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Story on TI-99/4A community

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Hi all, Shaun Nichols from theregister.co.uk here. One of your members pointed me to this forum and after following the threads for a bit I'm interested in writing an article about the Ti-99/4A community. In particular I wanted to look at how such a dedicated community arose around this specific machine, what sort of development is being done these days, etc. Would any of you be up for a quick interview? Thanks.

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There are many of us that enjoy this little.machine and many are doing some type of hardware design and software too. A few of us like myself have even put up an old school bbs to support it.

 

I would definately be on board for an interview.

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I'm in Italy and love this machne since i was about 7 y.o.

 

From 2010 I try to gather fans of the TI99 scattered around Italy to my website group.

I also love to collect hardware/software/documentation for this computer and as soon as the time will allow me, I try to do my best to post it online in the Database.
I am into atariage board since years ago, it is really a well-assorted group.
many friendly people with right spirit for a community is present here.
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Welcome aboard, Shaun. You need your buzzard avatar icon_wink.gif

 

For those who are not familiar, The Register (http://theregister.co.uk) is a great technology website with an IT slant and a serious gaze at security (or lack thereof) in technology, while not at all lacking a fun side. When all of the other IT sites have let me down, ElReg has not. Of particular interest to most of us is the regular articles about computers with which we have grown and grown to love, games and what-not (like the Antique Code-Show,) and more, but with a sore lacking of the TI.

 

Shaun recently penned and article, Putting the 'Port' in Portal: Old-school fan brings game to Apple II, in which he queried his readership "Are you or someone you know working on a vintage code project, computer science marvel, or other awesome idea?"

 

Well, the rest is and shall be history! With our help, the recent release of the TI MegaDemo, and Shaun's literary skills our beloved TI shall no longer live in obscurity, obscured by the dust heap of history under such highly vaunted relics as the Apple 2 or the Commodore 64.

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Shaun recently penned and article, Putting the 'Port' in Portal: Old-school fan brings game to Apple II, in which he queried his readership "Are you or someone you know working on a vintage code project, computer science marvel, or other awesome idea?"

 

 

We have the Portal end credits for the TMS9900 as well. ;-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE2uSkZn4IM&t=93s

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I'm just a fan boy. It was my first computer as a kid in the 80s and it planted the seed for my current IT career. Haven't touched it since the 80s until July of last year. Am developing hardware and software (the very basic levels of difficulty) and enjoy this awesome community and support. I enjoy chatting so if you're still looking... :)

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I am certainly game—though there are only a handful of us Forthers on this forum. I developed my fbForth 2.0 cartridge from TI Forth while on this forum.

 

Another Forther, who developed another Forth cartridge (TurboForth) before me and who inspired me, is Mark Wills (@Willsy).

 

...lee

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Well, you will get no help here, you Brits are not to be trusted.......with those damned Spectrums and BBC Micros.

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Well, you will get no help here, you Brits are not to be trusted.......with those damned Spectrums and BBC Micros.

To be fair...if I wasn't using my TI-99 for education and I could actually afford run those two computers, I would use either of them stateside for the same purpose.

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I've enjoyed the odd Register article, very cool! Ask around, I'm sure you'll find whatever you'd like to know about :)

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Well, you will get no help here, you Brits are not to be trusted.......with those damned Spectrums and BBC Micros.

I'm one of the handful of Yanks who work in our San Francisco office. So many people get disappointed the first time they hear I don't have a British accent...

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I'm one of the handful of Yanks who work in our San Francisco office. So many people get disappointed the first time they hear I don't have a British accent...

Sorry, just having a bit of fun, I am in fact.......................British. ;)

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I'm just flailing about with my mid-life crisis trying to recapture the joys of my youth by playing with my old computers.

 

I speak from personal experience when I say that the flailling about continues as you move from midlife to having retirement clearly in view (you just flail more slowly and it hurts more).

 

I was already well into adulthood (just under 30) when I got my first TI, and I left it not because it wasn't still serving me well, but because it had simply become impossible to find peripherals and software for it up here in the Great White North (and all my friends owned Ataris). I got back into this machine because it (and later, the Atari ST) remain to this day, the most fun I ever had with technology.

 

Sure Modern machines might wow us with their speed, photo-realistic graphics and number-crunching prowess, but the FUN of having a computer hobby today pales in comparison to having a home computer in the late 70's a to mid 80's. Luckily there's no reason why you can continue having the fun of a 1980's computer hobby in 2017...

 

(actually MORE fun considering how community talent keeps pushing the limits of the hardware and software to levels never imagined in their original era!)

