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 clever.
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 givens 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 almost overnight.
The treadmill has been running ever since, though I manage to trudge it with less desperation than most.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.