TI-99/4A in the 21st century

TI-99 Blog

Documenting new experiences with the TI-99/4A with the opportunities of the nanoPEB - CF7+ and the internet as an additional source for software.

view:  full / summary

Monthly TI 99 Meetings in Vienna, Austria

Posted on March 8, 2016 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (99)

We meet on the 2nd Wednesday of every month.

Start time: 7p.m.

Location: Napoleon (pub)
Kagraner Platz 33, 1220 Vienna
Table reservation name: Texas Instruments

Please announce your coming to:
Klaus Lukaschek
Tel: +43 676 39 00 448
[email protected]

TI-99 Austrian Club Interview @ Podcast

Posted on December 10, 2011 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

During the retro faire, that happened on the 3rd of decembre in Vienna, Klaus Lukaschek got interviewed from Horst Jens to talk about the TI-99 club: Podcast Biertaucher

Besides making the podcast Horst Jens offers courses for kids, students and adults to learn programming:

Während der Retro-Börse, welche am 3. Dezember in Wien stattgefunden hat, wurde Klaus Lukaschek von Horst Jens interviewt, um über den TI-99 Club zu sprechen: Podcast Biertaucher

Neben dem Podcast bietet Horst Jens für Kinder, Studenten und Erwachsene Kurse an, um spielerisch programmieren zu lernen:

The TI-99/4A Home Computer in my Classroom

Posted on February 4, 2011 at 3:44 AM Comments comments (2)

by Dave Howell, Computer Users of Erie, PA


Dave Howell and his wife


I guess my career of teaching computer literacy using the venerable TI-99/4A Home Computer began in 1977. Actually the TI-99/4A didn't come on the market until 1982 but I had been getting students in my math classes acquainted with some of the basic computing operations using electronic calculators in the school's Math Lab. The Erie School District used our middle school to initiate the Math Labs and develop the course of study to be integrated in our math curricula. At the same time, the District installed teletype terminals that were tied into the District's mainframe computer system by dedicated telephone lines. The more precocious students in my Math classes were encouraged to access the mainframe computer only after they finished their assignments, of course.


Then in 1982, the electronic calculators were replaced with a roomful of TI-99/4A Home Computers. The "Math Lab" became known as the "Computer Room." I was selected to operate the Computer Room and together, with teachers from other buildings, helped design a 10-week course of study for Computer Literacy classes. I still have the course of study we used and the assignments that were given to the students.


Each of the five middle schools ran this 10-week class, 4 times a year, for all students in the school. Besides helping students become familiar with basic computer operation, the emphasis of the course of study also gave students experience in using the BASIC language in writing simple programs. Students were shown how they can literally "command" the computer do what they want. These classes helped students avoid the feeling of intimidation that plagued most of the older folks of the time. Some students even went on to embrace the computing field as their life's work.


The following year, the District added the PHP1200 Expansion Systems to our Math Labs. This expanded the 16 Kb TI-99/4A to a capacity of 32 Kb, accommodated 5 1/4-inch Floppy Disks, and permitted the use of printers. Hence, the classes morphed from writing programs in BASIC to learning the fundamental concepts of word processing (TI-Writer) and spread sheeting (MS Multiplan). These classes continued to be offered throughout the remainder of the 1980's.


By 1990, the TI-99/4A's were being replaced by the Apple IIc and the Apple Macs. However, being the TI diehard that I was, I kept the TI-99/4A alongside the Apples. By the time I retired in 1993, no one was using the TI computer system anywhere in the School District. The teacher replacing me didn't want them so I asked for permission from the District to collect all of the unused TI equipment left in the buildings rather than to allow them to be tossed out. That's how I ended up with a sizeable collection in my basement and garage!

The Erie 99'ers User Group

Posted on February 3, 2011 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (1)

by Dave Howell, Computer Users of Erie, PA

Figure 1


In 1982, a local discount house, known as Dahlkemper's at the time, recognized the need to support the use of the TI-99/4A Home Computer and, of course, the sales thereof. They offered their display rooms as a meeting place for TI users. Hence, the Erie 99'ers User Group was born.


When production of the TI-99/4A ceased in 1983, the User Group continued to meet at Dahlkemper's until November 1984. By that time, third-party computer and software developers had increased their efforts to manufacture accessories and expansions utilizing the TI-99/4A platform. One example of this expansion of equipment for the TI platform was the marketing of the Geneve 9640 cards for the PHP1200 Expansion System and utilized the IBM keyboard and RGB monitors vastly expanding the utility and capacity of the computer system. When coupled with the extremely efficient TI language used in the TI-99/4A and the PHP1200 Expansion System, the Geneve 9640 offered the TI community tremendous possibilities. But we all know that this so-called efficiency of language gave way to the more grandiose memory capacity of the PC and Apple platforms.


