EDIT: I decided to turn this into a thread to talk about prototypes more in-depth since I have quite a few now.

As some of you might already be aware from the tiplanet thread, I found and bought a TI-Nspire CX II CAS prototype (DVT1.1). Normally I'd post this type of thing in the collections thread, but I think this warrants its own topic.




Stating the obvious, its in an old CX CAS case, and there is a piece of paper taped to the back that reads "Aladdin 1.1", Aladdin being the codename for the CX2 series. It also has DVT1.1 CD handwritten on the protective tape under the battery. I have no clue what the "CD" stands for, perhaps someone from TI-Planet might know.
It is in the 'DVT' phase of development as indicated by its serial Number (DVT1100033). It arrived a few days ago and I took a look inside. From the ebay listing, I could see that it was running a CX2 OS because the main menu said "Browse" as opposed to "My Documents". Since the new CX2 OS will only run on CX2 hardware, we already knew it would contain some new hardware. That being said, the inside was rather uninteresting because it was nearly identical to the first mass production CX II boards (revision AE). It was produced in July 2018, which is a few months before the MPs were produced (November 2018) and it contained some hand-written markings, but all major components were the same. This isn't very surprising since the MB labels on MPs contain "DVT", implying that they stem from this phase of prototyping. Unlike the MP models, the more eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that this one has 2 holes drilled into the front of the case which allow easy access to the screws that are normally tucked under the screen cover and require carefully unglueing the front of the calculator to access. This makes disassembly much easier, although like with all Nspire CX, its still not built to be taken apart :LOL:
The software is where things got more interesting, it is running an earlier build than the first production models (5.0.0.1407 as opposed to 5.0.0.1683).
Currently, we know of a few CX IIs produced before MP:
    DVT2000175 5.0.0.1288
    DVT1100033 5.0.0.1407 (Mine)
    Samples from Didacta 5.0.0.1450
    MS043 5.0.0.1500
    Ti-Planet Samples 5.0.0.1509

It is earlier than the samples given out to TI-Planet back when the CX2 series was being released, and earlier than the marketing samples spotted at some conferences last year, However, it is newer than one prototype (labelled 'DVT2') also spotted at one of the European conferences, but that one is of course, not in the possession of anyone in the community. Again, this isn't really surprising since during the DVT phase is generally where a lot of software testing, quality assurance and development takes place, so it should be expected that TI went through a lot of builds in this phase. The boot loader is slightly earlier than the first production models, (5.0.0.82 as opposed to 5.0.0.89).
The one I've acquired seems to be the only one known that hasn't been polished into a pretty case, meaning it was almost certainly actually used for development, rather than marketing. Before anyone asks, I already took a look at the seller on ebay, and it seems to be a wholesaler who buys and sells thousands of random items, so they likely acquired it elsewhere and re-sold it.
Last year, there were some TI-Nspire CXs that were spotted fitted into CX2 cases on ebay which were probably made just as showpieces for conferences. This one is actually the opposite, it is a CX2 CAS fitted into a CX CAS case.

I am in contact with the guys from TI-Planet to try to get a dump. Critor noted that it doesn't have any "Dev unit" mention in the top left corner as it boots up, indicating that it verifies the OS with production keys rather than dev keys. Here is a link to his article about it, and here is a link to my tiplanet album containing some more images.
I've acquired 2 new TI-89 prototypes today.



These seem to be very early prototypes because the ASICs are dated 9644, more than a year and a half before the official release in July 1998. That being said, I believe these were manufactured in either January or February 1998, only about 6 months before the launch. They seem to have been produced approximately 3 weeks apart. The older one has a gray faceplate with white lettering, which is what prompted me to purchase the lot in the first place (It is black with white lettering on production models). The newer one has the regular black faceplate. Neither of them have serial numbers, and they both have an odd wire sticking out of the backup battery compartment. This wire leads to a resistor (R45) inside. This would allow them to play with the resistance by adding another resistor in series, but I'm not sure why they would want to do that, maybe a pull-up or pull-down resistor.... They both have a different silkscreen than the production models, with the lettering more centered.



This seems to be the same silkscreening as what's on promotional items like the posters that were sold with ViewScreens and in the guidebook.


They both have ROM versions that weren't discovered and that weren't released in mass production. The older one has 1.02 (09-30-1998) and the newer one 1.00b8 (07-02-1998). 1.00b8 is also the oldest ROM version to date, with the oldest one in mass production being dated 07-27-1998. They also both contain previously undiscovered boot code versions. The older one is 1.04b12 and the newer one is 1.00b4.



