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Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators

Posted on 6 September 1998

The following text was written by Matthew Stits:

When one looks at the evaluation of the TI series of calculators, one sees more and more people trying to push the envelope of what one can do with them. At first, just a few basic games, then assemblers, all the way up to memory expansion kits. With this in mind, TI did make it a bit harder to make an assembler on the TI series with the 92. I remember many people discussing the problems (of which I do not recall the exact reasons) which gave way to making fargo a very stable shell built on an Operating Sytem never intended for it. With time and the presence of fargo, TI has seen that someone will always find a way to get around what ever obstacles presented and has now put an assembler on their TI-89 and TI-92 Plus models.

At first this would seem great for the TI's. In one single step they have erased the need of so many people who enjoyed their work. Now after explaining some of the history to this saga, I feel TI has given themselves a bit of an Achilles heel. With the ever growing cost of the college student's calculator, TI said, "Hey! Let's put Flash ROM in so they will only have to buy one calculator for a little more." With this in mind a hole was opened that none had previously thought about. Why doesn't someone now make a complete OS for the calculator? It could be anything from a small unix box, to a full fledged GUI OS. Here I'd like to present some examples of it why it should be done. All the registers are out and I am sure that a 10 MHz chip is more than enough for a GUI interface or at least a basic lunix shell to start from.

I think that the biggest problem would be in making a joint inter face for both the TI-89 and TI-92 Plus. It would most likely have to be recompiled for each version with different specs for the first few builds until a set amount of memory is dedicated to output for the LCD screen. There are at least 3 OS's made from this chip and its children already! Mac OS, Norton "that pseudo Palm Pilot" and Sega's very basic ROM reading OS for its genesis and probably a few more. This is by no means to say the that Fargo has no purpose, but what if they made it into a full fledged OS and not a shell on top of an OS never intended to work in the back ground?

When looking at this from the a different angle, one sees a few possible problems. Some (actually most) of us don't have a TI-92 Plus, so Fargo is all that many can use. Fargo is probably a lot better planned than whatever TI had made. Fargo can use libraries, make TSR's, and many other things that I for one doubt TI put that much work. There are already many good programs for Fargo "that could be ported at a later date". As for making your own OS for the calculator, all you could do is turn it into what most (at least at first) would consider a novelty or GameBoy, not to be taken seriously. Why reinvent a calculator that TI paid lots of people to make? I believe a person or small group of people not getting paid would make anything as good or better.

  Reply to this item

Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"
John G

Perhaps another option to look at would be to create two distinct modes for the calc. Create something like a boot-disk (not physically of course)that will fine tune the calc for gaming, and can be shut down afterwards. Maybe This could be incorporated into a shell. When the shell is run, it could adjust the rom to meet gaming needs. When it is ended, it puts it back. I realize that this would kill off a lot of cats really quickly, though.
Or, do this in the form of plugins, that add functoinality, but do not take any way.
The ultimate goal of this is to not take away from the wonderful built-in functions that TI gave us, and to give games programmers a better medium to work with.

forgive me for any incorrect terminology. My _only_ programming experience is TI BASIC and limited basic ASM.

Reply to this comment    19 April 1999, 05:20 GMT

Carried Far Away
Nasir Mohammad
(Web Page)

Ok. Looks like everyone on this message board is getting far too carried away with GUIs and Shells for the TI. Not like that's bad or anything... Let's think about this a bit more.

Since there is only about 500K some memory on this machine, the OS would have to be VERY small. The best idea here would be something in the lines of DOS Prompt (although painful for some people, it would work the best at the 10 MHz, trust me, since it runs pretty well on an XT). Next, we'd need a shell menu system since it would be sorrowful to type commands using the TI89 keypad (it would be pretty good on the 92's, but we need it to be compatible with both systems).

The OS would need to be rather powerful, as to be able to access all the already defined functions of the TI89, plus whatever else it wishes to implement.

In order to be worthwhile, it will need some BIOS commands built into it, so we would be able to access external devices. Say, a portable disk drive like the one made by IBM (the one they claim is the size of a quarter). This would be one of the phattest accessories ever made for the TI. Just think about it... 100MB of storage for programs, games, etc!

Now, why stop at an external disk drive? Let's make it so that it has daisy-chain capabilities. We must now make a TI modem. Since we already have the 100MB disk, we can load TI-Browser on there, and use the modem to connect to an ISP. We don't need anything too graphical in terms of the browser, just something in the line of the old Lynx.

What else? Ah. Networking. Why not? Let's make a 10BaseT device that could be daisy chained along with the disk drive and the modem. Now we can link several calculators together and have a giant monolith brain.

Then again, we're off to Nevernever Land. Let's just be happy with what we have. TI has done an excellent job implementing the menu system on their calcs. However, remember, that dreaming once in a while is very healthy for the human mind.

(I'd like to see the replies to this one.)

