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The Best Tech Gift I’ve Ever Received: The TI-89 Graphing Calculator

by Joey Davidson | December 25, 2012December 25, 2012 9:00 am PDT

You figure that the gaming writer for TechnoBuffalo would pick a gaming console of some sort for his favorite tech gift, right? Wrong! I’m going with a graphing calculator. Bring it on.

The year was 1999, and I was a brand new freshman in high school. One of the requirements for AP and Honors classes in my school district back then was that students had to have access to a graphing calculator. The brand most teachers told their students to buy or borrow was Texas Instruments.

By far, the most widely used calculator in my high school was the TI-83 Plus. It sold for around $50 at local office supply stores, and teachers typically used it as the calculator they built some of their lessons around. Students bought this model for that reason: it was easy to follow the lesson when you’re working from the same device.

Me? Nope. I wanted a calculator that was capable of a little more. Specifically, I wanted to play games. Suddenly, I’ve realized why I’m so terrible at math…

For Christmas in ’99, my folks bought me a TI-89. Several models later than the TI-83 Plus (though the Plus and 89 were released in the same year), the TI-89 packed more memory, better pixel density and a faster processor. It was a beast compared to the 83 Plus, and that meant the games were better.

Several free sites offered up a whole variety of games. You could download ports of classics like Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog, but I was never a big fan of piracy. The term “piracy” wasn’t really tossed around back then, but I recognized that I’d much rather play Nintendo and Sega games on the systems they belonged to. Instead, I went for user-created software.

My favorite game? Falldown.

Clearly a rip-off of a game for the Atari, Falldown was fun because of its simplistic nature.

Joey Davidson

Joey Davidson leads the gaming department here on TechnoBuffalo. He's been covering games online for more than 10 years, and he's a lover of all...