Jump to content

kl99

Members
  • Content Count

    927
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    3

kl99 last won the day on August 24

kl99 had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

791 Excellent

About kl99

  • Rank
    Dragonstomper

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Vienna, Austria

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. The former owner of my PEB used his TI-99 setup to control the heating of his house, he wrote his own DSR for that. So I assume it was running 24/7.
  2. I still believe a search driven program loader will change how we use the TI. There is never the need again to find the correct disk or refer the correct disk image in the ten thousands of your disks, or the wanted cartridge dump in correct format, you simply enter in that loader what you want to search for (like now in Web99 on the Windows PC) and you get it through the RS232 or DataBus the program loaded into your memory.
  3. I might even have discovered Bob Greenberg on LinkedIn. I asked for his confirmation if he is the early Microsoft employee in my contact invite. Let's see whether we can get some facts about what was actually happening from their point of view.
  4. This is spectacular! Endless thanks for sharing this. I got in contact with Stan Hume, who is mentioned in those source code documents so many times and will ask him if he is ready for an interview. His Linked In profile claims his involvement in the BASIC interpreter. "Software Engineer, Texas Instruments, June 1978 - June 1981, Lubbock Texas. First job out of college. Wrote a large portion of the embedded BASIC and all of the Extended BASIC product for the TI 99/4 and TI99/4a. Anyone learn to program on a 99/4? Yes, I started as an Assembly Language programmer. This gives a unique perspective on how software actually runs on hardware that many today don't understand." Also I know about Sumiko Glenn, who was working on Extended Basic. "Software Design Engineer, Texas Instruments, Jan 1977 - June 1982. Worked as a software engineer and implimeted Extended Basic Interpreter and other home computer software."
  5. kl99

    SDD 99

    I will do another video capture if Ralph shows something at the TI Treff in England this year ☺️. And count me curious as well.
  6. One flaw of the original PHA 2037 was that it is missing a certain signal on Pin 16 to tell the display that a RGB signal is send instead of a Composite signal. I think it is also called RGB Enable Signal. Afaik Pin 16 requires 1 to 3 Volt to enable RGB signal mode. Therefore with the original PHA 2037 you need a display which can be set into RGB mode by you. Integrating this into the design would enhance compatibility with Displays greatly. You will not have this problem on a RGB monitor, you will not have a problem if you can set your TV into RGB mode manually, but without the right voltage on Pin 16 a neutral display correctly assumes a composite signal is coming and therefore deals with the signal from the other pins different to draw the picture, resulting in not the desired picture. This remembers me on searching for a dedicated Display for the TI-99 around 2011 at the Media Markt, bringing the bare Console with Power and the PHA 2037 and asking the employees to test it with their TVs and Computer Displays. It was fun for them to see Donkey Kong appearing on their hyper modern TVs. Back then I didn't knew about this flaw in the RGB modulator and thought most TVs are simply bad. With a compatible display the TI-99 PAL really shows offs a high quality picture. This is miles ahead of a composite output the TI-99 NTSC console offers you. This is more than miles ahead of the PHA 3026 PAL modulator, which modulates the signal from low frequency to high frequency to show up as a TV channel for a PAL Tuner. This is very close to the picture quality the F18A provides. The reason is the different Video chip in the PAL console. The 9918A used in the NTSC version has a pin where it outputs composite video signal. This is not existing in the 9929A used in the PAL version. On the 9929A there are 3 pins, every of these pins contains a part of the video signal: Y, Yb, Yr. This means you start off with a much clearer, interference-free picture. A second recommendation would be to handle the situation where one wants the audio to be going with Scart to the display, but also the other situation where one wants the audio to be going to a dedicated device and the audio signal not even forwarded to the Scart output to avoid interferences. I assume the input for the PHA 2037 mini is the 6pin DIN. Once you are ready to take orders, ensure to inform RetroRGB to spread the news on this device: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLPIbBCKVH2uKGm5C4sOkew
  7. kl99

    HRD 4000B

    2x fully Assembled 8Mbyte boards for me please.
