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Texas Instruments’ New Calculator Will Run Programs Written in Python

“Dallas-based Texas Instruments’ latest generation of calculators is getting a modern-day update with the addition of programming language Python,” reports the Dallas Morning News:

The goal is to expand students’ ability to explore science, technology, engineering and math through the device that’s all-but-required in the nation’s high schools and colleges…
Though most of the company’s $14 billion in annual revenue comes from semiconductors, its graphing calculator remains its most recognized consumer product. This latest TI-84 model, priced between $120 to $160 depending on the retailer, was made to accommodate the increasing importance of programming in the modern world.
Judging by photos in their press release, an “alpha” key maps the calculator’s keys to the letters of the alphabet (indicated with yellow letters above each key). One page on its web site also mentions “Menu selections” that “help students with discovery and syntax.” (And the site confirms the calculator will “display expressions, symbols and fractions just as you write them.”)

There’s even a file manager that “gives quick access to Python programs you have saved on your calculator. From here, you can create, edit, run and manage your files.” And one page also mentions something called TI Connect CE software application, which “connects your computer and graphing calculator so they can talk to each other. Use it to transfer data, update your operating system, download calculator software applications or take screenshots of your graphing calculator.”

I’m sure Slashdot’s readers have some fond memories of their first calculator. But these new models have a full-color screen and a rechargeable battery that can last up to a month on a single charge. And Texas Instruments seems to think they could even replace computers in the classroom. “By adding Python to the calculators many students are already familiar with and use in class, we are making programming more accessible and approachable for all students,” their press release argues, “eliminating the need for teachers to reserve separate computer labs to teach these important skills.


Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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