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Toucan

The Personal Computer Division White Papers

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3 hours ago, mizapf said:

So I finally get to see those mythical Wireless Remote Controllers! :) Raphael Nabet added the emulation of those to MAME (MESS, in his days) long ago, and surely we never had any program to test them.

Are you sure on that? The PHM3000 Diagnostics Module has a section for 4 Joysticks and the position visualization tables are not for a digital one (only 4,0,-4) but for analog ones.

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11 hours ago, Toucan said:

Oh shoot. Just looked more in the box and found these green books:

  • "TI BASIC Interpreter System Documentation"....WRITTEN BY Robert B. Greenberg of Microsoft (8/24/1978).
  • "Specification of a TI standard for the BASIC Language" (6/9/1978)

The Specification of a TI standard for the BASIC Language is a document we searched for a long time. It is awesome some employee preserved it and it is awesome that you contacted exactly that guy!

The Specification is referenced in the applicable documents sections from 3 known specifications:

  • Product 359 Basic Interpreter Design Specification (Product 359 = codename for Extended Basic)
  • TI-99/4 Home Computer Basic Interpreter Design Specification
  • TI-99/8 Home Computer Basic Interpreter Design Specification

The first document from Greenberg looks younger and is nowhere referenced in any of the known specifications. Either because the approach of Microsoft was dropped or we miss many more documents. Awesome find!!!

 

One big specification document we still miss, dated from 1979-04-12 in Revision 4.1, is called Home Computer Basic Language Specification.

Could be that this was done after CB Wilson left. Or that this is the one referring the Greenberg Documentation.

 

Question to be asked is now: do we run a Microsoft Basic now or not?

 

Wow!

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7 minutes ago, kl99 said:

Question to be asked is now: do we run a Microsoft Basic now or not?

How about GWBASIC?  With the F18A it could probably be accomplished. (running like hell for cover) Really, I'm just kidding!

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52 minutes ago, Toucan said:

Okay, so here are the transparencies I mentioned from 1977. The design is pretty interesting, with the peripherals supposedly plugging into the top of the unit and even being color coded by the looks of it. The design almost reminds me, due to the slimmer case, of the 99/2. My thought is that they couldn't get the sizes of the peripherals down small enough to make these pluggable in a row on the top of the console. What I thought was a disc-style controller (like the Intellivision), turns out to be an "Add Disc" (some type of disk drive?). The controllers look more similar to what was photographed in 1978, even with the cradle and keyboard connection capability. Also, I don't think these were membrane keys, but chiclet keys like the 99/4 had. They must have been bigger than what we got, as they are the width of the cartridge slot it seems. 

20200125_085259.jpg

20200125_085320.jpg

 
Absolutely amazing !!! Looking sharp. 4 ports directly above the keys, wireless, $400 etc. Shit. They could have ruled the world !?
 

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3 minutes ago, sometimes99er said:

 
Absolutely amazing !!! Looking sharp. 4 ports directly above the keys, wireless, $400 etc. Shit. They could have ruled the world !?
 

Okay, I looked at the White Papers, and they mention the "ADD Disk". What exactly is an ADD Disk? It does not look like a floppy drive by the drawing above. Here's a copy of some of the peripherals they were considering:

 

 

 

 

20200125_100550.jpg

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I'm actually getting excited about this unit. Wireless controls, home security, ADD disk unit (whatever that may be), printing checks, expansions that snap in on top (look like printer cartridges actually), etc. Now that typewriter peripheral, would that just have been a full keyboard, or are we talking about interfacing an actual typewriter to the TI?

Edited by Toucan
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13 hours ago, Toucan said:

 

20200124_210239.jpg

This whole page about the Handhelds for the 99/3 and 99/4 is also covered in the Peripheral product specification, part of the Product Specification for the Home Computer System from 1979-05-29. This got preserved within The Cyc from Cadd Electronics. [\vendors\ti\internal\prodspec\prodspec.pdf]

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2 hours ago, Toucan said:

Okay, so here are the transparencies I mentioned from 1977...

@Toucan your posts have inspired me.  I turned one of your transparencies into some wallpaper.

