 2
Hello, I am the co-founder of Revolution Software (, in which Jim happens to be a member. I know blips and bleeps have been around for ages on the calc. As for why this is newsworthy, a program to create sound of this quality for the calc has never been done before. Before you all pass judgments, I suggest you check the project out for yourselves.
I remember reading about very simple versions of this like 5 years ago.
Simple would be the key word there.

While cool, the ability to play music is merely a neat trick, nothing more. The Ti calcs are simply too limmited to do much else other than their intended purpose (calculations and graphing). Yes, you can play some retro games, but not much more, the memory is just too small.

-I assure you, this is no mere parlor trick. The quality and the sound is real. Sure the calcs have their limitations, but that is what make them so fun to program for. Luckily, us programmers, have just recently figured out how to make Pong on them, so that is a real improvement eh? ;) There are current games and games in the making that rival that of the old Gameboy. Grayscale graphics even. There are such projects as Metroid, Sonic, an amazing DDR game called XXR, and even a full fledged original Zelda game, all with amazing work being put into them. Before you judge something, I highly suggest you do a little bit of research, the calc isn't just made for graphing anymore...
I will say that the songs are huge yes, but work is even being done with USB Flashdrive for the calc...which means even more storage.

I dont mean to harp on anyone, but all I see are post saying how good it is, but it is just more of the same. You guys really couldnt be more off. No Real Sound wont be in calc games, but yeah, it is one helluva an achievement, and the Jim deserve a little bit more respect than a simple "My calc had sound five yours ago, why is the project newsworthy".

If any of you wanna see some of these other projects going on in the community, check out some of these sites: (I really hope you stop on by here and check out the progress of this project and our others!)

Thanks for your time,

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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