Calculator Rip Offs

OK. Let’s talk about a scam that’s being perpetrated on households across America (and probably lots of other nations as well) at this time of year. That scam is… the handheld calculator.
When I opened up the paper today and I saw not one, but two different office supply stores offering the HP 12C calculator for $70 my eyes popped out of their sockets, rolled across the room, and spontaneously started trying to bounce up and down on the 9, 1, 1 buttons on the phone to report the robbery. This is a calculator that cost around $100 the first year I attended college and I purchased my HP 11C (basically the same calculator but the 11C has engineering oriented functions rather than financial functions). That’s 18 years ago people! Can you think of any piece of electronics in existence that hasn’t either gotten massively faster and more capable or else had its price plummet in 18 years?!?
That is pure unadulterated bullshit… But it’s not like the 12C is alone in its mystical fantasy pricing world. Just look at the prices on calculators like the TI 83 Plus. This is a calculator with a “large” 64 X 96 display (6,144 pixels) and 24K bytes RAM (160K bytes of data archive and application space). It costs almost $100 dollars? What?!? A Palm M100 with two megabytes of RAM and a 160×160 (25,600 pixels) costs $129 and that’s probably too high!
Folks, you are being ripped off! Do not buy an expensive scientific graphing calculator. Your child will probaly not even be able to run it anyway. Do not buy into this magical pricing system. Buy a reasonably priced scientific calculator like the HP 30S and if the kid needs to do graphs, get him or her some software for the computer. If you absolutely have to have something that the child can take to school, buy an inexpensive PDA and find some software to put onto it to get the capabilities the kid needs. If the software hasn’t already been written it should shoot to the top of the must-write list for open source software groups in order to break this ridiculous TI, HP, and Casio theft ring.

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