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classicgamingguy

TI-99 4/A: Should I or Shouldn't I Grab This?

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Hi all:

 

Well, I have an opportunity to grab a TI-99 4/A system with games, controllers, the original box it came in, the expansion box (PEB I think it's called), and all other hookups. This would be completely free to me, and I've REALLY been thinking about snagging this before it's off to the recycling center and eventual separation/grinding. My space is limited, however. I want your opinions on this, especially all those that have owned or do own this system.

 

It comes with the speech device as well. It's complete by all means, and some of the games have their original box and instructions. My brain keeps telling me to let it go...as I have little space to work with (I currently own a more modern PC, a Gamecube, an Atari 2600, and a Gameboy Advance Sp)...so what does everyone think? Should I do this or not? I have a TV to hook it up to (I could even take the small monitor that is with it, exclusively for the TI-99 4/A)...my only concern is bringing home that "one more piece of equipment" my wife is going to be rather cross about.

 

Not that I'm hooking it up anywhere near her...it would go into my den downstairs and be "out of sight, out of mind". But you all know that doesn't matter...it's what you're bringing home that initially gets an eyeroll or something. So, thoughts on this? I am at a crossroad and have a limited time before the recycling guy comes by to take it away..

 

-Steve

Edited by classicgamingguy

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I would definitely say that you should get it. If it's free, then it's worth checking out, right? If it sucks, or ends up taking too much space then at least you can pass it alon to someone else who wants it instead of letting it end up at an electronics "recycler" (a landfill in either Africa or China). Your only real problem could be Mrs. Classicgamingguy, so you just have to weigh how bad her reaction would be. If you have a den that's basically your space, and ou just take it straight down there, then it shouldn't be a problem though, right?

 

Chris

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Heck yeah, snag that thing! There are lots of games that its ports are different than anything else's. Plus, you can find Dungeons of Daggorath for it on cart, which is very a cool game. As a computer it isn't half bad, too.

 

Definitely snag it, all the accessories alone ware worth the trouble.

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That's true about bringing it straight downstairs, out of sight..

 

But, alas, we carpool together..Maybe I'll hold it here at work until an opportune moment arises!! ;) I've never owned a TI before, back in the day up to this point. I've owned Apple's, Atari's, Amiga's, and Commodore 64's, so this would be a unique find.

 

Steve

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This is where the trunk of your car comes in very handy, take it from me. I usually go grocery shopping and put all the junk in grocery bags and bring it up with the groceries. I get the credit for taking care of some food shopping and hauling it all up, and no one is the wiser.

 

That's true about bringing it straight downstairs, out of sight..

 

But, alas, we carpool together.

Steve

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You'd be extremely nuts not to. That's the complete system with monitor. And even if you decide not to keep it there's plenty of people that would be overjoyed to take it off your hands. It's a great system too with a lot of very good games. Some still being made for it as well:

 

http://tigameshelf.net/

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I'd grab it. If a space is really at a premium, you could always unload/sell/trade off the expansion unit and monitor. Someone makes and sells on ebay a TI-99 multicart kinda thing that uses a flash card and can hold the entire game library and load from a menu. No cartridge clutter! There are a bunch of obscure SNK and Data East arcade ports that are exclusive to the TI-99.

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Heck yeah, snag that thing! There are lots of games that its ports are different than anything else's. Plus, you can find Dungeons of Daggorath for it on cart, which is very a cool game. As a computer it isn't half bad, too.

 

Definitely snag it, all the accessories alone ware worth the trouble.

'Dungeons of Daggorath' is a Tandy CoCo game.

Are you thinking of 'Tunnels of Doom'?

 

The system is definitely worth having.

Check out some of the games.

Edited by JamesD

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DOH! Yeah, I wasn't thinking right. Must have been Tunnels of Doom. Love when memory starts to go bad. :D

Well, you had in partially right. Dungeons of Daggorath is a very cool game.

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By all means, pick it up, I had to pay $100 for mine.

 

BTW I'm on the lookout for an Editor/Assembler cart so I can play some of these assembly disk-based games.

