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Next to my multiple TI-99/4a home computers, I also own multiple Tomy tutors and even a Geneve. In The last 10 years or so Atariage has become the home of most of the TI-99/4a community. Unfortunately for the Tomy Tutor, the community is really scattered on the internet and it's hard to find technical details and programming details. Also have the feeling that most Tomy Tutor, 99/8 and Geneve owners are here on Atariage in the TI-99/4a section. To better focus the threads and gather additional interest I propose to create a subforum in the TI-99/4A Computers section right here on Atariage. Target group for the subforum are the close relatives of the TI-99/4a like Tomy Tutor, 99/8, DS990, ... Minimal requirement for that is that the heart of the computer, the CPU must be a Texas Instruments 16bit CPU like TMS9900 (or closely related like TMS9995). The VDP chip alone does not count, machines with a Z80 CPU (Colecovision, MSX) have their own forums here on Atariage. I have opened up a poll that goes until end of september. Depending on the poll results we can then discuss with Albert. What do you think? Please vote in the poll and comment here. 😀 Retroclouds
I'm trying to find out how many Atariage visiters actually own a 99/8. The word is there are about 150 preproduction units built. So, how many of these did survive and are in (more or less) active use. Also, I checked the 99/8 documents found on whtech. Are there more? I am especially interested in technical design documents on XBII (I'm especially interested in the later ones, around 1984). The ones I know are listed here: It is quite a fascinating machine, so I'd like to get as much information as possible. Also does anyone have a 99/8 revision with TI Basic (next to Extended Basic II) built-in? Or are there only XB II machines out there? Obviously also related in 99/8 source code, especially for the Extended Basic II.
UPDATE: 2020/07/02 07:05 UTC This thread shall be used for documenting research on Myarc Extended Basic II. Purpose Create a version that can be used with SAMS and a RAM cartridge (superspace) Target modern storage devices like CF7+/Nanopeb, TIPI or HRD4000B. No longer rely on the unobtainable MEMEXP-1 128K/512K memory expansion. Recreate assembly source code Research originated on discussions found here: This post will be updated on a regular basis as more accurate information is collected. BASIC variants (1) Armadillo Basic on the TI-99/8 The new "standard" Basic interpreter on the TI-99/8. Only appeared on some early TI-99/8 prototypes. The plan with Armadillo Basic was that it forms the "basis" for what is later known as Extended Basic II Share as much code as possible between the two basics, Modular setup: One idea was to keep core part of the basic interpreter in ram (statement dispatch table for functions), where it can be modified by the extended basic interpreter startup sequence Interface document exists that outlines the dispatch table Possibility to load & save Extended Basic programs from DV80 files 60K of free space for program code (170K) if 128K memory expansion installed Certain parts rewritten in assembly language for optimized speed (e.g. screen handler) Unknown if source code exists Unknown if ROM dumps exist (2) Extended Basic II on the TI-99/8 Extension of the Armadillo Basic found on early prototype All later TI-99/8 preproduction units had Extended Basic II built-in, instead of Armadillo Basic Unknown if source code exists Confirmed ROM dumps, emulation in MESS/MAME possible. (3) Myarc Extended Basic II on the TI-99/4a is basically (2), the Extended Basic found in the TI-99/8: Written in Assembly language Versions known to exist: v2.10, v.2.11, v.2.12 Memory map changed to match TI-99/4a (+Myarc MEMEXP1) instead of TI-99/8 FREESPACE removed, memory allocation changes, comma instead of dash in list command, ... Removed loading/saving extended basic programs from/to DV80 (at least in >v2.11) Unclear if source code exists (4) Myarc Extended Basic II for the Geneve Written in Assembly language Variant of (3)? It’s the initial version of Extended Basic shipped with the Geneve (5) Myarc Advanced Basic (ABASIC) Written in Assembly language Versions known to exist: 4.04 (last version by Jim Uzzel) 4.05 (~2013 by InsaneMultitasker, fixed assembly language parameter passing bug) Based on (2)? Source code exists, heavily commented Backport to TI-99/4a probably difficult due to the XOP's used (6) Basic on the Tomy Tutor Variant of 99/8 Armadillo Basic Basic tokens compatible with TI Extended Basic GPL involved, but no GROMS (7) TI-Basic on the 99/2 TI internal name “Ground Squirrel BASIC” Developed outside of TI at a contracted university Completely written in assembly language, no GPL involved. Very fast Source code not related to Armadillo Basic (1) on the 99/8 Documents Armadillo Basic on the 99/8 There are actually quite a few documents floating around, created during a 2 years’ period (1982-1984): ?/??/?? - 99/8 Basic / EXT. Basic interface specification ?/??/?? - 99/8 Armadillo Basic specification ?/??/?? - VDP RAM usage in Armadillo Basic 5/26/82 - 99/8 The mapper and us 9/30/82 - Armadillo Basic internal design 3/23/83 - 99/8 Mapper specifications 2/07/84 - 99/8 Bugs found after 7/34/84 release (TI998.BASLCP.BUG) 2/07/84 - Usable XML’s, XOPs (TI998.BASLCP.DOC.ASSM) 2/07/84 - Symbol table entry bits in use for the Armadillo (TI998.BASLCP.DOC.LINKBITS) 2/07/84 - Interpreter variables V0.002 (9/10/82) (TI998.DOC.VARS) 2/07/84 - PAD memory usage (TI998.DOC.PAD) Myarc Extended Basic II on the TI—99/4a Requirements Myarc MEMEXP-1 128K (or 512K) memory expansion card required Has 8K DSR in >4000-5fff (program loader, RAMDISK setup code, spooler?) Myarc Extended Basic II cartridge required It's confirmed that a 8K RAM cartridge (superspace) in >6000-7fff works fine. Disk with Myarc Extended Basic II interpreter Workings When selecting the '128K BYTE O.S.' cartridge option, the file loader in the MEMEXP-1 DSR space is triggered The whole process of loading the Extended Basic II interpreter into the appropriate MEMEXP-1 memory pages seems to be handled from inside DSR space. In the cartridge space the memory management routines required by the interpreter are stored (required for banking the appropriate MEMEXP-1 pages) The code at >6030-7fff seems to be put there are the very end when XBII is loaded into memory. Could be this is part of XBII initialisation itself? When quitting XBII by using "BYE" command the cartridge space >6030-7fff is cleared with >00, only the cartridge header is present. While XBII runs it writes to the cartridge space >6000-61ff (clarify exact memory addresses). This is probably to compensate the fact that the 99/4a only has 256 scratchpad where 99/8 has 1K. Cartridge space: 6000-602F Cartridge header '128K BYTE O.S.' 6030-612F Written to by XBII while running 6130-7fff Appears to be static code, haven't seen any writes here so far Unclarified behaviour The DSR space >4000 is briefly activated every 5-10 seconds while XBII is idling in command mode. This does not happen when a program is running (e.g. 10 GOTO 10). Seems to be a background task: Perhaps the access to the DSR rom space is related to the print buffering code checking to see if anything in the buffer on interrupts?
I remember asking this several years ago. Since I fiddling with the 99/8 again I thought I ask again. The roms for the 99/8 on MESS never worked with disk drive controllers a while back. tape worked but not drive. it was because the rom or system uploaded for the 99/8 hadn't gotten far enough in development to support drives. this was about mess .149. just wondering if new mess has a working 99/8 as some newer 99/8 board been found since then?