  8. The many internal documents from TI on the TI-99 that the community has got don't indicate a single involvment of Microsoft. I assume there is no doubt that the GPL interpreter and the System Software was done by TI themselves. The GPL interpreter contains 3 dedicated commands for the Basic Interpreter. https://archive.org/details/tibook_ti994a-intern These 3 commands are the only ones that are in ROM plus some tables, the remaining of the Basic Interpreter is written in GPL and in the Groms. Also the Documentation on the Basic Interpreter is not indicating a different format/style or a note that Microsoft was involved. I will check the interviews that Dan Eicher did (\cyc\articles\eicher\intrview\intrview.pdf) for information on the timing on the TI-99/7.
  9. Rick Payne by Klaus Lukaschek Interview taken December 2015 Rick Payne was born in Swindon, England while his father was in the US Air Force. His LinkedIn Profile is no longer available, so sorry for the lack of his work details. He did work in the Consumer Products Division of TI in the early 1980's - 1980 to 1983. He was in Quality Control working on the TI 99/4A and the TI 99/8 during that time span. He got employed with TI again in 2009, working in semiconductors. Q) How did you get in touch with Texas Instruments? It was 1976 and I was in Technical School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Recruiters from TI came to my school and gave a test to the top 5 students. They were very interested in grade point standing and also class attendance history. TI was the number 1 company to recruit from the school at that time. I passed the test and I was offered a position as a Technician in TI’s calculator division in Lubbock, Texas for 4.44 USD / hour. Q) What was your first day like? This was October 15, 1976 Very exciting and a little nervous. Nothing like I had experienced before in my life. The TI calculator was pretty much known by every culture on the planet. In 1976, TI Lubbock was the hub of TI’s calculator division and manufactured millions a month. Q) Can you describe in detail what you did for Quality Control Engineering? Only the 99/4A console was manufactured in Lubbock. The plug in GROMS (game modules), expansion box / boards, speech synthesizer, modem, joysticks, etc.. were manufactured at other TI sites. The original power supply (internal) and the transformer were manufactured by 3rd party. Epson manufactured the dot matrix printer. I had a few job responsibilities in Quality Control - incoming QC (testing incoming electronic components and circuit boards), submissions to UL, ULC, SA and CE for their safety certification, manufacturing line audits, console failure analysis – from burn-in testing (line failures) and field failures (after sales). I also did the failure testing on the power transformer recall that you ask about. More detail on that later. Q) At which stage of development was the 99/4A when you started at TI? In the summer of 1980 when I transferred from the semiconductor FAB at TI Lubbock to Home Computers, the 99/4 was being manufactured. The 99/4A had not been released from Product Engineering until the summer of 1981. We were in the process of building and testing 99/4A prototypes, Beta units in the summer, fall and winter of 1980 /81. Q) Can you describe in detail your involvement with the 99/4A? Prior to manufacturing release, I worked with Product Engineering to produce a reliable, manufacturable console. I helped to write the quality inspection procedures for each line operation. This would be the specification that the QC line inspectors would use to test and determine a pass / fail. I also spent a month sitting on the assembly line to repair consoles at certain stages. This included the initial power up after wave solder up to final test and inspection, just before packaging. Q) When the 99/4A did go into production, did your group felt it was ready, it was tested enough? The summer of 1981. Yes, All groups signed off on the release to begin manufacturing runs. Q) What is your favorite memory from working in the TI Consumer Products Division? Many memories – Bill Cosby, who was the TI spokesman on TV, visited the manufacturing lines. The popularity of the 99/4A was immense with about 30% market share at the peak. Also, I remember working a lot of over time when the power transformer recall happened – testing, devising and implementing a fix. I learned BASIC programming at this time which I have used a lot in my career. Q) What was the mood like in the office? Did you take a break to play TI-99 games sometimes? The mood was good most of the time - Yes, frequently – TI Invaders and Parsec Q) What tools did you use to test the quality of the products? Most of the tools were equipment built by TI and that plugged into the IO