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A Glimpse through Time
Posted by Ryan on 7 June 2012, 01:15 GMT

My first exposure to programming was during my elementary school years, when I discovered QBasic; as I developed, I received exposure to other systems and languages. I began to know that, when I grew up, I wanted to "be a programmer" so that I could create, solve problems, and have fun, all at the same time. In young adulthood and beyond, I found that I had an interest in older hardware and, consequently, the software designed to run on these systems. I can say in earnest that it was my adoration for TI calculators that modeled this bridge for me.

Over the years, many expert and accomplished programmers have applied their skills to programming calcs, for both work and amusement, creating the software that we have all come to know and love. To this day, I still will not travel without a calc loaded with Phoenix for my pleasure. Many of these programmers opened up to us with their own personal interests and knowledge, both implicitly and explicitly. There is a lot of software that graces our archives here at ticalc.org that gives a knowing nod to software that has served to, and still does, inspire. I remember when I first encountered Vinegar, a CHIP-8/SCHIP interpreter that led my mind down avenues of learning that I otherwise would have not encountered and, might I add, still impresses me to this day. I can express the sense of contentment upon seeing that robotfindskitten had found a home on the 83/84+ series. You can still talk to ELIZA, the TI-83 ASM version being my first exposure to a realm of software that ultimately launched me on a path into researching language analysis and theory. Any, hey, what's to stop you from rocking out with nothing but a calc and some headphones?

If lacking in bleeding-edge graphics and state-of-the art hardware, our calculators have the potential to connect us to the past in terms of culture, software, and historical curiousity, as well as to the future. After all, there are some things that none of us had ever dared to dream possible.

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The comments below are written by ticalc.org visitors. Their views are not necessarily those of ticalc.org, and ticalc.org takes no responsibility for their content.


Re: A Glimpse through Time
Ryan Boyd Account Info
(Web Page)

I would like to sincerely apologize to the ticalc.org users for the unfortunate extended break in the news over the past two months. Thanks for your patience!

Sincerely,
-Ryan

Reply to this comment    7 June 2012, 01:19 GMT

Re: A Glimpse through Time
shmibs  Account Info

calculators do indeed help to introduce a younger generation to concepts they may never become acquainted with elsewhere by forcing them to "reinvent the wheel." without graphics libs, vast expanses of disposable RAM and disc space, and high-level data operations, they gain an appreciation for efficiency, elegance, and innovation that is seldom seen in today's world of java and objective-C.

Reply to this comment    7 June 2012, 02:35 GMT


Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
ParserPadwan Account Info

Totally seconded. I would never had gotten into computer programming without the bridge of good ol' TI-Basic and Axe to help me get there.

Reply to this comment    7 June 2012, 04:16 GMT


Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
jwalker  Account Info

I Totaly agree, I would not be programming if I hadn't stumbled onto the prgm menu on my old nspire's 84+ emulation.

Reply to this comment    7 June 2012, 04:49 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
ParserPadwan Account Info

Although with the new Nspires and their operating systems, it is limiting many people who would be a great programmer, but can't due to TI's being stupid. If only there were a way to make them more open like the 83+ family...

Reply to this comment    7 June 2012, 19:14 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
blue_bear_94 Account Info
(Web Page)

One word: Ndless.

Reply to this comment    7 June 2012, 22:59 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
Stefan Bauwens  Account Info
(Web Page)

I believe you can for sure become a great programmmer coding in Lua, so I must dissagree with you there. Although it would probably nice if you could ALSO have C, I can understand completely why TI doesn't allow it.

Also, nice article Ryan. I hope it will help people who are new to he world of TI. :)

Reply to this comment    8 June 2012, 06:27 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
return_0 Account Info

Yes, I wish there were more languages to program in on TI calcs. Is it true what I read that there is a C compiler for 84? If it's true, that would be awesome. Also, I am in the process of building a Ruby variant in TI-BASIC (I don't know Lua but I plan to learn it) for the Nspire (Although it's difficult because of TI-BASIC's limitations, especially on Nspire). Hopefully some more experienced programmers can make similar projects.

Reply to this comment    15 June 2012, 03:38 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
Jim Bauwens Account Info
(Web Page)

Stop ! (:P)

Please don't even spend the time of building the Ruby interpreter in TI-Basic. Take some time to learn Lua, it pretty simple, but much faster and better compared to TI-Basic. With Lua your Ruby interpreter would be much more decent :D
(no offense)

I've made a LOGO interpreter (UCB-LOGO actually) in Lua, and it runs at a reasonable speed.

Now, Lua is very nice. Not a toy language as some might call it ;)

Reply to this comment    16 June 2012, 08:38 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
return_0 Account Info

I totally agree. It's just that I haven't learned Lua, but I reeeeeally want to, for obvious reasons. I guess I could start soon, since it's the summer.

Reply to this comment    4 July 2012, 14:49 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
blue_bear_94 Account Info
(Web Page)

SDCC (Small Device C Compiler) can compile C for z80 microprocessors, but its code isn't that good compared to TIGCC. Another language for the 84 is Axe.

