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Pick my next computer! TI-99/4A or Tandy CoCo 3


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Poll: Tandy CoCo 3 v. Ti-99/4A (47 member(s) have cast votes)

Which computer should I get next?

  1. Tandy CoCo 3 (19 votes [40.43%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 40.43%

  2. Ti-99/4A (28 votes [59.57%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 59.57%

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#26 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 7, 2017 12:22 PM

If I could get a 64k Extended CoCo2 with a disk system and a tape deck (a little documentation thrown in, maybe a cart or two) I would jump on it right now... I am giving my Mac to my son so I will soon have an empty space next to my TI. I am considering moving my MBX system in a blockbuster trade deal for an Apple II or an expanded CoCo. :D

#27 Grimakis OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 7, 2017 1:15 PM

If I could get a 64k Extended CoCo2 with a disk system and a tape deck (a little documentation thrown in, maybe a cart or two) I would jump on it right now... I am giving my Mac to my son so I will soon have an empty space next to my TI. I am considering moving my MBX system in a blockbuster trade deal for an Apple II or an expanded CoCo. icon_mrgreen.gif

 

Go for the Apple //e



#28 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 7, 2017 3:37 PM

That's kind of the way Ive been leaning... I know CoCo has terminal software, but I believe Apple to have the better software library.

#29 jedimatt42 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 7, 2017 7:01 PM

(read in the voice of a hypnotist)

You like cartridges..
The TI is all about cartridges..
The community makes cartridges..
Cartridges are fun..
The community is fun..
Join the community..
Collect some cartridges..
You will have fun.

-M@

#30 Arnuphis OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 7, 2017 7:05 PM

Never buy a computer that's named after a clown :-D



#31 Muzz73 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 7, 2017 7:24 PM

Exactly why the CoCo2 is a great one to start with as well. Everybody wants the CoCo1 for the collectible value and the CoCo3 for modding. I grabbed a CoCo2 in good cosmetic condition for $25 last year. It has Extended BASIC and had 16K of RAM. A few RAM chips, a wire and one of Zippster's handy composite boards and voila! Great machine for tinkering with.

If you don't get the RAM or Extended BASIC, you can always install it later... ;)

#32 thegoldenband OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 7, 2017 9:49 PM

Never buy a computer that's named after a clown :-D

 

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#33 sparkdrummer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 8, 2017 2:59 AM

I laughed so hard I soiled myself. But, get a TI, it's the one.

#34 Muzz73 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:15 PM

If you choose the TI and want to use it (not just look at it), I might recommend the beige one. It's the cost-reduced model, runs a bit cooler than the black & silver model (which is the really cool-looking one) and there's a guy on ebay with NOS keyboards.

#35 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:22 PM

Is there a source for those metal labels? Mine is all dented.

#36 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:52 PM

Which label do you need, Tempest? I may have a spare to send ya

#37 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:23 PM

Which label do you need, Tempest? I may have a spare to send ya

The metal one for a beige TI-99/4a.  The one that says Texas Instruments Computer and is right above the keyboard/



#38 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:19 PM

Ahh, gotcha. I thought you might hav3 meant the "Solid State" badge on the silver one.

I am sans-beige currently. If I see one, I'll pick it up and let you know. :D

#39 jejones3141 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 11, 2017 10:48 AM

I should say to start that I'm not a gamer.

 

Back in the day I thought it cool that the TI 99/4A had a 16-bit processor, but when I look at the architecture now, it looks like it would be a pain to work with. The 6809, OTOH, is heavily influenced by the PDP-11. Not nearly as orthogonal; they were constrained by wanting to make it as easy to move from the 6800 as possible--but it's the best 8-bit (with some 16-bit capabilities) CPU there was. Two stack pointer registers, which made it a joy for fans of FORTH. A reasonable set of addressing modes, allowing position-independent code and letting one avoid the kludge of self-modifying code.

 

The CoCo suffered from Tandy's cutting every possible corner and putting every possible burden on the CPU to let them skimp on hardware, so 

  • no hardware sprites
  • no hardware sound chip; instead, there was a 6-bit DAC
  • bit-banger serial I/O
  • analog mice, I believe using the same 6-bit DAC, leading to the ultimate kludge to let one keep using those mice on the higher-resolution screens of the CoCo 3: the "high-res mouse adapter", which made the CPU check how long it took a capacitor to charge. You very quickly learned to always shove the mouse back to (0,0) whenever it wasn't in use to minimize the added overhead.

I bought a CoCo 3 because it was the least expensive way to get a computer with a multitasking operating system, a C compiler (K&R 1st edition minus bitfields), and a reasonable amount of RAM. BASIC09 was and is a joy to use compared with the primitive microcomputer BASIC interpreters of the day. Said interpreters are an obstacle rather than an aid to writing any nontrivial program.

