Texas Instruments Math Marvel

Date of introduction:  1980 Display technology:  Fluorescent
New price:  $30.00 Display size:  8
Size:  6.2" x 3.4" x 1.1"
 157 x 86 x 29 mm3
Weight:  5.3 ounces, 151 grams Serial No:  
Batteries:  9V  Date of manufacture:  wk 42 year 1980
AC-Adapter:   Origin of manufacture:  USA (ATA)
Precision:   Integrated circuits:  TMC1986
Memories:   Displays:  Itron FG95M1
Program steps:   Courtesy of:  Joerg Woerner
    Download manual:   (US: 6.5M Bytes)

This educational toy for youngsters is similar to the futuristic DataMan. The Math Marvel is preprogrammed to teach the basic four mathematic functions through different games. A nice feature of this game is an added buzzer to give some noisy feedback.

The Math Marvel was one of three similar games:

Math Marvel: Basic mathematics
Mr. Challenger: Word games
Spelling B: Spelling games

All products use the same housing featuring a colored key plate to cover some unused keys of the matrix. The display is either numeric for the Math Marvel or alphanumeric for the two word games.

Dismantling this Math Marvel manufactured in October 1980 by Texas Instruments in their Abilene, TX facility reveals a very clean design based on a single-sided printed circuit board (PCB) and powered by a 9V alkaline battery.

The electronics is centered around a TMC1986 circuit, a member of the TMC1980 single-chip calculator family closely related to the TMC0980 introduced in 1976 with the TI-30. Both designs are based on the TMS1000 Microcomputer series with an increased memory capacity of 18,432 Bits Read-Only Memory (ROM, 2k*9 Bits) and 576 Bits Random-Access Memory (RAM, 9 Registers * 16 digits). Main differences between the TMC0980 and TMC1980 are the display drivers - while the former supports LED displays, adds the latter high-voltage drivers for Vacuum Fluorescent Displays (VFD). In addition includes the TMC1980 both an integrated charge pump driver to generate the high voltage (around -22V) for the Anodes and Grids of the VF-Display and integrated drivers for the Filament (heater) allowing for reasonable manufacturing costs. From a technical point of view the Math Marvel is very similar to its predecessor DataMan based on the TMC1982.

Other members of the TMC1980 family include the TMC1981 used with the TI-1680, TMC1983 used with the TI-45 scientific calculator introduced in 1978 and the TMC1984 found in the Spelling B.

The Math Marvel was later replaced by the Math Star game.

Don't miss the speaking Maths marvel.

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If you have additions to the above article please email:

Joerg Woerner, December 5, 2001. No reprints without written permission.