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This mini forum is intended to provide a simple means of discussion about the Texas Instruments  TI 99 / 4A Beige computer. If you want to share your own experience or memories, or add relevant information about this system: post a message!

  Click Here to add a message in the forum


Wednesday 31st August 2022
Ricardo Fabián Portilla (Argentina)

In the middle of 1982 the TI99/4A black and silver model was imported from USA to Argentina. The local production started in 1983 with the TI99/4A beige model, made by the Argentinean company SDT S.A. between 1983-1986. The TI99/4A beige model was used in Argentina mainly for educational purposes, generally for teaching BASIC and programming concepts. When used for teaching, the TI99/4A was used together with TI Extended BASIC cartridge and the Expansion Memory Unit. A large quantity of software was available for this computer: TI Extended BASIC, a variety of games in cassette tapes, diskettes and cartridges (Parsec and Microsurgeon were my favorite games), TI Calc, TI Pascal, TI Logo (wide used for teaching), Home Financial Decision, Assembler Editor, and so on. Most of this software ran from cartridges called Command Modules. The Texas Instruments TI-99/4A was a great computer that was never really given a chance. It came out in Argentina around the same time as the Commodore 64 and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, which eclipsed the TI99/4A. It was the first small personal computer to have a 16-bit address bus processor. It also had a Speech Synthesizer module that sounded remarkably good. Unfortunately the TI-99/4A had some strikes against it: • Used a normal cassette player for storage. This requires fiddling with cables and volume levels. Commodore''s dedicated Datassette player was much easier to use, and more reliable at writing and reading information. • Required a large expansion box (known as Expansion Memory Unit in Argentina) in order to add memory. Even with expansion, BASIC programs only had 12K for code. • Was very slow in BASIC due to its BASIC being doubly interpreted, but it was much faster at the machine language level. The Expansion Memory Unit contained memory expansion cards, a disk drive, RS232 card and various other peripherals. However, many of the peripherials could be purchased separately and plugged directly into the console. Although the TI99/4A could be connected to any TV set, the Texas Instruments color monitor provided a much better quality picture. This computer had very good features to make up to 32 moving sprites on the screen using TI Extended BASIC, but does not had graphic commands to draw simple shapes (lines, circles, boxes, etc.) For file managing on diskette, the TI99/4A must be used together with the Expansion Memory Unit and the Disk Manager cartridge. It allows to format, rename, copy and $ files on 5,25" diskettes. One of the worst design flaws of the TI99/4A''s keyboard was the location of the ''FCTN'' (function) and the ''$'' keys. Pressing both at the same time resets the computer with no confirmation message. I remember that instead of pressing ''SHIFT'' + ''$'' to write the ''+'' character on the screen, I pressed ''FCTN'' + ''$'', which caused the computer to reset. This happened many times with a large BASIC program on memory and of course, not saved yet on tape or disk! When the TI99/4A reached the end of its life around 1985-1986, it was replaced in Argentina by the MSX computers which had the same video processor. From that years, MSX computers begun to be used for teaching MSX BASIC and MSX Logo. Decades after having being created, the TI99/4A continues being in the heart of whom we learned with it our first steps in the computers world.

Tuesday 13rd October 2020

I am 13 and I have found one of these in a building my family owns. I am interested in it and how it has the same controller ports on it as a sega genesis does. Really neat.

Tuesday 24th April 2018
ChrisGrillo (Malta)
Thoughts from a small island

I cut my teeth on this machine, learning program literally by copying the listings from magazines, and then figuring out which part did what action or sequence. My dad bought this machine for me when it was already discontinued, but as a poor family, we didn''t care. I love this machine to this day, and it is still connected to my tv.

Monday 19th June 2017
Nathaniel (Texas)

I have a beige 99/4A that my Grandma bought at Sears on clearance. It came with the original version of the system ROM and will run all third party carts. Guess TI was trying to just make everything they could and mixed and matched surplus part stock to get rid of it at the EOL of the machines. Even though the computer is almost a decade older than I am I have enjoyed it and still break it out every now and then to play Zero Zap or Parsec on.

