Texas Instruments TI-99/4A The TI-99/4A came out in November 1979 and was quite an interesting system since it was a 16bit computer in a day when 8bit systems were the norm. Unfortunately, it had a number of things going against it, including it's BAISC was doubly interpreted, so BASIC programs were horrendously slow, though the machine was faster at the machine level; TI tried to keep absolute control over the machine and it's software, not releasing development information to programmers; and it was rather high priced.

Texas-Instruments also made the mistake of getting into a price war with Commodore and the VIC-20. At one point, TI was selling the TI-99/4A for less than it cost to manufacture and they ended up losing quite a lot of money over it trying to match the VIC-20 in price. There were two variants of the 4A produced, one with a silver&black case, the other with a beige case, which was introduced sometime in 1983. I have one of each in the collection. The spokesperson for the TI-99/4A was Bill Cosby.

Some expansion options included different things as 'sidecars', such as the Speech Synthsizer. The Speech Synthesizer is really neat, and the voice from it is quite nice sounding. A number of TI software cartridges, called GROMS, took advantage of it and added voice prompts and such to the programs. One good example is PARSEC, which was a Defender-type game. In it, the computer vocally warns you of approaching enemy spacecraft and such. According to the Speech Synthesizer manual, originally it was planned to have plug-in cartridges available that would fit inside the Speech Synthesizer and supplement it's vocabulary and such, but these were never produced and the spot they were to plug into was never used. The other expansion option is the Peripheral Expansion System, also known as the PEBox. It is a large, heavy external expansion chasis that connected to the TI-99/4A's expansion port and provided 8 expansion slots, as well as a 5-1/4" floppy drive. On my system, it has a pretty typical PEBox setup, which is 5-1/4" drive, 32k RAM card, a RS232 card, and the interface card for the TI-99/4A. An interesting note is that a company called Myarc used the PEBox to produce a TI-99/4A compatible computer after TI stopped it's production, replacing the interface card with a CPU card.

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