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A few Christmases ago I took my newly acquired MBX and well-built-up TI cartridge collection to my parents' place. First to show off to my dad some of the neat stuff I was able to put together for our old machine, secondly to show my two young cousins, about 9 and 12 IIRC. They both play with it for most of the day.

 

About 10~12 years ago I would babysit my friend's daughter. She enjoyed the TI, as well. I only had a modest collection of games but I had a lot of educational cartridges that she enjoyed playing. This is the same girl who a year earlier sat in front of my Amiga 4000 and after a couple of minutes was navigating like she was raised on it.

 

The technology, games, and user interfaces we have developed over the years carry a particular universality. Irrespective of the machine, this makes it all more attractive and usable to us as a whole. Well, except for Windows 8 :P

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Regarding the international touch, I'm from Argentina, where the TI-99/4A was huge in the 83-84, sold by Texas Instrument Argentina both in silver/black and later in beige. I owned a silver one in that time period, and have a couple of them today.

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First computer was a beige TI-99/4A and bought it from a friend when I was either in 8th grade or Freshman year of H.S. Came with Extended BASIC, Adventure, Mini Memory, programming books, a bunch of game cartridges & tapes, program recorder, speech synthesizer, a printer adapter that hooked to the joystick port and a dongle for the joystick port I could hook a single Atari compatible joystick to. Played and programmed the hell out of that machine and got to know a couple of friends that also had TI's at home. Was too broke to be purchasing things out of catalogs, so was great being able to temporarily swap cartridges once in a while. Spent untold hours with my friends playing games like Tunnels of Doom, Centipede, TI Invaders, Slymoids, Burgertime, Star Trek, Car Wars, Congo Bongo, Blasto! and lots more ...with one person using a joystick, and the other using the keyboard. Didn't complain much back then about it... was just the way it was. Honestly, cannot remember if I was even aware of the Wico 2-player adapter at the time or not. I'm thinking not, but either way - I loved my TI and was elated to have a computer to call my own. Think I paid around $200 for it and really, was a large collection right off the bat - probably the main reason why I didn't really seek purchasing much else for it at the time. Went on to purchase other computers instead of investing more in the TI I guess.

 

By the late 80's, it and my Atari 2600 were relegated to the closet as I had moved on to the Amiga and NES for gaming. The C64, Atari 400 and Apple ][ computers I had bought since the TI, were all gone by this time, though I did purchase a new C64c and 1802 monitor a few years later.

 

Early 90's, started frequenting thrift stores and would run across old game systems and computer stuff. It's where I found another Atarisoft game (only had and was aware of Centipede) and nearly lost it when it turned out to be Donkey Kong! DK for the TI?! One of my favorite games of all time and this is when I decided to bring the system out of "retirement".

 

By the late 90's, acquired a PEB box, official TI monitor and started collecting cartridges like crazy. Even had Espial, which I had traded for a couple of other hard to find carts at the time. Micro-Pinball and I forget the other now. Really got into the text Adventures around this time too and wanted to put together a collection of the games on something more convenient and "permanent" than tapes, just in case they'd ever go bad. Got ahold of Scott Adams and coincidentally, found he lived in WI as well. Asked for his blessing in putting together a compilation of sorts for the good folks of Usenet, when he mentioned he was in the middle of making a sequel to Return To Pirates Isle for Windows 95 machines. Not sure or can't remember whatever happened to *that* project (don't think it was ever finished or was only sold in super limited quantities?), but I went ahead with my CD collection that had versions of all his games to be played through a CD player into the TI using the cassette cable and a Windows interpreter for people that didn't have legacy hardware to play on. Gathered up all the artwork for the original game boxes as well. Some other tidbits like hints/tips/walkthroughs, etc.

 

post-13896-0-92870700-1486741411_thumb.jpg

 

...fast forward to today and still have most of my TI collection (sold some of it, but added things like a Milton Bradley MBX unit) and actively participate in the forums here. Have been enjoying some of the latest the best of the community has to offer, such as multi-carts, memory expansion/CF card units, games, knowledge, storytelling and more. While there will be nothing like the way I felt as a kid growing up with this stuff BITD, 30+ years later, these are arguably the best times to be in the hobby. :)

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Thanks for all the responses, everyone, and sorry for those I didn't get around to (this story is a bit of a "free time" thing I squeeze in around normal writing duties.) Anyway, I'm still looking for a few more shots of peoples' TI-99 setups. If anyone has some to send over or if you just want to give permission to use your shots from the "post your picture" topic I would love to be able to use them. Thanks.

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You're welcome to my system pictures from the thread... Or you can use this one.

 

 

20160110_010757_zpsfm6to8lz.jpg

Edited by Opry99er
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