So, instead of dying a quick death, TI user groups continued to flourish worldwide. My collection of User Group Newsletters found in my basement revealed over 70 Texas Instruments user groups just in the US alone in the 1980's! There were many more that either didn't publish newsletters or didn't exchange newsletters with us. The Erie 99'ers User Group was one of them.


In December of 1984, the Erie 99'ers entered into an arrangement whereby the group could meet in the offices of a local employment agency in exchange for providing and maintaining the TI computer systems installed in the agency's offices. The agency had use of the TI-99/4A, the PHP1200 Expansion Systems, and printers to keep track of their clients and handle the bookkeeping chores. This was a sweetheart deal that provided an inexpensive and convenient place to hang out with computers to use during the meetings! Then "progress" struck again. The agency needed to communicate with others outside its premises. In so doing, they had to transfer their data to different platforms compatible with those in other offices to say nothing of the need to use the internet. Obviously, this meant moving to PC or Apple platforms. The Erie 99'ers had no choice but to begin meeting in members' homes.


Figure 2


However, it wasn't long before someone inquired about the possibility of using my Computer Room full of TI-99/4A computers as a meeting place. (See Figures 1 and 2.) Hence, I gained permission of the School District to use my Computer Lab at night once a month. We did have to provide a certificate of liability insurance each year but otherwise, it would cost us nothing to meet there. Now we could hold computer classes and demonstrations using the computers and projection screens already installed in the room.


A few of the early members of the Club included Ross Caruana, Chet Magee, Sal Parco, Donna Baird, Ed Waskiewicz, Norb Sitter, Pete Wingfelder, Rod Kerr, Joe Derosa, Rob Mineo, and Jim Kwiatkowski. Jim was the President when the Group first met at the employment agency and began publishing the "Erie Ninety Niner User Group Newsletter." His first computer was the TI-99/4 which he bought in 1979. He later purchased the TI-99/4A when it first became available late in 1981. Jim was among the first in the area to write programs for his many applications.


(Author's Note: Chet Magee was the original owner of the Geneve 9640 in my collection that was just delivered to Nereo, the first to respond to my advertisement. I bought the system from Chet just before he died 18 years ago.)


Figure 3


The Erie 99'ers became a major player among user groups in the Erie area in the 1980's. The User Group held periodic computer displays in the corridors of Millcreek Mall as a means of attracting new members. (See Figure 3.) The Group also helped organize the region's consortium of user groups (NUAGE) along with groups representing Commodore/Amiga, Atari/ST, Apple/MAC/Franklin, Radio Shack/Tandy/MS-DOS , and Texas Instruments. NUAGE began holding computer shows at venues such as the National Guard Armory, Gannon University Auditorium (See Figure 4), Mercyhurst Colleege Recreation Complex, and Rainbow Gardens Ballroom (See Figure 5). NUAGE contacted a national show organizer who agreed to hold periodic computer shows in Erie. The show, known as ComputeErie, was held in the huge Tullio Arena and attracted thousands of people who visited the many booths set up by user groups and vendors. These shows continued well into the 1990's.


Figure 4


By the time I retired in 1993, our membership dropped to the point that the Group ceased to exist. It was then that the Erie 99'ers merged with the Computer Users of Erie. Today, I know of no one in the Erie area actively involved with the TI-99/4A. For the past 17 years, the equipment remained largely unused in my basement except for the occasional use by my grandkids whenever they visit us from New England. Two of them took a console and some software back home last summer. Who knows what will transpire in their fertile minds as they grow into adulthood!


Figure 5


For me, it is time to downsize and........to be continued soon.

Austrian Prices from the 80's

Posted on December 15, 2010 at 1:49 PM Comments comments (2)

I asked my father to look in his archives/records about at what time he actually bought the TI-99/4A console and the cartridges and how much they did cost back then in Austria.


He bought the basic console in Novemer of 1983 with one command module. He bought another command module in February 1984. In March 1983 he bought a tape recorder from ASAHI, a TI computer book, Extended Basic and several modules.


His records sadly miss the names of the cartridges except for Extended Basic. We had Number Magic, Blackjack & Poker, Yahtzee, Indoor Soccer, Hangman. We had a pair of TI Joysticks as well. We aquired several other cartridges after some years, but he has no records about prices and time.


ProductTimeSchilling Euro USD
TI-99/4A Console11/833600 261,62348.90
Unknown Command Module 11/83690 50,1466.87
Unknown Command Module02/84269 19,5526.07
Extended Basic 03/842995 217,66290.26
Other Command Modules 03/841169 84,95113.30
Unknown TI Computer Book 03/84490 35,6147.49
Asahi Tape Recorder 03/841025 74,4999.34


Note, that my father aquired all stuff after the black friday in the US, but I don't know yet if it was known in Europe that Texas Instruments will stop the production of its console and will leave the home computer business. If anyone has more information about the happenings in Europe back in the day, please contact me.