Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Recent Firmware Updates for Texas Instrument Graphing Calculators Removes ASM Support

Matthew Wille, Input:

Texas Instruments is pulling support for C-based and assembly-based programs on both the TI-84 Plus CE — the most popular calculator for sideloading — and the TI-83 Premium CE, its French sibling. The latest firmware for each completely removes the capability and leaves users with no way to roll back to previous versions of the firmware.

This will pose a huge shift in the TI-calculator community — a relatively small but ultimately very dedicated group of programmers. Texas Instruments has shown love for this community in the past, and the company even provides advanced copies of firmware for them to beta test. Now it seems the company is ready to rebrand as more secure, even if that means leaving behind its most passionate fanbase.

Before every math and physics exam, I remember a teacher going around the room to make sure all of us cleared the memory on our graphing calculators. One of the very first programs I created was a lookalike version of the TI-83’s “RAM cleared” screen — similar to Fake but nowhere near as clever — so that I could keep all of the games I had installed and, occasionally, contraband notes. I am sure that my calculator helped me learn more about programming than it did my actual schoolwork. This is a pretty lame move on the part of Texas Instruments.