You may have noticed that the older one has a blue on green LCD while the newer one is black. I suspect it comes from the old TI-92 LCDs which were also blue on green, from which the TI-89 was heavily inspired. Both board revisions are also undiscovered, 9896MB-40F on the old one and 9896MB-40G on the newer one.


EDIT: Critor just posted a news article about the "newer one" over on tiplanet. He mentions that it is the oldest one found to date, which is true of the OS and boot code but not of the hardware, hence why I call it the "newer one".
EDIT2: Critor just posted another news article about the "older one" this time.
The silkscreening on the keys of those TI-89s looks rather close to a TI-73, and both have the arrow keys of a TI-73 instead of those of a production TI-89. The earlier TI-89's display and age put it closer to a TI-92 II than a TI-92 Plus, and both housings look to be the same color as a TI-92. Poking at the IC date codes puts them around the first month of 1998. The CPUs are older than the rest of the calculator, which makes sense because HW1 TI-89s use the same CPU as the TI-92. I feel like I've seen that white-on-green model number on another prototype calculator before.

Altogether, this is probably the second most significant prototype find in the last several years. There's a big jump in physical appearance and LCD type in a production window just a few weeks apart.
Critor beat me to the punch Razz
Along with the TI-89s, there was also an interesting TI-86 prototype. It is a ViewScreen variant, which isn't very surprising, since TI does have a history of prototyping with ViewScreen units. Hardware-wise, the board revisions are earlier than the production models (9TILEOMB-30D instead of 9TILEOMB-30G and 9TILEOLB-30B instead of 9TILEOLB-3D). Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is the Atmel AT29C020 ROM which is socketed rathere than soldered on the board. This allows it to be removed, reprogrammed and reinstalled without any soldering.


Left: socketed ROM chip, Right: regular soldered ROM chip

The ROM version (1.4001) is also unreleased...


Unsurprisingly, it is close to 1.4, but the fact that it is similar to 1.4 suggests that the calculator was used for many months to develop the OS because the hardware is identical (down to all the date codes on the chips) to the earliest known TI-86 which runs ROM 0.2026 but 1.4 wasn't released until 1998. It is not in great shape, but I guess that's to be expected of a calculator that's nearly 25 years old, particularly one that would have been opened up and closed frequently.
Here are the images, note the lack of a serial number on the back.



This is just speculation on my behalf, but its possible that the number drawn on the board in red is a form of serial number to keep track of the calculators, which would make this the 32nd TI-86. The only other similar calculator to date (this one from the Datamath Museum) also has a number drawn on the board (117).
This brings the grand total of discovered TI-86 prototypes to 3, 2 of which are mine Evil or Very Mad
EDIT: This was found, new total: 2/4 Laughing
I finally got everything set up to dump the ROMs, and I took the time to dump ROM 1.0 from the Display Sample I collected a few months ago.



I can confirm that like every other (more recent) ROM version that has been dumped, both 1.0 and 1.4001 also contain the strange "Willy DO BE DO BE DO" easter egg.

EDIT: After taking a closer look at 1.4001, it looks like it is larger than 1.4 due to the fact that it contains additional code to reflash the flash chip. If you look back at the two pictures of the socketed and not socketed chips, you'll notice that the socketed one is an AT29C020, which is a flash chip while the AT27C020 found in production models is an OTP-EPROM. This extra functionality can be accessed by pressing 2nd, MODE, ALPHA, F to put the calculator in a receive mode, waiting for an OS update to be sent via the linkport. Therefore 1.4001 is nearly identical to 1.4 if you ignore the additional code which handles receiving OS updates through the link port (and shuffle pages around of course). Here is the TI-Planet article regarding this rather significant find.
I received a TI-Nspire+ keypad and front cover yesterday.
For those who haven't heard of it, the TI-Nspire+ was an unreleased prototype of the TI-Nspire clickpad, developed as part of the Phoenix project

I asked the ebay seller if they happened to have the calculator itself (sometimes sellers will split calculator bits into multiple lots to maximize profits), but they didn't have any other relevant parts.
Unlike production keypads, the TI-Nspire+ keypads don't work in a regular TI-Nspire, so one would need a TI-Nspire+ in order to use it. The only one that I know of is owned by Joerg from the Datamath museum, maybe he would be willing to work something out Razz
Its possible to perform self-diagnostics without a TI-Nspire+ though, so I might give that a try if I get my hands on a regular TI-Nspire clickpad.