port. Other testing after the console was assembled (final test) was manually performed which required the inspector to pay attention to the monitor for visual and audible function/ quality. Q) How did you test a product? Can you describe that on an example you still remember? Since the output was video and audio, most of the testing was for the tester (human) to use a special GROM that had different test steps. They would view the monitor and listen to the audio – testing the video RAM, video quality, audio tones, joystick interface, etc... Q) Have you been involved in testing software as well? Was that even part of Quality Control Engineering? No, I was not involved in software testing for any of the TI Home Computer products. There was a speech synthesizer lab in Lubbock and I believe that the software group for the GROMS (graphics read only memory) modules was in TI Austin, Texas. Q) Did Quality Control Engineering communicated with the Divison, that did the 990 mini-computers? Did you share tools/processes/standards? The 990 was not manufactured in Lubbock, but used widely across TI for automation control. My first experience with the 990 computer was in 1978 working in IC parametric test as a repair person. These controlled the testers for testing TI’s memory IC’s – TMS4044 and the TMS4116 (used in the 99/4A home computer). We reloaded programs using the paper IBM (Hollerith punch card) cards. You could also use the 16 switches on the front panel to program in Hexadecimal code. – Klaus – My brain is straining to remember back to Feb 1978 - lol Q) The power transformer of the 99/4A was recalled. Did your group get blamed for that? Klaus, it seems that I have the greatest memory of this in the 3 years working in Home Computers at TI. This is the story as I remember it: The power transformer was designed, manufactured by a 3rd party. Used by other manufacturers of computers, games, etc.... There was an Incident of a power transformer on an Apple (Lisa) computer peripheral being shorted, which caused the transformer to over heat (melt) and start a house fire. Since the bezel of the TI 99A was metal, shorting the power transformer was also reported to to cause a shock hazard risk. I personally tested 10 of these transformers – shorted the output and measured the power transformer’s plastic case temperature vs time. NOT GOOD!! TI started a recall / sending their 994/A customers a modified transformer. If you have one, you will see the green / white “check” on the piece that has an inline fuse. So, the “fix” was to place an inline fuse that will open if there is an over current (electrical short) situation - Which I also tested to determine what the case temperature was when the fuse opened. Apple was sued – TI took the corrective action and replaced over 400,000 power transformers with the attached inline fuse. Q) With the release of the 99/QI motherboards came an updated ROM v2.2 which prevented third-party modules (Atari, Funware,..) from running. What was your opinion to this step back in the days? I was in involved in the QI (Quality Improved) release. In fact, I was given one of these systems, with expansion box. It had the beige colored top / bottom case and no metal bezel. It looked “friendlier”. My memory is that the motherboard was layed out neater (more efficient) and some circuits had been integrated, there fore less components. TI obviously didn’t learn, they had similar software restrictions with their portable PC. Was this so the owners would be forced to buy TI software? I say “YES” and it was a bad marketing strategy. Q) What do you know about the never released 99/4B and the 99/5? No, Sir Only the work being done in Lubbock on the 99/8. These other products may have been developed in Dallas, where I am now. Q) We lately encountered 99/4As manufactured for Argentina with a different TI title screen. Do you remember any exotica like that which you encountered during your work? It seems like I remember seeing “Power up” screens in different languages. This would have been normal for systems sold to non-English speaking countries. Q) Did you test the Hex-Bus and its devices? No, I did not – I think the CC40 was the first to incorporate TI’s hex bus Q) Did you test the CC-40 Portable as well? No, I remember hearing of this computer when I was leaving the Home Computer Division in Sept 1983 – LDC display, different processor, runs of AA batteries, etc I might have seen one in later years in the office areas – I left TI in 1988 Q) At which stage of development was the 99/8, when you got involved in that project? Q) Can you describe in detail your involvement with the 99/8? Q) Do you have any nice stories about the 99/8? Q) I was under believe that the 99/8 did not happen due to a political decision of TI to leave the home computer