The TI-30Xa Solar: A True Friend
The TI-30Xa Solar: A True Friend
When I was a little kid, I was obsessed with calculators. I was a bit of a math prodigy and I would sit around and play with my grandparents' calculators for hours when I was 5 and 6 years old. I remember how fascinated I used to be by exponents and how quickly squarely any number repeatedly would eventually force the calculator to give you an error message because the number would become so ridiculously large.
I probably drove my grandparents and my mom crazy stealing their calculators and playing with them. When I was about 8 years old, I needed a calculator for school and my mom took me on the annual school supply shopping trip we made every Fall. For the first time, I finally owned my very own calculator. It was a Texas Instruments model TI-30Xa Solar Scientific calculator:
How could I have known that I would still be using that calculator 20 years later? Who would've guessed that I would pull it out to calculate financial statement ratios and operating cash flows per share for publicly traded companies? Sure, I could use MS Excel and I actually do rely on spreadsheet programs heavily, but sometimes, when I just want to get a few quick metrics with little hassle, I pull out my trusty friend and in a matter of seconds, he has the answer for me.
Maybe it's just me, but I think people seem to create close connections with their calculators. The reason I believe this is because how often people will comment when they see someone else using a calculator. "I have the HP version of that calculator" or "have you tried the BAII Plus Financial version of that calculator?" People seem to develop a degree of loyalty to their calculators. I'm no exception. I wouldn't ever own anything than a Texas Instrument calculator at this point in my life. I don't have anything against the HPs; they may be excellent calculators, but why would I switch when I'm so happy with my TIs?
Some have found it odd that I use such a simple calculator when they know I perform very complex analysis. I actually own the TI BAII Plus Financial and it's a great little calculator, as well. I have no complaints about it. Yet, just like opening up that Excel spreadsheet takes a bit of time to gain some extra functionality, the same is true with the BAII. If I want some quick and dirty numbers, I just grab a pen and paper, pull out my TI 30Xa Solar and plug away and scribe down my results. It's trusty, simple, and reliable --- plus, since it's a solar-powered calculator, I don't have to worry about draining down the battery.
As you can tell, I love my TI-30Xa Solar. There is some sad news, however. You see, over the past couple of months, my TI-30Xa has slowly been having more difficulty. The solar panel appears to be straining to obtain enough light to power the calculator. I occasionally find myself holding the calculators directly up to the light to try to make it function better. Yes, it would appear that my TI-30Xa is slowly dying after 20 long years. I can still use him, but he's only got so much longer before it's time to move onto his final resting place.
I'm going to order a TI-36X Solar Scientific to replace my TI-30Xa. I hope my relationship with it is just as fruitful as my relationship with TI-30Xa. I hate to say goodbye to a dear friend, but I can't say he didn't provide me with value in his 20 years of service.
There are so many companies out there today that make complete crap products and that we as consumers develop a great level of disdain and distrust for. It's so rare to find a company or a product that you feel good about even 20 years later. For that, I think the TI-30Xa Solar deserves this tribute! I'll miss you 'ole pal!
P.S. TXN still looks very cheap to me. It's not the type of stock I buy in real life, as I look for higher-growth and deep value stocks that potentially can create large returns. But for one with a more conservative disposition towards investing, Texas Instruments is a great company, with loyal customers, that has some intriguing prospects moving forward, and is selling at a very low level in relation to its historical cash flows.