Owner: T. Carlson
Location: Williamsburg, VA
I now have my own TI99/4A! I'll try to record some sound files from the Speech Synth soon. I've received lots of comments about the TI-99/4A. Many thanks to all who supplied additional information!
The Texas Instruments TI-99/4A was a neat little computer that was never really given a chance. It came out somewhere around the same time as the Commodore VIC-20. It originally cost quite a bit, but the price soon fell to the level of competing 8-bits. Most of its software ran from cartridges, called Command Modules. It was the first small personal computer to have a 16-bit processor. It also had a radical silver and black case. And, for awhile, also included a Speech
Synth module that sounded remarkably good.
Unfortunately, the TI-99/4A had several strikes against it:
Bill Cosby was the pitchman. (Is there anything this man won't sell?) Commodore had William Shatner, who was much cooler.
Used a normal cassette player for storage. This requires fiddling with cables and volume levels. Commodore's dedicated Datacassette player was much easier to use, and more reliable at writing and reading information.
Required a large expansion box in order to add memory. Even with expansion, BASIC programs only had 12K for code.
Was rumored to be very slow. (Turns out it was very slow in BASIC, due to its BASIC being doubly interpreted. But it was much faster at the machine language level.)
Which is too bad. It was a nice little computer that deserved a little more attention.
Later versions of the TI-99/4A used a more standard, but less cool, color scheme.