market. You wrote on the net that the units had RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) issues and that blocked the 99/8 from being manufactured. I do find that very interesting. Can you explain that in detail? Q) Which part in the machine caused these? How long did these RFI block the 99/8 from production? Did you solve the issues before the internal Quality run was done? Klaus, I will group these questions into one and this will test my memory – As I remember, TI wanted to abandon the RF shield design of the 99/4A. IF you have taken one apart, it is the metal shell that attaches to the mother board. This caused a lot of problems on the 99/4A during drop tests, etc because the RF shield could move and short on other components and caused damage. Of course, the RF shield is a Faraday shield which prevents the RF energy from the clock and video circuits from being transmitted into the air and interfering with other electronics which might be nearby. It also acts to shield incoming RFI, but this is secondary. On the 99/8, the initial design was to use a conductive spray paint that was heavy in Lead. Initial testing showed very good results as a replacement for the bulky metal shield of the 99/4A. However, this was about the time that the US EPA was determining that Lead was a health issue. TI was not able to use the Lead coating that they had spent several months qualifying for RFI on the 99/8. Going to an alternate solution would require time for testing and qualifying. Atari, Commodore had released their products and TI was months away from a possible release. This is what I remember from 32 years ago. Does your 99/8 have a top and bottom case? It would be interesting to know if it has RFI shielding and what method was used. Q) What other hardware was developed or even tested, but never made it to the home computer market? For home computers: I was not involved in R&D. For other products- there was the CB radio, digital watches (manufactured in LED and LCD form for a few years), digital thermometers some stereo audio components. Q) How did it came that you left TI in 1983? I transferred to the semiconductor FAB at TI in Lubbock in Sept 1983 and I left TI in 1988 after 5 years in the FAB. I moved to Austin, TX and worked for the R&D consortium – SEMATECH. This was a great experience working with many bright minds of the semiconductor industry and meeting the co-inventor of the integrated circuit (CEO at the time) Dr. Robert Noyce. Please read about Dr Noyce and Jack Kilby (co-inventor of the integrated circuit at TI). Q) Are you still in touch with other TI employees from that time? Yes, There are a few from Home Computers that I work with today. I can ask Ron Powell about his memory of the 99/8. He was involved with this product more than I. Q) Have you ever visited any TI-99 User Group Meetings or been part of a Usergroup? No, There was a User’s group and a magazine that came out of Round Rock, Texas in the early to mid 1980’s. I subscribed to that. I am sure this does not exist anymore. Q) Have you kept any TI-99 related hardware, software or documents? Good Question Klaus – I gave my 99/4A console, expansion box, speech synthesizer module, joysticks to a friend when I moved from Lubbock. I had schematics for many years of the 99/A, but those are gone now. I feel a little sad when I think of not keeping all of these items. Q) Are you proud that these products still work after that many years? Yes, These were expensive “toys” at the time. I am happy that there are still 99/4A hobbyists keeping the spirit alive today. I hope that there are spare power supplies (internal PCB) available today. This was the #1 field failure of the 99/4A. I think the quality was good – per quality standards for consumer electronics at that time. Q) It seems you are employed with TI again since 2009. Can you describe what has changed since then? Are you in the same location as in the early 80's? I will be 60 yrs old in Jan 2016 – I was 20 when I started working at TI. TI was a household name – consumer electronics – calculators, watches, speak and spell. TI had their profitable semiconductor division making memory and logic chips. TI had a strong Defense electronics division. TI had a materials development division. Many changes at TI Klaus – TI does their calculator manfucaturing in Asia, sold off all of their Defense work to Raytheon and other companies, Closed all of their memory FABs in 1998. It’s a different world and a different work force. One thing remains the same – TI’s Quality in manufacturing is still world class. I work at the Corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas Q) What are you doing now at TI? I am an Engineer in one of TI’s Semiconductor FABs. The 2nd set of questions (not displayed here) is yet to be answered.
