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What is YOUR TI-99/4A story?

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When and why did YOU get into the TI-99/4A back in the day?  Was it a gift, like a Christmas or birthday present?  Did you buy it for a specific reason over the all the other options?  How long did you have it before you started plowing money into it?  How long did you keep it or did you never get rid of it?  What did you primarily use it for back in the day?  I'm sure everyone will have a good story to tell.

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My dad brought it home while my brother and I were doing the dishes. We heard the beeps and were baffled, since he didn't like video games. We were told that it was for business use, and if we wanted games, we had to learn to make them ourselves. I took that as permission to play games as long as I made them, and so I was very motivated. ;)

 

I ended up the only one who really liked the machine. ;)

 

Oh! There are more questions.

 

We got it in 84 or so, and I didn't get any accessories till I found a speech synthesizer in a pawn shop in '88 or so. It was another six months before I got XB so I could actually make it talk. ;) Real money started going into expanding it a year or so later when I was finally working.

 

Lots of TI BASIC games till I finally upgraded. Then a handful of XB games before I got MiniMemory and started learning assembly.

 

 

 

Edited by Tursi
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I got mine given to me Christmas 1986 by my cousin David.  He'd had the TI from new, I think it was bought originally from Asda!  He'd convinced his parents that he needed a Commodore 64 for help with his homework.  Somehow his homework always involved a Joystick.

 

I can remember the first time we set it up, it was a base console with 4 cartridges, Extended Basic, Munch-Man, Parsec, and Tombstone City ... a "Realistic" cassette recorder, and a bunch of cassette tapes, including Bomber, Chalice, Texas Oil, Castle Conquer, Dodger, Prison Run, Electron, Alpine Quest .... I cannot remember the rest but there were more. It also came with the infamous "Wired Remote Controllers" !

 

It was actually my second computer, but it was by far my favourite.  The first time we set it up we played Munch-Man to let me get used to the wired-remote-controllers.  The one I loved was Parsec ... I'd never seen anything quite like that before .... the smooth scrolling and the low frequency white-noise of the ship's exhaust just oozed an atmosphere that the TRS-80 couldn't match (my 1st computer) .... Fairly quickly I learned that using the keyboard was like heaven compared to the Wired-Remote-Controller.  

 

Alpine Quest was a bone of contention for me.  I'd not realized at the time it used a simple parser where you have to write down only the first three letters of each word, it was made by the same author as AdventureMania you see.  I couldn't get past the reception desk.

 

The games by Firefly were the nicest cassette games I had, Castle Conquer was very atmospheric and had lovely graphics, and that was again another game I never completed.  

 

We would type in games from magazines or programs from the Extended Basic and Basic books but back then my favourite thing to do was play the games.

 

I do remember around 1983, before I was given the TI, it was set up at my uncle & aunt's house with Tony & David playing what turned out to be Tombstone City, I remember my uncle Dennis humming the tune whilst it played as he watched them.

 

In around 1989 I gave the TI to my best friend as I'd been given a Commodore 64C that Christmas.  He loved it the same as I did.  Then years later he gave it back to me but it broke down for some reason.  He's still got the Parsec manual.  I would say out of all the computers I've had, that one held the most magic for me.  It came at a time when I needed some comfort in my life and it provided it!

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i'm a young'un (42) so the first part of my story is secondhand, in a manner of speaking.

 

Dad worked for Texas Instruments (Sherman) as an Electronics Engineer, so likely he got into the 99/4 and 99/4A through their Employee purchase program.  I have verrrry faint memories of being up there with him once and seeing the games behind the counter/etc.  He also participated in the program where the employees would submit programs/demos and be paid for them if TI 'accepted' them- I suspect that's how a good bit of the kit we had came to be.  :)  I also suspect that the purchase of the stuff otherwise led to some friction between Mom and him, lol.

 

That I could recall at one point when Dad was still heavily programming/hacking/etc, we had the sidecars first, and then a PEB with all the usual cards.  For a short time Dad had the coupler modem, too.  We also briefly had an MBX system- it had Bigfoot, Honey Hunt, and I'm Hiding.

 

My earliest memories are sitting at the computer playing Alpiner/Parsec/The Attack and typing stuff into Basic- I'm guessing this would be between around 1982ish.  By 1985 i was able to type stuff from the TI Basic books in, and at least was competent enough I could pass my Novice ham radio code test by typing the stuff on the computer (rather than writing it down).  

 

I think around 1987 Dad got more into the Commodore 64 side of things- he was finishing a college degree and I think was in a C64 user group on campus.  We'd do the Commodore 64 (and then 128) thing until I think 1990-ish, then it was the switch to PCs/Tandy.

