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cbmeeks

The TI isn't all bad is it??

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The TI-99/4A was my very first computer.  So I am biased towards it.  Even ignoring my bias, it's still a great computer.

 

Which is why I was a little taken back by this video covering it:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0puBoKpvEjY

 

I normally like this guy's videos.  But I thought his analysis of the system a little unfair.  Maybe I'm just sensitive.  We all agree (I assume anyway) that the TI certainly has a SMALLER library of games than for the C64 or even Apple II.  But that doesn't mean it doesn't have MANY good to great ones! 

 

When are people going to learn that the TI is a tremendous deal these days? 

 

Edited by cbmeeks
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AtariAge put a section of their forum for this computer for a reason and that is most likely because there are fans like you and I who have fond memories of the TI-99/4A.  TI making bad decisions in the past and deciding to abandon their computer hasnt stopped people from still trying to get TI-99/4As and accessories.  New software/games are being made for it and new ways to enjoy the computer like FINALGROM cartridges and NanoPEBS that get around the newer model trying to restrict software usage show that this computer has fans that still love it for what it is.  The guy in the video did seem unfair to me to!  He is right that getting things for your TI are far cheaper than getting things for any Commodore computer or atari 8 bit computer.  Long story short Enjoy the TI cause it still is a tremendous deal!

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Well said.  In fact, I would point out to those who dismiss the TI that it's the odd nature of the TI, the dumb things TI did and the strangeness here and there that make the TI so well loved.

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Can't watch it right now, but if the TI-99's biggest crime is having a smaller library than the two most hugely successful platforms of the first decade in home computing, I figure we're not doing too badly. 

 

But honestly, "size of original era game library" is a criterion that doesn't really speak to me, as far as the appeal of the TI-99 goes.  For me, one of the things that makes the TI-99 great is almost the reverse - that I feel like a lot of its potential wasn’t really unlocked, or at least easily accessed, during its commercial lifespan.  Anyone could see that it offered terrific sound and graphics capabilities, for its era and price point.  But unlocking their full potential was exceedingly difficult.  Extended Basic kind of throws that in your face, right away.  It effectively tells you “this computer can do lots of nice big sprites and colourful backgrounds and music and voice synth and controller input...if only it could do any of that fast enough!  If only you could find a way!” 
 
And though I’m likewise clearly biased, to me that’s more interesting and tantalising, from the point of view of subsequent history, than systems which were more straightforwardly capable computing devices with pretty well-understood limitations and well-documented capabilities which users were able to access fairly easily and effectively, during their commercial lifespan.  The TI-99/4A is such a tease!

 

But that's all regarding it as a computer rather than as a game console.  So if someone wants to approach it strictly as a retro gaming platform, I guess I'm perfectly willing to admit that there are stronger platforms.  As bitter as childhood me was about everything being Commodore This and Atari That.  I guess I got over that part, a bit :P

 

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I dunno the original software library was pretty large.. and well balanced between applications, edumacational and entertainment heck we had wii fit in 1979!  Atarisoft made games for it while they didn't for many other computers of the era.. infocom too.. 

 

 

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Ha. Great, terse answer @OLD CS1  🙂

 

It's a shame the TI gets so much flak.  Mostly from people who never used it.

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Everyone is entitled to an opinion, they have theirs and I have mine. Being an old fart that has enjoyed his time with the 4a, I frankly just don’t give a damn what other people think. We as TI’ers know what we’ve got and that’s all that matters. 

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The TI got flak back in the day.  These days I can't imagine anyone throwing shade on any old classic system.  What would be the point?

 

I routinely made fun of the 2 guys I knew back in the 80s who were stuck with TIs (and believe me they didn't want them - parental decisions).  These days I have a fully pimped out TI with a PEB and think it's super cool.

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I bought a TI in hmmm 82.. the only thing I thought about anything was the price of software at the time, until I learned freeware, fareware and I never ever even though the wars I never looked twice at farewell. I saw the equipment, I didn't see cheap junk. So I totally ignored the war and kept my TI way into the 90s. And really the only thing that kept me from sticking with it was family,job,no Time to dedicate to learning more...see, there was always something to learn and even today I'm still grappling with assembly... but unlike those days of the 90s, I've got more time again and do I need to mention I'm having fun again.

