Graphing calculator

From Academic Kids

For the software tool of the same name, see Graphing Calculator.

A graphing calculator is a special kind of scientific/engineering calculator that is able to display and/or analyze mathematical function graphs. Also, graphing calculators can show several lines of text and numbers at a time. Some graphing calculators have color displays.

TI-85 graphing calculator.
TI-85 graphing calculator.


The Japanese company Casio introduced graphing calculators with its fx-7000G in 1985.

After Casio, Hewlett Packard followed shortly in the form of the HP-28C. This was followed by the HP-28S (1988), HP-48SX (1990), HP-48S (1991), HP-48G/GX (1994), HP-38G (1995), HP-39G (199x), HP-40G (199x), HP-49G (1999), and the HP-49G+ and HP-48GII (2003). The current top-of-the line model, HP-49G+, features a Computer Algebra System (CAS), which lets the user perform many types of symbolic computations, like derivation and integration of functions in their general algebraic forms—e.g., d/dx(y=cos(x−2)+3x²). The HP-28 and -48 range were primarily meant for the professional science/engineering markets; the HP-38/39/40 were sold in the high school/college educational market; while the HP-49 series cater to both educational (college major and university level) and professional customers.

Texas Instruments has produced models of graphing calculators since 1990, the oldest of which was the TI-81. Some of the newer calculators are just like it, only with larger memories, such as the TI-82, TI-83 series, (including the TI-83, TI-83 Plus, and TI-83 Plus Silver Edition), and the TI-84 Plus series (including the TI-84 Plus and TI-84 Plus Silver Edition). Other models, designed to be appropriate for students 10–14 years of age, are the TI-80 and TI-73 series (including the TI-73 and TI-73 Explorer). Other TI graphing calculators have been designed to be appropriate for calculus, namely the TI-85, TI-86, and TI-89 series (including the TI-89 and TI 89 Titanium; the latter two also featuring a CAS, like the HP-49 models). Still others are models with a computer keyboard: the TI-92 series, including the TI-92, TI-92 Plus, and Voyage 200.

Besides the offerings from the two major contenders in this market, HP and TI, there are graphing calculators available from Casio and Sharp Corporation.

Graphing calculators in schools

Because of their large set of features and ease of use, graphing calculators are very commonly used in schools. Many vendors, especially Casio, market their graphing calculators primarily for educational use. Casio has focused its efforts at the high school/junior college user segment, most of their calculators offering relatively easy-to-use graphing features (some models incorporating a three-color display) without some of the most complex/flexible mathematical functions and programming languages found in the usually more expensive university/engineering calculators. However, an exception to this is the FX 1.0/2.0 series, of which the 2.0 models incorporate a Computer Algebra System (CAS) and a significantly improved version of Casio's BASIC-like calculator programming language. Texas Instruments is Casio's chief competitor in educational graphing calculators.

Many high school mathematics teachers allow and even encourage their students to use graphing calculators in class. This describes the general policy e.g. in the Canada or United States educational systems. However, in other countries, calculators with "too powerful" features are generally forbidden. As an example, in Finland it is forbidden to use calculators with symbolic calculation (CAS) or 3D graphics features in the matriculation exam. In Norway, calculators with wireless communication capabilities, such as IR links, have been banned at some technical universities. The College Board of the United States permits the use of most graphing calculators that do not have a QWERTY-style keyboard for its AP and SAT exams, but IB schools do not permit the use of calculators with computer algebra systems on its exams.

See also

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