 

The SECOND time where I got back into the TI world was almost four years ago when my wife happened to find a 99/4A at an antique store, haha.  the nostalgia came rushing back, over the course of a couple of years i had a full PEB, newer shinier 4A, Speech Synthesizer, FinalGROM99, the works.  I also collected a metric crapload of carts/accessories/etc- my wife got used to seeing mysterious boxes show up on our doorstep so she just sighed and kind of went with it.  :) 

 

At the end of 2019 and over this year I've pared down my collection significantly where I kept just some diskettes and carts that had some meaning to me (Zero Zap @OLD CS1)- then i covered/packed up my TI gear and stored it for the time being. I needed to rearrange the bedroom to better accommodate my wife when she has to hang out in bed for the better part of her day so the space was needed.

 

I'm hoping next year to clean up some junk in the house and maybe carve out a nook for my TI gear :)

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I remember I was already playing some "Telespiele" (TV video games) in those years, using a small game console with the unavoidable Pong, Tennis double (two paddles per user) and a "light gun" with which you could play something like clay target shooting, with a bright moving square on the TV screen. I also seem to remember we had different generations of games, one with pluggable cartridges, another with a fixed set of games as a selector dial. Beside that, I was already working quite intensely with the "electronics experimentation kits" from Philips, where you could build your own circuits (or rather the proposed ones from the manual).

 

In 1982, when I was 12 years old, there was a question about upgrading to the next video game generation, when my father suggested to go for a "computer". The ZX81 was available for some time already, so we followed the news and already thought about buying one, when he suddenly suggested to take the TI-99/4A, which I never heard of before. The TI was quite popular at that time in department stores, and the staff did their best to make it interesting for potential customers.

 

We got the computer plus the language course "Compact English" from ILS Wiesbaden (audio cassettes, a textbook, and a cartridge with data cassettes). Maybe this was one of the incentives of my father to buy it; he was working at Pan Am in Frankfurt and could have thought about improving his English, but also to provide me with such a course for support my progress in school.

 

We got the TI-99/4A in June 1982, just in time for the summer vacation, when I learned to program in TI BASIC, but in September 1982 we already got the Extended Basic module. The first game I got was TI Invaders on Christmas 1982.

 

It was always me working with the TI console. My father kept searching for his life (until last year January) for the optimal computer that really simplified your everyday life, with all important functions at a single keypress. We went for different ways from the moment back in 1982 when I tried to explain to him that cleaning the screen is done with CALL CLEAR, not with FCTN=, anykey, 1. He changed to the Commodore path which led us ultimately to the Amiga 2000, while I got a Geneve in 1990.

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I got mine in 1981'ish and got a Speech Synth, Data recorder, Munchman, Alpiner and a TEII  with it.  Later on I would find out that a friend of mine also had a TI, with Extended Basic and Joysticks.  I was very envious!.  Till I found out that someone who I met through a computer club had a system with Expansion Box. 

 

I finally got Mini Memory  and Personal Record Keeping in about 82 ish.   I never got Extended Basic.

 

Back in those days, I wanted something different from my friends (They had ZX Spectrums, Vic20's and C64's).  My sole reason was to learn BASIC.  In South Africa we struggled to get material for the TI, and I remember I had to order C. Regena's Programmers Guide to the TI book from the US.

 

Luckily, our local newsagent sold Compute Magazines, and I devoured them. 

 

We only could get beige systems, and I always wondered why the friend's PEB was grey, and my Speech Synth also grey.

 

I sold my TI later on, and am now looking to get one again (Wink wink.... Who has one to sell?)  Now, I am just relying on Emulation to keep me happy.

Edited by pjduplooy
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I'd say the ultimate and original reason for my family getting a TI-99/4A was my uncle working for TI's Canadian office north of Toronto and so providing the tip and a motivation to go with the TI-99. 

 

As for my youthful experience of the machine, I'd characterise it as dominated by the perception of the apparent reality that cool things like Parsec were demonstrably possible on the machine.  But just as clearly, doing such things with the tools at hand (console BASIC) appeared to be fundamentally impossible

 

So I kind of looked at it as an enigma. 

 

Simultaneously,

 

1) A fairly capable game machine

and

2) A recreational programming device 

 

But in a context where these things were largely unrelated functions of the device, insofar as function 2 could produce very little (bitmap mode graphics, sprites, per pixel or horizontal scrolling, etc.) that was observed from function 1. 

 

It has been a lot of fun, consequently, discovering in recent years that this schism can be bridged, with tools like The Missing Link, XB256, etc. 