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In this context I think about the 16-bit discussions. Back in those days, the TI-99/4A was indeed the only affordable 16-bit architecture. All contemporary home computer systems were based on 8-bit CPUs. However, people with not so deep technical insight, typically those users of those 8-bit systems, insisted that the TI is "not a real 16 bit" computer, it "only uses 8 bit", and so on. In fact, this also convinced many TI users, and today we see our computer sorted into the same group as the 8-bitters. But this is technically wrong.

 

This is the reason why today I keep urging to call it 16-bit, and not "almost" or "but on 8 bit bus" or whatever. The TI-99/4A is a 16-bit system with no exemption, the bus width is irrelevant, as it does not determine the architecture. I believe that this 16-bit feature is something that can be counted on the positive side, but which has always been more or less ignored, or not defended with more self-confidence.

 

The fact that people tend to falsely associate the 16-bit category with the next generation (actually of 16/32 bit systems based on 68000, or 8088 on the PC side) is not our fault.

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2 hours ago, mizapf said:

This is the reason why today I keep urging to call it 16-bit, and not "almost" or "but on 8 bit bus" or whatever. The TI-99/4A is a 16-bit system with no exemption, the bus width is irrelevant, as it does not determine the architecture. I believe that this 16-bit feature is something that can be counted on the positive side, but which has always been more or less ignored, or not defended with more self-confidence.

Probably has to do with the library and market back then.  Similar to the Atari Jaguar, with it's similarly confusing 64-bit architecture - the library was poor and didn't move many consoles.  Number of bits had nothing to do with how popular a system would end up being.

 

Parsec is a classic, however!

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6 hours ago, cbmeeks said:

 

It's a shame the TI gets so much flak.  Mostly from people who never used it.

 

It does?

 

(I'm seriously asking--in my experience people either A) think it's pretty cool, or B) they've never heard of it, or C) they just don't care about retro systems in general. 😅)

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I feel like it's pretty common for folks who are familiar on a basic level with what the TI-99/4A is, but not really familiar with the finer details of its library, history, or architecture to have to offer as the essence of their understanding of the platform the factoid that it was an 8-bit bus married insanely to a 16-bit CPU, which ill-fated and ill-considered decision thereby doomed the system.  I think it's not uncommon to encounter that, for example, among younger folks who are relatively savvy about computing history and know a thing or two about computer architectures in general, but have never really engaged with the platform at any length.  Among folks who have about one paragraph's worth (and exactly one paragraph's worth) of broadly accurate but ultimately misleading knowledge of the platform. 

 

On the other hand, an acquaintance of mine in his early 30s who's fairly savvy about computing history recently conveyed to me the interesting impression that the (vaguely perceived) awfulness of the TI-99/4A was due to its chiclet keyboard (i.e., he attributed the TI-99/4 keyboard to the TI-99 in general, and explained this as its downfall).  So that was interesting.  Little could he have guessed the danger inherent in giving me an opening to talk about the TI-99/4A fervently and at length. 

Edited by pixelpedant
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And honestly... I have purchased many retro-systems.

-2x C64.. (good prices to fix and sell) both ended up failing after part replacementtches, again and again.

-1x Apple ][gs.. worked but has an undocumented error that cannot be fixed.

-3x Atari 2600 .. all have big problems with RF output, bypassed with composite mod.

And finally .. 5x TI-99/4a .. every.. single ... one .. works.

The worst problem I have encountered is a failing keyboard. ...

Everything for the TI, I have, simply works

One of the systems was a bare MoBo... i swapped it in a system... hit the juice.. bam .. booted no problem. Played parsec with Speech Synth... no glitches. Pulled a program from cassette.. ran it ... saved it.

 

For me one of the things that really hit home, was the fact that this system, has, quite literally, withstood the test of time.

 

It has inspired me to become better at "computing". To better my own skills at soldering, programming, critical logical thinking, and playing games (heh).

