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JakilaTheHun (99.93)

The TI-30Xa Solar: A True Friend

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July 12, 2009 – Comments (10) | RELATED TICKERS: TXN , HPQ

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.  

10 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On July 12, 2009 at 3:01 PM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

I liked mine. I had the battery version first and the keys were so "worn out" after a while that you had to press them as hard as you could and even that was no guarantee of success, you had to watch the result of nearly every keystroke. I then switched to the solar version.

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#2) On July 12, 2009 at 4:05 PM, Tastylunch (29.20) wrote:

LOL, great post jakila

I'm a Ti-85 guy myself, and not just for the "Tron" game.

never really got ino the Ti-92, although the allure of playing "Drug Wars" on the calcuator almost got me to switch.

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#3) On July 12, 2009 at 10:25 PM, TheClub55 (< 20) wrote:

I am a BAII Plus guy... it the one thing that can strike fear into a car saleman.  I like looking casual when looking for a car (doing all my research ahead of time), the going in w/ any paper work, ie looking like a target.  But, then after dealing w/ the quotes and BS, pull out the BAII to review their numbers.  They really just seem to give up and give straigh up numbers after that point...

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#4) On July 13, 2009 at 10:04 AM, anticitrade (99.66) wrote:

As a BS and MS in engineering I have used top versions of both the HP and TI.  However, during my senior year as an engineer we were required to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, and for the first year you could NOT use a graphing calculator.  This was like a sharp kick in the crotch to the engineering community.  So after some research into the most powerfull non-graphing calculator available, I purchased the Casio fx-115MS.  Featuring a solver function, binary logic, solar cells, and the ability to do derivities.  I kicked my old calculators to the curb and have used nothing else for the last 5 years.

As a kid I had a calculator that was a giant grinning face.  The numbers displayed in the teeth and it talked.  I wish I had that calculator during my MBA.

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#5) On July 13, 2009 at 10:09 AM, kaskoosek (55.71) wrote:

Calculators are getting phased out.

 

I personally would not buy the stock. Emotion clouds judgement. 

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#6) On July 13, 2009 at 10:28 AM, toshimelonhead (40.16) wrote:

Calculators aren't getting phased out in the school areas.  High schoolers need TXN's graphing calculators if they have any shot of passing even Algebra II at some schools.  It's impossible to pass either the AP Statistics or AP Calculus exams without a TI-83 calculator or better, and it is extremely helpful on other standardized tests like the ACT.  This helps TXN create a very loyal customer service base as the consumers stay with them throughout college and during work.

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#7) On July 13, 2009 at 10:44 AM, anticitrade (99.66) wrote:

I agree with Kaskoosek, everything that needed to be calculated when calculators were first invented has surely been calculated by now.  The smart money is in "magic eight balls"....  In fact let me just ask my "magic eight ball" what type of returns I should expect from investing in Mattell (MAT).....   I think "reply hazy, try again" is a pretty definitive answer.

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#8) On July 13, 2009 at 11:36 AM, JakilaTheHun (99.93) wrote:

Kaskoosek,

TI does make things other than calculators.  They stand to benefit from shifts in technology:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/117253-cloud-computing-texas-instruments-says-think-powerless-computing

 

Besides, who do you think is purchasing calculators?  Computers have been around in business for ages.  The people purchasing calculators are students for the most part.  Students aren't disappearing.  

Most secondary school math teachers are going to require their students own some form of calculator.  Also, a lot of finance and accounting professors require one, as well (such as the BAII Plus Financial).  

 

It's not so much "emotional investing".  It's investing based on the reasoning of yourself as a consumer.  If you develop a strong relationship with a company, chances are that others have as well.  If you are immediately turned off by a company and wonder why anyone would shop there, chances are others are thinking that way, as well.  I think when it comes to retail devices, you have to think like a consumer when you are investing.  Glancing at financial data alone can be problematic.

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#9) On July 13, 2009 at 11:37 AM, JakilaTheHun (99.93) wrote:

TheClub,

Ha!  That's a great strategy. :)

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#10) On July 13, 2009 at 11:59 AM, ReadEmAnWeep (61.29) wrote:

"As a BS and MS in engineering I have used top versions of both the HP and TI.  However, during my senior year as an engineer we were required to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, and for the first year you could NOT use a graphing calculator.  This was like a sharp kick in the crotch to the engineering community.  So after some research into the most powerfull non-graphing calculator available, I purchased the Casio fx-115MS.  Featuring a solver function, binary logic, solar cells, and the ability to do derivities.  I kicked my old calculators to the curb and have used nothing else for the last 5 years. "

 

Yes! just finished my junior year in engr. I will have the same problem. Love my TI-89!!!

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