By tpm | December 12, 2011
UPDATE: A couple of days after this post originally went up, I was made aware of a new hack that deserved inclusion on this list, expanding it to a top 6.
Probably every single student (and just about every teacher) who has picked up a graphing calculator has asked themselves how far the technology can be pushed. What are the limits of a graphing calculator? Without much encouragement from Texas Instruments (actually quite the opposite), a dedicated hacker community has developed over the last few decades to attempt to answer this question.
On sites like Omnimaga, Cemetech, TIplanet.org, and TIcalc.org, they can be found discussing their latest releases and hacks. While my programming skills are limited to simple Basic and Fortran algorithms, I’ve admired what this community has done from a distance. A recent release of a Gameboy Color emulator for the TI-Nspire CX inspired me to put together this list. Although I could never claim to know which of their hacks and programs were the most technically daunting, I have put together my five favorite Texas Instruments calculator hacks in no particular order, each complete with a Youtube clip demonstrating it. If it seems like I’m a little biased towards gaming hacks, it’s because I am. There’s just something cool about being able to play Doom on a TI-Nspire.
Doom on the TI-Nspire
“Mrakoplaz” made news on Omnimaga and around the world when he successfully ported the real Doom to the TI-Nspire. Unlike previous clones, this was the real deal, the complete original game. The tech world took notice, with sites as big as Engadget reporting on the story.
Doom in Color!
Well, shortly after the original post, I received word from Xavier Andreani (AKA “Critor”) that he had succeeded in bringing Doom in color to to the TI-Nspire CX. It’s obvious that the CX’s color capabilities are inspiring the hackers to take advantage of all it can do.
Gameboy on the TI-84
TI-Boy is an emulator of the original Nintendo Gameboy. Calc84maniac, AKA Brendan Fletcher, released the emulator in 2009, and much to the delight of TI and Nintendo enthusiasts everywhere, Gameboy ROM’s would now work on your TI-84.
TI-Nspire Gameboy Color
Of course, an Gameboy emulator for the TI-84 wasn’t enough for Calc84mania. Gameboy fever persisted as he also released a Gameboy Color emulator for the TI-Nspire CX. This is the newest video/hack on this list, the video just having been released.
Gossamer Web Browser
A Cemetech project brought the internet to the TI-84 family of calculators with the Gossamer Web Browser. Kerm Martian is the man behind this unusual way to surf the web.
The TI-84 Jailbreaks the PS3
Brandon Wilson, an East Tennessee State University graduate, created a hack that allowed users to jailbreak their PS3 using their TI-84 calculator. It is my understanding that subsequent firmware releases for the PS3 closed the exploit, but that does nothing to dampen my admiration for another creative way of bringing together the gaming world with the math world.