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My old Texas TI-83 is dying on me after some 20 years of extensive use. It served me well, but it's quite crude when it comes to programming-related arithmetic. Specifically binary/dec/hex conversions, as well as bit-wise arithmetic. For such, I've relied on custom programs made by myself, that tend to get cumbersome interfaces to the point where I don't use them, but fire up calc.exe on the computer instead.

So I'm looking for a similar graphing calculator similar to the Texas TI-xx product family, but one more suitable for programmers, if such a beast exists. That is, easily accessible ways to use the various features of the old calc.exe in Windows, when set to "programmer mode".

Requirements:

  • Easy way to convert between hex, dec and bin bases, with a few button presses rather by than executing a custom program.
  • Support for integers with different word sizes: byte, word, double word etc (8, 16, 32 bit).
  • Support for bit shift, OR, AND, NOT and similar binary arithmetic.
  • The ability to type out the whole calculation/equation on the display as done on Texas calculators. Not "one operand at a time" as in more classic/simplistic calculators.
  • Trigonometry supported and easily accessible (like on the Texas ones). Radians + degrees.
  • Must support engineering notation.
  • Some manner of graphic display (LCD, TFT etc). Resolution doesn't matter.
  • Actual buttons. (If I liked typing on touch screens, I'd use the app on my phone instead.)
  • Maybe the Classpad CP-400. I found it to be an amazing compromise between buttons (with customizable shortcuts) and the touch screen for inserting text. It uses Casios take on BASIC though, so no different word sizes and bit shifts IIRC. – towe Oct 9 at 6:45
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Given that you're already familiar with the TI-83, I suggest considering the TI-89 Titanium. In language and UI design it's a descendant, but it is “modernized” in a lot of ways and has many additional features.

Easy way to convert between hex, dec and bin bases, with a few button presses rather by than executing a custom program.

You can enter numbers like 0hAA and 0b1011, and print them with the ▸Hex, ▸Bin, and ▸Dec operators, or set the default output format to any of the three bases.

Support for integers with different word sizes: byte, word, double word etc (8, 16, 32 bit).

Only 32-bit is available; you'd have to do bit masking yourself to simulate smaller sizes.

Support for bit shift, OR, AND, NOT and similar binary arithmetic.

shift(value, count) provides a 32-bit sign-extending shift. or, and, and not act bitwise on integers.

The ability to type out the whole calculation/equation on the display as done on Texas calculators. Not "one operand at a time" as in more classic/simplistic calculators.

Yep, it's a TI! Also, if I remember correctly, the TI-83 text entry defaults to overwrite mode — the TI-89 defaults to insert mode like modern text editors.

Trigonometry supported and easily accessible (like on the Texas ones). Radians + degrees.

Yes. Trig functions are on the main keyboard, radians and degrees are available as a mode setting, and you can also enter and read vectors in polar or rectangular form.

Must support engineering notation.

Yes. The TI-89 has a dedicated key for entering the exponent "E" (which is a distinct character from text/variable-name "E". There is also an "engineering" output option to always use exponents that are multiples of 3.

Some manner of graphic display (LCD, TFT etc). Resolution doesn't matter.

160 × 100 LCD, no backlight. You can plot functions and also draw arbitrary graphics from programs. The normal input/output view fits 5½ lines of text (at minimum height; divisions and matrices and such are taller), and you can scroll up easily to review and recall previous results.

Actual buttons. (If I liked typing on touch screens, I'd use the app on my phone instead.)

Check!


Features/differences you didn't ask for but are noteworthy compared to the TI-83:

  • You can have arbitrary, multi-character variable names.
  • You can perform symbolic operations, including solving, factoring, expansion, differentiation, and integration.
  • Instead of built-in function names being special symbols, you can just type their name on the keyboard. (There's still a list you can review and pick from, and a help function showing the expected parameter list.)

Tip: First thing to do is to go into the settings and turn off "Apps Desktop", so you always start at the "Home" regular calculator input mode.


The TI-89 Titanium is still in current production and can also be found cheaply on the used market (presumably from ex-students).

