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Somehow the graphing calculator has stayed the same since the ‘90s

Mathematics and engineering students worldwide have long been at the mercy of Texas Instruments, a company that has held an exclusive on graphing calculators for more than three decades. But that did not stop former Apple employee Romain Goyet from trying to disrupt the market. 

Goyet applied his engineering and design skills to create the NumWorks Graphing Calculator. It has a sleek aesthetic design and an app-based menu to make using complex graphing calculators easy for any student.

Throwing out the lengthy manual

“When you buy a TI-84, it comes with a user manual that is like 400 pages long. When you buy an iPhone, it comes with a user manual that’s like two pages long,” says Goyet. “That’s a problem in itself.” 

Goyet says that one could argue that math is complicated and needs instructions, but the disconnect is that the TI-84 manual is not about math. Instead, it’s about how to use the tool.

Consequently, NumWorks wanted to fix that. 

They did so by not using any abbreviations. Something you see a lot of when using a TI-84. They also drew inspiration from video game consoles. Goyet says the menu works just like a Playstation. You just pick it up and start using it. 

One subtle design change was that they moved the arrow key to the left side, making it more natural to teenagers.

The Numworks calculator was initially released in Europe. But about a year ago, it was introduced to the United States.

Teachers say, “I can finally teach and not train my students to memorize weird key sequences,” says Goyet.

For Goyet, the end game is for us to break a monopoly and offer everyone an alternative. “The big problem here is that there is really just one option, and that’s not acceptable.”

To hear our full interview with Goyet, listen to Episode 204 of Class Dismissed. 

You can listen to the latest episode of Class Dismissed on your favorite podcast app or iTunes.

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