Texas Instruments TI99/4A

The advent of the first 16-bit computer is one that I almost missed. Thankfully, I didn't, as the computer that was originally purchased for my older sister became the one that I would use regularly for years, taking my first steps into programming and gaming. The TI-99/4A was a silver and black behemoth of a computer, 16-bit, 16k RAM, 16 Colours display, and also the wonder of instantly-loading games, in the form of game "modules" (Cartridges, I guess they call them now...)

The other odd thing about the TI99/4A, besides the rather hefty price tag, was the fully Americanised design. The video output needed to pass through a modulator to match the UK's 50Hz standard for TV displays, and the TI Basic commands such as "CALL COLOR" had me in trouble for spelling on several occasions.

Oh, yes. And the joysticks were very poor indeed. However, I seem to remember some clever soul inventing a convertor for Atari joysticks...

However, minor gripes aside, the TI99/4A was a very solid games platform, with the exception of overheating after approximately 4 hours of use... Games ranged from the module-based machine code games (for example, the superb Parsec, and the best incarnation of Space Invaders across ALL platforms, TI Invaders) to the listings printed in magazines such as Personal Computing Weekly. I have fond memories of sitting in a poorly-lit upstairs bedroom, listening to my father read line after line of BASIC listing, tapping it in to produce a new game. And then spend time trying to find the one elusive typo that prevented the game from working correctly. Ah, happy days.

Just in case you haven't noticed, this website introduced in February 2011 a new section... The TI99/4A Project. This is where I'll be trying to fill in the massive gaps in available TI resources with my collection of bits and pieces. It's right here.