My First PC: the TI-99 4a

Time for a stroll down memory lane…

Every tech geek remembers the first computer that they had.  Mine was a TI-99 4a that my parents got me for $99 (I think) from Hills’ Department Store.  I think that they were at the end of production and that’s why they were so cheap.

(please pardon the occasional language on the video, but unfortunately it is appropriate to this computer)

One of the things that I remember about it was the tape memory storage.  To record data, you used a tape recorder hooked up via a serial port.  The data went on your standard cassette tape and when you had the sound turned up the thing sounded like someone torturing a microwave.

The TI gave me my first experience programming, and immediately taught me that I was not a programmer.  I used to get the “TI-99’er” magazine, which would have pages of code for games and programs which you could input, save, and run.  Hypothetically.  I remember spending hours trying to find the missing “:” or whatever in my code so I could make my skiier (“H”) go down a slope of trees (“<<“).  I’ve hated software ever since.

You can still buy TI-99’s from collectors, and even find books on how to program in TI BASIC.

Alas, the TI just couldn’t compete with the popularity of the Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore 64.  As capable as the TI was, it just didn’t have the software to support it and increase it’s longevity.

For more info check out the 99’er!


Posted on May 2, 2010, in Tech News. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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