Datasheet legend
Ab/c: Fractions calculation
AC: Alternating current
BaseN: Number base calculations
Card: Magnetic card storage
Cmem: Continuous memory
Cond: Conditional execution
Const: Scientific constants
Cplx: Complex number arithmetic
DC: Direct current
Eqlib: Equation library
Exp: Exponential/logarithmic functions
Fin: Financial functions
Grph: Graphing capability
Hyp: Hyperbolic functions
Ind: Indirect addressing
Intg: Numerical integration
Jump: Unconditional jump (GOTO)
Lbl: Program labels
LCD: Liquid Crystal Display
LED: Light-Emitting Diode
Li-ion: Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
Lreg: Linear regression (2-variable statistics)
mA: Milliamperes of current
Mtrx: Matrix support
NiCd: Nickel-Cadmium rechargeable battery
NiMH: Nickel-metal-hydrite rechargeable battery
Prnt: Printer
RTC: Real-time clock
Sdev: Standard deviation (1-variable statistics)
Solv: Equation solver
Subr: Subroutine call capability
Symb: Symbolic computing
Tape: Magnetic tape storage
Trig: Trigonometric functions
Units: Unit conversions
VAC: Volts AC
VDC: Volts DC
Years of production: 1977-? Display type: 7-segment
New price:  
Display color: Red
    Display technology: LED
Size: 3"×5½"×1½" Display size: 8+2 digits
Weight: 6 oz    
    Entry method: Algebraic with precedence
Batteries: BP-8 (2×"AA" sealed NiCd) or 9V alkaline Advanced functions: trg, exp, log, drg
External power: TI AC-9132 adapter (5.7V AC 240mA) Memory functions: +
I/O: N/A    
    Programming model: N/A
Precision: 11 digits Program functions: N/A
Memories: 1 number
Program display: N/A
Program memory: N/A
Program editing: N/A
Chipset:   Forensic result:  

ti30.jpg (25147 bytes)Programmable or not, the TI-30 deserves special mention in any self-respecting calculator collection.

No, it's not a particularly unique machine. It has no special capabilities. It is not especially well-built either (although the number of still functioning models nearly 25 years after they were made does indicate a robust construction) and it has a rotten keyboard. It is a scientific calculator, but it has no special claim of fame: it has no extra functionality beyond basic logarithmic and trigonometric functions, not even single-variable statistics.

What makes the TI-30 so special is its price. The model number was an indication of the suggested retail price: $30 for a brand spanking new multifunction scientific calculator (or even less; for instance, I received correspondence from a gentleman who purchased his TI-30 in Omaha, NE, for only $19.95, paying an additional $9.97 for the wall adapter.)

This may not mean much today, when department stores are filled with cheap scientific calculators from China sold for $5 or less. But remember, the TI-30 was introduced in the late 1970s, at a time when scientific calculators were typically sold for several hundred dollars each.

The significance of this low price cannot be underestimated. It was the TI-30 that turned the scientific calculator from an expensive engineering instrument into an everyday tool for high-school students. So much so, in fact, that I remember very well how the TI-30 began to spread even behind the Iron Curtain; by the time I was finishing high school in Hungary, several of my classmates had TI-30 calculators in their backpacks.

As a matter of fact, the business impact of the TI-30 probably lasts to this very day. It was with the TI-30 that Texas Instruments established a firm foothold in the educational calculator market, and they have been able to maintain an edge to this day. TI's line of graphing calculators, for instance, reigns supreme in high schools and colleges throughout North America and elsewhere.

TI has not forgotten what it owes to the TI-30 either. The original TI-30 has long been discontinued, but the model number lives on; there have been several variants of the TI-30 in the last 25 years, all of them popular educational models.