 

Yeah, they skimped on the cases, too; cheap plastic. The TI is definitely better looking sitting on the desk, though people have documented cleaning some of that age-related grunge off their CoCo's cases.

 

The CoCo has a cartridge port, and there was even a "Multi-Pak interface" to let you plug in multiple game cartridges and switch between them... and also plug in other cartridges, like floppy disk controllers. I got a third-party floppy controller, the Sardis Tech which had 8K of cache, rather than Radio Shack's, and bought dual 720 K floppy drives to run with more space than RS's single-sided 35-track drives until I got a hard drive.

 

There are still third-party sources of hardware and software. The Triad 512 K RAM expansion Cloud 9 sells is the way to go now; smaller and cooler running. There were several third-party hard drive controllers for IDE, then for SCSI. Nowadays one can take the SD route. The CoCo SDC cartridge can take an SD or SDHC which can hold multiple floppy drive and hard drive images. Also, there's DriveWire, which lets you run that bit-banger serial port to any computer with a Java runtime environment and provides an extensive set of capabilities. (A Raspberry Pi will suffice to run the DriveWire server, and I bet someone's already hidden one in a CoCo case.)

 

Serious CoCo users replace Motorola's 6809 (more precisely, 68B09E, a 2 MHz capable 6809 driven by external clock) with a Hitachi 6309. The 6309 comes up looking like a plain, mild-mannered 6809, but set a mode bit and suddenly new registers and instructions are available (e.g. block moves and divides), and the instructions it shares with the 6809 run faster--except that it takes more time and space to save additional state for an IRQ. NitrOS9 started out as a rewrite of OS-9 to take advantage of the 6309's capabilities.

 

About display: CoCo 3 can do composite out. There are various solutions people have come up with to adapt to VGA and even to HDMI.

 

To be honest, unless historical authenticity and preservation is important to you, there's a lot to be said for Roger Taylor's "CoCo on a Chip" project. Here's a friend's initial experience with it.



#40 Sinphaltimus OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 11, 2017 11:43 AM

The TI has a lot going on. Come lurk the forums here to see all the amazing things.

#41 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 11, 2017 11:58 AM

The Color Computer 3 is fine if you have money to burn and plan to really dig in and program it. You could expand it to 512K and play stuff like this on it (again, deep pockets required):

https://www.youtube....h?v=DQgd5p-Z5DY

 

However, if you're looking for a large library of fun games to play at a good price then I think you'd be better off with either the TI or a Color Computer 2.

 

As for which one of those to choose..... I guess it depends on what you're interested in.

 

Maybe try emulation of the two machines and see which one's library suits your style. As for case design, you've already mentioned that the TI is more pleasing to the eye....



#42 Iwantgames:) OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 11, 2017 12:23 PM

I went with CoCo3 just because it's a bit cheaper to start off, you can pretty much play anything with a standard Coco 3 and Cocosdc where as with TI you kinda need a PEB, 32k and F18a to really get the most out of it.

With that said I have and love both :)

#43 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 12, 2017 3:46 AM

I went with CoCo3 

 

:D

 

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#44 hdufort OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 12, 2017 7:34 AM

I'm from the Coco community so I'll try to make a case.

 

Many peripherals were developed over the last few years, notably:

- the miniMPI, which allows 2 cartridges to be inserted at the same time

- the cocoSDC, which replaces a drive controller with a SD card reader

- various VGA video adapters

- joystick and keyboard adapters

- hi-res mouse adapter

- a cartridge with an integrated 8-bit audio chip is being developed; games on cart will have better music and sounds

- a better 512kb memory expansion board which generates much less heat

- replacing the Motorola 6809 with a Hitachi 6309, which allows additional opcodes, and paves the way for more efficient programs

- drivewire, which allows you to connect your Coco to your PC through a serial-to-USB cable, for file access and lots of other functionalities

- the hardware community is very active and is actually gaining momentum

 

On the software side, lots of projects as well:

- homebrew games such as Popstar*Pilot, which looks gorgeous

- Fahrfall, first physical cartridge game to be made in the 21th century!

- NitrOS9, an OS9 distribution with lots of recent improvements, manages up to 2mb RAM, runs multiple programs simultaneously

- text editors, file managers, etc., for OS9

- Donkey Kong Remastered, which takes the actual arcade code and ports it to the Coco3 while adding new levels

- music trackers using the 6-bit DAC

- my own homebrew game project (Kaboomerang Kim), which is still under development but looks promising

- many projects and programming challenges in the community

- most projects target the vanilla Coco2 or Coco3 (128kb or 512kb) which means any physical machine or emulator will run them

 

Events

- The annual CocoFest in Chicago, after a few "calmer" years, is getting more popular

- Tandy Assembly event in October 2017

- Coco/Dragon events in Europe

- etc.

