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Classic Pac

TI Computers and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

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When I saw this section this morning I thought I pass along something some of you might find interesting. Back in the day when the TI computer came out the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago actually had TI computers power their interactive kiosks scattered throughout the museum. They lasted a good 10 years, I wish I had a photo of one to share, but I was wondering did any other museum use TI computers? 

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They also powered the interactive displays at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum until a display update they made in the early 2000s.

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Posted (edited)

I remember seeing them in Chicago back in the day...and if I'm not mistaken, I remember seeing some years prior to that in the Detroit Science center/institute as a kid, though more for hands-on that for kiosk usage

Edited by patrickmcmichael

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8 hours ago, Classic Pac said:

When I saw this section this morning I thought I pass along something some of you might find interesting. Back in the day when the TI computer came out the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago actually had TI computers power their interactive kiosks scattered throughout the museum. They lasted a good 10 years, I wish I had a photo of one to share, but I was wondering did any other museum use TI computers? 

 

 

I had not heard of it before, but sounds cool. 

 

I visited a few other Computer Museums (2x the Computer History Museum  https://www.computerhistory.org/, San Jose, California, USA),

2x the Bonami Computer Museum (https://computermuseum.nl/ in Zwolle, The Netherlands),  1x  BINARIUM Museum (https://www.facebook.com/MuseumBINARIUM in Dordtmund, Germany),  1x Computerspielemuseum (http://www.computerspielemuseum.de/1210_Home.htm Berlin, Germany), 1x (in a shopping mall, Kampii?) in Helsinki, Finland.

 

(in 3x Nationaal Video Gamemuseum (https://www.nationaalvideogamemuseum.nl/ in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands).

 

and the TI-99/4A stuff at my father's house/place in Zoetermeer 🙂

 

You might like this playlist (20 videos of my last visit at Bonami):

 

 

 

 

 

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https://www.livingcomputers.org/

 

Is in Seattle and has a 4A console that can be played with. Its been several years since I was there last, so who knows what is there now.

 

https://opac.libraryworld.com/opac/home.php

 

is a search engine. '99/4A' gets 45 hits, 'Texas Instruments' gets lots of hits.

 

I especially like this one:

 

How to build your own working 16-bit microcomputer / (Book)

 

  cover_server.php?cover_id=&isbn=&type=am

 

Library of Congress Call No :   TK9969 .T7 1979
Main Entry-Personal Name :   Tracton, Ken
Title Statement :   How to build your own working 16-bit microcomputer / Ken Tracton , 1979.
Publication Distribution Data :   Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. : Tab Books, Inc. , 1979.
Physical Description :   95 p.: ill ; 8.25 in.
Summary Note :   Manual for using the Texas Instruments 9900 CPU single-chip processor to build a "super powerful" microcomputer.
Subject-Topical Term :   Microcomputers
Subject-Topical Term :   Modems
Index Term-Genre/Form :   Books
844 :   Documentation

 

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https://livingcomputers.org/

 

I cannot say enough good things about the LCM (Living History Museum) in Seattle!  I went there in April for the Vintage Computer Festival, which was held at the museum.  Fantastic place!  Just the fact that they run the computers for you to interact with sets it above all other computer museums IMO.  You can touch, program, and interact with a mainframe, mini computer, workstations, micros, video game systems, coin-op games, discrete electronic games, and tons of other stuff.  Just amazing.

 

Side bar: [I have the opinion that museums should be running their exhibits for artifacts that *do* things.  If a an artifact breaks while being run, then fine, let it sit there at that point; it will be no better than it is now (just sitting there).  But until something breaks, run it!  I grew up going to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan, and back in the day they used to run the steam engines, machine shops, generators, and such.  These days the equipment just sits there, still and cold.  Very sad.]

 

The LCM Beats the crap out of the Computer History Museum, IMO.  The last two times I went to the CHM it was getting worse.  Things that were broken before were still broken, the home computer section is pitiful, and they don't run anything other than a few of their systems on various weekdays between 3:00pm and 3:01pm.  And then, you can only watch while gray-beards run the computers, you don't get to touch them.  At the LCM there is no glass, no fences, no barriers.  I walked right up to the mainframe and touched it.  For being in the middle of Silicon Valley, and apparently getting funding from places like Microsoft and Google, the CHM is not nearly as impressive as the LCM.  The late Paul Allen (RIP) founded the LCM and graciously made his collection available for everyone to enjoy.  I really hope it survives, and I hope the VCF Pacific Northwest returns to the LCM in 2020.

 

Anyway, the point of this post was to show the LCM's 99/4A display as of April 2019 when I was there.  It is pretty minimal, no PEB or expansion other than the speech synth.  All the carts were games or other software that does not require the disk or 32K.  They have plenty of 99/4A consoles, as well as PEBs in their inventory, but I think it comes down to not enough time or people to do the work for all the systems they support.  If anyone lives in Seattle area and wants to volunteer, you could probably get in with them.  I wish I lived in Seattle, just to be able to go to and participate with the LCM!

 

The pictures below are some of the ones I took in the Mainframe Room.  Note that every system in the room is *running*, even the CDC-6500 that I'm standing almost inside of!  True of mainframes, they never shut them down unless they have to.  They had terminals scattered around the room that you could use to interact with the systems, write and run programs and jobs, etc.  The photo of the paper tapes, I call that one "software!" 🙂

 

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