 

But in my youth, it was really two quite separate machines, to me.  With no clear (and available to me) means of bridging the gap. 

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I had to open mine on my kitchen table, everything was pulled apart. But I couldn't wait to put it back together too. Lots a fun, but then it was back to work. Lots and lots of ot spent as there wasn't enough hours in a day!

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I bought mine in late 1981 because it had color, sound, speech and I could hook it up to my TV giving me a lower entry level cost, or so I thought at the time.  I was also taken in by the misleading 16 bit advertising, being totally ignorant to the throttled nature of it's architecture at the time.  Now being that I found out rather early that the bare bones console was next to totally worthless, I went out and splurged for Extended BASIC and started to see some possibilities, so I bought a P-Box.  Within a couple of months after that Texas Instruments gave all us users the middle finger and abandoned us.  By this time I was financially locked-in to the system.  The plus side is that prices for some things came down.  With the somewhat lower prices I bought an RS-232 card and modem, followed by TI-Writer, Multiplan and some other stuff. 

 

Later, over the years I added a Triple Tech card, CorComp Floppy Controller and more disk drives, built a custom hutch with a 19" monitor and settled in.  My SuperCart with 4A/DOS gave me a working environment I was somewhat content with.  It seemed though that I always wanted more... a trait I still have with the TI, like I'm sure everyone here has noticed. ;)

 

The end for me came because I was an "isolated user" as the nearest users group was over 35 miles away and all my local friends had moved on to Commodores, Atari's and PC's.  Even with PC-Pursuit and Compu$erve the cost to benefit ratio combined with limited expansion capability and not being able to perform some needed tasks sealed the deal. The TI though always remained near and dear to my heart.

 

During my TI time, I bought a TRS-80 Model III and an NEC PC-8201A portable for more important uses, but ended up getting rid of the TRS-80 within a couple of years. I held on to the NEC to about 1995.

 

After coming back to the TI realm around eight years ago, I've had much more fun and enjoyment with it as so many smart people have learned over the decades how to exploit the weaknesses and even bypass them to enable the machine do everything I had ever wanted and more.
 

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At the beginning of 1982, my dad begun to buy magazines specialized in computers. I suspected nothing because he always interested in technologies and sciences and, at home, we usually used to read books and magazines dealing with vast subjects.  In fact, he had in mind to buy us (my sister, my brother and I) a computer for Christmas. He searched the best home computer at this time. And my parents have chosen the TI-99/4A. I remember the cartridges they bought too: Music Maker, Number Magic and TI-Invaders. There were also some tapes for learning the TI-Basic language.

I liked to play with games but rather quickly I began to write programs listed in magazines then I programmed my own ones. TI-Basic was too limited so I bought TI-Extended Basic then Mini Memory. The PEB was too expensive and I only was able to buy a 32Kb sidecar expansion and continued to save my programs on tapes. In 1984, the 99/4A was commercially dead and it was very difficult to find programs and hardware. So, I turned to an other fantastic computer: The Apple //e, then Mac computers, then PC computers while keeping my Macintosh computers. But during all these years as computers technician, I kept my 99/4A not far from me. In fact, I never really stopped to use it. Since, I bought many software and hardware expansion for it: I realized a child dream.

 

I don't often play games with it (but I test all new games released), I use all my time with it to learn its hardware, to maintain/repair my computers and hardware, to develop hardware expansions/hacks and even an entirely new computer based on the 99/4A (the TIny-99/4A currently at version 2) the one I dreamed to have when I was young). Just for fun.

 

This TI-99/4A is fascinating and I could never enough thanks my parents for this present, 38 years ago... Already!

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I received my 99/4A for Christmas in 1983.  I had asked my parents (I was 8 years old) for an Atari 2600.  My parents bought the TI 99/4A and several game cartridges for it because all of them were cheaper than an Atari.  I remember we had Donkey Kong (which crashed and we exchanged it for Pac Man), TI Invaders, Dragon Mix (Math game), and my dad also bought Household Budget Management.  Shortly after, we got a JCPenney cassette recorder and one of the TI tapes (Oldies But Goodies Games I).  I never got to see that computer work in color - just had a black and white TV with it, but it really got my interested in computers.  

 

I never had any expansion devices, or Extended BASIC.  That computer eventually had a keyboard that would repeat every key a million times when typed and it went away.

 

Later on I had a Commodore 128, then PCs and Macs and back to PCs.  

 

Years later I got interested in the TI again, and bought an unopened beige one on Ebay (The one I grew up with was beige, so it holds memories for me) and that’s what I have now.  I don’t use it much, but I have it hooked up to a TIPI and with the FinalGROM it does get occasional use.