The board itself is held in place by a bunch of ultrasonic rivets which I'm not too keen on removing, even though the board number is on the other side. There's also no serial number or any information on the back, which is the same as Joerg's.
Along with the keypad, I also received the front cover, pictured here with the other TI-Nspire covers to show the color difference:


(Left to right: TI-Nspire ClickPad, TI-Nspire+, TI-Nspire CAS, TI-Nspire CAS TouchPad)
How does one just manage to get the keypad and not the calculator itself? Did they tell you if they already sold the calculator?
Nevertheless, you've got a growing list of awesome protos!
Nice collection of prototypes and photos .
I recently acquired 2 HP marketing samples, one is an HP 39G+ and the other is an HP 49G+. This is slightly off-brand since I'm not too familiar with HP calculators, but I figured these were clearly interesting enough to add to the collection Razz



Right off the bat, we can see that the HP 39G+'s 2nd functions are green, which indicates that it is an early model since it was changed to orange shortly after production began (presumably because the contrast is particularly bad in green).
Both calculators lack the arrow at the top of the screen. Much like the TI-89 silkscreening, the old promotional images of both calculators didn't have the arrows at the top of the screen.


Production models with the arrows for reference



On the back, both are covered in stickers.
The HP 49G+ was released in August 2003 and the HP 39G+ in September 2003, so the dates seem to be about right for the final stages of prototyping/pre-release (July 2003). The HP 49G+ has a sticker stating that it is not fully working, but I didn't find any issues with it, however the HP 39G+ which doesn't have that sticker crashes when entering self-test.
We can also see that there are no serial numbers on either of them.
Here are the version screens for both of them containing the hardware versions, I'm not sure if these are earlier than the mass-produced revisions.



Finally, here is the self-test screen for the HP 49G+. Since the HP 39G+ crashes when entering self-test, I snapped a picture of the loading screen which contains the boot code version instead. I believe the earliest mass-produced HP 49G+'s contained boot 3.15.04, so this would be slightly earlier. It also says "NO SERIAL NUMBER" where the serial number would normally be, which looks mildly interesting Razz

Let's take a look at the TI-Nspire CAS EZ-Spot P1R2-DVT1.1 prototype!
About a month ago, I got flooded with messages from Critor, Adriweb, TheLastMillennial and Ti64CLi regarding a prototype that had surfaced on r/TI_Calculators of all places (which I don't regularly patrol).
An engineering student named Rob (u/gooseloom) posted a series of images along with a request for some help getting his calculator out of diagnostics mode.
Of course, only early prototypes boot directly into the diags. Evil or Very Mad
Rob was very cooperative and understanding of the fact that his calculator had some historical value and he seemed to agree that it would be preferable for it to find a home in the community in a collection. I don't know if he will read this post but if he does, I would like to express my gratitude to him for agreeing to sell the calculator.
Obviously, a few community members expressed interest in the calculator and after some deliberation with them and Rob, we put together a game plan that would satisfy the most people which involved me purchasing it for my collection and having it tour the world for everyone to take apart.
Now that the calculator has been received by Adriweb, we can take a closer look at it!



The pictures contained a number of noteworthy details:
  • The symbol at the top left of the screen while Boot2 is executing, signifying that the OS is being validated with development keys.
  • The complete lack of a serial number or any markings on the back, uncommon even for prototypes.
  • The color of the case, an unreleased white and yellow EZ-Spot variant.
  • The DVT1.1 Diags, previously only spotted once in this prototype from cnCalc.org in China.


The color of the case seems to be a CAS clickpad version of this non-CAS TI-Nspire EZ-Spot, but it looks nothing like the CAS EZ-Spot that was released which was completely yellow on the back.
It runs OS 1.1.4797 just like comsmy's DVT1.1. Unfortunately, the one from China was never dumped because it got destroyed in a failed upgrade attempt and was thought to be lost forever. This will therefore be a very lucky second chance at dumping it.
That being said, actually dumping it will be much easier said than done because it is such an early version that it doesn't have USB support implemented yet! This will mean having to dump it through the J04/JTAG connector using some custom hardware.
The only person with the required hardware and know-how is Critor, so the calculator will be going on a trip to France next December to be dumped.
Hardware-wise, it seems to be the same as comsmy's.



Note that it uses the newer ASIC processor rather than an OMAP. In fact, I believe it might be the earliest prototype found using the newer technology.
Also of course, there is the J04/JTAG connector which is populated and allows the SST NAND flash chip to be reflashed.
It seems to have been manufactured in December 2006, 1-2 months before the DVT1.2 and DVT2.0 prototypes.
One of the ribbon cables looks like it might have some surface-level damage but luckily, there are no issues with the LCD for now.
That's quite an awesome calculator! Will the ROM dump for this calculator be able to restore the one in China we thought was destroyed? Or is it permanently bricked?
TheLastMillennial wrote:
That's quite an awesome calculator! Will the ROM dump for this calculator be able to restore the one in China we thought was destroyed? Or is it permanently bricked?

