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The TI-99/4A Internet Browser! (Updated 06/25/16)

Posted by --- Ω ---, 29 January 2015 · 8,322 views

TI-99/4A Browser
The TI-99/4A Internet Browser! (Updated 06/25/16)

Sometimes miracles do happen.  Years ago the idea of having an Internet browser for the TI-99/4A was just another “pie in the sky” pipe dream, a “what if” or an “if only”, well, no more!  Stuart Conner, one of Atari Age’s leading TI-99/4A “Uber-Programmers” made it a reality.
 
Stuart was not content to just make a browser compatible with P-Box RS-232 cards, like every other communications program in existence for the TI.  No, Stuart decided to think of the Nano-PEB users as well.  As of this moment, Stuart’s Internet Browser is the ONLY communications program in the world that will work with the NANO-PEB.  This awesome program works with both system configurations, and even supports multiple RS-232 cards.
 
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There are a few minor limitations, which quite frankly are to be expected from a 34 year old pre-Internet computer, even so, Stuart has done a fantastic job exploiting this new capability for the TI and getting around some of the expected roadblocks.
 
1)    The browser is only compatible with the Lantronix UDS-10.  It will not work with TCPSER or any other device.
2)    The program does not automatically allow for indented paragraphs, line wrapping at the spaces between words or for line
        breaks.  All formatting has to be done at the source webpage.
3)     The TI's video display processor has some restrictions on how many colors can be in an 8 pixel row.
4)     Most important, this program will not work with any 'modern' webpage as there are just too many tags for this classic
        computers memory to keep track of.  It does however have it's own specialized HTML like tags for it's own use.
 
There are some cool special features this browser has.
 
1)     While the default font includes numbers, upper & lower case characters as well as punctuation, it even has table drawing
         characters!
2)      Another neat little thing to point out is that ANY character can be re-defined any number of times, allowing
         the display of BITMAPPED GRAPHICS... up to full-screen size!
 
For more detailed information << CLICK HERE >> to go to Stuart's page about this awesome program.  Now available in super easy to load cartridge version.
  
  
There are already some neat webpages
and script based applications that the TI’er can use.

 
For example if you wanted to look up the IP number for a website or BBS system, “the TI can do that!
 
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Also in the year since Stuart released the first version of his browser, a lot has happened.  Atari Age user "ElectricLab" has really shaken things up with his new TI website that will let you play online chess with other users!
 
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The browser also has it’s own “FAVS” list that you can customize to your own liking.
 Posted Image
 
 
Do you know how to write scripts?  Do you have a great script idea?  Stuart is willing to host any useful scripts as long as he’s not asked to continually update them.  So if you have an idea for a neat or useful TI application/script, feel free to create it and
Send it to Stuart in a PM!  
 
Currently, PHP scripts are required to run on a Web SERVER that enables a webpage to be customized according to parameters added to the page URL entered on the TI.  (Filling in the blanks is not YET an option).
  
I'd love to see a listing of all known and available APPS/scripts or just TI webpages as they come out.  If you make one, please feel free to post a note below with the URL  and a description of your site or APP.
 
When you get up and running, let us know!  You can do that with the TI CHAT script!
 
1) To read the chat page, the url is: stuartconnerdownloads.me.uk/tichat.php
2) To add a message (from your TI) just add: ?m=text_with_underlines to the url.
 
We'll see you AND your TI online!   :) 
  
UPDATE - 02/03/2015
A German IT newsletter recently featured Stuart's Internet Browser.  You can check out the article
<< HERE >>.  Congratulations Stuart!  Your browser is now world famous!
 
UPDATE - 02/18/2015
Stuart updated his browser with some new commands.  As always you can get the updated version
<< HERE >>  You'll need to scroll down just a bit to find the link.
 
UPDATE - 12/13/2015
Stuart released the CARTRIDGE VERSION for the 512K non-inverted boards.  Also available on his website.  
 
MAJOR UPDATE - 01/24/2016
(The browser is now in Version 9.1)  This video will be replaced in the future (When I have time).

 
UPDATE - 05/08/2016
Atari Age member & TI user ElectricLab has come out with some fantastic applications for this browser.  Below is his presentation for TI-Fest West 2016.
 

 
UPDATE - 06/25/2016
If you have the new FlashROM 99 cartridge, you can now download the latest version of this program and install it in your cartridge!  << JUST CLICK HERE >>
 
 






unbelievable. this is really fantastic :)  thats it

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Server side scripting does not have to be PHP.  JSPs would also work, for example.  The web browser has no idea what the server is using to build the file.