  10. Herman Schuurman by Klaus Lukaschek Interview taken December 2015 Herman Schuurman had a 36 years career at Texas Instruments, from November 1977 to his retirement in 2013. In March 1978 he got promoted to be Lead Programmer for the Consumer Products Group in Lubbock. The description of his work is taken from LinkedIn for that designation: Software design for advanced personal computer products. Design and implementation of Text to Speech system based on TMS5200 speech synthesizer; TI 99/4A mini memory development system; I/O section of 99/4 Home Computer; I/O section of BASIC interpreter; system software for various peripheral devices. [https://www.linkedin.com/in/herman-schuurman-60584b9/] Q) What was it like to work for TI in the Consumer Products Group? It was a lot of fun. Lubbock is a relatively small community (around 180,000 when I lived there), so we had a tight-knit team there that also got together outside of work. Lubbock itself is desert-like – dry heat in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s part of the south plains; flat as a pancake, with no hills around to speak of. The names of surrounding towns reflect this: Levelland, Plainview, Shallowater, etc… I was hired in for the Personal Computer Division in Lubbock, but I worked for the Consumer Products Group in Almelo, The Netherlands while my American work permit came through the system. In March 1978 I finally moved to Lubbock, having never actually seen the place. Q) Can you describe your relationship to TI as an employee? You almost worked your whole life there. Until recently, TI had a lot of different subdivisions. This allowed me to work from consumer to industrial systems to research, etc… Lately TI has been concentrating more on analog, so I guess it would be more difficult to stick around for your entire career and still have a variety of assignments. Q) How did it came that you left the Consumer Products Group at TI in 1981? I joined the Dallas-based group that Don Bynum originally came from, the Corporate Engineering Center. By the time I left, most of the system design was over, and the team was moving to application design. Q) Can you describe in detail your involvement with the TMS5200 speech synthesizer? The original design for the TMS5100 was done by Larry Brantingham, Paul Breedlove, Richard Wiggins, and Gene Frantz. Gene was heading up the speech group (home of the Speak & Spell) when I joined TI in Lubbock, and Larry moved to TI France (Nice) soon after. I eventually wound up in a group with Richard Wiggins when I joined the Corporate Engineering Center in Dallas. The second generation of the TMS5100, the TMS5200, was used to power the speech peripheral. My involvement with the speech synthesizer was to create the text translation and allophone stringing software in coordination with Kathy Goudie (who worked for Gene), who was responsible for creating the allophone (sound) set and the translation rules. The linked article by Sharon Crook is basically a rehash of the internal documentation on the text to speech software. Q) All TI-99 Speech Synthesizers have the door that was meant for inserting Speech modules, early units even have an interface for such modules. However no modules were released. Do you have an insight on this? Can you enlighten us with a story about how this was planned and later abonded? The speech module came with 200-odd canned speech phrases that could be used in software modules. There was a provision for phrase ROMs to be added later to expand the available vocabulary, but the introduction of the text to speech capability made that a moot point. Q) Can you describe your involvement in the TI-99/4 project? The Home Computer (99/4) project started about a year before I joined the team in Lubbock. I believe the original promotors of the project were Granville Ott and Len Donohoe. I was originally hired to work on the SR-70, a small scientific computer, but by the time I landed in Lubbock, that project had been moved to the Data Systems Group in Austin, and I was put to work on the SR-62, a small self-contained computer that shared most of its software with the Home Computer. In addition to the Home Computer stuff, the SR-62 had a small built-in monitor and a thermal printer. When the Home Computer eventually fell behind schedule, the entire SR-62 team was