In these troubled times, the TI-83 series of calculators may just be your best investment bet. The Munger family has personally purchased four of these babies: one for Nora, and three for Jim, who has lost two of them and is now using his third. They are required for practically any high school math course. They are 12-year-old technology, with a crappy monochrome LCD screen, and yet they still cost $99, which I’m pretty sure is exactly what they cost when they were introduced.
I don’t know any high-school parent who hasn’t had to purchase at least one replacement for a lost calculator — $99 each, to calculate basic trig functions that haven’t changed since I bought a $99 scientific calculator in 1982. Sure, these TIs are programmable, and have more memory than the one I used in high school, but now, as then, no one uses the programs for anything other than games. I’m pretty sure for $99 you can buy a better gaming machine, and still have money left over to buy a $10 calculator to calculate trig functions.
These are boring, outdated brick-sized slabs of technology, and every high-schooler in America needs one. That means if they get left on the school bus or on a library desk, some other kid’s going to pick it up and keep it for himself (to replace the one he lost) or sell it on eBay. Either that or your kid’s going to accidentally dump it into the lunchroom trash bin, where it will quickly be swamped by gallons of unconsumed, overcooked green beans and grits.
But we parents still fork over the hundred bucks to replace them several times over, because we want the best for our kids, and don’t want them to miss out on whatever important educational lessons this bit of technology supposedly offers them.
That’s why if there was a way to buy stock in the TI-83 series (without an investment in the remainder risky Texas Instruments corporation), I’d rate it an Immediate Buy. When you’ve got parents over a barrel like this one, extracting money from them is a no-brainer.