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This Ti-99/4a pic always makes me laugh


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#1 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:00 AM

http://oldcomputers.net/ti994a.html
http://oldcomputers.net/ti994.html
Has there been any contest to see exactly how big this could get before the rightmost peripheral failed?
What were they thinking?
Posted Image

Edited by Keatah, Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:04 AM.


#2 S1500 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:43 AM

I love that pic too. It's the ultimate in computer donk. Did TI expect everyone to have picnic tables? Pray your wrist never dislodges the connection!

This is not unlike the "tower of Genesis", but this actually functions.

I recognize most of the hardware, but what's to the right of the speech synth, 4x? I thought the sidecar periphs looked a bit more unique than that.

#3 Seob OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:07 AM

Seen above is the TI-99/4 console with all of the Texas Instruments sidecars attached: Speech Synthesizer, Memory Expansion, RS-232 Serial Controller (with telephone modem), Video Controller, Disk Controller, Thermal Printer, and two floppy drives (attached to the Disk Controller).

Hope you have a wide desk to hold it all! The TI-99/4 can use a maximum of six sidecar peripherals, but the Speech Synthesizer must be first, and the Memory Expansion must be second.

So six is the max.

#4 SoulBlazer OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:38 AM

You were probaly better off buying the box if you could afford it:

"To remedy this situation, TI released the Peripheral Expansion Box as a more convenient way to expand the TI-99/4A. It is huge, and of very solid and high quality construction.

Introduced in January 1982, the Peripheral Expansion Box cost $1475.00, including:
  • Disk controller card and one SS/SD floppy drive
  • RS-232 interface card
  • 32K memory expansion card
It is estimated that one PEB was sold (250,000) for every ten TI-99/4A consoles sold (2.5 million)."

I think TI sold a special desk also to handle the sidecars.

#5 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:53 PM

That's classic TI fare right there. Walk a mile to change out a disk. lol

The generic looking periphs are memory expansion units. Probably 16kb each.

#6 S1500 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:54 PM

A 1:10 ratio? Wow.

The PEB is what separated the casual from the serious(I refuse to use the word "hardcore") users.

#7 Tursi OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:17 PM

The generic looking periphs are memory expansion units. Probably 16kb each.


There were no 16KB expansions, they'll be 32KB. Having more than one is redundant, too, they don't add up -- to that end the picture is a bit improbable.

Still,. yeah. It's the extreme example of the bad planning. But when they launched, they didn't have much to plug into there, and they released the PEB pretty soon after.

I've only seen a handful of sidecar expansions ever (except the speech synth)... it makes me wonder how rare they are these days.

#8 jhd OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:30 PM

This sidecar approach to expansion seems to have been popular for a while.

It was used a few years later by the PC Jr. There were sidecar memory expansions, a hard disk, and possibly some others.
http://oldcomputers....cjr-sidecar.jpg

I've also seen similar sidecar perpiherals on the Intellivision -- with the ECS, speech synthesizer, and/or the Atari 2600 adaptor.
http://www.gamasutra...53/image011.jpg

Was the TI Video Controller, referenced above, for use with an external monitor?

#9 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:22 PM

The generic looking periphs are memory expansion units. Probably 16kb each.


There were no 16KB expansions, they'll be 32KB.


Quite right! I was in 16kb computer RAM mode and was partially duped looking at the gang bang of peripherals earlier this afternoon. lol Actually, I'm thinking now that those units are probably a combination of RAM expansion, RS232 and disk controllers. They all looked alike: http://www.mainbyte....re/sidecar.html

Looking at a 1985 Triton catalog, I see a Myarc 128kb memory expansion box for $250. "This superb combination features 32K RAM and 96K of true RAM-disk/print spooler, allowing you high speed data access as if it were a floppy disk".

Myarc also had their own peripheral expansion cage that twice as wide as a regular 5-14" floppy and sat directly off the expansion port. A cool $500 bought you that monstrosity.

Then you had Multicom and Corcomp producing ram expansion/clock calendar/RS-232 chassis also.

I never had any of the third party expansion stuff - just the external expansion boxes TI produced as pictured up above. Had the 32kb memory and disk controller box with the drive of course. I've seen way many more PEB boxes than those though. And I've never seen a Myarc, Multicom or Corcomp product in real life - as far as I can remember anyway.

