The TI Graphing Calculators

The TI graphing calculator has changed dramatically since Texas Instruments first introduced the TI-81 in 1990, and each new calculator boasts new features, functionality, and design. The current graphing calculators being released by Texas Instruments can generally be split up into two categories based on the processor chip that they use — Zilog Z80 (Z80) and Motorola 68000 (68k). The TI-83 family uses the Z80 chip, and there are five different calculators that are within this group: TI-83, TI-83+, TI-83+SE, TI-84+, and TI-84+SE. The 68k family uses the 68k chip, and there five different calculators that are within this group: TI-89, TI-89 Titanium, TI-92, TI-92+, and Voyage 200. Each of these calculators has its own features and unique qualities.

The TI-83 Calculator


The TI-83 is the oldest calculator in the group, being released back in 1996. It is designed to be an upgrade from the TI-82, featuring a sleeker case design, more memory (27K bytes of RAM), and a faster processor (6MHz). It kept some of the features the same as the TI-82, such as the screen size and being powered by 4 AAA batteries, to allow for backwards compatibility with the TI-82.

This means that while some of the TI-Basic commands on the TI-83 have a different syntax, at the core the TI-83 can execute the TI-82's TI-Basic programs. Some of the differences between TI-Basic for each calculator are how math is interpreted (implied multiplication versus regular multiplication) and commands that have an opening parentheses attached to the end of them (such as the trigonometry commands). When it comes to assembly programs, however, the TI-83 cannot execute the TI-82's assembly programs without some modification because of the processor upgrade.

The TI-83+ Calculator


The TI-83+ was released in 1999, and it was meant as an upgrade from the TI-83 with more memory and a faster processor. At the same time, it kept several features of the TI-83 to maintain backwards compatibility: the case design, the screen size (16x8 home screen and 96x64 graph screen), and the link port. There are some major differences, however.

The TI-83+ cannot run assembly programs made for the TI-83 because it uses a different format: there are three built-in commands (AsmPrgm, AsmComp( and Asm() used for running assembly programs, while the TI-83 has no such commands. While the TI-83 uses a 6MHz processor, the TI-83 Plus uses a speedier 8MHz processor. It should be noted, however, that the TI-83+ only runs at the 6MHz speed unless altered by an assembly program.

The TI-83 comes with 24K bytes of available memory built-in, while the TI-83+ comes with 184K bytes of available memory: 24K bytes are RAM and 160K bytes are archive memory, or more commonly called "Flash" memory. Archive memory allows you to store data, programs, applications, or any other variables to a safe location where they cannot be edited or deleted inadvertently from a RAM crash. This creates a compatibility issue with TI-83 TI-Basic, however, because of the use of the Archive and UnArchive commands that are on the TI-83+.

The TI-83+SE Calculator


The TI-83+SE (short for Silver Edition) was the next calculator upgrade in the group. When it was released by TI in 2001, it became instantly popular because of its unique look and increased memory and speed. However, TI has since decided to stop production of it and focus on the TI-84+SE calculator instead. The TI-83+SE has now become somewhat of a collector's item.

After seeing the success of the TI-83 calculator series, TI decided to give their next TI-83 series calculator a unique look to set it apart from the other TI-83 calculators. The TI-83+SE calculator look consists of a transparent silver case with silver sparkles sprinkled throughout. What really made the calculator shine, though, was that the transparent case allowed you to see what the internals of the calculator looked like without even having to open up the calculator.

In addition to the unique look, TI also decided to upgrade the memory and speed. While maintaining almost complete backward compatibility, the TI-83+SE features 128K bytes of RAM and 1.5M bytes of archive memory. It should be noted, however, that only 24K bytes of RAM are available to TI-Basic programmers (you need to use assembly to access all 128K bytes). The TI-83+SE uses a 15MHz processor, but it can also be made to run at the 8MHz and 6MHz speeds through assembly.

The TI-84+ Calculator


The TI-84+ was released in 2004, and it was meant to be an upgrade of the TI-83+. The TI-84+ introduces a couple new things to the TI-83 calculator series: a built-in clock and a mini USB link port. The built-in clock can be used in TI-Basic by using the new clock commands that go with it, while the mini USB link port greatly increases the speed of linking the calculator to a computer.

The TI-84+ also improves upon the TI-83+ in terms of memory and speed: 24K bytes of RAM and 480K bytes of archive memory; and a 15MHz processor (the same one that the TI-83+SE has). The most obvious change that the TI-84+ brings is a completely new case design. Gone are the slightly rounded edges and appearance; in its place is an almost circular look from the front, with the edges smoothly flowing around to the back of the calculator.

The TI-84+SE Calculator


The TI-84+SE was released along with the TI-84+ in 2004, kind of like a TI-83 calculator series package upgrade. The TI-84+SE was meant to be an upgrade of the TI-83+SE, and it includes the same upgrades that the TI-84+ got. The two new innovations that the TI-84+SE introduces are: interchangeable faceplates and a kickstand; these things are basically optional add-ons for your calculator.

The interchangeable faceplate can be useful if you want to change the front look of your calculator. You simply purchase a different faceplate and swap it with the current faceplate. The calculator's initial faceplate is a light gray/silver. The kickstand is built into the calculator lid, and it allows you to set the calculator to four different viewing angles. Concerning memory and speed, the TI-84+SE has the same amount of memory and speed as the TI-83+SE.

