POLL: Who killed the beast?



#19

While scanning the PPX newsletters for my DARKSIDE CALCULATOR MUSEUM I stumbeled over this document dated May 1982:

LINK TO THE BEAST

Who killed the beast?

1) ESD (Engineers)?

2) HP-41C (Management)?

Your opinion?

Thanks and Regards,
Joerg


#20

I'd say the HP-41C AND the HP-28C (ushering RPL) killed the TI-88. It's a shame since the TI-88 is very good machine.

Namir


#21

A pretty good answer is given on Viktor Toth's T-88 page.
Perhaps by the time the 88 was canceled, TI had already decided to cede the professional market to HP and the 41, because they were already in R&D and market research for the educational graphing models. Which turned out to be much more lucrative.

#22

The hardware sucked. Ti-itis.

#23

3) TI (Management)

Like many other interesting projects of yesterday, today and tomorrow (mis)management is the primary problem. Number of MBAs and D.M.s skyrocketed in the past 20-30 years, but quality of management dropped. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/

IF TI88 has been canceled in 1982, then HP-28 could not be the reason.

#24

I wonder what its intended price was? Here in the UK at that time the wonderful Casio FX-602P was available (I had one!). Although not as powerful as this TI machine it was affordable, well-built, and very usable. It could also interface to a cassette recorder.

Although I'd love to have a TI-88 now, at the time I would have gone for the Casio unless the TI was going to be cheaper. The extra power of the TI wouldn't have been useful to me (and HP was way out of any price range I could have considered.)

I would imagine that TI felt it had spent too much on development to recover on expected sales. At a price that would return a profit, they judged that the machine wouldn't sell - high-end users would go for a HP, and low-end users would get excellent machines like the Casio for less money.

So the beast might have been slain by too much time spent in development? By the time it was ready it was too late! I don't know whose fault that would have been.

Nigel (UK)


#25

MSRP was $350 in the US.

Regards, Joerg


#26

That year (1982) at the Summer CES show in McCormick Place in Chicago, Richard Nelson and I fondly remember playing with the TI-88s at the Texas Instruments booth all four days of the show. It looked like interesting HP41 competition and we were surprised when the thing never actually saw the light of day. For the HHC2007 conference, Gene Wright and I posted a bunch of "vintage" HP and TI calc brochures on the conference website, including that of the TI88 which I had obtained at that CES show. It's still there at
http://holyjoe.net/hhc2007/TI_brochures.html . I think Richard has a more extensive version of the promotional material in his collection.

Jake Schwartz


#27

Would you mind to borrow me the TI brochures and promotional material for a few weeks?

I started to scan, photoshop and PDF them for free download on my darkside.org Museum.

Get an impression here:

Link to TI Brochures and Sales Catalogs

Regards,
Joerg

(joerg-at-datamath-dot-org)


#28

Hi,

The vast majority of that TI material belongs to Gene Wright, who originally scanned it to pdf and I hosted it on my site in time for HHC2007. The TI-88 brochure was mine, however. I have the whole "press kit" for the TI-88; now I just have to find it again. It's been a while since I looked at it. If I find the thing, I would be glad to lend it to you. I'll let you know when I locate it.

Jake

#29

Possibly, the effort by TI to push the TI-99/4A personal computer had some adverse effect on the TI-88. The TI-99/4 had come out and failed in the late 1970s, but the TI-99/4A system was a considerable improvement. It has a very interesting, almost bizarre, architecture. It was one of the first personal computers with a 16-bit processor (TMS-9900, with hardware multiply and divide). But...also a failure by 1983.


#30

Whoa what memories! I had a TI99/4A. That's where I learned my first programming language. About the coolest thing I did with it was to create a title sequence for play the neighborhood kids put on.

My friend across the street had a father that had the first video camera in the area. He was into theater and got the neighborhood to put on a production of "The Odd Couple". Since the monitor for the TI99/4A was the TV we were able to send the output of that to his video recorder and make custom titles including bitmap animations of cigar smoke and falling ashes.

Thanks for triggering an impromptu stroll down memory lane !!

#31

Quote:
It has a very interesting, almost bizarre, architecture.