 

 1784018709_WhatMightHaveBeen.thumb.jpg.b11f294de5230a3bdb4b9eb70aa94fb0.jpg

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57 minutes ago, Toucan said:

I'm actually getting excited about this unit. Wireless controls, home security, ADD disk unit (whatever that may be), printing checks, expansions that snap in on top (look like printer cartridges actually), etc. Now that typewriter peripheral, would that just have been a full keyboard, or are we talking about interfacing an actual typewriter to the TI?

Question's been answered:

 

20200125_110928.jpg

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Here we go, a release schedule, starting in 4Q/1978. I guess they were closer to a final product in 1978 than we thought. An e-mail program in the works for 2Q/1979. Lookout Outlook! Oh yeah, Wumpus on the list as well. And interestingly, Japanese language. Also, note in the 3Q/1979 what sounds like the PEB. Also of note is even in this August/September 1978 document, compatibility with Milton Bradley cartridges is mentioned as a requirement.

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20200125_112806.jpg

Edited by Toucan
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I have to wonder for that typewriter idea, if the typewriter would have inputted on the screen of the TI via software and then you could edit and work on the screen before having the typewriter "print" it out? Kind of a cheaper way to get a printer/full-fledged keyboard?

Edited by Toucan

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11 minutes ago, Toucan said:

Here we go, a release schedule, starting in 4Q/1978. I guess they were closer to a final product in 1978 than we thought. ...

 

Yes, biggest delay for the TI-99/4 was the FCC that blocked a release without a certified modulator. That is why they came up with the requirement of a bundle with the 99/4 monitor. Of course you need to find a partner, brand it accordingly and that was totally changing the price category.

Only later the modulator was certified and the 99/4 was allowed to be sold without the monitor. According to some TI employees the FCC actually delayed releasing specifications to aquire a certification for the modulator, which if true makes a certificate not an easy and fast task.

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And this document also describes the ACS computer security system, which was mentioned in other TI publications, but for which very little real information existed. We definitely need to do a deep dive into that BASIC specification document, as I suspect it will tell us much more about the actual level of Microsoft involvement in the original BASIC interpreter development process.

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5 minutes ago, Ksarul said:

And this document also describes the ACS computer security system, which was mentioned in other TI publications, but for which very little real information existed. We definitely need to do a deep dive into that BASIC specification document, as I suspect it will tell us much more about the actual level of Microsoft involvement in the original BASIC interpreter development process.

There's actually a whole section dedicated to the home security device/software. I'll post those up later today. Eventually I'll try and get the whole thing into a PDF.

Edited by Toucan
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So interesting informations!  Thanks!

 

The numeric keys of the Dimension 1 infrared joysticks recall me the infrared joysticks of the EXL100 French computer made by 3 former TI engineers in 1983:

exeljoy3.jpg
joystick-exelvision-inside.jpg

The IR receiver is integrated in front of the EXL100 computer.

 

 

 

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You know, there are lots of off-the-shelf IR devices available, and lot of available plans.  I bet if someone wanted to make a few bucks, they could make a sending and receiving unit to work with the joystick port and peoples joysticks.  Enclose them in a 3D printed case and call it good.  It does not even have to be IR, it could be RF too.

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So cool infos Toucan! thanks for sharing all this.

the TI joysticks remember to me a lot the ones for colecovision too 😛 

 

1.png

 

the Colecovision also has the same connector of the power supply

2.png.a49a83dc9f4db1a068fc56532cd8bd63.png

 

is that a coincidence? 😛

Edited by ti99iuc

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42 minutes ago, --- Ω --- said:

You know, there are lots of off-the-shelf IR devices available, and lot of available plans.  I bet if someone wanted to make a few bucks, they could make a sending and receiving unit to work with the joystick port and peoples joysticks.  Enclose them in a 3D printed case and call it good.  It does not even have to be IR, it could be RF too.

It is not about having a wireless digital joystick (-4, 0, 4), but this attempt of TI was about analog joysticks (-4,-3.9,-3.8,...-0.1,0,0.1,...3.8,3.9,4.0).

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7 minutes ago, kl99 said:

It is not about having a wireless digital joystick (-4, 0, 4), but this attempt of TI was about analog joysticks (-4,-3.9,-3.8,...-0.1,0,0.1,...3.8,3.9,4.0).