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It is a tale of Christmas... sort of.

 

When Texas Instruments decided to orphan everyone, I was still 10 years old. I wasn't really a part of the immediate story. I have memory of the thing being revealed to myself and my 3 siblings at Christmas 1983. But, being the youngest, I was last in line to be able to try it. I have distinct memories of my brother trying to figure out Adventure, and how to load the tape. But there is a story before that has been shared with me several times.

 

When TI dropped the price, and announced they were leaving the business, my mother worked at the local JCPenny's department store. The story my Father tells, is that when she found out the computer would be extremely cheap after $50 and her employee discount, she called to check if she should buy one or not. They had already been talking about getting a home computer, largely because my older brother was headed down the wrong road in life, and his best influence was a friend that talked about his Commodore quite a bit. He even lent it to my brother for a weekend once to show off to my father, to help try and convince him to get one. So, my mother knew they wanted something and this was a good deal. My father knew support from TI was going away. So he told my mother "If you bring that computer home, I'm going right back to the store, and buying all the accessories". 

 

So what was unveiled that Christmas was the console, expansion box, with 32k, SSSD floppy, a generic brand cassette recorder, dozens of cartridges, cassette tapes, books... basically everything anyone would need to get completely engrossed in the system. 

 

The rest of that Christmas holiday, my siblings fiddled with it... if I was lucky my brother would invite me to try a game after he got it working. I mostly sat at the Atari 2600 playing asteroids and combat. My father was organized. So you plug a cartridge in, but if you aren't my father, you have no idea that there is a manual for the cartridge as it would be on the other side of the room in a bookshelf or something.

 

The computer didn't succeed in distracting my brother from drugs, girls, and drugs. So it became an appliance. My oldest sister would use it for school work, TI-Writer, figuring out how to 'bold' something... mostly just papers. My father would use it for Multiplan, and dabbled at other things. But I didn't really notice until a summer of '84. My siblings were all teenagers at this stage, mostly responding to their hormones.

 

Now it's my turn...

 

I was alone that summer. My best friend was spending the summer in eastern Washington at his Uncle's farm. So I had a lot of time on my hands. My gifts that Christmas '83 was a collection of Kenner Star Wars action figures, speeder-bikes. So, after starting the summer of '84 making (what I remember as 100, but no way did I have patience for that.. maybe 10) cardboard TIE-Fighters, I started poking around that computer desk. I was completely un-supervised. Part of me probably thought I'd get in trouble for touching the computer. But... I found books for kids, that taught programming in TI-BASIC. One of the books said something like "you can't break it, just turn it off and back on", this was a permission slip.

 

I worked through the paper exercises on math in binary and hex. I learned how to use the CALL SOUND, and so I'd take the church hymns and program in the sheet music. I showed that to my mother. I mostly used it during the day while my father was at work. Eventually I tried typing in a program from a magazine ( cause he ordered all the back issues of all the magazines he could too ) and really got stuck. Finally I explained that to him after about a week of trying to figure out what I typed in wrong. And boy did he have a laugh. The computer desk had a locked cabinet. He showed me where the key was, dangling in the other cabinet under the desk, and what looked like hundreds of disks. He digs up the companion disk for the specific magazine, and loads up the working version of the game I tried to type in. 

 

The rest of the summer was exploring all those disks. 

 

Now I knew something about the computer, and one of my friends older brother had a TI also... and we both wanted to learn more programming. My father started taking us to the user's group. And I started hanging out with a mentor. Transformers were a popular toy at the time, so we decided we'd learn how and write a Transformers database. Programmed in the Decepticon and Autobot insignias, and created an XB program that had all the stats on each robot we could get. We'd bicycle down to the store with notepads, and write down all the info on the back of the product boxes, and then back to computer to put them in. You enter a name and it would bring up the screen with that robot's team insignia, and the stats.

 

Somewhere right around there, I found some stuff in the storage closet. Not only had my father gone back to JCPenny's and bought all the expansions, he picked up a spare of the main computer. I set it up in front of the family TV, and when my father came home, there was some begging. "What is that doing out?" he said... I asked astounded, "why is it just sitting in the closet?"... some story about being a backup for the investment he had made in accessories.. After some effort, my mother donated her kitchen 11" black-n-white TV (she received a color upgrade recently through a JCPenny employee Christmas employee family shopping night door prize), and cassette player, and I was allowed to set up the spare in my room. 

 

I'm pretty sure I didn't go outside summer of '85 unless forced to. I'd find my neighborhood friends, and then get bored, and go back in to work on the computer. 

 

Every year, I'd seem to find a new friend that had a TI, and we'd try and do some project. Tried planning out an Adventure for the Adventure editor in middle school.

