It's really just a buffed TI-85, but it has more RAM and a faster processor. It even has a faster processor than the one we sent people to the moon with.

It's also a great thing to put games on. Using assembly to replace the backup memory, it lets you play such things as Tetris, Breakout, and a host of home-brewed programs. You can look productive while still slacking off in class.

This calculator is cool. It's relatively inexpensive (some might argue that), yet it has a quite good resolution screen, and Z80 ASM, and BASIC programmability. Very good for games. see http://www.ticalc.org/

Cables for attaching this to a computer parallel port are easily made using some diodes and resistors.

One feature that N-Wing likes is the ability to recall several previous entries, instead of just the previous one. This is very useful if you make a typo.

A TI-86 is a large investment. Costing upwards of $120, these are not electronic devices that you want breaking on you. If your TI-86 does suddenly stop working, however, don't panic; ninety-five percent of problems on your graphing calculator are easily fixed, at home and without tools.

Proceed through the checklist below. The odds are that one of these techniques will fix it:

  1. Ensure that you have the contrast at a high enough setting.
    Press and hold the (2nd) button and the up arrow at the same time to increase contrast. You should see a contrast rating number appear in the top-right-hand corner of the screen. If this does not appear, then proceed to....


  2. Replace the AAA batteries with fresh ones. Enough said. If this doesn't work, then you will want to....


  3. Drain excess charge from the calculator. Remove the AAA batteries from the battery compartment. Now, hold down the (ON) button for a full ten seconds. (Note, this will wipe your memory) If, after putting the batteries back in your calculator, it still doesn't work, then try....


  4. Resetting the calculator. Remove one AAA battery. Hold down the (DEL) key as you place the battery back in. A message should appear, asking you to install calculator software. Ignore it and remove the battery again. Reinstall the battery, this time without holding down the (DEL) key. (Note, this will wipe your memory) If this doesn't work, you have one last shot and it's to....


  5. Deprive the calculator of power. Remove the AAA batteries and the lithium backup battery stored behind them. (You will need a screwdriver for this. I lied earlier when I said that you didn't need any tools.) Let the calculator stand for two minutes. After the two minutes are up, replace all of the batteries. (Note, this will wipe your memory) If even this doesn't work, then....


  6. Contact the nice people at Texas Instruments; they can probably help you with your problem.

All of this information was received from TI when I sent a panic e-mail saying that my school-issued calculator decided to stop working.

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