#10 Tursi OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:53 PM

Was the TI Video Controller, referenced above, for use with an external monitor?


According to the manual, the TI Video Controller was intended for an external monitor, and allowed you to switch (under software control?) between computer and external video. It has often been reported that it supported overlay with the VDP's external video support, there's no way for this to actually be true however (unless it had it's own VDP, but the manual for it doesn't mention any such feature.) The motherboard of the 99/4A console requires modification to even gain access to the external video input pins on the VDP.

#11 Tursi OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:56 PM

I never had any of the third party expansion stuff - just the external expansion boxes TI produced as pictured up above. Had the 32kb memory and disk controller box with the drive of course. I've seen way many more PEB boxes than those though. And I've never seen a Myarc, Multicom or Corcomp product in real life - as far as I can remember anyway.


I've seen the Corcomp miniPeb a couple of times, and I think I've seen the TI external 32k once. Also just about every serial/PIO card I've seen in the PEB has been a Corcomp, including the ones I've owned. :) I had started to believe the Corcomp RS232 was more common than TI's. ;)

#12 Mad Hatter OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:34 PM

I own one of the few sidecar video controllers out there. Unfortunately I have never been able to locate cableing for the Sony or Panasonic compatible players. This is a project I would like to eventually accomplish... getting the video controller up and running. If I ever find cables for either unit then it shouldn't be too hard to locate and purchase a player.

#13 Charlie_ OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:19 PM

You have walk down to the end of the room to put the floppy in......

Seriously, in that setup, I like the floppy drives. I would Love to have something like that more than the PEB.
The PEB is so huge and heavy....

Edited by Official Ninja, Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:19 PM.


#14 S1500 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:30 PM

I own one of the few sidecar video controllers out there. Unfortunately I have never been able to locate cableing for the Sony or Panasonic compatible players. This is a project I would like to eventually accomplish... getting the video controller up and running. If I ever find cables for either unit then it shouldn't be too hard to locate and purchase a player.


Tell us more about this sidecar video controllers. What can one do with it?

#15 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:16 PM

Those original sidecards show up on ebay now and then, but they're still fairly uncommon. They fetch a pretty penny too, but I think it's mostly for the nostalgia as any serious user would get a PEB. I've personally seen every one of them except the printer, that's the rarest one as far as I can tell with the 32K and RS-232 modules being the most common.

#16 Mad Hatter OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:18 PM

The video controller is by far the rarest non-prototype sidecar peripheral developed by Texas Instruments for the 99/4 and 4A-- I would say there's just a few of them in existence. The only other one I know of besides mine is the one seen in that picture in this thread on oldcomputers.net.

S1500, the sidecar video controller can connect to a compatible U-matic, Betamax or Laserdisc player. There are only a handfiul of compatible players listed in the documentation, although I'm sure many others will work. The idea was that you could use the combination of your computer, television, and tape/disc player to produce multi-media presentations or training courses. For example, you could run a BASIC program which would play a short video, and after 5 minutes the video could stop and you could have a few multiple choice questions for the viewer to answer via the keyboard. If all questions were answered correctly then the video could start rolling another segment until the BASIC program instructed it to stop.

There is a piece of software called the "Course Design Authoring" package (or something like that), and this software would allow you to create your own presentations. You didn't need to have an in-depth programming knowledge to use this. I believe this software was intended to be sold with the Video controller.

You can also save and recall data from a videotape just like you would if you were using a cassette recorder. Except in this case it would be via the OLD (or SAVE) VC command (instead of DSK1, CS1, etc).

The only set of cables I have been able to locate are Panasonic ones (I think), although the owner is not willing to part with them. And when I say cables I mean it.. it's multiple cables to connect to/from the controller, television, tape/disc-player and the computer.

I believe the video controller itself never was approved by the FCC or something like that, hence the reason for it's rarity. The one I have looks just like the one on oldcomputers.net.. i.e. it doesn't look like a typical TI prototype in any way shape or form; this looks like a ready-for-sale device, and appears just like the other sidecar peripherals (32k, RS232, and disk controller).

Unfortunately without the cables I have not been able to do anything with my controller. Attached are a few pictures I just took.