The calculator wasn't bricked, the OS was deleted to install a newer version but because the 1.1.4797 Boot2 didn't have USB support, he was never able to install another OS. To answer your question, yes, if successfully dumped, it should be possible to install 1.1.4797 on any proto but not on production models.
I recently received two large boxes from Pieman7373 containing many calculators that I've purchased over the last couple years, including two TI-Nspire CAS TouchPad DVT1 prototypes. I'm very happy to have found these as touchpad prototypes seem to be among the rarest nspire prototypes.
This specific revision has been spotted once before from a user on cnCalc.org in 2014, although it was largely overshadowed by the much more interesting PROTOTYPE 014 which he showed off in the same post Laughing
The two units I've acquired are serial numbers 002 and 280.



There is a large customs sticker on the back of the 002 which contains general information about make and model.



This sticker is in Spanish because it was imported to Mexico. These calculators were sent to Hildebrando Services Inc. in Mexico which is a sub-contractor that works for TI to develop the apps, so these prototypes were used for software development (nothing too surprising for a DVT). One interesting thing to note about the import label is the Pedimento number (an ID given by the Mexican customs to each shipment), which is 9012083. This is interesting because it is the same as the one on the keypad that came with an EVT1 prototype that surfaced in 2015, meaning these calculators were in the same shipment as that EVT1. A similar sticker is also on one of the keypads.



Hardware-wise, both of them are identical to each other and also the same as the one that surfaced in china in 2014.



The LCD is N1/N3_LB_PCR2_FPC_2410, and the MB is N1_MB_NKB_4420.
The J04/JTAG pads have not been populated but are there, which suggests that it would likely be possible to establish a JTAG connection. On earlier prototypes (EVT), the JTAG connector was populated but it was towards the top of the MB, so around September 2009, it was moved towards the bottom of the board, probably because TI was doing this and also wanted access to the reset button Laughing

There's also no spot for the li-ion battery and the charging circuit is removed.

Software-wise, the S/N 002 contains OS 2.0.0.900, which as far as I know hasn't been spotted before and will need to be dumped. It also contains 10MB of files which seem to be various QA tests. I haven't had much time to look through them properly but I'm not expecting too much.



The S/N 280 contains no OS and both contain 2.00.DEVBUILD Diags.
I got a hold of a TI-Nspire CAS TP RCB-DVT1 prototype a couple days ago, which is pretty similar to the two DVT1 prototypes from the previous post.
It came to me untested without a keypad, but thankfully, it worked right out of the box after inserting one of my keypads from the collection and charging the battery a little bit. The top left screw was missing and the top right screw was a completely different screw from the normal TI screws. It was a phillips head screw which does make it easier to open, so its plausible that TI would internally only put 1 easily removable screw if they wanted to open and close it a lot, but I have no idea if that was always the case or if the screws got lost and replaced somewhere in the last 10 years.
This one was made 3 months after the earlier DVT1s, but followed a similar path. It also has the same style of shipping label stuck to the back, as well as an additional sticker attesting that it was in the hands of Hildebrando Services Inc. Unlike the earlier prototypes, this one, has a Li-Ion battery (like production versions). This didn't stop the customs people from slapping that big sticker on the back, making it harder to open! Laughing



The pedimento is different from the other ones, so this one was sent in a different shipment.
The serial number reads: "CAS RCB DVT1-NOT FOR SALE 188 P-1209", which is quite wordy. In fact, the font size is considerably smaller than it usually is.



That being said, we actually get a little bit more information than the earlier prototypes, notably, that it was manufactured by Inventec in Pudong, China, and that it is a CAS version. The fact that its a CAS version doesn't really mean much besides the color of the case, since it is the exact same hardware as this non-CAS prototype that was spotted a few years ago.
The LCD is TG2995-C-LB-2410, and the MB is PCB-TG2995D-MB-4420.



Software-wise, it has an in-between version that hasn't been spotted to date: OS 3.9.0.450
(The closest production OS that TI released is 3.9.0.461, which is just a handful of builds away so it will likely be very similar) It'll of course need to be dumped. I haven't had much success with Fron yet, hopefully this is just a mistake on my part and not a problem with the OS not being dumpable for some unknown reason.



The Diags also seem to be a new version (Iris Nspire Diag Menu 2.00.837 2009-12-1).
  
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