Can anyone say PCjr? I loved that thing, eventually had four, one for me and one for each child. Mine sported a total of five or six "sidecars."

The architecture allowed plug-in cartridges to modify or even totally change the character of the machine. As in replace the on-board BIOS completely.

It developed an almost cult following for years after IBM abruptly discontinued it, with companies and individuals creating all sorts of new peripherals.

Hmmm... Sound like a calculator we all know?

#32

My undestanding has been that it was keyboard problems that killed the beast. I have never had one in hand but I was told that the keyboard mechannism was the same at that used in the TI-55II, TI-57LCD and BA-55. I had all three of those and each had the problem where a single keystroke would yield multiple entries into the display register. The TI-55II was so bad that TI eventually allowed an owner to simply send one in and get a TI-55III in return. The TI-55III had a much better keyboard.


#33

That's what is known as Ti-itis.


#34

TI-itis is what got me to switch to HP when a freshman in college (1980). I'd gotten one too many 8th roots or triple zero/triple 2 entries when punching a button one time with my TI calc. I got a my parents to buy me a HP-41C (they choked at first when they saw the price) but it was well worth the money and was a trusty companion until 1998. I dropped it one too many times and the posts holding the case together broke.

A guy on my dorm room floor got so frustrated with his TI calc he said he "introduced it to the wall at Mach 2" (he was an aerospace eng. major :-) ).


#35

TI-itis was a big factor in making me prefer the HP calculators back in the '70s and early '80s, even though the TI calculators offered a lot more functionality for the price (e.g. TI-59 vs. HP-67, no contest).

With the HP-41C, HP reached the point where its flagship calculator could beat the flagship TI not just on quality, but also on functionality... but that was also about the time when computers started to become affordable.

Look at the calculator marketplace today: it's dominated by financial calculators. Scientific calculators are targeted at the educational market, and at the smallish market of people who specifically need something portable/small/lightweight to use in the field. Everyone else uses computers now... What really killed the scientific calculator was cheap computers, not calculator quality issues.


#36

Thomas,

Your analysis is basically sound. The size of the market for scientifics was permanently reduced by the advent of relatively cheap computers. I know in my case, when I got my first PC, engineering software was either very expensive, or just was not available for the specific problems I had to solve. So I wrote my own. Why continue to program a calculator when you were spending time writing programs for a more powerful platform? Now, of course, engineering software proliferates.

But decades later, there still exists a continuing demand, although much smaller, for quality scientific calculators.

HP has only partly met that demand since the end of the Pioneer and 48gx era. After floundering with the 49's, they seem to have got a winner in the 50g. But for a smaller form factor, they've not yet got it right. The 33s was not well received. Great hopes were placed in the 35s, only to become a disappointment when they actually were in hand.

HP seems to be serving the business/financial market well with the 12c+, 17bii+ silver and 30b; why can't they do the same for the scientific/engineering market? I still think they will soon.


#37

This will only hap[pen if HP comes to realize or proves that a large segment of potential buyers of the "43s" scientific small form I/O machine would not/do not buy or have any interest in buying a 50G.

I think the basic position now, inferring from marketed products is, "If they want the full power, they buy the 50g. If they want portability, they are happy with the 35s."

#38

Quote:
Why continue to program a calculator when you were spending time writing programs for a more powerful platform?
Because the small programs are easier to write for the calculator, and, if you have them assigned to keys, definitely easier to access. The calculator is instant-on and more stable too. I have had some programs I commonly use in my 41cx for decades without having to reload, re-write, or transfer.

#39

Garth, I agree completely. I write new Solver "programs" almost weekly for my 27s or 17b.

But in the line you quoted, I was referring to an historical point (mid-1980's) when I had to choose between spending time programming my TI-59, or my IBM PC-XT.

#40

Quote:
That's what is known as Ti-itis.

Is there such a thing as HP-itis? I would say yes -- the nearly unbroken line of power supply problems from the very beginning to the present. I am not sure why that should be. Could it be because design at HP has historically been dominated by the twidgets?


#41

Hi Palmer,

Quote:
Could it be because design at HP has historically been dominated by the twidgets?

