We are gathered here today to remember the TI-84: our most learned sage, most trusted counselor, and most truthful friend. It sat with us for the grueling math problems of the SAT, staggered on with us through the convoluted FRQs of AP Calc, and consoled us during the darkest hours of our Celebration of Learning retakes. It meant the world to so many of us.
TI-84, I can’t believe you’re gone. You were born in 2004—incidentally, along with many in our dearest senior class of ’22—in the midst of a ruthless age of technological competition. It’s heartbreakingly ironic, the thought that as the seniors eagerly launch themselves into a new adventure at college, you will be tucked into a dusty plastic box of mementos.
Let me share some of your family’s history with our audience. In 1994, the College Board elevated your predecessors to the aristocracy by requiring calculators in the SAT math section. By 1995—just a year later—even the famed AP Calc, the math test king of kings, catered to the whims of Texas Instruments. But you never forsook your obligations of service, aiding generations of aspiring students in pursuit of their dreams.
Some educators in a far, unenlightened corner of the world blame you for their students’ mathematical incompetence. They label you as the mastermind of a conspiracy whereby students, lacking cognitive flexibility, only know to tap buttons and perform mindless operations. But your influence dwarfs their petty complaints. Because of your unwavering support, students never needed to learn the factoring of quadratics when they could use the holy formula. As for diminishing number sense and computational skills—why would we need those if we aren’t studying math in college?
Derivatives and integrals; areas and volumes; multiplication and long division; and finally, addition and subtraction: these comprise the obsolete content knowledge of the Stone Age mathematician. For us Information Age students, distributed cognition and transactive memory is the bounty of our ancestors’ harvest. With you, TI-84, we stand on the shoulders of giants.
TI-84, it’s such a misfortune that some classes have discouraged your use, narrow-mindedly insisting that their students can access Desmos, Geogebra, and WolframAlpha with greater ease and better results. The procession of your upgraded cousins threatening to upend your hegemony never fazed you until the very end. Times have changed since 2004, but you never once altered your ways because others were doing so. You always insisted on yourself, even though others thought you were obsolete.
You have touched the lives of many. Polling from 118 Tatler Poll responses, around three-quarters of us habitually solicit your help for arithmetic. If you were here with us today, you would be very helpful in showing that this is 88 responses. One Lakesider fondly reminisces: “I would not have gotten a 5 on AP Calc BC without my graphing calculator. I used it to evaluate every function and compute every integral.” Truly, you were excessive in your versatility. There’s no better word for you than amazing.
You’ll never know how much you changed our lives or how much you meant to us. Your kindness and magnanimity were constants in a sea of integration (and derivation). Whether we are freshmen or seniors, whether we are taking Algebra I or Honors Multivariable Calculus, we will forever carry you in the bottom of our backpacks and our hearts.