When it comes to high school, some things will never change — the social cliques, the undercurrent of teen libido, the guy who thinks Led Zeppelin is the absolute coolest regardless of what year it is. But some things shouldn’t be on that list; your kid shouldn’t be required to sport the same overpriced, oversized calculator you used. Technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the days when you were wrapping your head around trigonometry, but students today are still using essentially the same Texas Instrument calculators that have been around for decades.
Probably the most frustrating part of TI’s stranglehold on the math classroom is their pricing. A TI-84 calculator still costs the same $100 today that it did back in the ’90s — an insane thought when you consider that a Chromebook will only set you back about $50 more. Texas Instruments mind this discrepancy because calculators are an incredibly profitable product for the company, with “a more than 50 percent profit margin,” Mic reports. But it’s easy to keep prices high when your company has a monopoly. During the 2013 – 2014 school year, TI sold 93 percent of all graphing calculators.So what’s keeping TI on top? Tradition is one of the biggest culprits. The ubiquitous high school calculator is ingrained in curriculum, textbooks, and standardized tests. But the trend may be changing. “To be blunt,” Eli Luberoff, CEO of a competing online calculator and mobile app company told Mic, “it’s not going to be that way for much longer.” Luckily, as an adult, you don’t have to worry about it much. As you always suspected, you never use any of this stuff in real life anyway.