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40 Years After Inventing the Electronic Handheld Calculator


Sep 25, 2007

DALLAS (September 25, 2007) - Forty years after inventing the world's first handheld electronic calculator and changing the way math was taught to generations of students, Texas Instruments (TI) is again transforming math education by introducing the next generation's technology: TI-Nspire™ products for math learning.

The TI-Nspire products are the first sets of learning technologies to offer the same user experience in a handheld and corresponding computer software program while presenting math in multiple ways. Students are able to see and make connections among up to four representations of a problem at one time, on one screen, including graphical, algebraic, numeric, geometric or written formats.

The benefits of this approach are based on research that shows each student learns math in different ways, whether it's a graph, table, equation or written form. Students learn concepts more readily and with deeper understanding when they see a problem represented in different ways and are able to choose and evaluate various problem-solving strategies.1

TI-Nspire technology allows students to change values and observe the results in real time, which dramatically reduces the time needed to see how various concepts are linked and allows teachers to focus on teaching math, not manipulating multiple technologies.

"Students who take more math courses succeed in college at much higher rates and have the potential to earn more than those who do not. An understanding of math prepares students for future success, and the TI-Nspire is designed to help them understand concepts on a deeper level, ultimately increasing achievement," said Melendy Lovett, president, TI's Education Technology business.

The TI-Nspire handheld is allowed on all of the important college entrance exams, including the PSAT, SAT*, ACT** and AP* math tests.2The corresponding computer software allows for additional flexibility so that students and teachers can use PCs, handhelds, or both, at home and in class with the same user experience.

"Building on innovations of the past, we are now ushering in a new era of learning technology, which we believe will shape math education for future generations," added Lovett.

1967-2007: The Future of Education Technology, 40 Years in the Making
The TI-Nspire products build on four decades of innovation beginning in 1967, when TI scientists Jerry D. Merryman, James Van Tassel and Jack Kilby invented the world's first handheld electronic calculator. The original prototype performed four functions (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), had 12 bytes of memory, ran on batteries and weighed nearly three pounds. It was a significant advancement over previous electronic calculators, which were approximately the size of a typewriter, weighed nearly 55 pounds and needed to be plugged into a power source.

"Once we accomplished the portable calculator, the possibilities were astonishing. It triggered the consumer electronics revolution and was the precursor to devices like cell phones," said Merryman. "Another major impact was on math education—and the millions of students who have improved math learning because of technology. The TI-Nspire technology is a major advancement that will continue to transform how students learn math."

PC-Like Functionality, Research-Based Features Help Broaden Critical Thinking Skills
TI conducted extensive research and product testing and sought teacher input when developing TI-Nspire products. The company added computer-like functionality and features that help students broaden critical thinking skills and make meaningful connections between the different ways math is represented. Key features and applications include:

  • Dynamically-linked representations of a single problem on one screen. "Dynamic linking" means that changes to one representation of a problem are automatically reflected in other representations, which allows students to understand relationships among math concepts. For example, students can investigate the relationships among rise, run and slope using a graph, word problem and spreadsheet.
  • Grab-and-move graphed functions Manipulate a graph’s appearance by grabbing a line and moving it to see the effect of changes in real time. This helps students see mathematical relationships and patterns.
  • Word processing and file storage features similar to computer. Students can create, edit and save documents, review and revise their work, pick up where they left off in a previous class and easily transfer documents between their handheld and computer, extending the learning process beyond the classroom.

    TI-Nspire products are being used in more than 150 pilot classrooms throughout the United States. Qualitative results show that students are more engaged and excited about math and want to continue using the TI-Nspire technology, and teachers are recommending the new technology to others, because it gives them new teaching tools to reach all students.

    The products are currently available through educational product dealers, which are listed at www.ti-nspire.com. They will also be available in major retail stores for consumers to purchase for back-to-school 2008 and will cost approximately the same as TI’s advanced graphing products.

    "The TI-Nspire opens up a whole new world of possibilities, which has helped me to think differently about how I teach my students," said Eric Butterbaugh, Algebra and Geometry instructor at Bread & Roses Integrated Arts High School in Harlem New York. "My students were comfortable with the TI-Nspire after one week and had mastered the features within six weeks."

    The world's leading math and science education publishers are developing materials specifically for use with TI-Nspire technology, such as Glencoe/McGraw Hill, Key Curriculum Press, McDougal Littell, Pearson Addison-Wesley, Pearson-Prentice Hall, Wiley Publishing and Wright Group.

    For more information about the new TI-Nspire products and the 40th anniversary of TI’s invention of the electronic handheld calculator, please visit education.ti.com/nspire/press

    TI Kicks Off Week-Long Celebration
    Commemorating the invention of the handheld electronic calculator and marking the launch of the TI-Nspire products, TI is hosting a week-long series of events, including: A donation of TI-Nspire products and several historical calculators into the educational technology archives at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History; a temporary exhibit of the 1967 prototype and TI-Nspire products at the Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas; and a traveling display to several education conferences this fall, where teachers will be able to meet one of the inventors.

    Editor's note: For images and b-roll of the 1967 prototype and new TI-Nspire products or to set up an interview the inventors of the first electronic handheld calculator, please contact Liz Edelbrock, GolinHarris, 972.341.2598, ledelbrock@golinharris.com.

    About Texas Instruments

    Education Technology, a business of Texas Instruments, provides a wide range of advanced tools connecting the classroom experience with real-world applications and enabling students and teachers to explore mathematics and science interactively. Designed with leading educators and researchers, Texas Instruments educational technology and services are tested against recognized third-party research on effective instruction and improved student learning. Such research shows that use of graphing calculators and wireless classroom networks in the classroom helps teachers implement instructional strategies that lead to student collaboration, higher student interest, engagement and achievement in mathematics.3For more than 15 years, TI has worked closely with educators and administrators to develop student-focused curricular and supplemental classroom materials, and it supports the world's largest professional development organization for the appropriate use of educational technology. More information is available at education.ti.com.

    Texas Instruments Incorporated provides innovative DSP and analog technologies to meet our customers' real world signal processing requirements. In addition to Semiconductor, the company includes the Education Technology business. TI is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has manufacturing, design or sales operations in more than 25 countries.

    Texas Instruments is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TXN. More information is located on the World Wide Web at www.ti.com

1 SRI International research report, November 2006. TI-Nspire Research

* AP and SAT are registered trademarks of the College Board. PSAT is a registered trademark of both the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which were not involved in the production of and do not endorse this product.

**ACT is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc., which does not endorse this product.

2 Both the TI-Nspire and TI-Nspire Computer Algebra System (CAS) handhelds are allowed for use on the PSAT, SAT, and AP math tests. The TI-Nspire CAS handheld is not allowed on the ACT math exam.

3 For information about research showing that graphing calculator use improves students' math skills as well as their attitudes toward math, visit education.ti.com