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Great advice...and by the looks of the thread, mostly for getting the system, accessories, and games. Good thing I've decided to pick it up, as the recycling truck is on it's way as I type this! :) I'm not 100% sure what all the carts are yet, but there IS TI Invaders in there, plus Hunt the Wumpus. Unfortunately, no Tunnels of Doom, so that will be one I'll want to snag at some point.

 

The guy says he has more games for the system, but he just has to find them. I hope Parsec is in that pile! Oh yeah, thanks for the link to the games. I'll have to bookmark that for future reference. I have a huge table downstairs that's littered with miscellaneous stuff, but I can clear it off and make room for this gem. Many books and instructions are with the system as well, so it's about as complete as it could be. Two of the TI's joysticks are included for gameplay.

 

I'll check the games/applications out for the Assembler cart. There's a good chance it might be in there. Am I right in seeing that there's versions of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man? :o That makes me a happy camper as well.

 

Steve

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That's a great price for the starter system. Well, update for all. Just snagged the TI, the PEB, and a box full of goodies (controllers, RF unit, power adapter, games, boxes, instruction manuals), so I own one officially now. I didn't realize how HEAVY the PEB was!! :woozy: I mean seriously...if I dropped this thing on my foot it would break it in a million pieces! The main computer unit is the silver/black one (not the cream-colored). Is there a difference between models? Is one "better" than the other? I didn't really see any differences between them, but someone here might be able to explain the difference, if any at all.

 

So, besides this, anyone know where I can get started learning about the TI? Online resources or fansites, perhaps? Or someone here could give me some advice or just give the TI a plug on how much you think it's the greatest computer ever made..something like that.

 

Steve

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It's a good deal for sure, and boxed games are not especially common (not quite rare, but uncommon).

 

The color of the console doesn't necessarily affect the PCB inside, although the beige models were later. The main revision is the version 2.2 (visible on the title page), which is the "QI" (quality improved) motherboard. It's actually somewhat less desirable as the ROMs lock out ROM-based cartridges such as AtariSoft's, where the original reads both ROM and GROM. As far as I know, both motherboard revisions have held up well from a reliability standpoint.

 

There are two types of PEB too, one has a push-button switch, the newer one has a rocker switch. I preferred the latter but again, I believe they were fundamentally the same.

 

The weight of the PEB is mostly the transformer, but there is a lot of steel in there too! :)

 

There are lots of resources these days, start with the links in the Wikipedia article (and I try to verify the facts there every so often, too, so it should at least resemble reality ;) ) -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Instruments_TI-99/4A

 

Have fun! You've got a nice system there!

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Tursi, thanks. My friend also told me the main heavy part of the PEB was the transformer, but the metal seems of the "heavy" variety. No light steel in this thing, for sure. I really wasn't in the market for a TI, but after several days thinking about it, and knowing that it was going to be separated into parts for recycling, I couldn't let it end up that way.

 

Thanks for the link, too. I've already been scouring the web to look for resources on this system. One thing I read was that the cartridges could be pulled while the system is still on. That was unique for computers at the time. More often than not you needed to shut down the system before taking something out or putting something in.

 

My small TV (the monitor that I thought was with it didn't work right, so I decided not to try and tinker with it) I have will work with the RF unit, as it has a cable attachment on it. I might need another 6-plug power strip to get everything connected. My Atari 2600 right now is hogging the table the TI is going to go on. :D

 

I need a bigger den... :roll:

 

-Steve

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Tursi, thanks. My friend also told me the main heavy part of the PEB was the transformer, but the metal seems of the "heavy" variety. No light steel in this thing, for sure.

 

Yeah, but it is a lot more than you'd think. I replaced the power supply in my PEB with a PC power supply (mostly to see if it could be done.. a bit of a waste of the original but the original supply struggles to run two floppy drives). I weighed the original transformer and fan, and it was around 10 pounds for just that. My new fan is much quieter (but likely won't last as long ;) ).

