Why Do TI-83 Calculators Still Cost $100?

Exploring the reasons why the TI-83 calculator still maintains a high price due to its monopoly in the classroom technology market.

Why Do TI-83 Calculators Still Cost $100?
Photo by Galina Kondratenko / Unsplash

For over two decades, high school students entering math classes have been required to purchase a TI-83 calculator, at a price that seems to remain unyielding at $100.

Many have questioned why the price of these calculators has not decreased over time, considering the advances in technology and manufacturing efficiency.

Monopoly in Education

One of the primary reasons behind the persistent high price of TI-83 calculators is the company's stronghold on the education sector.

TI has effectively created a monopoly on classroom calculators for significant reasons.

Standardization for Simplicity

By having all students use the same calculator model, teachers can more effectively instruct and assist students in learning how to use them.

In a classroom where students have various types of calculators, teaching complex mathematical concepts becomes cumbersome.

Standardization simplifies the educational process, particularly when tackling advanced functions in trigonometry and calculus.

Furthermore, this standardization begins early, as TI calculators are also prevalent in elementary schools.

Even the familiar blue solar-powered calculators are TI products, solidifying the company's presence and influence in educational settings.

This wide-ranging adoption of TI calculators within the educational system reinforces the company's dominance and pricing power in the market.

Educational Institution Endorsements

Another contributing factor to the sustained price point is the active endorsement of TI calculators by educational institutions.

Many schools recommend or even mandate TI calculators for their math courses, creating a captive and consistent demand for these specific models.

Capture of User Base

Once a student invests in a TI-83 calculator and becomes proficient in using it, they are likely to continue using the same brand and model throughout their academic journey.

This results in a captured user base, adding to the company's continued sales and influence in the educational calculator market.

Market Implications

The persistent $100 price tag on TI-83 calculators raises significant concerns about access to education and financial barriers for students.

As technology advances and competition remains limited in the educational calculator market, it becomes crucial to re-examine the impact of this monopoly on educational equity and student affordability.

In conclusion, the consistent pricing of TI-83 calculators reflects a monopolistic hold on the educational calculator market, raising questions about accessibility, affordability, and the future of classroom technology.