 

Building out my own system was pretty much all that mattered for quite a while. Birthdays and Christmas became negotiations, if I can come up with half, or whatever of the money for this or that, will you get me an expansion box? or better/more floppies. I eventually negotiated my way every 6 months into a system with 3 floppy drives, a Corcomp controller, peb, 32k, Mechatronics Gram Karte... Eventually that color TV my mother won, became my monitor.

 

I started taking a keyboarding(typing) class in high school.. ( instead of biology ) so my father got me a kit version of the Rave99 keyboard adapter. He taught me how to solder, and left me too it. 

 

My father picked up a Geneve. We each had our killer TI setups, and would shout through the wall between his office and my bedroom as we were usually up too late learning something. Most school nights, my mother wouldn't tell me to go to bed, she'd shout something like "That kid needs to go to bed!" as instruction to my father.

 

My father kept the 4A user's group alive through my community college days. But shortly after I moved off to university, it folded. I'm pretty sure my father orchestrated the club surviving years passed due in order to feed my interest. If you dig around whtech newsletter archives you can find my parent's current address listed with the contact points for other user-groups.

 

So we lost contact with the TI community around 1992. We probably didn't have good contact with other 4A user groups at that stage. The internet had made it to my community college. I found a PC TI Emulator around then on an FTP server in Australia ( that's what I recall ) I remember seeing it one minute on some other ftp site, and then it disappearing. I traced through the mirror information to get eventually get to that Australia's server, and download the emulator. I think it wasn't supposed to be released, and was being removed. I don't remember what it was called, but that was my first exposure to the idea of emulating an old computer.

 

I finished up college, relocated, our TI gear stayed behind and went in my father's attic. My father had finally gotten a PC for himself when the internet became a household thing. The gear all eventually got donated to a small private school. 

 

Every so often after that, I'd search the internet for some sign of TI life... but people seem to be well hidden from mainstream search tools. I remember the PSOne emulation on the Dreamcast triggering another weekend of searching, and wondering what if... I think EBay was around or just budding, but there wasn't old TI stuff there to be had... So my TI days remained paused until 2015, and I stubbled on Shift838's newletters. They pointed here to Atariage. And I've been pestering you guys ever since.

Edited by jedimatt42
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I have no story. Dad had a TI since before I remember. I'm told he had a 4 and traded it in for a discount on the 4a, which would mean we had a TI home computer before I existed.

By the time I was old enough to use it as more than a game cartridge player, it was pretty well loaded-out. I typed homework up on Funnelweb running off a RAM disk and thought nothing of it aside from how loud the printer was.

 

We built our first IBM-compatible in 1995. 486 while the Pentium math bug was all over the news. But in a family of packrats, nothing goes to the trash. It stuck around and continued to get use until the TV it was hooked to burned out. Then the IBM clone we had at the time(K6-2 system) took over that desk and the TI moved into the garage until I fished it back out a few years later.

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We bought a TI in 1982 I think. It was a lot of fun typing in the BASIC code and seeing what appeared on the TV screen. Eventually I lost interest in the TI probably because it was not very well supported in the UK compared to other machines. I became interested in the TI in recent years after reading posts on the TI Atari-Age forum and found it all very inspiring. I then figured writing games in console BASIC would be something I could contribute.

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I purchased an Odyssey2 and some camera and darkroom equipment with my paper route money as a kid. Ever since seeing the original model TRS-80 at Radio Shack in around 1978 I wanted a home computer. I settled for the Odyssey2 and its assembly-like Computer Programming cartridge for two years until moving to DFW. The Atari 800 was what I really wanted but the TI-99/4 was selling for under $500 with a nice $100 rebate. I suppose they were making room for the 99/4A? By fall 1980 I was sucked in by the 16-bit marketing angle and advanced color graphics of the 99/4A. I sold my Odyssey2 and darkroom equipment to finance the 99/4. It seemed like something that could give me a leg up  in a future career. I purchased the calculator keyboard model and used it to learn BASIC and TI Extended BASIC. On a few occasions I brought my system into High School in order to demonstrate completed homework assignments. I remember driving to Dallas Jesuit High School for monthly TI-99/4A User Group Meetings. That's where I learned to show up with extra blank cassettes for pirating software. Those meet-ups had many TI representatives demonstrating hardware and software. I remember getting very excited over a pre-release demonstration of Extended BASIC and even the PEB system. My school had one Apple 2 and a Commodore PET. Nobody wanted to use the green-screen PET and the line was too long to get to any time on the sole Apple. The 99/4 was about the only system back then with color graphics for under $500. The Solid State Software and cassette drive seemed, at the time, to negate the need for a disk drive. Obviously, I was wrong about this issue. I remember the FOOTBALL cartridge really disappointing me as even the Odyssey2 Football was better. I was also very excited to use Extended BASIC and sprites. When I realized that Extended BASIC was really too slow to manage 32 fast moving sprites I was again disappointed. When the 99/4A came out (or just when it was announced) I quickly sold my 99/4 and purchased an Apple //+ with disk drive. The Apple // was in itself an open system with built-in PEB. The price-point for an Apple //+ with disk drive in 1981 was much better than what TI was offering. More importantly, the Apple // had a vast library of software to pirate off of local BBSs. I programmed less on the Apple //+ than I did on the 99/4. My Apple // was used more for word processing and playing existing games in college. I always look back at the TI-99/4 days fondly because it was my first system which I learned to program on. I came back into the scene in 2016 out of curiosity and nostalgia. I really just wanted to try out a PEB and fiddle around with Extended BASIC a little more. Little did I know that I would soon get sucked down into a delightfully deep rabbit hole by: friends on AtariAge, the nanaPEB, FlashROM99, FinalGROM99, TIPI, Classic99, cross development tools such as asm99, TIDBIT, the Editor/Assembler manual, FestWest 2017, and VAST User Group meetups. This shit is fun.

