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What do people still use graphing calculators for?

  1. Oct 8, 2014 #1
    Good day,
    I was born in the 90s and as you know, having calculators back then was a cool thing; like having the Game Boy, SNES or the Genesis. I was very fond of calculators and I still am and from time to time check out whats new on the market. To say the truth, I still use may CASIO FX-115 to this day, whenever I find need for a calculator. A friend of mine has the Ti-89 and I checked it out. Obviously, it was more advanced than mine but certainly very slow to properly set up your calculations.
    I enjoy watching reviews but I'm always surprised at the enthusiasm of the reviewers. They tell you, you can do Fourier analysis, this and that as if totally oblivious there's something that everyone has called a computer that can perform all of these things better, more efficient and nicer. Learning to use the TI-89 is like learning to use Mathematica !! Seriously, invest time learning Mathematica.
    So, we come to the question, Who are those using graphing calculators apart from those forced to buy one for school ? What are they using it for ? Is it possible these are people from the 60s who still yearn for the days of Yen and don't believe in computers, or whatever ?
    The only time I'll consider buying a calculator again is when one comes out that accepts voice commands and has a nice display because it doesn't seem like calculator makers have been doing much since the 70s.
    Let's hear your views.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2014 #2


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    I feel much like you do, although specific details are different.
    A computer program for whatever you need, if you learn your application, is likely more comfortable to use, easier to learn. I find the graphing calculators to be complicated, difficult to learn. The instructions are often not obvious enough, and the user interface just too layered without showing easy ways to move through those layers. Windows programs are more comfortable and how to reach things usually more obvious. I really do like using graphing calculators for checking details of the graph of a function, like for checking a mathematics exercise problem. Although so much is complicated to learn on a graphing calculator, the parentheses feature is extremely convenient for making more sophisticated use either for arithmetic computations or for like I said, inputting function definitions. I usually use a regular old-fashioned scientific calculator when computing arithmetic; these types have been in existence since about 1975. This was when students were still taught to use slide-rules.
  4. Oct 8, 2014 #3

  5. Oct 8, 2014 #4


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    ... and then the provider charges money if you remove the "app"?

    Why should Texas Instruments not make an application for their graphing calculators to allow you to use your graphing calculator as a telephone?
  6. Oct 19, 2014 #5
    I live in a place where the weather is relatively good most of the year. When I was in university, I would do a lot of my homework outside. Graphing and scientific calculators use a kind of transflective LCD display that is easily readable outdoors, so I would use them instead of cracking open my smartphone or laptop and struggling to read it. The same with my kindle, which uses real ink.

    I had quite a few professors that keep something like an old HP-15 on their desk for doing quick calculations, because if you take the time to learn a tool like that, it is probably quicker than going to Wolfram Alpha or opening up Mathematica for doing one or two operations.

    I had younger professors who would just throw it into Wolfram Alpha on their cell phones instead.

    The newer calculators have traditional color LCD displays and need to be recharged constantly. I'm sure the HP Prime is faster at complex calculations than my old HP-50, but if I went back to school I doubt I would upgrade. I don't think too many people are buying calculators these days for industry. Computers are too small and prevalent to really need one.
  7. Apr 8, 2015 #6


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    Just to add my 2 cents. As a working professional, I have a pocket calc on my desk. Yes, I could leave a windows calc or app open on my screen or use Excel (Excel is great for repetitive calculations and documentation, and everybody has it). Excel is a great way to go for 90% of everybody.

    However, Excel falls short for some of the math I sometimes do (admittedly my pocket calculator ain't any better). That is where I need my graphing calculator or a Math package. If I am documenting my work, Mathcad is my software of choice (because I get formatting with calculations, not because its better than other math software). But I am wondering off topic.

    When I first encounter new math methods, I tend to work with a calculator (comfort zone), the book (I am still averse to ebooks), a pencil and a paper pad to write-draw with. I have also adapted the habit of writing and calculating my notes right in the book, as long as its my book. That is how I learn and study. And I like the feedback of buttons vs my Android phone's calculator. I have several calculators on my Android, but I really only use the Android in a pinch ie I don't have anything else.
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