I had to google and found: a) A twidget was anybody who wasn’t an engineer, and therefore, according to the snipes, not a real man. At the time HP's worst charging circuit design was launched, those folks didn't play a major role there yet. So we can't blame them for this - a pity, I admit d;-)

OTOH, b) twidget n. a soldier or other military individual whose job primarily involves using or maintaining electronics. But why should electronic people make such design flaws?

So it boils down to the question: What did you want to tell us? Language should be a tool for transmitting clear messages, the less ambiguous the better (most times).


Edited: 15 Feb 2011, 2:41 a.m.


#42

Quote:
twidget n. a soldier or other military individual whose job primarily involves using or maintaining electronics.

That is the probably the basis for my use of the word. I think that I picked it up from veterans at the University of Minnesota in the late 1940's. Engineering students who weren't in the EE program tended to use EE and "twidget" interchangeably. We (I was in AeroE) really believed that the EE's were a different breed of cat. I later used the term "twidget" as a shorthand for "digital designer" in the 1970's and 1980's.
Quote:
But why should electronic people make such design flaws?

In the 1970's and 1980's I saw that there was a tendency for "twidgets" to see analog design and power supply design as less demanding than digital design. That typically translated into limitations on funding for power supply design during a development because power supply design just wasn't considered to be very difficult. I made a leap from that observation to the idea that the same sort of thing may have been at the core of the power supply problems in the HP calculator product line.
#43

I ain't never heard of a twidget. What I do know is that the power supply problem was not as big a problem as the key-wear problem. You could always buy a new battery, and HP users all read their manual and so even though the power supply/battery issue was stupid, it was nevertheless manageable---but the keyboard thing on Ti was totally unacceptable.

My first exposure to calculators was on two different SR series Tis--my father's. Both developed Ti-itis. That is the reason he bought me an HP when it came time for me to have my own machine...

By the way, it was my mentor in school who coined the term "Ti-itis." He had a little Sharp if I remember correctly. His comment when he saw me, the young whipper-snapper, with an HP was to the effect, "expensive, but the buttons are good. None of that Ti-itis." Off topic, he wrote a lot of good programs in BASIC which ran on everything from Timex Sinclairs to TRS 80 and Commodores etc. I still have some of them--printed out with a Daisy wheel printer...

#44

or:
3) lack of RPN. (and TI's knowledge that a dodgey keyboard was not going to bring in many $350 sales receipts.....if that oft repeated story was true.)

This is the TI that i would have wanted. If priced like a TI it woulda knocked a BIG hole in hp's market share.


#45

I thought Robert Noyce (Fairchild/Intel) invented the integrated circuit. U.S. pat #2,981,877.

TI's Kilby patent is later: 3,138,743 for miniaturized circuitry.

#46

The advance marketing effort for the TI-88 included a picture of the device with the question "MAY I HELP YOU?" in the display. An example appears on page 5 of The Portable Computer and Calculator Catalog 1982/1983. Among other things that was intended to demonstrate that the device had an alphanumeric capability in the display, a capability that was a selliing point for the existing HP-41.

Shortly after the demise of the TI-88 was announced in late 1982 one disgruntled potential buyer circulated a picture of the TI-88 with the "MAY I HELP YOU" message replaced with "I DO NOT EXIST."

On the front page of the V7yN10 issue of TI PPC Notes" editor Maurice Swinnen wrote:

Quote:
Electronic News, September 27, 1982, page 57, carries an article with the title "TI Portable CPU Line May Dump Top Calculator". Then it goes on saying "Texas Instruments has decided to withhold its top of the line TI-88 hand-held keystroke programmable calculator, and will scrap it altogether as it shifts priorities to a fammily of hand-held computers it will unveil shortly." The article is far too long to be reproduced here in its entirety. But I learned from it that TI has opened up eight new facilities for the production of the TI-99/4A home computer or for making its components and their total output is now 30,000 units per week.

In early 1983 I received an engineering model of the TI CC-40. The device became available at retailers in mid 1983. Its internal mechanization was simiklar to that of the TI-99/4A with base 100 arithmetic.