I hear that the TI-92 / Voyage 200 has the same operating system but adds a QWERTY keyboard, which may be of interest for quickly typing operator names. However, there is no model of this line in current production, and I am not familiar with the functionality of the newer TI-Nspire line.

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  • This sounds like the closest thing to my needs. Plus I can already use the TI-83 in my sleep, so it wouldn't be such a steep learning curve :) I'll go take a closer look at it, thank you. – Lundin Oct 13 at 6:49
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Have you examined the HP50G graphing calculator? I'm a fan of RPN (reverse programming notation) and I'm aware it's not for everyone, but I've found it rather useful for simple to complex tasks.

One can find a rather comprehensive set of manuals on the HP site. Over the three listed, there's nearly 1800 pages, far more than I could peruse this evening. A few features appeared while I was "leafing through the pages." One of them is that you can enter not only complete equations, but entire programs involving those equations, along with 2300 features from libraries for the calculator.

Amazon (image credit) lists this jewel for US$500, some serious cash for a pocket sized super computer. I'd be surprised if it would not do as you require, but not surprised if its priced out of your budget.

HP50G graphing calculator

Additional research has allowed me to discover that there is a Windows-based emulator for the HP50G. This means you can evaluate on a PC before you spring the big bucks for the handheld device.

A video of a few minutes shows the process to install the emulator from an archive site.

Summary: Scroll down to HP 50gs Emulator Package. This link is the download link. The archive site link is for all of them. Extract the zip file to a convenient location. open the ROM folder, rename ROM_215.50G to ROM.50G Execute Emu48.exe Leave script window option on or disable, as per preference Click No for "Try to recover memory" To remove this message, click File, Save As, save "settings" to convenient folder. The video placed it on the desktop, I placed it in the executable folder with no problems. The video then covers some setting changes (Mode Button) that fit your requirements! Algebraic vs RPN - my install defaulted to Algebraic, I changed it to RPN by pressing F2, then using the arrow keys and enter to effect the change. My mouse would not let me make the change. Number format can be Engineering, with adjustment of number of digits. F6 takes you to flags: Result of Infinite (divide by zero) error or possibly some arbitrary value Font sizes for stack and display The creator of the video changed his display for list and vector to vertical. There are a few other minor changes covered in the video, left as an exercise to the reader.

I'm sure the manual will be of value for this mini-super-micro-computer-in-your-hand!

A curious aspect of this emulator is that even though you'd think it would be turned on when opened, it's not. You have to hit the ON key. Once ON, closing and re-opening returns you to the previous screen, just as with my HP11c.

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  • Ok. But you don't know if it can perform the things listed in an easily accessible way? Because the problem with TI was never the lack of features or complexity, but that it was just too cumbersome to launch a custom program each time you needed to for example dec->hex conversion. – Lundin Oct 12 at 6:30
  • The link will take you directly to the manuals in PDF. I browsed quickly through various sections which led me to believe that it may be the closest you'll get, but it's a challenge to determine someone else's personal preferences. The PDFs are searchable, providing you with a specific answer if your terms are accurate enough. – fred_dot_u Oct 12 at 9:06
  • It appears to have an option to set number base at least, which my current TI can't do. Is reverse polish notation mandatory on these or just an option? Can't say that I'm among the fans :) Plus it doesn't make sense to use if you type out the whole equation anyway, it only makes sense for classic calculators that can only display one number at a time. – Lundin Oct 12 at 10:12
  • As noted in the edit to my post, this install defaulted to algebraic, which made my first attempt at a test operation all the more confusing. Even though the linked video is only a few minutes long, it was useful to determine that this software is of value to your determination. – fred_dot_u Oct 12 at 15:48
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While this is hardware recommendations, check out SpeedCrunch before you spend money.

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  • I'm not interested in PC software. Then I might as well type the equations directly in source code and print it on the console. I need a classic, portable calculator. To clarify: the cumbersome custom programs I mentioned in the question are programs running on the calculator, written in TI's own (horrible) BASIC-like programming language. – Lundin Oct 8 at 13:01

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