Reply to this comment    23 April 1999, 05:20 GMT

Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"
Gary Coulbourne
(Web Page)

Microware made an OS for the 6809 CPU that fit in 8k, with multitasking, multiuser capabilities. The shell was another 8k. Basic09 took up 8k more. It ran on a 64k computer. And it was FAST and sleek. At 0.75Mhz :)

There's no reason for an OS to be big if it is reentrant, so long as the majority of the code is shared (and the 68k can handle that no worries) it could be very small.

Reply to this comment    26 May 1999, 05:03 GMT

Linux on M68000!
(Web Page)

Do you know that there is a Linux/Microcontroller project ? I'm absolutely not part of them but they have already released a Palmpilot I port of Linux. And PalmpilotI is based on Motorola 68000 microcontroller...
Web site adress is linked upper.
And good luck for all of u who are crazy enouth to port that to TI-89/92...

Reply to this comment    29 May 1999, 11:49 GMT

ti-83 plus OS's
Mike Weber  Account Info

hey how can u make a OS for the TI-83 plus?????????????????????????????????

Reply to this comment    15 June 2005, 23:57 GMT

Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"

Does any one know where I can find a program for my TI-86 so that I can factor polynomials into binomials ?

Reply to this comment    28 June 1999, 09:47 GMT

Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"

Nope, don't, but I'm working on making one. (unless you don't care if there are decimals, in which case I can get you that program as soon as I have a chance to go buy a link cable)

Reply to this comment    23 December 2002, 03:43 GMT

Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"

What's this thing with GUIs?
I use the UNIX C shell for almost all of my computing needs, and when I use Solaris and X Windows (the d facto GUI for UNIX/Linux) I spend 80% of my time in a terminal window. My point is: a GUI is not necessary. It looks nice, certainly, and point-and-click and drag-and-drop certainly make things easier to do, but at the cost of all-important CPU time, memory, and storage. An with the limited resources of a TI calc, a GUI is one luxury too expensive to have.
It is true that it would be torture to type with the keyboard, but with a few menus and hotkey combos (much like the TI-OS), a command line prompt would be sufficently fast. Commonly used commands like ls (dir), cd, more, cp, rm, ps, could be placed in a menu. Notice that 5 of the 6 commands are two characters - it wouldn't take much effort to type them either. For those who insist on a GUI, a shell could be written to provide one.

Reply to this comment    5 August 1999, 18:23 GMT

Re: Building OSes for Flash ROM Calculators
jacob goofl  Account Info

Looking for ti-89 program that solve logs most logs step by step

Reply to this comment    11 March 2014, 02:35 GMT

Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"
Robby Gutmann

You're wrong. There is not an assembler on any TI calculators. Learn your facts, and get your terminology right next time. There is built in assembly on some TI calcs, but that is it.

Reply to this comment    6 September 1998, 02:24 GMT

Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"

Actually, I would have to agree with the man. I mean, I doubt he meant that the calculators have an assembler built INTO them, he means that assembly is possible on these calculators. Furthermore, the TI-89 does have the power to do this, and I think it would be great for the "scene".

Reply to this comment    6 September 1998, 02:50 GMT

Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"

Wrong. Know your facts before flaming someone. TI's flashable series (if you dont know, the 92+ and the 89) have more support for assembly, not an editor, but more than the normal "loop-holes" found in other TIcalcs the made assembly possible. I wonder, "Why doesn't TI impliment OSes in the first place.....duh-they'de be computers then....how long until the TI-100 or TI-200 came out with a 25 MHz processor? Then they'de be like most palmtops. Then would come Word and Excel and MS Office or rather TI Office." However, I think after-market OSes would be good cause they wouldn't spark any pricing increases, nor would they jeprodize the TI's calculator-hood--they'd turn into comptuers if TI did it.
P.S. How can I use a computer to TI-92 Plus link? Nothing works.....do I have to buy TI's Graph Link+ cable? Thanks!

Reply to this comment    6 September 1998, 08:56 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"
Ben Fuhrman

You can connect a Ti-92+ to a computer via a parallel cable and Flink (It comes with the Fargo 2 kit).

Reply to this comment    6 September 1998, 17:19 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"
Samuel Park

I have a TI-89, and I want to use my parallel link with it...
Is there any program that will work with it?

Reply to this comment    15 October 1998, 20:04 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"

There's a program that runs in dos called Send 89. It's the only sender now for the parralell, however it won't send files larger than 50k, so sending smq would be impossible. you need to ungroup files before sending them, so use TI's graphLink software to do that (!) E-mail me for the software and/or more information.

Reply to this comment    8 January 1999, 20:20 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"
Bader Adrian

That works, the sending with the FLINK and with the parallelcable. But how we can get Files th PC?
Or how we can receive a Backup?? Or update the FlashRom???? Please tell me!! - thanks.

Reply to this comment    9 November 1998, 12:07 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"

But how we can receive Files with FLINK? I don't know, where the files will stored!
Or how we can receive a Backup? or update the FlashROM?

Reply to this comment    9 November 1998, 12:11 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"

You can also rename the .9xz file to .92p, then you can link it with the normal parallel link programms.