The TI-84+CSE Calculator

ti84pluscse.jpg The TI-84+CSE was released in 2013. It is essentially an upgrade of the popular TI-83/84+ series, with the addition of a colour display with a much higher resolution. Due to this new LCD, it is not backwards compatible with the TI-83/84+ series, so any pre-existing shells, programs or games need to be ported to work correctly.

The TI-85 Calculator

ti85.png The TI-85 was released in 1992, designed as a powerful engineering and calculus calculator. It was the first of the TI calculators to have a link port and assembly programming capabilities (albiet through an unintentional loophole). It was later succeeded by the TI-86. Along with the TI-86, the TI-85 LCD was memory mapped, as opposed to having an LCD driver like many of the other Z80 calculators. This calculator is now discontinued.

The TI-86 Calculator

ti86.png The TI-86 was released in 1997 as a successor to the TI-85. It contained all the features of the TI-85, whilst adding more memory, supported assembly capabilities and a stylish new case. Along with the TI-85, the TI-86 LCD was memory mapped, as opposed to having an LCD driver like many of the other Z80 calculators. This calculator is now discontinued.

The TI-89 Calculator


Though lower in number than the TI-92, the TI-89 was actually released somewhat later, in 1998. Backward compatible with the TI-92, at least in terms of TI-Basic programming, the main difference is the physical size of the calculator: the TI-89 is exactly the same size as the lower-numbered z80 calculators. Another difference is the presence of Flash ROM, or archive memory. This secondary memory is larger and more protected from crashes, but cannot be edited directly. The TI-89 has a 160x100 pixel resolution high-contrast LCD.

There are two hardware versions of the TI-89, HW1 and HW2. HW2 calculators are slightly faster (the processor speed is increased from 10MHz to 12MHz). However, due to a change in the way the display is addressed, HW2 calculators cannot handle grayscale as well as HW1 (this mostly applies to assembly programs). Though both versions are capable of 4-level grayscale, 7-level grayscale is only possible on the HW1. Another difference is the presence of hardware limitations on assembly program size, though these can be removed with an unofficial patch. Finally, HW2 calculators have a built-in clock, though commands to access it only come with AMS 2.07 or higher.

With the release of the TI-89 Titanium, the TI-89 calculator has been discontinued by TI.

The TI-89 Titanium Calculator


The TI-89 Titanium is an upgrade of the TI-89, released in the summer of 2004, that contains 3 times the Flash ROM, as well as a USB port. Basic programming is unchanged from the TI-89, although assembly programs can have some compatibility problems that should be fixed with patches.

Like the TI-89, the TI-89 Titanium has two hardware versions, HW3 and HW4. Both of these are nearly identical to the HW2 version of the TI-89. HW4 calculators have more RAM, and supposedly have a faster, 16MHz processor.

The TI-92 Calculator


The oldest 68k calculator, the TI-92 was released in 1995. It is a wide calculator with a QWERTY keyboard and a 240x128 LCD screen. Unlike the other 68k calculators, the TI-92 does not support Flash ROM, and has a mere 70KB RAM. Later, the TI-92 II was released with a RAM upgrade.

The TI-92 hardware is similar to the HW1 version of the TI-89. With the release of newer calculators, the TI-92 has been discontinued, though a "Plus module" was available to upgrade it ot a TI-92 Plus.

The TI-92 Plus Calculator


Shortly after the release of the TI-89 calculator, the TI-92 Plus was released in 1998. It's virtually the same as the TI-89 in terms of software, but looks physically much like the TI-92 — it also has a QWERTY keyboard and a 240x128 LCD screen (though with sharper contrast). Its improvements include Flash ROM and a hardware clock.

A "Plus module" was also available to upgrade a TI-92 calculator to a TI-92 Plus in many ways (giving it Flash ROM capability, for instance). The TI-92 with a Plus module is similar, in terms of compatibility, to the TI-89's HW1 version, while the normal TI-92 Plus is similar to the HW2 version.

With the release of the Voyage 200 and TI-89 Titanium, the TI-92 Plus has been discontinued by TI.

The Voyage 200

v200.png Released in 2002, the Voyage 200 is the most advanced of the 68k calculators. Like the TI-92 Plus, the Voyage 200 has a QWERTY keyboard and 240x128 high-contrast LCD screen. Together with the TI-89, it also has the most memory: 190 KB RAM, and 2.7 MB ROM.

Calculator Comparison

Model Processor RAM ROM Screen Size Link Port Clock Release Date
TI-83 6 MHz 27 KB None 96x64 I/O No 1996
TI-83+ 6 MHz 24 KB 160 KB 96x64 I/O No 1999
TI-83+SE 15 MHz 24KB (128 KB) 1.5 MB 96x64 I/O No 2001
TI-84+ 15 MHz 24 KB 480 KB 96x64 I/O+USB Yes 2004
TI-84+SE 15 MHz 24KB (128 KB) 1.5 MB 96x64 I/O+USB Yes 2004
TI-84+CSE 15 MHz 21KB (128 KB) 3.5 MB 320x240 I/O+USB Yes 2013
TI-85 6 MHz 28 KB None 128x64 I/O No 1992
TI-86 6 MHz 96 KB None 128x64 I/O No 1997
TI-89 10-12 MHz 190 KB 700 KB 160x100 I/O HW2 only 1998
TI-89 Ti 14-16 MHz 190 KB 2.7 MB 160x100 I/O+USB Yes 2004
TI-92 10 MHz 70 KB None 240x128 I/O No 1995
TI-92 Plus 12 MHz 190 KB 700 KB 240x128 I/O Yes 1998
V200 12 MHz 190 KB 2.7 MB 240x128 I/O Yes 2002