Desmos gives away free graphing calculators

In the days before every middle schooler had their own laptop, few things surpassed the computing power of the TI-83 graphing calculator.

And, even as classroom technology moves increasingly online, Texas Instruments continues to monopolize that little front pocket in students’ backpacks.

But now Silicon Valley startup Desmos is coming in hot

Their graphing calculator program runs, for free, on smartphones and computers, without an external device.

According to the company, students and teachers across 146 countries have logged over 300k hours on the platform, which aims to free mathletes everywhere from “old, underpowered devices.”

So they’re targeting one of the oldest names in tech

TI’s dominated the market, selling over 75m graphing calcs since 1990.

Thing is, calculator functionality hasn’t changed much in that time (the TI-84 Plus came with snap-on color faceplates… groundbreaking), yet the price has remained stagnant at nearly $100.

That’s a steep ask for many families, especially for a calculator entrusted to a kid who would probably rather buy 100 frozen french bread pizzas if given the choice.

Desmos says online tests are the future

More and more states are moving towards digital evaluations and, starting this spring, students in 14 states will be able to use their software for standardized tests run by the Smarter Balanced consortium.

They also have the support of Pearson (the world’s largest education company), plus endorsements from the College Board (administers the SAT and AP tests), for use on its SpringBoard platform (provides assessments for students and teachers).

Considering TI’s monopoly was formed largely thanks to strategic relationships with textbook publishers and testing companies, these are key partnerships to breaking into the market.

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