moved over to complete the 99/4. Since my background was in operating system design, I worked on a lot of I/O related stuff such as the audio cassette, thermal printer, etc. I also was responsible for the I/O section of the BASIC interpreter, including formatted I/O, etc... One of the more complex peripherals was the floppy drive. Bill Nale and I split that design, with Bill responsible for the hardware and the low level software, while I took the file system design and implementation. This was the only time I remember having contact with anyone from Microsoft, even though a lot of 99/4 websites seem to think that Microsoft was responsible for a lot of the software on the 99/4. We had Bob Greenberg come out once to validate the file system design (there were no design changes). Q) The TI Dimension 4 almost looks like the TI-99/4 and is from 1978/1979. Do you know anything about it? Link for Schuurman to the dimension4 atariage Thread It sure looks like an early 99/4; I don’t remember the Dimension 4 name, but it may be an early marketing name for the 99/4. It was definitely not the Z80-based version, since that looked more like a high-end stereo component, including the wooden side panels. Compared to the 99/4 it was extremely fast, since the video was memory mapped (and you had a speedy processor). Before I arrived in Lubbock, there was some work done on a native GPL chip, but by 1978 that had been replaced with an 8-bit TMS9985 based design. Unfortunately, that chip never ran correctly, so we had to eventually fit a 16-bit TMS9900 into an 8-bit design. If you like to see more info on the 9985 design debacle, check out Karl Guttag’s page at http://www.kguttag.com/2013/08/10/if-you-havent-tested-it-it-doesnt-work/. Q) Do you still have a TI-99? If yes, can you describe what you have kept. When was the last time you used it? A few years ago I gave all my 99/4a related hardware and software to Joe Zbiciak, since I hadn’t touched it for quite a while. Joe is more into legacy systems, so he had a better use for it. I kept the Panasonic monitor, but it failed a few weeks ago, so now I’m totally out of 99/4a related stuff. Q) Was your Text to Speech system reused for other Speech products from TI or other companies? Not to my knowledge. A remember Ute Marcotte was working on a German version of the text-to-speech rules/allophone set, but I don’t know if that ever made it out. Most of the later interest seemed to be in speaker independent speech recognition, which I worked on several years later in the Telecom Systems group. Q) Having some relationship with Speech, what is your opinion on Apple's Siri? Compared to the early work we did on speaker independent speech recognition, both Siri and Cortana are phenomenal. Of course the amount of CPU power and available memory space are also incomparable. I use the speech recognition on the iPhone quite a bit, and it is really good. Q) Does your name have an origin in the Netherlands or some close-by country? Can you enlighten us? I was born in the Netherlands and spend the first 24 years of my life there. I graduated from the Technische Hogeschool Twente (now known as the University of Twente) in Enschede, the Netherlands. After graduation I joined TI and moved to the USA. Although I graduated in Electrical Engineering, a lot of my background was in embedded systems and Operating Systems design/implementation, which is why I was hired by TI. Q) Do you know how it came that the command to load a program is called "OLD" on the TI? It probably came from the original Dartmouth BASIC, where OLD was used to retrieve a program from storage, and NEW to start a new program. Q) Bill Cosby was the front face for the TI-99 to the public, was it a person the employees looked up to as well? Advertising was all handled by the marketing team, but Bill Cosby was very popular in those days, both from his earlier I Spy series, and through the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids show. In addition, the fact that he had a Doctor of Education degree didn’t hurt. Q) What was the role of Don Bynum you worked with? Don was working on a redesign of the 99/4 while in the Corporate Engineering Center in TI Dallas (the Ranger). In late 1980 he moved to Lubbock to take over the home computer group from Pete Bonfield (who moved on to become Chairman and