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My parents bought me my first TI-99/4A console and data cassette recorder in 1983 for my birthday. I had it hooked up to a 13" RCA color TV and it all set up on the old SNACK trays. You remember, the ones you would sit down and eat a TV dinner on.

 

How it all started was that I met a kid in 9th grade and became friends with him.  Hanging out as his house he had full TI-99/4A setup with PEB system and all. Just tons of stuff.  So naturally, I was envious and wanted one. So I talked my dad into agreeing to get me the PEB and Extended Basic for Christmas.   My Dad told me if his new credit card comes in the mail by Saturday then we would go buy it, otherwise it would have to be something else for Christmas.   I started calling around to the various computer stores that carried the TI-99/4A and found one in Sugarland Texas that had one left and the store manager agreed to hold it through Saturday for me.

 

Little did I know (did not find this out until I was about 25), that my father told my mother that there was no way he would get the credit card in the mail as he just got the letter of approval and he just agreed to shut me up.  Back then once you got an approval letter for a credit card it would take 6 weeks to get the card in the mail.  And of course the cards were already activated then too.

 

Friday afternoon came and no card yet.  One more day to way.  I get up early and mow the lawn.  The mail did not usually run until afternoon for our block, but today was different.  We had a different mail man and he started on our area bright and early and well miracles do happen, it came at about 10:00 a.m. on that Saturday.  Ha... Victory is mine!

 

I walked into the house when I was done with the lawn and saw my Dad sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee.  I walked over there with a sort of John Travolta strut from Saturday Night Fever and dropped the credit card in front of him.  His look of utter disbelief and amazement was priceless.  He turn to look at my mother and all she said was, 'You Promised!', go get it.

 

We arrived at the computer store and on top of the PEB and XB cartridge, he went ahead and got me the Editor Assembler cartridge, speech synthesizer, Infocom's Planetfall and a 10 pack of Elephant floppy disks.

 

That's how I got my TI original TI setup..

 

I started working on Tunnels of Doom adventures and released 15 different TOD Games.  They are on my site under the downloads area.. go get them!

 

Over the next year I worked in the summer time and helped my grandfathers company out and was paid so expanding the TI more was happening.  Within a year I had 4 x 360k drives and a CorComp DS/DD Disk controller, Gemini Star Printer, a Hayes 300 baud modem and a Commodore monitor (I know it's commodore but it looked good) and was working on my play system. What I was building was going to be my system I ran a BBS on.

 

I started talking with Mark Shields (SysOp and developer of SOFTWORX BBS [USS Enterprise]) here in Houston. I was able to get him to give me a copy of his BBS to run. I ran the USS Valiant ][ from 1984 to 1987, until I went into the USMC. 

 

The TI was not getting turned on much and just sat there while I was enlisted and getting dropped in Iraq and other places. Once I completed my enlistment and moved back to the Houston area then the TI started getting more use and eventually I was neck deep into the TI again.  To this day I still create new Adventure games and hardware for both the Geneve and TI-99/4A.