Wednesday 5th April 2017
Gilmoure (New Mexico, United States)

I still have my beige TI-99/4a (16k of RAM!) and it still works (except I no longer have a tube tv for display. :-( ). I also have the cassette player I used with it and there''s a tape in there but I''m afraid to even plug it in or try and open the player. Figure the tape has welded itself to the read head or something. For what it''s worth, I now admin super computers. Great way to start.

Saturday 1st April 2017
Mark (United States)

My farther purchased one for me when I was around 14 or 15. I lived in a little town called Newport Pagnell (where Aston Martins are made) just outside Milton Keynes. My first computer.

Remember learning BASIC, copying programs from magazines with the thinnest paper. Loved it. Learned to debug because I would never copy correctly, still use those same techniques today...

Pretty sure having this computer and loving it helped me get my apprenticeship at Allen-Bradley in 1981 and career in tech ever since...

Saturday 26th September 2015
Scott (USA)

Got one for my 9th birthday, love the look of the black/silver but just for nostalgic purposes I want to get a the beige because that is what I had.
I also remember well using a random cassette recorder for saving basic programs. I have very fond memories of these books I use to order from the monthly scholastic brochure thing, they were called "Micro-Adventure" and it was like sliced-bread to me at 9. You went through the fiction Sci-Fi type stories but at the part where the team was looking at a bomb you would type in a program that would have a countdown timer or something like that. LOVED it.
My favorite game was "MicroSurgeon" by far. A really impressive game actually for that small system, it had three windows on-scree showing verious things. One was the inside of the person you were working on, another was the hospital room and another had the heartbeat and vitals monitor. Really great stuff.

P.S. Speaking of Schoolastic does anybody else remember a magazine you could get through them called "K-Power"? I''ve never seen one since but they were full sized fun 8 bit mags. Wish I could look through one now.

Friday 18th July 2014
Mark (USA)

There''''s an interesting site about TMS99xx stuff :

Has quite a lot of stuff on the TI TMS9900/TMS9995 hardware including a breadboard self-build computer based on the TMS9995

Well worth a look !

Tuesday 4th January 2011
etownAndy (USA)

Actually, some versions of the beige console could use third-party cartridges with no problem.

The version that can''t displays "(c)1983 v2.2" on the startup screen.

The QI (Quality Improved) motherboard differed in many ways. For one, the side expansion port lost the brass-colored "fingers". Second, the tranformer plug only contains two pins because only 5 and 16 volts are needed whereas the original also supplied 8v. Finally, there is no top shield, and a heat sink is placed on the TMS9918A video chip.

Saturday 10th April 2010

I had this when I was a kid. Burgertime and Star trek games and a radioshack cassette recorder to record my programsI made in Basic. Also had the voice simulator plugin pack. Drempt about getting the big floppy disc box.

Sunday 23rd July 2006
andy (sydney)

My step dad gave me a ti 994a beige when i was 13. immediately i taught myself basic from the excellent manual that came with it. I got caught a couple of times with the function key reseting issue. Funny story: my brother accidentaly spilt an entire cup of coffee into it while it was turned on. we powered it off, turned it upside down to let the coffee drain, and let it rest standing up against the back fence outside for a week. then bought it in, turned it on, it was as if nothing had happened. They dont make electronics like they used to...... I loved that computer. sigh.

Sunday 12th September 2004
CodeBoy061269 (Saint Petersburg, Florida)

I was given a TI-99/4A for my 14th. birthday, in 1983. I had been taking continuing education courses at The University Of South Florida during Summer break from junior high school. Eventually, all my computer equipment stopped working. You can go to ebay and buy a lot of that stuff, though. That's what I did, and now, when I'm not working with my PC, I can relive the old days. Also, free emulators are available on line that, for all intents and purposes, temporarily turn your PC or Mac into a TI-99/4A.

Sunday 3rd August 2003
Lyn (USA)

I recall purchasing the TI99 back around 1982 or 83 at Toys R Us for $50.00. The model was being discontinued. There were a few good games for it, can't remember all, but one comes to mind. It was "Alpiner," a mountain main trying to make his way to the top and had to watch out for skunk slime! I also remember the manual with the basic instructions. My first screen saver was "random dots."

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