Managing Director of ICL in England). He drove the 99/4a and peripheral box efforts, and later the 99/2 and 99/8. I never actually saw it, but he was rumored to have an old piano cabinet with the 99/4a peripheral chain taking up the entire cabinet. A few months after the introduction of the 99/4a I moved from the Lubbock team to Bynum’s old group, the Corporate Engineering Center in Dallas. Q) Was it clear from the beginning that there will be some Text to Speech software or was it some brilliant idea by an employee? I don’t know who came up with the text-to-speech idea with the speech group, and Kathy can’t remember either. I’ll check with Gene Frantz to see if he still remembers. Keep in mind that it was not a given that text-to-speech would actually work acceptably in the 9900 until we actually implemented it. Q) So we could say, that your work on the Text to Speech made the speech modules for the Speech synthesizer irrelevant, right? Yes. Q) On what scientific work was your Text to Speech software based on? Was there any linguist or phonetic scientists involved? TI already had an active speech team located in the Lubbock (one of their best known products is probably the Speak N Spell). The person I worked with, Kathy Goudie, has a Ph.D. in Linguistics, and the allophones used in the text-to-speech software were created from an extensive speech database that had already been developed within the speech team. Q) I couldn't find much information on the SR-62 and the SR-70 computers, have they ever been released? What have the specs of the SR-62 been? Since you said it should have shared its software with the 99/4, this might be interesting for our people to know. Not surprising, since these are internal designators, and neither product ultimately made it to market. The SR-62 was essentially a self-contained home computer with a built-in monitor and a thermal printer. Q) Do you know how much Microsoft or Bill Gates was involved in the TI Basic / System Rom of the 99/4? Microsoft was not involved with the 99/4 development. They (in the form of Bob Greenberg) were contracted to develop BASIC for the SR-70 (which is also sometimes referred to as the 99/7), but the BASIC for the 99/4 was developed in-house. Q) Why was the native GPL chip replaced with the TMS9985? How far was the GPL chip developed? Although it was before my arrival in Lubbock, the GPL chip was supposed to be developed for an external customer. When that customer dropped out, the GPL chip was also dropped, and was replaced by the TMS9985. Q) Accessing peripheral devices through a DSR interface allows us to connect modern devices to the TI without modifying the System Rom. Do you know who came up with the idea on this? Did TI had that before the 99/4 already? It’s been too long to remember the exact details, but it was probably worked out between Bill Nale and me. Bill would have handled the level 1 features (hardware communications, sector read/write, disk formatting), and I would have handled the file related features. Since the hardware was developed concurrently with the software, it allowed me to work on the file system code by simulating the low-level routines on a TI-990 minicomputer, using a large file on the minicomputer hard drive to simulate a floppy disk. Keep in mind that I already developed a similar system for an Intellec-80 (Intel 8080 based) system using 8” floppies as part of my thesis. Q) How did you feel when you heard that TI will leave the home computer market after being involved in setting it all up? Sad, although it was probably inevitable due to the financial losses. I’m still glad I had a chance to work on it though. Q) What was the policy of TI with hardware/software/documentation/schematics on canceled projects? It seems a few lucky employees got a TI-99/8 when TI left the market. Typically you have to get official permission to legally get any of this stuff. That said, it is entirely possible that management at that time gave away some memorabilia. Q) How do you feel when you hear that those machines are still running after all those years and there are some people still doing stuff with them? Absolutely amazed and delighted. I would have never guessed the 99/4 would survive for over 35 years, especially with the typical rapid turn-over in the computer age. Best Regards, Herman Schuurman
