We are all aware that technology is rapidly improving, but graphing calculators haven't improved much at all. The TI-83 was released in 1996, featuring a 6MHz processor and 32 KB RAM. That was probably pretty good back then, and I'm sure it cost a bundle. Three years later the TI-83 Plus was released, featuring mostly the same specs except an added 512KB of flash memory. Today it is still being sold at all the major retailers, for a price of over $100 (I was just at Best Buy). If you look at the Casio calculators, they are much better priced, but are still in the same ballpark, and, unfortunately, aren't used at all in high schools, where TI has the monopoly (and all the free programs/games). The TI-84 plus, released in 2004, is still in the same ballpark as the 83 Plus (15MHz processor, but compare that to 80 MHz processor of the iPod nano and 400 MHz processor of 1st gen iPod touch.)
I find it hard to believe that it is even cost efficient to make these calculators as big as they are. The amount of ram and flash memory that it uses is basically worth $0. The difficult to use OS has remained virtually unchanged. It is also shitty: graphing with connected lines enabled is much slower than dot and there are always connection problems.
Is there a technical reason for this or is this just an apparent symptom of capitalism?
Mostly just branding and "Capitalism" also the fact that they are not as widely sold as ipods , which some consider the reason for the price hike. Like LED tv's as more are widely sold the price will slowly drop.