Android running on a TI graphing calculator is uselessly cool

Android on a calculator. Photo: Josh Max

Android on a calculator. Photo: Josh Max

When it comes to cool Android hacks, this one’s got to be up there with the best.

Developer Josh Max has managed to get Google’s mobile platform running on a Texas graphing calculator with about as much power as a kitchen wall clock. It doesn’t just boot up, either; it’s also capable of running apps, like early Android game Lunar Lander.

The calculator in question is actually a high-end TI-Nspire CX, but its specifications look pretty ancient compared to those we’re used to seeing in Android devices. It has just 100MB of storage, 64MB of RAM, and a 3.5-inch display with a 320×240 resolution.

Even the very first Android smartphone had more power. Google’s original G1, which was built by HTC, had more than double the storage, and more than three times as much RAM.

But even with those paltry specifications, the TI-Nspire CX can just about run Android 1.6 Donut and Lunar Lander, a simple game in which you must land a spaceship on the moon. It was originally built by Google to demonstrate features on early Android devices.

Seeing Android run on a calculator kind of reminds me of Google’s early Android prototype, which was designed to offer a physical keyboard — just like a BlackBerry. Google famously scrapped this design when the iPhone was unveiled and made Android a touch-based platform instead.