  11. Hi Tursi, i will post the whole interview questions I did so far with TI employees in a dedicated thread.
  12. Here are extracts from an Interview that Dan Eicher did and one that I did. Granville Ott by Dan Eicher May 21, 2004 Granville Ott was the chief architect for the TI-99/4A development. And yet, to TI'ers, he is relativelyunknown. He is listed as a contributor to the Mini Memory (PHM3058), Line-by-Line Assembler(PHM3058L). He is also credited with inventing the GROM and the Graphics Programming Language(GPL), and was the author of a number of patents fundamental to the Home Computer. Q. Do you have any knowledge of a project called Basic Support Module? It was a cartridge that was only available to TI employees. It came with or without 2K RAM and added a number of commands to Basic — almost a cross-breed of the Mini Memory with a bit of Extended Basic put in. A. The initial Basic was a little weaker than we wanted. We had talked to Bill Gates in Albuquerque, NM, but his retargetable Fortran would run too slow on our machine. Q. There is heated debate about TI Basic. We believe the first implementation was done by Microsoft. Is this correct? If so, who set up the deal? Do you know of any details? How much did it cost TI? How was it delivered? How long did it take to write? Was it considered quality code? Who did Extended Basic? A. We talked to Bill Gates before Microsoft, but didn't buy his because of it would be slow. We wrote it ourselves. I don't remember who all worked on it, but I will look at some of my old documentation and try to catch Herman Harrison and ask him. Herman Schuurman by Klaus Lukaschek December 2015 Q. Can you describe your involvement in the TI-99/4 project? A. The Home Computer (99/4) project started about a year before I joined the team in Lubbock. I believe the original promotors of the project were Granville Ott and Len Donohoe. I was originally hired to work on the SR-70, a small scientific computer, but by the time I landed in Lubbock, that project had been moved to the Data Systems Group in Austin, and I was put to work on the SR-62, a small self-contained computer that shared most of its software with the Home Computer. In addition to the Home Computer stuff, the SR-62 had a small built-in monitor and a thermal printer. When the Home Computer eventually fell behind schedule, the entire SR-62 team was moved over to complete the 99/4. Since my background was in operating system design, I worked on a lot of I/O related stuff such as the audio cassette, thermal printer, etc. I also was responsible for the I/O section of the BASIC interpreter, including formatted I/O, etc... One of the more complex peripherals was the floppy drive. Bill Nale and I split that design, with Bill responsible for the hardware and the low level software, while I took the file system design and implementation. This was the only time I remember having contact with anyone from Microsoft, even though a lot of 99/4 websites seem to think that Microsoft was responsible for a lot of the software on the 99/4. We had Bob Greenberg come out once to validate the file system design (there were no design changes). Q. Do you know how it came that the command to load a program is called "OLD" on the TI? A. It probably came from the original Dartmouth BASIC, where OLD was used to retrieve a program from storage, and NEW to start a new program. Q. Do you know how much Microsoft or Bill Gates was involved in the TI Basic / System Rom of the 99/4? A. Microsoft was not involved with the 99/4 development. They (in the form of Bob Greenberg) were contracted to develop BASIC for the SR-70 (which is also sometimes referred to as the 99/7), but the BASIC for the 99/4 was developed in-house. Q. Why was the native GPL chip replaced with the TMS9985? How far was the GPL chip developed? A. Although it was before my arrival in Lubbock, the GPL chip was supposed to be developed for an external customer. When that customer dropped out, the GPL chip was also dropped, and was replaced by the TMS9985.
  13. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/TI_BASIC_(TI_99/4A) Thanks
  14. that is awesome. thanks a lot. Can you remove the part about Bob Wallace talking about: "Wallace said, "I put in a lot of extra time trying to get the TI BASIC to do funny little things.... In BASIC, you could bring up a line and edit the line. So ... suppose you wanted the same line somewhere else. Why can't you just edit the line numbers? And it didn't work that way, so I worked a lot to get it to work that way."[1]" together with the external reference to the book on Bill Gates? The article revision history reveals that Bob Wallace and Bob Greenberg did work together on the Basic (for the SR-70), but again, not related to the TI-99/4 TI Basic.
  15. Sorry, that is wrong. Thanks for the interviews that Dan Eicher did with TI employees we know for certain that the TI Basic for the TI-99/4 was developed in house by TI. There were several projects started to build computers in TI. The TI-99/4 was in the end the only that got continued for production. Since TI was low on ressources Microsoft got contracted to develop the Basic for the SR-70, a computer which was not produced in the end. That is the base for the false claim and false fact in several places. TI Basic is based on Dartmouth Basic and complies to the American National Standard for minimal Basic (ANSI X3.60-1978). This is an extract from one Interview I am doing with the Engineer H. Schuurman who is responsible for our File system and was in the 99/4 team in Lubbock: Q: Do you know how much Microsoft or Bill Gates was involved in the TI Basic / System Rom of the 99/4? Microsoft was not involved with the 99/4 development. They (in the form of Bob Greenberg) were contracted to develop BASIC for the SR-70 (which is also sometimes referred to as the 99/7), but the BASIC for the 99/4 was developed in-house.
×
×
  • Create New...