Attached Files

  • Attached File  VC1.jpg   125.54KB   82 downloads
  • Attached File  VC2.jpg   89.84KB   97 downloads
  • Attached File  VC3.jpg   105.25KB   86 downloads

Edited by Mad Hatter, Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:35 PM.


#17 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:20 AM

Ok I stand corrected, I've never seen the Video Controller before. Very cool.

#18 S1500 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:15 AM

Can you fashion your own cables? Or is there special circuitry between the cable & laserdisc/whatever player? The connectors don't look too weird. Surely something could be hacked up.

Dragon's Lair for the TI-99/4A here we come!

Edited by S1500, Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:15 AM.


#19 Mad Hatter OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:17 AM

The problem is that I just don't know. If I had a set of cables it probably wouldn't be too difficult to make a duplicate set. But starting from scratch is a different issue. Plus the cables vary depending on whether you have a Sony, Panasonic or a compatible laserdisc player. I do not have any player... figured I would wait til I located cables, then I could purchase the appropriate Sony or Panasonic player based on what cables I have. The players show up on eBay fairly regularly so that wouldn't be an issue.. except for the fact that theyre huge!! (i.e. expensive shipping).

Can you fashion your own cables? Or is there special circuitry between the cable & laserdisc/whatever player? The connectors don't look too weird. Surely something could be hacked up.

Dragon's Lair for the TI-99/4A here we come!



#20 Arkhan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:56 PM

I have the INTV2+ECS+Speech setup

It's very underwhelming and bland, lol.

It's funny to look at though.

#21 Tursi OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:32 PM

That's pretty cool, Mad Hatter!

It should be possible to fashion the cables. The interface to the Laserdisc player is usually just serial (I built some cables and software to interface my old player to my PC years ago so I could dump laserdiscs with a frame-grabber, as I didn't have a video capture device capable of motion capture ;) ). The protocol to talk to them varies, that would likely be the cause of the compatibility list.

It's too bad these are so rare, it really would be cool to get one running. Would the fellow who won't part with his cables consider sounding them out with an ohm-meter, I wonder?

#22 Seob OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:22 PM

Maybe this could be of interest the video controller schematic drawings.

Attached Files


Edited by Seob, Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:08 PM.


#23 Mad Hatter OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:40 PM

Cool. thanks for that. I think I have this schematic somewhere on my computer. This looks to be for the video controller which fit into the TI's peripheral expansion box. This particular video controller was a two-part unit, vs. the sidecar unit (which contains everything in one box). There was a card which fit into the expansion box, and there was also a "docking station", or as it's referred to in the schematic, a "relay box". There would've been a cable connecting the card in the expansion box to the relay box. The relay box contained all of the inputs which you see on the back of my side-car box (minus one, I believe). I assume they just couldn't fit all over the necessary inputs onto one internal card (although Myarc managed to fit 4 inputs onto one card with the Geneve 9640 computer), thus the need for the relay box.

Now as far as the cables are concerned, I do not know how the cables for the relay box would differ from the cables for the sidecar unit. I would assume that minus the cable(s) required to connected the card to the relay box that everything else would be the same.

I have a feeling that finding a relay box would be even more difficult than finding a set of cables, so I'm happy I do not need the relay box with the sidecar unit.



Maybe this could be of interest the video controller schematic drawings.



#24 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 16, 2014 11:46 PM

http://oldcomputers.net/ti994a.html
http://oldcomputers.net/ti994.html
Has there been any contest to see exactly how big this could get before the rightmost peripheral failed?
What were they thinking?
ti994-sidecars.jpg

 

LMAO!



#25 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 17, 2014 12:32 AM

expansions cost a pile of 1980's money, the fact you would have more than 2 or 3 at the most was inconceivable (really who needs all that shit + a thermal receipt printer)  and by the time cost came down they had a better solution.

 

besides this is not the only side car system, big blue also did it as well, its not a terrible idea compared to slots, like the Apple II where if you plugged in your disk drive ribbon cable wrong you instantly fried several hundred dollars worth of new toys in a microsecond

 

or the other solution where everything ran off janky serial ports, slow as hell, rats nest of cables and required a power brick


Edited by Osgeld, Sat May 17, 2014 12:33 AM.





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