The TI-84+ series is used a lot in college environments. Where I went to school, it was the most powerful calculator allowed for Calc I-III and Linear Algebra. (After that, I got the more powerful TI-89 for use in my engineering classes.)
A comment attached to the story lists two IDEs that preceded VB; can you name others?
Yes, Unix. Unix is an integrated development environment.
After an instrument has been assembled, extra components will be found on the bench.