The LIMA 99/4A Users Group's newsletter Bits, Bytes and Pixels provided support for users of the TI-994A and some support for the CC-40 as late as April 1996.


Edited: 12 Feb 2011, 10:04 p.m.


#47

That makes it sound as if, indeed, the TI-99/4A project did adversely affect the TI-88 project.

#48

Quote:
The advance marketing effort for the TI-88 included a picture of the device with the question "MAY I HELP YOU?" in the display.
Yeah, that sort of bugged me when I first saw it. My 41cx is set such that upon turn-on it immediately tells me if there's something I'm supposed to be reminded of that day (like a daytimer, with the info coming from a DAYTMR file), and if there's nothing there it tells how long until the next alarm comes due, and if there are none, it displays the current time and date. (The usual case is the latter.) For it to say, MAY I HELP YOU?" would be a step down.

Edited: 13 Feb 2011, 1:45 a.m.


#49

Quote:
Yeah, that sort of bugged me when I first saw it. My 41cx is set such that upon turn-on it immediately tells me if there's something I'm supposed to be reminded of that day (like a daytimer, with the info coming from a DAYTMR file), and if there's nothing there it tells how long until the next alarm comes due, and if there are none, it displays the current time and date. (The usual case is the latter.) For it to say, MAY I HELP YOU?" would be a step down.

My HP-41CX doesn't do any of those things, at least so far as I know. Is that because I don't know how to use it as it came from the box, because I haven't studied the manual, or because I haven't programmed it to do those things?

I never had a TI-88. I did have some of the pre-release documentation. But what I sort of recall is that the user could program in any turn-on response that he wanted to. Many years ago I sent most of my pre-release documentation to Gene Wright. Maybe he can help.


#50

Quote:
My HP-41CX doesn't do any of those things, at least so far as I know. Is that because I don't know how to use it as it came from the box, because I haven't studied the manual, or because I haven't programmed it to do those things?
It can do them. Flag 11 has to be set when you turn it off. I have program label TOFF assigned to the summation key, and I use that to turn it off, not the ON key. TOFF just sets flag 11 and does some super-short synthetic-programming beeps and then has the OFF instruction. When you turn it on with the ON key (as opposed to an alarm coming due), program execution picks up there and goes into the portion that checks the DAYTMR file and the alarm catalog and finally displays time and date if there's nothing else that needs displaying. It takes two seconds to be ready for keystrokes. It also sets the continuous-on flag to prevent timing out and turning off at the worst times. Since it only goes off when I've told it to (either with the summation key or in a program), it always begins executing something upon turn-on. My program is not in the manuals, but all the how-to is there.

#51

Quote:
My HP-41CX doesn't do any of those things, at least so far as I know. Is that because I don't know how to use it as it came from the box, because I haven't studied the manual, or because I haven't programmed it to do those things?

It can do them. Flag 11 has to be set when you turn it off. I have program label TOFF assigned to the summation key, and I use that to turn it off, not the ON key. TOFF just sets flag 11 and does some super-short synthetic-programming beeps and then has the OFF instruction. When you turn it on with the ON key (as opposed to an alarm coming due), program execution picks up there and goes into the portion that checks the DAYTMR file and the alarm catalog and finally displays time and date if there's nothing else that needs displaying. It takes two seconds to be ready for keystrokes. It also sets the continuous-on flag to prevent timing out and turning off at the worst times. Since it only goes off when I've told it to (either with the summation key or in a program), it always begins executing something upon turn-on. My program is not in the manuals, but all the how-to is there.


Thank you for the response. I have to admit that I probably won't implement that feature as I rarely use my cadre of HP-41's.

I found some more TI-88 material. The insert which was delivered with the Volume 6 Number 3 (May/June 1982) issue of PPX Exchange said in part

Quote:
... By selecting the system prompting option, the TI-88 can greet you with the message "MAY I HELP YOU?" Responding by pressing the [YES] key leads to a series of alphanumeric prompts designed to assist you in running Solid State Software programs and in setting the calculator's time, date and alarm options. ...

That sounds a little like some of the stuff you do at turn-on with the HP-41CX.


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