With all the photos of early wireless joystickS being posted.... IT IS TO ME!

 

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Holy Buckets! I'm floored. What a treasure trove! Be sure to thank the Esteemed Mr. Wilson, not only for his active participation in the events unfolding at the time, but also for saving and sharing it for all of us, through your own efforts in making it available. Why not invite CB to join in the discussion? If he's willing to be overwhelmed with the response!

-Ed

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7 hours ago, Ksarul said:

And this document also describes the ACS computer security system, which was mentioned in other TI publications, but for which very little real information existed. We definitely need to do a deep dive into that BASIC specification document, as I suspect it will tell us much more about the actual level of Microsoft involvement in the original BASIC interpreter development process.

Attached is a PDF of the pages relating to the security part. I used my phone to take the pics, let me know how it comes out.

security2.pdf

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Here's some more from the booklet. In this PDF you'll see some diagrams, one shows the speaker in the console and also talks about a decorative overlay covering volume control provisions. The beginning of the Solid State Software badge? Also neat is the Remote-Handset overlay drawing, so you can see what the overlay would have looked like to convert the joystick keyboards to a full keyboard.

 

I made this PDF in black/white to reduce size and make things more clear (I think). If you think this is acceptable, I could start taking pics of the entire book this way as it's probably the quickest way to scan it without removing the pages and sending it through a public copier (worried about paper jams and the like).

diagrams.pdf

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3 hours ago, Ed in SoDak said:

Holy Buckets! I'm floored. What a treasure trove! Be sure to thank the Esteemed Mr. Wilson, not only for his active participation in the events unfolding at the time, but also for saving and sharing it for all of us, through your own efforts in making it available. Why not invite CB to join in the discussion? If he's willing to be overwhelmed with the response!

-Ed

Not a bad idea. I could ask him and see what he says. He did keep putting off digging through his items (first contacted him in 2009, only now that he's moving did he get around to it) and he also said he could write a book with all he knows, but he never has gotten around to that (jotting down some history) since he first mentioned it in 2009. So he might take a few years, but maybe we will hear from him eventually :)

 

I did just ask him the dreaded Milton Bradley question, meaning what was MB's involvement with the TI computer since I have drawings from 1977 from MB for a TI/MB Home computer display stand. Apparently MB was making a cost reduced TI-compatible system (Gamevision?). Bill Gaskill put together a nice compilation of the info here: http://www.ti99ers.org/timeline/Milton Bradley Company-langieri_02042010.pdf. Ha! Great timing. That article was compiled on 1/25/2010, EXACTLY 10 years ago. Coincidence?

 

BTW, CB Wilson worked at TI from 1967-2000:

 

Quote

I worked in airborne radar programs initially, took military LOA and served as a Civil Engineering Corp Officer in Vietnam and as a contracting officer for Operation Deepfreeze. On return to TI, I worked in manufacturing engineering for solid state phased array radar development and transferred to calculators in 1972. I had a wide variety of manufacturing, engineering design and management roles with calculators, home computing, synthetic speech toys and graphing calculators for math education. I focused on creating teams and processes to produce embedded software with very low fault density and products designed with multi-disciplinary teams to very closely meet user and market needs.

 

Edited by Toucan

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2 hours ago, Toucan said:

Attached is a PDF of the pages relating to the security part. I used my phone to take the pics, let me know how it comes out.

security2.pdf 2.31 MB · 9 downloads

Perfectly readable. Phone cameras are quite good these days.

 

A tip from my flatbed scanning days- when there's a ghost of the opposite side showing through thin paper, inserting a black sheet behind the page helps remove that.

 

When using a camera as a copier, overexposing a bit will whiten the paper. The camera is metering to produce a midtone, it's compensating for all that white and underexposing as a result.

 

For the plastic finger binders, there's a tool that spreads the fingers all at once for easily inserting and removing the pages singly or all at once. That would speed the copying process since you wouldn't have to deal with flipping each page through the binder's fingers while trying not to snag the holes. The black backing sheet could be taped to a flat surface, then just lay each page in turn on the black and click!

 

For those who are printing their own pages to build a booklet, they make a special perforator that punches all those rectangular holes in one chomp. The plastic binders come in several sizes depending on how many sheets they will hold.

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