 

I was 39. Playing WOW all the time, barely doing much, and then I saw this sleek old computer popup on Offerup for $20. I got it, and that moment started a change in my life. I dropped 40 lbs. I went to the Doctor and got the treatment I needed. Marriage is less turbulent. My kids are showing an interest in it as well.. my 6 year old keeps wanting to play the "Snake 'em game" with me. (Tix)

 

With all that has happened, I would say

.. I'm a believer.

 

 

 

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Mehridian Sanders said:

And honestly... I have purchased many retro-systems.

-2x C64.. (good prices to fix and sell) both ended up failing after part replacementtches, again and again.

-1x Apple ][gs.. worked but has an undocumented error that cannot be fixed.

-3x Atari 2600 .. all have big problems with RF output, bypassed with composite mod.

And finally .. 5x TI-99/4a .. every.. single ... one .. works.

 

 

It's really hard to judge how good computers are when you only own a few of them (or even a few dozen).  I have C64's that have worked, without *any* failures since the 80's.  My very first computer...the actual TI my grandmother bought for me when I was 9 (1982) actually died and had to be replaced the following year.

 

I can't tell you how many times I would use a computer (various ones) for hours and days at a time...put away in storage for a couple years (climate controlled, dry, etc.) and when I bring it out, it would have a failure.  No leaky caps.  Nothing broken.  Just something died.  The joys of retro computers.

 

I think what bothers me the most is when people read the (bad) hype around the TI and assume it to be gospel.  They read how it has an 8-bit bus with a 16-bit CPU and therefor conclude everything about it sucks.  They read it doesn't have much software and consider it garbage.  Name one retro computer that is 100% free of difficulties of using in 2020.  They all have SOME kind of problem (loading software, modern displays, etc.).  So instead of actually sitting down and using a TI, respecting its limitations and generally having FUN with it, they choose to bad-mouth it and dismiss it while they play their Commodore 64's.  And for the record, I am a long-time Commodore 64 (and TI) user since the beginning.

 

 

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Quote

guilty... Guilty... GUILTY!

 

Yes, any excuse.  

 

Friend: So I’ve been playing Sonic Mania on my Switch and…  

Me: Yeah, Sonic is pretty great.  And on so many platforms. Like how Sega released most of the early games to all of SMS, Game Gear and Genesis. So you get the music in all those variations, and in that classic SN76489 PSG sound.  Like the TI-99/4A features, for that matter. Boy, I sure do love that classic PSG sound. Some great music in TI-99/4A games, especially these days.  Have you heard Tursi's Mega Man music for TI-99/4A?

 

Friend: Seen the Witcher Netflix series yet?

Me: Haven’t, but I’ve heard it’s good.  Ought to watch both that and Castlevania, I guess.  And give the Castlevania series a play, as I never really have.  That and the Dragon Slayer series are high on the list for classic series I often think I ought to play.  And Dragon Slayer came out for MSX, so that’s appealing, since it’s running a TI VDP.  And anything with a TMS9918 variant sounds good to me. Man, it sure would be cool to see some of those classic MSX games with 9918-ready designs ported to TI-99. 

 

Friend: I feel like Johnny Depp’s really let himself go.  

Me: It does seem like Jack Sparrow was a high point, but a tipping point, for his career.  I guess there’s only so much you can do with pirates. But ultimately, there’s quite a bit you can do I suppose.  Like in Return to Pirate’s Isle for my TI-99/4A, which I’d done a playthrough of recently. That's fantastic. So maybe it’s a pirate’s life for me after all. 

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I bought 2 99/4as and both had bad keyboards I needed to refurb.  Was part of the fun!

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It's really hard to judge how good computers are when you only own a few of them (or even a few dozen).  I have C64's that have worked, without *any* failures since the 80's.  My very first computer...the actual TI my grandmother bought for me when I was 9 (1982) actually died and had to be replaced the following year.
 
I can't tell you how many times I would use a computer (various ones) for hours and days at a time...put away in storage for a couple years (climate controlled, dry, etc.) and when I bring it out, it would have a failure.  No leaky caps.  Nothing broken.  Just something died.  The joys of retro computers.
 
