New Toys - Dr Owain Kenway

Sunday, Jun 19

I’ve been frustrated for some time about the lack of programability of modern portable devices. “Smart” phones are anything but - sure, you can buy more apps for them, but when was the last time you opened an editor, wrote some code on one and ran it? It wasn’t always so - the coolest computer I own is a little Sharp PC-1251 - a pocket computer Sharp produced in the 80s. In computing terms it’s tiny - ~0.5mhz 8 bit processor, 4K of RAM and a one line display, but in one respect it is superior to every iPhone ever made - it comes, out the box, with a programming language. In this instance, a cut down version of Basic, called S’BASIC.

My battered Sharp PC-1251

Now at this point someone is bound to leap in and say that there are apps you can get for iOS which let you use various interpreted languages and that is indeed so - but it’s not quite the same. For a start, if you want to distribute your programs, people need the app as well, and secondly, Apple deliberately hobble them so that you can’t write applications that way - they want you to go through their walled garden (Android is somewhat better in this regard).

Anyway, this small rant is leading to the fact that I ordered a new toy last week - a Texas Instruments Nspire CX CAS - a programable calculator. It’s very cool, and there’s more to come as relates to this device.

My new calculator