In 1979, Texas Instruments introduced their first computer, the 99/4. In many ways, the 99/4 was ahead of its time. It was one of the very first 16 bit personal computers, and had capable graphics. It suffered however from the fact that its TMS-9900 processor was fairly unknown and difficult to work with (TI did not even offer an assembly language development package). Also, although it was a fast CPU, the BASIC interpreter was implemented using an interpreted virtual machine, meaning that TWO interpreters were involved in executing BASIC - this made the machine appear to be much slower than it was capable of running (machine code really flew!). Perhaps the worst problem of all was that the 99/4 used a cheap "chicklet" style keyboard, making it difficult to enter data.
Shortly afterward, TI released the 99/4A, a machine with updated ROM's and (most importantly) a nice keyboard. It was a powerful and capable machine, however still based on an unfamilier CPU, it did not fare as well as was hoped, and TI eventually withdrew from the personal computer business.
Donated by Paul Kenwell and "der Mouse".
Click any photo to view a large high-resolution image.
TI 99/4A computer. Clockwise from upper left:
Power Supply, TI-99/4A Printer on top of expansion/disk chassis, Expansion Jpysticks, RF modulator. Center: TI-99/4A console with optional speech synthisizer and expansion chassis interface modules attached.
Closeup of the console/keyboard. The large open area on the right is actually a socket (at top) for expansion ROM cartridges.
Back: Cassette interface port, Power socket, Audio/Video output,
Rside: Peripheral bus connection (cover lifted)
Lside: Socket for game controller.
TI-99/4A Box (front and rear).
Software was available on cartridges and tapes. Tape software could be loaded with the TI Data Recorder (A standard cassette machine).
Here is a view of my 99/4A Document Collection.
TI-99/4 Peripheral Expansion System - this device gives the 99/4 a full expansion bus for attachment of many options and external devices such as the TI-99/4 Printer.
Views: Back, Inside.
In 1983 TI announced another first - their first portable computer. The Compact Computer 40 is a cute little machine, however it's abilities are linited due to it's one-line display, and inability to save data to external media - The only media supported on this machine was a proprietary loop tape drive which was reported to be very unreliable. The only viable way to load software into the machine was via read-only cartridges.
Views: Bottom, I/O ports.
Complete CC-40 setup -- Clockwise from upper left:
Mathmatics/Statistics cartridges, Original box (with Adapter), Finance/Games cartridges. Application manuals, Referance card, RS-232 interface, More application manuals. Center: Texas Instruments CC40.
TI's smallest computer. the TI-74 BasicCalc merges the portable computer line with the pocket calculator line. This machine features a full scientific calculator, and a subset of the TI-99/4 BASIC language.