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I wonder if you took this idea and modified the web server to detect the TI browser, and serve up different content, kind of like is done for sites that detect and display sites for mobile. You could just strip out all the cruft like Javascript, images, flash,etc, and swap things out when possible with equivalent tags that Stuart has defined for his TI markup language. WIth this setup, you could automatically serve up any website to the TI without having to manually recode it to be TI compatible.

 

This could also be accomplished with a proxy server that could pre-process a site before sending it on to the TI.

 

Great project!

 

Just some thoughts from an old TI guy who currently programs for the web.

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hmmm, if we permanently need a "public" proxy with special "TI-converting-functions", maybe I can deliver something for that project?

 

a proxyserver on one of my VM-machines (with fixed public IP),

and some nice DNS-record pointing to that (ie proxy99.toxic-instruments.com ) ?

In fact, that would cost nothing because I am running this machines, so or so.

And if we use DNS it would never be a problem to change the IP behind that

for future changes (except the fact that is my domain, but I have it just

 because of and for the TI-community. :)

 

But this is just an idea, only want to let you know about possibilties,

and if I can do something whatever is in my range

please let me know.

 

ToxyProxy :)

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Schmitzi,

   It would be totally AWESOME  to have a dedicated text converting routine to work with all websites!  I believe you will have to talk with and coordinate with Stuart though as I think DNS look up is handled remotely.

 

   Over time I can even envision a small webring comprised of dedicated TI'ers with our own little dedicated corner of the Web away from the commercial interests.

 

    If it ever gets download capabilities, no one will ever need a PC again to obtain stuff.  Can you just imagine a site like whtech for the TI browser or being able to type in a field?  That would open up literally uncounted possibilities.

 

   We're just getting started and scratching the surface with this browser so far.  It has so many possibilities, I don't think we have a clue yet were we will all end up with it.

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Schmitzi: I think a modified squid installation could be used, or maybe just write something from scratch. I'm picturing an experience like you get with the Lynx web browser where non relevant HTML, which nowadays seems to be most of the page, is just discarded and text links and forms all work.

 

Imagine if TI users could connect to a webring like --- Ω --- said. Do you think we could call it TEXNET? :)

http://www.mainbyte..../man/texnet.pdf
 

I would volunteer time and programming where I could. I have a few hours a week only to spend, but what a fun project this would be.

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cool. but please be informed that I am not close to Linux and all this programming things, but, by the way, could deliver serverspace and ressources and this as told before.

 

Also giving a vmware-machine is no problem, where most OS are possible.

If based on VM, it later would be no problem to backup or clone that to other sites or so, ie for backup/mirror/failover and this things.

 

But for sure here are so experienced people then to realize the "proxy-app" there on. 

Special remote access could also be possible, because I sit here next to this machines :) (it is an VMware ESXi 5.5-host)

 

yes to the wht-question if I understood right. I think this is only a question

of free space ? (Yes, here are some free Teras to shoot :)

 

And, the downloads are still "ready" here :)

I have collected >all< TI-stuff from the web the last 3 month since I am "back"

and spent all free time in bringing a structure to it. This is my way to re-capture

the TI in my head :o (hope I fnd the right englitsh wordss :)

 

But essentially, I did this downloading and sortings only in a private intention,

because I dont know about eventually license-problems a.s.o

But think that you know the answer to this so that we can make it lawful.

(That is a very import thing on my site)

 

 

 

 


 

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Well I've ordered my Lantronix UDS-10 and will be trying this out. 

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Well I've ordered my Lantronix UDS-10 and will be trying this out. 

 

Well alright!  Welcome aboard!  We're getting nice little core of users in on the ground floor of this new little corner of the TI world.

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I can't wait. I think it will be fun!

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odered my 1st UDS too :)

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Does the TI-99 support the exteded ASCII character set?  Is that the table drawing characters?

 

I suppose I could just test it.. :)

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Congratulations ElectricLab & schmitzi!  You guys are going to love this device.

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I got my Lantronix gadget in the mail today. I probably won't get a chance to play with it until Friday due to work and school, but I can't wait.

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Oh Dude, that sucks having to wait.   Are you hooking up to a Nano or a P-Box? 

