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Thread: TI 99/4a

  1. #11
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    Yeah, so the silver version is a nice looking device of the era, but as for functionality.. meh. The speech module is really the best claim to fame of the machine, and if you can get one of those, there are a few games that you can play with speech. As well, The Extended Basic cartridge will allow you to utilize the speech on your own, which can provide you with minutes of enjoyment. The games/graphics on this device are probably pretty similar to what you'd get with a Vic-20 and the games are very much that quality. To be fair, if you have a C64, theres nothing you'll want to do on that TI99 that you wouldn't rather do with the C64. This is definitely a nostalgia only device, meaning you'll only appreciate it if you already owned one back in the day (much like sinclairs).

    For software, you'll want to look at the FinalGrom cartridge (or the slightly less featured Flashrom99). There are a few other add-ons but I have no experience with those, and again, if you don't have the nostalgia of this device, you'll likely not want to put in the time and expense to 'max out' this machine.
    -- Brian

    Systems: Amstad PCW 8256, Apple IIe/II+/GS/Mac+/Mac 512k, Atari 800/520STFM, Commodore 64/128/Amiga 3000/PET 4032/SX-64, IBM PS/1 2121-B82, Kaypro II, Osborne 1, Tandy 1000 SX, TI-99/4A, Timex Sinclair 1000, TRS-80 Color Computer 3/Model 4 GA

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by commodorejohn View Post
    It's one of the all-time "if-onlies" in the '80s home-computer period. They had a full-fledged 16-bit minicomputer CPU, comparable in performance and features to the freakin' PDP-11...and they did that with it!?
    TI was still making 9900-family minicomputers. Why would they make a home microcomputer to compete with it? At least that's my theory.

  3. #13
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    TI had a prototype variation on the TI-99 design that used a Z-80 processor which would have been a much lower cost option and better suited to the market being targeted. I think with normal memory design and without the layers of code hiding the hardware, performance should have been very good for the cost of the system.

  4. #14

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    Just before Weirdstuff closed, I bought a Peripheral Expansion Box for the 99. Today, one can use some sort of Raspberry Pi mini-PEB to do the same and more, so the PEB is really a boat-anchor at this point.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by krebizfan View Post
    TI had a prototype variation on the TI-99 design that used a Z-80 processor which would have been a much lower cost option and better suited to the market being targeted. I think with normal memory design and without the layers of code hiding the hardware, performance should have been very good for the cost of the system.
    Sub a Z-80 into a TI-99 and you have an MSX. (Or a ColecoVision.) Which, yeah, makes leaps and bounds more sense. The architecture of those machines is positively mind-boggling.
    My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    TI was still making 9900-family minicomputers. Why would they make a home microcomputer to compete with it? At least that's my theory.
    They could have positioned it as a training tool as well as a family computer, the design would be different enough anyway. Of course, back then companies were hardly wary of home microcomputers competing with minicomputers and were more likely to shoot themselves in the foot by simply not taking the microcomputer market seriously at all. Look at what DEC could have done with the Pro/350 or their 6100-based microcomputers with their existing software library.

    This was also the era where departments within large companies in every industry would steal marketshare from and compete with each other, and nobody seemed to think much of it. US car manufacturers of the time were hilarious for that.

  7. #17
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    TI99/4A the slowest basic in the universe in a 16 bit cpu kind of ironic.

  8. #18
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    If you didn't know better you might think the design of the 99/4A was the result of a drunken bar bet over making the most inefficient small computer design humanly possible. Somebody definitely held someone else's beer at some point.
    My Retro-computing YouTube Channel (updates... eventually?): Paleozoic PCs

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digitalman View Post
    Seems to just be the unit. I have been googling around. Any thoughts the FlashRom options? What's the best options (value vs features)? As for Memory expansion, I assume there are aftermarket options there?
    Interesting machines... and as others have said, kind of disappointing in the software department. If you're into electronics at all, you can build the FlashRom99, or FinalGROM99 's..... or just buy one. I got a couple of these things recently and have found some of the games not bad. I love the keyboard... Donkey Kong, TI Invaders... Munch Man is the earliest game I can think of that has a cheat code.

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