Reply to this comment    16 June 2012, 17:15 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
jwalker  Account Info

True, but I probably would never have started programming in lua though.

Reply to this comment    8 June 2012, 18:01 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
return_0 Account Info

The first TI program I saw was when I was in 6th grade and an 8th grader who was (kind of) my friend but was also a troller created a program on my 84+SE called "LOL" and typed in over a hundred trigonometric functions and then a random number. He then executed the program in hopes of crashing my calculator. It didn't work. At the time, I was new to calcs, and I ignored the Memory menu for a while without knowing what it did, so I had that stupid program sitting in my programs menu for months. Good times, good times…

Reply to this comment    6 July 2012, 23:19 GMT

Re: A Glimpse through Time
blue_bear_94 Account Info
(Web Page)

So, what is the purpose of this article?

Reply to this comment    7 June 2012, 19:27 GMT


Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
Ryan Boyd Account Info
(Web Page)

Conceptually, the goal is to point out that a lot of the software featured on the site has a history prior to calc programming itself. It also serves to nest calc programming and its conceptual / social history within the greater context of programming itself. There are a lot of people who come to ticalc.org who don't have a background in programming and are likely to be unaware of these bits of information. If you are bankrupt of interest, that is your prerogative.

Finally, it was a chance to feature some software.

Reply to this comment    7 June 2012, 19:49 GMT


Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
Jim Bauwens Account Info
(Web Page)

Hey Ryan, have you seen TI-Story (see above link) ?
Newsing about that would definitely make people contribute to the project :D

(And I think it's worth a news :P)

Reply to this comment    7 June 2012, 20:46 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
James Vernon  Account Info
(Web Page)

Agreed, the TI-Story site is a great project, and definitely newsworthy!

Reply to this comment    8 June 2012, 12:58 GMT

Re: A Glimpse through Time
Greg Miller  Account Info
(Web Page)

When I was growing up, my first computer was a performa Mac, followed by a windows 98 PC. However, I learned to program accidentally, by playing with an old Atari 800 XL (which was past my time). I fell in-love with BASIC. When I started High School freshman year, I learned that Graphing Calc's had BASIC on them. I BEGGED my parents for one. How cool would that be... a portable programming environment!

After playing with basic on my 83+, I moved to precalc and got a 89... which lead me to learn C with TIGCC. Oh man, THAT was fun! That really gave me a lesson in optimizing for limited hardware. It really strengthened my understanding of code and hardware. Programming TI's was an experience I wouldn't trade for anything - too bad the community doesn't seem as fertile as it used to be, with iPhones and Droids and such.

Reply to this comment    8 June 2012, 11:26 GMT

Re: A Glimpse through Time
James Vernon  Account Info
(Web Page)

Cool article!

Like many others, TI calculators were my first venture into programming, in my case when I had to get a TI-83 in high school, and discovered the "PRGM" button.. That was the start of something that taught me a lot and kept me amused for many, many hours!

At first, I thought TI-BASIC was all that was possible. Then one of my mates somehow acquired Spaze Invaders, and I knew I had to learn how to manipulate the calculator in that kind of way.. So I came online, found ticalc.org and the Assembly-83 mailing list :)

Reply to this comment    8 June 2012, 12:57 GMT


Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
Ryan Boyd Account Info
(Web Page)

Let me be the first to say, I think that we're all glad that you did :)

Reply to this comment    18 June 2012, 18:58 GMT

Re: A Glimpse through Time
Ronakbhai Account Info
(Web Page)

Ah, I too have developed as a programmer similarly to many here. I started out with a Casio color graphing calculator myself, using it to "cheat" in math class by writing programs that basically did the work for me. The teacher would reset our calculators, and I'd spend about 15 minutes programming and testing the program. Then spend about 5 minutes actually taking the test, and end up leaving first every time. :)

Soon thereafter, I discovered the ASM programs for the TI-85 were very fast. I purchased a TI-86 then and continued with BASIC programming. When the TI-89 launched, I sold my TI-86 and bought the TI-89 and dived into asm68k programming, then onto TI-GCC. From there, I ended up learning C as well and developed a few programs for Windows.

In 11th grade, I finally got the opportunity to take programming in school, and spent 2 years learning C++ then.

It's been a long while since then, but most definitely the TI calculators have built the bridge that I used to become the programmer I am today. From simple "cheating" in math class is where it all began. :)

Reply to this comment    11 June 2012, 05:24 GMT


Re: Re: A Glimpse through Time
Ryan Boyd Account Info
(Web Page)

I always took the "work smarter, not harder" approach with my calc when it came to solving problems for math classes. I was always a bit surprised that more students didn't take an interest in programming their calcs back then; it was always an entertaining challenge and saved a *lot* of work in the long run.

I suppose that it's my proclivity towards laziness that keeps me programming to this day :)

Reply to this comment    18 June 2012, 19:02 GMT

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