 

 

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I don't recall the date that we got the first TI-99/4A (as I would end up with one just for me, but more about that below). But, I recall visiting Radio Shack with my Dad in the early '80s and was fascinated by the TRS-80 in-store displays. So, I recall asking my Dad if we could get one. (We didn't, but I think he liked the idea of getting a computer as well, but wanted to do more research.) I'm not sure what sold him on the TI vs. the other systems, but that's what we ended up getting. At first, my brother and I really only played games (Tombstone City to be precise). But one day, I decided to read the blue book on BASIC that was included. Long story, short: I really took to it and, because if it, my Dad got me one for myself. And over the years, my birthday/Christmas presents for those years was TI stuff. Eventually, I/we (some of it was shared between the systems) ended up with 2 Speech Synthesizers, PEB (with Disk Controller/Disk, RS-232, Memory, P-Code card), Extended Basic, MBX, etc.

 

When I graduated from college, with a Computer Science degree, I ended up with most of the TI stuff and still have it today. My Dad had his console and PEB for a while, but when over to the Atari side with some of their later systems. My brother also ended up with a TI console (which I now have), but didn't take to it as I did. He didn't get into the computer side of things until college and by then, it was IBM PC systems. I had a Triton Turbo XT which was my introduction to the IBM side. (I have still have the interface box, but not the XT system anymore.) My sister and Mom never really got into the TI side of things.

 

Back in the day, most of my time was spent in Extended Basic. Learned Assembly (a bit) as well, but Extended Basic as the cartridge that was almost always plugged in. Or course, quite a few games were still played as well. It was also my first experience with online access via CompuServe. As mentioned, I still have all my original TI-99/4A equipment and have since gotten a couple more consoles, nanoPEBs, F18 (with more desired of course), and probably a few more things that I'm forgetting. It's certainly not used as much as it was, but I do still enjoy having all of the stuff I grew up with! It also determined my college major in high school, so unlike many of my peers, I had no doubts in determining my major. (Ironically, my brother ended up with a Mechanical Engineering degree, but has been in the I.T. field, like me, since he graduated.)

Edited by rickneff68
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Good day '99ers.  I believe it was 1981 but may have been '82.  Prior to Christmas, whichever year that was, my father was asking me if I would rather get a 16K RAM upgrade for my current ZX81, or TRS 80 CoCo, or TI-99/4A.  Atari 8 bits I guess were too expensive so not on our list of possibilities.  Well, gee whiz, real keyboard, color, many sound channels, 16K RAM built-in, it was a no-brainer.  I must admit I really loved the quality look of the black keyboard and silver case, it reminded me of a televideo terminal.  Also my Mom's boss had a TI-99/4 (no 'A') and I got to play Blackjack/Poker on it.  After that, 1st up was XB, then later a cassette drive and the glorious Tunnels of Doom, and finally a speech synthesizer.  I programmed a simple word processor and a Pitfall-like game in XB.  Went into the US Navy, and that TI unit was lost to the past somewhere in time to me.  My next computer 2 years later was an Apple IIC which is another story for a different day...I have a TI with PEB and finalgrom setup on my desk and it brings back many joyful memories.

Edited by Nightengale
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I sold mine to myself in 1983. I was working part time selling calculators at the Lund Institute of Technology. I took the initiative to introduce a computer too. Since I sold Texas Instruments calculators, the 99/4A was a logical move.

Back then, Pascal was the university language. So I acquired the necessary stuff to be able to use Pascal at home. Box, memory, RS-232, p-code and dual disks. I bought two half-height and installed them in the box.

Then I also did some hardware modifications. An additional box with two more drives and CorComp controller to handle four of them. I wanted a real-time clock, but back then, there were none. So I built my own, on a card in the box. Added an IO-card with digital and analog IO too.

Speeded up the machine by adding 64 K RAM internally in the console, including bank switching to allow for contigous RAM accross the address range. Got a 56 K Maximem module and added that to the 64 K RAM and wrote a driver to make that a RAMdisk.

Built an elevator from Lego bricks, to show at user group meetings. Controlled by the IO card and multitasking software in Pascal.

Got involved in the user group Programbiten and was editor of the Challenge section in the newsletter for some time.

Still have it, and some more stuff for it nowadays.

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You see... mine wouldn't fit in our Conestoga wagon, so, our neighbors, the Wheeler's, were supposed to take it and meet up with us in Florida...:|

 

 

Too bad about my TI ...and Carol Ann's doll.:|
Well... further details of my TI story might just be too pathetic for this venue.:|

 

   P.S. Which way to the gas-chamber...:?