I think what bothers me the most is when people read the (bad) hype around the TI and assume it to be gospel.  They read how it has an 8-bit bus with a 16-bit CPU and therefor conclude everything about it sucks.  They read it doesn't have much software and consider it garbage.  Name one retro computer that is 100% free of difficulties of using in 2020.  They all have SOME kind of problem (loading software, modern displays, etc.).  So instead of actually sitting down and using a TI, respecting its limitations and generally having FUN with it, they choose to bad-mouth it and dismiss it while they play their Commodore 64's.  And for the record, I am a long-time Commodore 64 (and TI) user since the beginning.
 
 
In general, I agree with you. I meant this only as my experience. I had a C64 in my youth, and a Kaypro 16! I still like the systems, but I'm not wealthy, I have to stick with what I know and can afford. And I've invested a lot in the TI at this point and .. kinda want to centralize my knowledge.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

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Back in those days, there was, of course, some rivalry among the home computer owners, and some points like the multiplexed data bus were just welcome as a - seemingly - tech-savvy argument. People, who were using TI Basic only, could not really argue against that.

 

The "IBM PC" area was largely considered "professional", out of budget for most people. But they were also just boiling with water (a usual German saying). The IBM XT was based on the 8088, Intel's 16 bit CPU. Unlike its predecessor, the 8086, the 8088 had only 8 data bus lines, multiplexed within the chip, as is done by the TMS9995 and the TMS9980A. Nobody would have tried to argue that the 8088 is "not a proper 16 bit CPU".

 

Same thing with the 80386SX. The 80386 family was the step into the 32-bit world for Intel. The 80386SX had a smaller package, and the data bus was multiplexed to 16 lines.

 

The typical conclusion is that the 8-bit bus was a crazy idea for the TI console. True at first sight. But the Geneve, using the 9995, is 2-3 times as fast as the TI console, and it only has an 8-bit bus, so this does not fully explain it. No, in my view, the problem was (we talked about that recently) that the 9900 had this (silly!) concept of read-before-write, which means that every write operation into memory had an automatic read operation before, in conjunction with the 9900 being a memory-memory architecture with all registers in memory, none on the chip, in conjunction with a pretty conservative wait state policy (two WS for each access). The bus multiplex amplified that, if you like.

 

...

 

(Read-before-write, for those who are not familiar with the internals: The 9900 lacks an address line for the rightmost bit (2^0); hence, the processor can only address words in memory. In order to support byte operations, the CPU loads the word at the target address first (to learn about the later unchanged byte), then changes the high byte internally, then writes back the word. The bad thing is that this is consistently done for all memory write operations, even when both bytes would be changed. If you have schematics and wonder why there is this address line (called A15), I need to add that this line is created and controlled by the bus multiplexer, outside of the CPU. One of the reasons why the 9995 is so much faster is that it only has 8 data lines, which means that bytes are addressed in memory, and thus no read-before-write was required.)

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16 hours ago, Mehridian Sanders said:

In general, I agree with you. I meant this only as my experience. I had a C64 in my youth, and a Kaypro 16! I still like the systems, but I'm not wealthy, I have to stick with what I know and can afford. And I've invested a lot in the TI at this point and .. kinda want to centralize my knowledge.

 

Yeah, I think we're on the same page.  🙂

 

I somewhat do the same thing.  I have close to 100 vintage computers.  Over the years I have had the goal of just grabbing the computer to add to my collection.  Recently, however, I've had the goal of slowing down on my computer collecting and instead, focus on getting a deeper knowledge of what I have.  The TI is definitely high on that list (I have recently pimped out my PEB box).

 

 

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That YouTube channel caught me because they look at odd Tandy's that rarely get attention. I don't really know why I keep watching because they bumble around and really don't know very much about the computers.  I don't know how many times the guy has said "I don't have any experience with a computer like this."  On the other hand it's hard to poopoo anybody trying to show off their collection.  And I appreciate the candor with his opinions.

 

HOWEVER, the hate for the TI was very unfair.

 

 

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