Reply to this comment    7 September 1998, 13:16 GMT

Stop it !
(Web Page)

Exactly they'd be computers ... and they would forbidden in France !! This means that no one would buy them anymore.
Most of the French students have the right to use it because it doesn't exceed a legal size :-) but if there would be a full-featured OS on it , it will likely be forbidden.
It should already be forbidden but it's not. An OS would be great if it just was a programming machine but it's not ! At least in France

Reply to this comment    8 September 1998, 17:04 GMT

Re: Stop it !

France is not the only country that buys ti-92's As being forbiden, I assume your talking about being able to use them on school tests. It shouldn't matter what calcualtor you have during a test, if you pay attention in class and learn the material you should be able to take any test the teacher gives you with a simple hand calculator. The only thing I use my ti-92 is if I have a complicated calculation or graph I have to do, school test generally do not require calculations that are too complicated to preform on a small hand calculator.

Reply to this comment    8 September 1998, 20:47 GMT

Re: Re: Stop it !
Gregory Leffler
(Web Page)

I don't know what math class you are in that you can solve all problems with a four-function. I'm in high school advanced sophomore math, and I need a TI-83 or better. Some of the functions we are doing cannot be done with a four-function, i.e. Complex Numbers, functions, etc.

Reply to this comment    1 October 1998, 21:01 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Stop it !
Polgy Funk

You don't need a calculator for any math class. All mathematical problems are solveable by the human mind...we had to "teach", or program, the calculators in the first place so that they could perform all functions now capable on top-of-the-line calculators. Try solving a problem once in a while using only your mind...don't let your mind become lazy so that you depend on the calculator.

Reply to this comment    9 October 1998, 05:42 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop it !
Jeremy Mullins
(Web Page)

I would like to quote my Circuits 2 professor: "If you have a calculator with the means to do [whatever], then why should you make it hard on yourself. You're right in saying all mathematics is solvable by the human mind, if it wasn't, then we wouldn't have calculators to do it in the first place, but the calculators are made to do these things for a reason, and that reason is to be used to assist in complex and/or time consuming computations. If you are suggesting that we stop using calculators, or only use basic calculators, then there is no need to develop computer or digital technology any further because it would be pointless since, according to you, we shouldn't have to use it.

Just my two cents.

Reply to this comment    26 December 1998, 07:37 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop it !

This reminds me of an (Asimov?) short story, where humans were so advanced that they had computers do all their work, but the society broke down after the computer crashed and nobody knew how to fix it. Or something to that effect.
Just my 1 1/2 cents...

Reply to this comment    20 October 1999, 02:02 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Stop it !
Mark Henry

Wow... you mean to say that you need a calculator to solve math problems in high school? I'm a junior at Virginia Tech and we're not allowed to use ANY calculators for ANY math class, including Multivariable Calculus, Differential Equations, or Applied Combinatorics and Graph Theory. And some people are worried about complex numbers? Calculators are great, but... it hope to know the material, too.

Reply to this comment    28 December 1998, 22:49 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Stop it !
Alan Harper

Wow, the opposite here in australia (victoria). for the last two years of school anybody doing a maths class must have a graphing calculator (school standard is a ti83)

Reply to this comment    3 March 1999, 04:07 GMT

Re: Stop it !
Tyson Clugg
(Web Page)

It is of interest to note that here in Victoria, Australia, we have a definitive rule on what computing devices are allowed into exams. The rule states that devices with a key layout designed for keying in text (ie: QWERTY keyboard) are forbidden. TI 82 and 83 are very popular here, even though VBOS (Victorian Board Of Studies) ruled that all graphic calculators must have their memory cleared by a supervisor upon entry to exams.

Reply to this comment    8 March 1999, 15:17 GMT

Re: Re: Stop it !
Rob Smith

but with the 89, you can reset the mem and get all your flashrom back with archutil 2.0, i love that

Reply to this comment    17 June 1999, 03:05 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"

> how long until the TI-100 or TI-200 came out with a 25 MHz processor?

Umm... Would a TI-101 count? (grin)

In case you have never seen those, they are blue (bright blue with red and white keys) _normal_ (ie, not even scientific; just + - * / root etc) calculator we used to use in elemetry school...

On second thought, maybe not. Ah well.

Reply to this comment    20 October 1999, 01:59 GMT

Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"
RCTParRoThEaD  Account Info
(Web Page)

Hey dumbass, the TI-83 Plus has a built in assembler. The code for a program would be:



Reply to this comment    13 May 2002, 05:20 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Article: "Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators"
Pedro Silva  Account Info
(Web Page)

If that works why to use ion and mirage OS?
also I can't put it to work

Reply to this comment    2 April 2003, 21:11 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Article: Building OSs for Flash ROM Calculators
blauggh Account Info

How about you learn what "assembler" means. Assembly language is _not_ synonymous with HEX code. Assembly language uses human-readable pseudonyms to stand in-place for op-codes and memory addresses, etc.

Typing the hex codes directly into a text file is _not_ writing in assembly, it's writing in machine language. Get your facts straight, dumbass.

Reply to this comment    14 July 2004, 01:35 GMT

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