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In 1979 I begged my dad to let me take a summer class in Basic Programming when it was announced that the school district was getting computers (Apple ][ actually).  "You had better learn something, or you'll have to pay me back!" he exclaimed.  Needless to say, I was a natural... however there was no way I'd ever talk him into buying me a computer.  This was 1980 and we didn't even have a VCR (or cable) - however, he was willing to provide an opportunity...  So when a bunch of Jordache T-Shirts, ahem, fell off the back of a truck in Detroit - I set up a stand at the Union City Flea Market selling discount designer clothing.  I worked my ass off all summer and paid a premium price for a TI-99/4A (it had 16K) - of course, friends with Trash-80's and Apple's were curious but it became obvious that in BASIC the TI was no speed demon even with 16K.  I eventually got the mini-mem and Extended Basic but it just wasn't awesome and the TI community at the time was small.  It did however help score my first programming job porting games to the TI for Aardvark Software in Walled Lake MI - and eventually I moved on to the C64 with VICModem, Apple ][ clone (a Syscon) with custom ROM's, then a ][e, then Leading Edge Model M IBM compatible...  The TI (with all the gear) was just too expensive to consider expanding giving it's poor performance, small end user community, limited market for software and expansion...  However, it always held a special spot in my heart as the computer that launched a 40 year career in IT - at least 5 of those spent reloading Windows or compiling Linux kernels... LOL

 

Basically I got back into TI when, around 2000 - I discovered that I could easily build the TI system of my dreams as gear was exceptionally easy to come by on eBay.  So I built out two complete systems - and kitted them out with P-Gram cards, Lotharek floppy emulators, HDX, TIPI and so forth.  It's been fun - and it's allowed me to reconnect with people who, surprisingly, I had crossed paths with 40 years ago...  For what it's worth - I feel I missed out on meeting all the incredible people in this forum much earlier.

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The time before the TI-99/4a:

After completing my training as a telecommunications installer and telecommunications electronics technician, my job was to set up

and commission small and large telephone systems.

In 1982 I was 23 years old, worked in the company where I am employed until today and I had my own apartment for the first time.

 

At that time, the controls for the large telephone systems were mostly built with circuit boards in discrete transistor technology, later

also with integrated TTL IC components. The technology for loading the operating system into the newer communication system as well

as additional functions such as billing data processing or call center reporting were realized with a mini computer from Texas Instruments,

the TI960B. During this time I worked intensively on the assembly language of the TI960B computer.

 

 

The time of the TI-99/4a Home Computer Dec, 1982 to Nov, 1985:

When the TI-99/4a home computer came onto the market in Germany, I bought the basic version of this home computer on

December 28, 1982 and used my cassette recorder as the program storage system.

The Extended Basic Module, Video Games 1 and some books were added over the next few months.

 

Here are some pictures of my original TI99/4a parts:

image.png.d8bc2f8793282ff95172da1ccfc04fb4.png

1 x TI-99/4a bought on Dec, 28, 1982 for DM 745.00

 

image.thumb.png.77aa3d498ffe93b074d4061c2725f528.png
My first Game module “Video Games 1” I bought on Mar, 03, 1983 for DM 69.00

The TI Joystick I bought on Apr, 28, 1983 for DM 75.00

 

image.png.42a55fc42100b9723d5d7a15d2331793.png

The TI Extended Basic Module I bought on Jun, 29, 1983 for DM 299.00

 

image.thumb.png.609229068b09f26c2c18746a95ceec4e.png

I bougth two books, first the 99 Special I on Jul, 1st, 1983 and

second the book TI-99 Tips & Tricks on Dec, 29, 1983 for SM 49.00

 

Since both the TI960B and the TI99/4a use a 16-bit processor technology and the assembler instructions are very similar,

I wanted to learn to program in assembler with the TI99.

Unfortunately, for professional and private/family reasons I had less and less time, so my TI-99/4a disappeared in the

basement for a long time.

 

 

The second time of the TI-99/4a Home Computer Dec, 2017 until now:

At the beginning of December 2017 I rediscovered the box with the TI99 and installed it on my desk.

Since then I have been using the system almost every day.

I found the AtariAge forum and got loads of help starting my TI-99/4A home computer hobby the second time.

I got to know a lot about the old components and even more about new extensions.

 

Many thanks to everyone who makes this possible every day.

 

 

In the last three years I have greatly expanded my original system and bought additional systems.

I currently have 10 TI-99/4a consoles and three systems are operational and in use.
 

 Here are some pictures of my current systems:

 

image.thumb.png.c719d9cf31a2ddd4c4ace8b4a0a59fd5.png     image.thumb.png.52466d80502aee7a3cd8e59ef488ab71.png

 

image.thumb.png.3cdf4802cc1bfd9445102d5f872274b1.png

 

 

Wolfgang

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I wasn't exactly sure where to put this, but it's my entire existence with the TI distilled down to 60 seconds.

My apologies for the rough editing work, I slapped it together quickly.

 

 

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