Casio’s basic calculators were always big sellers in the 1980s, but their scientific models were no less popular. And for teenagers trying to get their heads around trigonometry for the first time, the FX-880 must have come as a welcome relief!
Until this calculator appeared on ebay I had no idea that Casio ever made a scientific calculator with a game function (let alone two games!).
This particular example is a bit beaten up, obviously been well-used, but is one of the rarest calculators in my collection. You’ll be hard-pressed to find this anywhere – even by searching, since Casio also released the similarly-named, but very different FX-880P – a programmable calculator poles apart from this one.
I really needed the manual though because the two games are very hard to work out. As expected when you add scientific functions to a calculator to increase its complexity, the same thing happens to its games!
After contacting Casio in 2008 I received their standard reply:
Thank you for your inquiry, INQUIRY:EUSA200804300044 Thu 05-01-2008 16:44:07
Thank you, unfortunately the FX880 was from 1980 and we no longer have that manual available. We do not have another manual that is similar.
Regards; Margo Customer Support Specialist CASIO AMERICA Inc. Dover, NJ 07801
But fortunately, after a wait of only three years (or thereabouts) I was lucky enough to receive a scanned copy of the manual from Paul of the wonderful pocketcalculatorshow.com website. This is quite a meaty manual too – those scientific functions add a lot of pages – and the instructions for the games took 14 pages of their own.
Knowing how a game was meant to be played, instead of guessing randomly, makes the experience infinitely more enjoyable (I imagine people who learn how to play chess must feel the same) and I have a renewed interest in the gameplay of the FX-880.
The object of game one is to invade the enemy’s position (on the left of the screen) by firing numbers, one at a time, from your position (right side of the screen). The enemy’s number is hidden until it reaches the battlefield (the square between their and your numbers). Then if it’s lower or the same, you destroy it, your number increases by one, and you move a square to the left as the enemy sends out another number. If it’s higher, your number disintegrates and you have to fire off another one quickly as the enemy advances.
You and the enemy have a total on the far left of the screen that decreases by the number of the key you press (so you can’t send a 9 across each time or you will have run out of ‘ammo’ before long and your enemy will have an easy ride to defeat you). Sounds complicated…and without the instructions it really is!
Game two is similar to the later model MG-90 Making 10 calculator where you have a line of numbers that you have to make into a 1-9 sequence by adding or subtracting numbers 3 at a time. Should be easy but is confoundedly difficult – particularly when you start setting the problems yourself – yep, this is an interactive game. You can set how many are added/subtracted and how many numbers at a time this will affect. More fun than it sounds, but definitely one for the thinkers!
Thanks Paul – that manual turns an interesting calculator into something far more engaging!!
I came across something interesting on this calculator while repairing the solar panels which was pretty interesting.
If you ever find a Casio FX-910 calculator you’ll notice it’s almost identical to the FX-880 other than a few different button placements and minor graphics. Of course it also doesn’t have the games that are in the FX-880.
The clincher is if you look on the back of the FX-880 you’ll see the label with it’s details, very neatly done, in the recessed area on the caseback.
However, if you take a sharp blade and carefully lift off the label, underneath you’ll find an embossed set of details for the FX-910.
It’s not unique to the FX-880 either — take a look at the MG-880 page!