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I have a Nano, PEB, and a sidecar RS232 device, but I'll probably go with the Nano since it's easier. and quieter than the PEB :)

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Too bad it requires a Lantronix UDS-10 - those are not cheap.  It would be nice if one could use a modern PC's ethernet connection and pass the data on to the TI via the serial connection... now that's probably pie in the sky ;)

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$7.00 each with shipping (possibly less) if you want to buy five is not a bad deal.  <<.HERE.>>  You could probably re-sell the other four here on Atari Age and get your money back!

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That Feebay auction for the UDS-10 boxes doesn't include power supplies, so keep in mind you'd be needing to acquire those separately.

As for RobertLM78's thought on an alternate solution, a custom board with an AVR microcontroller could by made to work, or even an older LinkSys wifi router could probably be modified. The older ones can be had for a few bucks and I think had serial ports on the motherboard that just needed a connector soldered on to them.

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Stuarts program is written to specifically work with the UDS-10.  I suppose someone who is inclined could reinvent the wheel, but I'm partial to some amount of standards as it makes it easier for others to join in and enjoy the hard work put in by those whom have taken the time to bring such goodies to the community.  Besides, it's here and available now.  

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Imagine if TI users could connect to a webring...

... Do you think we could call it TEXNET? :)

 

I would volunteer time and programming where I could. I have a few hours a week only to spend, but what a fun project this would be.

 

Even a couple of months afterward, your comment keeps nagging me... I think this would be a GREAT idea...  the TI's own little private area of the Internet free from commercial interests.  By and for TI'ers.  I would hit that daily... if it were available.

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Apparently my blog is linked from a few other sites! :)

I got this in an email today (how they got email address is still puzzling):

 

Anyway, it I'd like to see more being done with Stuart's browser.  Does anyone have any updates?

 

http://irrlichtproje...4a-browser.html

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No updates from here, but the project remains floating in the back of my mind. I am really busy with work and school and teaching an ESL class, but this winter I'll have some time and this sounds like a really fun project. Let's touch base around December and keep this idea alive! I also should have access to a good hosted server that we could use.

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Hey guys, I'm done with school now (hooray!) and am in the process of connecting the UDS-10 to my TI using a NANOpeb tonight. I just wanted to see what was new and if you guys still want to experiment with the website stuff mentioned earlier in the thread. I've been thinking about it a lot in the back of my head and now that I have time to tinker, I'm hoping to work on this. The first thing I want to do is download Stuart's browser and see what that's like. 

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Yes, I'm interested.  I was kind bummed to see it as a 'flash in the pan'... but I think that was partly due to lack of support.  If you got things rolling again, and we could get one or two more people involved in a "WEB RING" type of arrangement I bet more people would get on board and we would get some traction..  

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I did a little research last night, but got sidetracked when I found a couple of cassettes with TI programs that I had created circa 1985 and I just had to load them into my TI and get them on my Mac for preservation. Amazing how those cassettes have held up after a dozen moves, temperature excursions, and exposure to god knows what. 

 

Anyway, I am pretty excited about the TI web browser and server project and I spent most of tonight locating a proper RS232 cable in all my junk. I am ready to try to configure the UDS-10 and check out the existing browser. I'd like to know other people's experience with this and if anyone's done anything interesting yet. 

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There is a great thread << HERE >> that you can peruse from the beginning.  You could Necro the thread and generate some interest,  Sometimes people need to feel the 'freshness' or be reminded about something.  I still think Stuart's Web Browser showed so much promise.

 

Could you imagine his browser stuck into a cartridge??   He'd have a little extra room to add some stuff or make some enhancements if he wanted.  Damn, now you are getting ME excited all over again.

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Well Mr. Omega (If that's your real name) I finally got Stuart's browser working and proceeded to holler and make noise causing my kids to wonder what the heck was going on in my office :) "Look kids - my old TI on the Internet!" They don't have the same appreciation for such a wonder as I do. Go figure.

 

I'd love to learn to code a browser myself. Do you know if it's written in assembly? I wonder if Stuart will release the source some day. I'd love to learn how to burn ROMs to cartridges too.

So much to learn.

 

As for the webring, I will start by creating some code on a short domain that I own, and will play around with some server-side parser code that can make friendly page for the TI for any URL. So much to think about!

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 I finally got Stuart's browser working and proceeded to holler and make noise causing my kids to wonder what the heck was going on in my office :)

 

Alright!  Glad to hear it!

 

This must be you!! 

 

gallery_35324_1027_7194.jpg

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Yes, that was me :) I have been exploring the possibilities today, and looking at what Stuart's browser does. It's quite an amazing accomplishment.

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