 

Tools

- The LWASM suite makes it easy to compile 6809 and 6309 code

- Lots of documentation online, including modern reference materials in PDF

- A cocoSDC distribution which contains pretty much everything ever released for the Coco

- Three emulators actively maintained: VCC, MAME/MESS and Xroar

 

People

- many Coco enthusiasts, dubbed "coco-nuts", are very active online

- 2 series of podcasts covering lots of subjects and letting people participate live

- some of the iconic/legendary developers drop by from time to time

 

ps: A video showing recent developments in my game project Kaboomerang Kim:


Edited by hdufort, Fri May 12, 2017 7:37 AM.


#45 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 12, 2017 8:15 AM

- the miniMPI, which allows 2 cartridges to be inserted at the same time

- joystick and keyboard adapters

Tell me more about these.  I've been interested in an MPI but they're pretty expensive and they have to be modded to work with the CoCo 3 IIRC.  Two slots are all I think I'd need anyway since I'd only be using the disk drive and possibly a sound/speech cart.  I've also been looking for a two button deluxe joystick for the coco, but if there are other alternatives out there I'd be interested in knowing what they are.  Has anyone make an IBM PCjr to Coco joystick adapter?  They're the same joystick, just with different plugs.

 

Is anyone looking into making a Sound/Speech cart repro?  Or is that what that audio cart you mentioned is supposed to be?



#46 hdufort OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 12, 2017 8:41 AM

The Speech/Sound Pack cart was not widely used. It was used in 20 games, usually in a limited way. I remember people demonstrating only 1 or 2 games making use of it... Pitfall 2 and Ghana Bwana if i remember well. The SSP is rare and people are mostly looking for it from a collector's point of view. This cart is not using any standard part from the industry and has limited capabilities.

 

John Linville's cart-with-audio project is promising, as it integrates a TI SN76489 8-bit chip, which was originally used on the TI99/4 computer. It will allow me/other developers to distribute their game on a cartridge with enhances the Coco's audio capabilities in a realistic way from a retro-computing's point of view.

There were talks about adopting a Yamaha YM2203 chip but the community is moving towards the TI solution.

 

You are right about the original MPIs, they are expensive and rare now, and they require a modification to work on the Coco3. The miniMPI is a good choice if you want to have a diskette drive and the SDC in parallel, or Orchestra90 and another cart.


Edited by hdufort, Fri May 12, 2017 8:51 AM.


#47 JamesD ONLINE  

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Posted Fri May 12, 2017 8:44 AM

Tell me more about these.  I've been interested in an MPI but they're pretty expensive and they have to be modded to work with the CoCo 3 IIRC.  Two slots are all I think I'd need anyway since I'd only be using the disk drive and possibly a sound/speech cart.  I've also been looking for a two button deluxe joystick for the coco, but if there are other alternatives out there I'd be interested in knowing what they are.  Has anyone make an IBM PCjr to Coco joystick adapter?  They're the same joystick, just with different plugs.

 

Is anyone looking into making a Sound/Speech cart repro?  Or is that what that audio cart you mentioned is supposed to be?

Here is the miniMPI
https://sites.google...erzone/mini-mpi

There are lots of joystick adapters.  Plans for how to use Atari style joysticks have been around since the early 80s.
I don't know exactly what joystick adapter he is referring to though.
There are PC keyboard adapters as well.

The Sound/Speech cart uses a microcontroller and a rare speech chip.  
It would be easy enough to recreate the microcontroller to AY sound chip hardware and even improve it.  
But compatible speech chips are another matter. 
The design suffers from several flaws, the worst of which is that the PIC microcontroller isn't always ready for data.
 



#48 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 12, 2017 8:50 AM

The Speech/Sound Pack cart was not widely used. It was used in 20 games, usually in a limited way. I remember people demonstrating only 1 or 2 games making use of it... Pitfall 2 and Ghana Bwana if i remember well. The SSP is rare and people are mostly looking for it from a collector's point of view. This cart is not using any standard part from the industry and has limited capabilities.

 

Ah so it isn't worth tracking one down then.  

 

I'm looking for a joystick adapter for a two button joystick, not a one button Atari stick.



#49 hdufort OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 12, 2017 11:19 AM

You can contact Neil Blanchard.

http://retrotinker.b...-for-coco3.html



#50 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 12, 2017 12:32 PM

 

Ah so it isn't worth tracking one down then.  

 

I'm looking for a joystick adapter for a two button joystick, not a one button Atari stick.

 

I wouldn't worry too much about the second joystick buttons. In fact I can't even think of a single game that would use a second button on the Color Computer.

 

A DIN to 9-pin joystick adapter would be good though. I use mine extensively. It rocks!  There were a number of manufacturers that made those back in the day (including Wico). Mine was custom made. According to the guy who built it, it was both cheap and easy.






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