 

Thanks for the link, too. I've already been scouring the web to look for resources on this system. One thing I read was that the cartridges could be pulled while the system is still on. That was unique for computers at the time. More often than not you needed to shut down the system before taking something out or putting something in.

 

Yeah, there is a small circuit in the cart that kicks the reset line on insertion. In practice, I stopped doing it myself, I had a third party manufactured Extended BASIC cart that was damaged by doing that. As XB at the time was $80, and I was just a kid without an income, I was quite distressed. ;)

 

I need a bigger den... :roll:

 

hehe.. I'm in that boat myself...

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Probably better to make sure the system is off before inserting or removing the carts, just on general principle as well as not promoting any damage to either the system or games/applications. I can't believe the thing weighs an easy 10 pounds. Wow, I wonder how much it cost Texas Instruments to produce a single PEB? Must have been pretty expensive. And the man hours (back in the day) to make each one must have been pretty intensive as well.

 

Again, thanks.

 

Steve

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Probably better to make sure the system is off before inserting or removing the carts, just on general principle as well as not promoting any damage to either the system or games/applications. I can't believe the thing weighs an easy 10 pounds. Wow, I wonder how much it cost Texas Instruments to produce a single PEB? Must have been pretty expensive. And the man hours (back in the day) to make each one must have been pretty intensive as well.

 

Again, thanks.

 

Steve

 

The PEB can best be described as a Sherman tank of "pc cases". I'm guessing it is due to the shielding requirements. Heck, even the expansion cards are armor plated.

 

The PEB creates this divide. You can be a casual TI-99/4A user, going no further than playing cartridge games, and maybe saving & playing cassette programs in TI-BASIC. Or you can go the hardcore route, where you have the PEB, thus giving you access to use floppy disks, modem, printer,etc.

 

Most didn't take the hardcore path.

 

I still want to take my PEB and turn it into the ultimate retro casemod. But I want to re-use as many of the components as possible. Heck, the drive bay is just the right height(er, width!).

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...... One thing I read was that the cartridges could be pulled while the system is still on. That was unique for computers at the time. More often than not you needed to shut down the system before taking something out or putting something in.

 

My small TV (the monitor that I thought was with it didn't work right, so I decided not to try and tinker with it)

 

I need a bigger den... :roll:

 

-Steve

 

 

 

Actually the TI made carts are perfectly safe with hot swapping and are made to do so. It's the third party ones that are not. All Atarisoft carts plus rarities like Junkman Jr, Munchman II, etc need to be inserted when the system is powered down. Likewise with extraction.

That's a real shame about the monitor. Those are getting rather scarce. Was it the square 10in model or the 13in one that looked like an old portable TV? The latter being far more rare.

And don't feel too bad about your den situation. I need a bigger house. :grin:

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As noted, the official TI carts are supposed to be safe. The power supplies are rated to take any temporary voltage surge, the likelihood of cross pins is exceptionally low, and the reset circuit forces a hardware reset before the ROM is accessed.

 

But third party carts often don't include the reset circuit, and the Exceltech XB I had /did/ have the circuit and still died (while I was demonstrating the feature to a friend no less!!). So I personally don't do it anymore. TI said it was safe, but they won't replace the parts anymore. :)

 

Probably better to make sure the system is off before inserting or removing the carts, just on general principle as well as not promoting any damage to either the system or games/applications. I can't believe the thing weighs an easy 10 pounds. Wow, I wonder how much it cost Texas Instruments to produce a single PEB? Must have been pretty expensive. And the man hours (back in the day) to make each one must have been pretty intensive as well.

 

I have pictures of my stripped down PEB with the parts out. The article isn't very useful as it doesn't show disassembly, but you can see the guts, just scroll down: http://www.harmlesslion.com/text/atx_peb.htm

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The TI-99/4A is an excellent gaming system!

 

Trust us... you will be addicted to it after just a few uses. :)

 

The text adventure games that go with the "Adventure" cart are some of my favorites. You can download them as audio them play them back via a MP3 player instead of the tape deck.

 

Also, pressing [FCTN] and the [+] key reboots the system... just a FYI.

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