Texas Instruments TI Programmable 59 Handheld Electronic Calculator with Printer

Texas Instruments TI Programmable 59 Handheld Electronic Calculator with Printer

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This programmable scientific calculator, introduced in 1977, is more powerful than the TI 57 and TI 58, which were introduced at the same time. It has a black plastic case and an array of forty-five rectangular plastic keys, most of which can assume a dual function. The calculator could be operated manually by pressing keys. It could run a variety of preprogrammed routines from a module inserted in a compartment in the back of the case. Programs could also be entered using a set of keys and stored in one of ten locations (denoted by the letters A through E and A’ through E’). Finally, programs could be entered on magnetic cards inserted into a slot in the right side of the calculator. Fuller instructions for programming are given in a detailed manual that accompanied another example of the calculator (see 1990.3166.01).
A mark below the keyboard reads: TI Programmable 59 (/) Solid State Software. Behind the keyboard is a space that holds a handwritten label for a program. Behind this is a ten-digit display (it may also show eight digits and a two-digit positive or negative exponent). An on/off key is at the back and a jack for a power supply is on the right side.
A mark on the back of the calculator reads: TEXAS INSTRUMENTS (/) electronic calculator (/) SERIAL NO. (/) 6156506 ATA2978 (/) ASSEMBLED IN USA. Below this is a compartment for a battery pack (the battery pack is stored in the printer/security cradle). Below this is a compartment for a program module—the cover is stuck shut.
The calculator rests on a Texas Instruments PC-100A printer / security cradle. The printer could show the contents of the display at any time, list programs in program memory and the contents of data registers, print results from a running program, print each step of calculator operations, list program labels and locations, print alphanumeric messages, and plot data. The security cradle provided a secure place to leave the calculator and also allowed recharging of the calculator while the printer was in use.
The thermal printer, with its 2 1/4 inch (5.8 cm.) wide tape, is on the left, and the mounting bracket for the calculator is on the right. In front is a storage compartment for the battery pack from the calculator and for the cover of the mounting bracket (this cover is missing). A lock is in the middle. It has no key, but the key with object 1990.0609.02 will open it.
A sticker on the bottom of the object reads in part: TEXAS INSTRUMENTS (/) MODEL PC-100A (/) PRINT/SECURITY CRADLE. Text below this reads: SERIAL NO. 4984226 LTA3178.
This example of the printer/security cradle lacks a plug.
Compare 1990.0609.01 (another TI 59) and 1990.0609.02 (another printer, not the PC-100C), as well as documentation 1990.3166 describing these.
“Power of Its Pocket Calculators Increased by Texas Instruments,” New York Times, May 25, 1977, p. 89. Suggested list price of new Programmable 59 (without printer) will be $299.95.
[Advertisement], Hartford Courant, February 6, 1977, p. 4C. PC-100A printer on sale for $199.95. Regular price $299.95. No mention of Programmable 59.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, December 10, 1977, p. E3. Programmable 59 in stock, holiday sale price $219.95 (without printer).
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, December 9, 1978. TI Programmable 59 selling for $214.95, PC100-A printer $148.95.
[Advertisement], Los Angeles Times, Mar 8, 1980, p. C9. Inventory sale includes TI Programmable 59 selling for $209.95 and PC-100A printer selling for $179.95.
[Advertisement], New York Times, November 7, 1982 p. 64. TI Programmable 59 selling for $169.95. Rebate of $20 from manufacturer brings price down to $149.95. PC-100C printer also $149.95.
Currently not on view
Object Name
electronic calculator
date made
Texas Instruments
Physical Description
plastic (case; printer case; keys material)
metal (circuitry material)
paper (paper tape; label material)
calculator: 1 1/4 in x 3 1/2 in x 6 3/4 in; 3.175 cm x 8.89 cm x 17.145 cm
printer (calc attached): 4 in x 11 1/4 in x 10 1/2 in; 10.16 cm x 28.575 cm x 26.67 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Texas Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Computers & Business Machines
Handheld Electronic Calculators
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I owned a TI-59 calculator in college, while studying Computer Science at NC State 1980-83. Replacing a TI-58. I was big into it, had several modules, and wrote/saved many programs on the magnetic cards. I also had the thermal printer! I still have it but the battery is too weak to take a charge and run it.

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