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  1. The Elevation of Tex-Mex
    Mico Rodriguez
  2. The Bounty of the Barnett Shale
    Kelcy Warren
  3. The Entrepreneurial Woman
    Tomima Edmark
  4. The Growth of the Vietnamese Community
    Jennifer Nguyen
  5. The Founding of Uptown
    Phil Cobb
  6. The Changing Face of Politics
    Craig Watkins
  7. The Brain Gain
    Dr. Hao Zhu
  8. The Four Sport Town
    Mike Modano
  9. The Underground Culture
    Katherine Owens
  10. The Catholic Migration
    Father Ivan Asencio
  11. The Organized South Asian Community
    John Hammond
  12. The Next Way to Develop
    Jeff Blackard
  13. The Allure of the Silicon Prairie
    Anousheh Ansari
  14. The lighting of Reunion Tower
    George Schrader
  15. The New Old Tradition
    Jennifer Moreno
  16. The Test Kitchen
    Mariel Street
  17. The Art Magnet
    Kevin Moriarty
  18. The Glamorous Return of Dallas Shopping
    Brian Bolke
  19. The Strengthening of the Gay Community
    Jack Evans and George Harris
  20. The Resurgence of Downtown Dallas
    Art Ortiz
  21. The Megachurch Boom
    Ed Young
  22. The Fundraisers
    Lynn McBee
  23. The Refuge
    Pedro Amaya
  24. The Reason Dallas Took Off
    Ron Barzyk
  25. The Girl Who Stayed Home
    Erykah Badu
  26. The Preservation of Our Historic Buildings
    Virginia McAlester
  27. The Thriving Ethiopian Community
    Birhan Mekonnen
  28. The New Dallas ISD
    Jessica Leija
  29. The Rebirth of the Trinity River
    Peter Payton
  30. The Trains Start Running
    Ladrika Davis Gross
  31. The Architect of an Art Scene
    Stephen Lapthisophon
  32. The Calculator That Changed the World
    Vonnie Howard
  33. The Rise and Fall and Rise of Deep Ellum
    Frank Campagna
  34. The Big Move
    Kendra Norwood
  35. The Expanding Empire in Fort worth
    Scott Hernandez
  36. The Family Recipe
    Chuy Cruz
  37. The Transformation of Oak Cliff
    David Spence
  38. The Now-Legal Immigrant
    Jesus Castillo Carrizales
  39. The City of Philanthropists
    Lyda Hill
  40. The Transplants
    Tara Vornkahl
00 The Calculator That Changed the World Thursday, July 17, at 1:30pm in the preserved office of Jack Kilby, inventor of the microchip

Vonnie Howard

The TI-83 Plus graphing calculator, originally placed on shelves in 1999, is the third-highest-selling graphing calculator on Amazon. Think about that for a second. A tech product built 15 years ago is still the third-most popular of its kind.

Students worldwide have Vonnie Howard to thank (or loathe, depending on their academic enthusiasm). After arriving at Texas Instruments in 1985, Howard worked in the consumer products division, creating educational toys that talked. By the late ’80s, she had joined the team that would go on to create the TI-83 line. More than 24 million have been sold to date.

“I know a lot of people look at this as like, ‘Well, it’s just a calculator,’ ” Howard says. “But it’s continued to evolve since the beginning. And as one of its engineers, it’s been very cool to be a part of that and to see its use in the classroom and its impact on education.”

As smartphones and tablets and apps flooded the market, the TI-83 Plus stayed on top. Part of that success, Howard says, is rooted in TI’s insistence on working with teachers. From the late ’80s through today, TI engineers have developed the calculator with their help, insisting on feedback throughout the development process.

And, in a lot of ways, the TI-83 begat the app-mad world that followed its release. On many high schoolers’ calculators, games like Tetris, Dope Wars, and Phoenix have sat alongside sine, cosine, and tangent, a classroom-distracting yield of the product’s programmability. (TI has actually run an application development internship, and some of the apps have shipped with the calculator.) Despite the implications on students’ productivity, Howard says that’s part of the TI-83’s appeal—and legacy.

“If it’s this thing that’s only useful for learning, I don’t think it’s going to be that popular,” she says. “But if it’s something that they can actually create and innovate on themselves, I think it’s much more.”