Over the thirteen years I have been programming graphing calculators, I have heard endless variations on my own tale of success. Members from around the world have told me how they too picked up their calculators, started teaching themselves programming, and learned a skill that is now their job, a beloved hobby, or frequently both. I was therefore thrilled when the editor of McGill University's Technophilic magazine asked me to write about my experiences as a graphing calculator programmer and a programming teacher.
As I discussed in the popular Cemetech op-ed, "Casio Prizm: Why TI Calc Coders Should Abandon the Nspire CX", I believe that graphing calculator companies, Texas Instruments and Casio included, have a duty to promote their devices as platforms for learning programming. They are relatively cheap, ubiquitous, and superlatively portable. Though the TI-Nspire has since gained the Lua programming language, my point remains: a huge number of students gain their first exposure to programming by way of their trusty graphing calculator. Just this Christmas, I started talking to a new acquaintance, a photographer, who had his own story of programming solver programs on his calculator to check his work in class.
In my article for Technophilic, "Self-Teaching a Love of STEM: A Personal Tale", I talk about how I first got into calculator programming, how it led me to be an engineer, a computer scientist, and a passionate teacher. I discuss Cemetech and my recently-released Programming the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus, and the importance of instilling a passion for programming in future generations. Give it a read, and I'd love to hear your opinions and your own thoughts on the responsibilities of graphing calculator companies in the attached thread.