The TI-57 was an LCD
display scientific calculator
, ca. 1977
, when I was taking physics
as a High School Junior
. This was their first programmable calculator
(or maybe first programmable consumer
model), as I recall. It had a 50-step program memory - each function, i.e. 'SQRT', 'STO', 'RCL', etc. was a step. Programs were entered by hand and when the machine was turned off, the program was gone
. They supplied a book called 'Making Tracks into Programming' with a train motif
and numerous examples of 'useful' functions. There was also a dandy pad of 50-cell sheets to write programs on.
I used to amuse myself by making little programs to cause digits to scroll back and forth across the one-line red display and other non-math pursuits. I used to take it apart
and rearrange the keys
too - I kept the 'INV' key inverted most of the time, cause I was sooo
My crowning glory
was when I developed a program that would solve
a crane problem
where we would be given three of four variables and have to find the fourth - it was the biggie
on the final exam
. Packing it all into just 50 steps was hard work, and taught me the formulas inside-out
. We assembled for the final and I turned the calculator on and began punching the program in
as fast as I could. I even plugged it into the wall
to ensure that I wouldn't lose it.
I worked through the first part of the test, then jumped straight to the crane problem. I punched the given
s in and got the answer
in a flash, then proceeded casually with the rest of the test. I could tell when the others around me got to the crane problem, and pitied them...
I've never felt bad about my tactic, because I not only learned those formulas cold, but I was learning programming at the same time. I could have skipped the crane problem and still gotten an A
in the class.
About a year later the TI-58
came out - it had all the same functions, but something like 150-step memory and you could store programs. The B and C models even had little program modules you could pop in and out of the back at will.
Thus my incredible machine
became a quiant curiosity
The treadmill has been running ever since
, though I manage to trudge
it with less desperation