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Aron Bartle

Feb 12, 1991, 10:23:01 AM2/12/91
Well, now that we have established that the TI is not completely dead yet :-)

I'm looking for a P-Code card (&documentation) for my Peripheral Expansion Tank.
Anybody seen such a beast lately? Did MYARC make a replacement for these? What
exactly is under the hood of that thing?

Historical note... Does anybody remember those little junk things you could hook
up to the speech synthesizer (via expansion train) to increase the words it
could say directly (w/o TE II)? Anybody got any of these? (I may be interested
in these also...) How about the peripherals TI sold before the Expansion Mansion
(rs232, parallel, disk drive, etc.). What about the "Wafer drive" that used
silicon as permanent storage? Or how about the "New" TI's (99/8 ???) ?

Oh well, back to work. Thanks & buenos nachos,

"Sometimes I wish I didn't know now, the things I did know then...
...And give me something to believe in."

Aron Bartle

Feb 13, 1991, 8:34:42 PM2/13/91
Mabye I've gone completely nutz, but I could swear there were add on

speech synthesizer units. I remember a t.i. panphlet that listed them and

the new words they could let the synthesizer say (there were several).

I also remember someone telling me they weren't going to be sold anymore

because of FCC violations. Then again, mabye it was just a dream. O.K. , make

that nightmare, but I used to love that stuff.

"Sometimes I wish I didn't know now the things I did know then...

Erik G Olson

Feb 16, 1991, 12:50:42 AM2/16/91
On the existence of speech add-ons:

Yes, I've seen literature, too. (It was in with the TI-Writer
source code which a former TI employee wanted to get rid of. Anyone
want copies? Is TI eavesdropping?) It definitely said that there
would be add-on speech expanders for the new speech synthesizer.

Notice also that the speech board, at least the one I have, says
"Rev J". Maybe they designed the plug out, that would have accepted
add-ons. Look at the layout: two roms in front, piggybacked, just
under that Pac-man hatch. Then there's that smooth plastic shelf
that ends just above the last remaining piece of unetched PCB
real estate. Suppose they could have altered the PCB design to
efface the original endowment?

Since the die molds for the plastic cases are among the most
outrageously expensive items to be found in computer
manufacturing lines, of course they would have preferred to
just leave the useless Pac-man hatch on the device. Besides,
it matches the decor of the console. And it gives you something to do
while the assembler is executing.
Erik G Olson "There was virtue in the world before
there was orthodoxy in it." --The Independent Whig

Herbert H. Taylor x2733

Feb 21, 1991, 4:44:28 PM2/21/91

The plug in port on the speech module was intended to expand the
number of permanent words of vocabulary as in Speak-n-spell. When
TE-II worked better then expected TI lost interest in expansion
modules. It is possible that only the first few thousand speech
modules have the "hooks" for those modules. I own several vintage
speech modules and they all have the hooks but I never got any plug in
modules and I designed the interface... (please, no questions, its
been eleven years...)

Another historical note... the first few thousand original 99/4's
had a hidden plug-in slot on the top flat surface (under the metal
overlay) for an IR remote control transmitter/receiver about the size
of a Kodack Instamatic. This supported a number of never introduced
wireless peripherals - including a wireless "super" keyboard and
joystick. These peripherals were never introduced because TI thought
they were too expensive for a Home Computer with an intended 1979
price under $100 (when Apple was $2000.00). When the price
"skyrocketed" to $1000 it was supposedly "too late" to bring out the
wireless peripherals. ( BTW the price increase was due to the complete
failure of the cheap TMS9985 microprocessor originally designed into
the 99/4. This resulted in the use of a very expensive goldlead
ceramic packaged TMS9900, a TTL clock driver, a 256 byte static ram
and a ton of TTL glue logic. The true story of how the 9900 ended up
in the 99/4 would rival General Hospital... ) The wireless peripherals
were supported on the systems shown at the June 1979 CES show in
Chicago. Ten minutes before the intro press conference we were told,
"not to show the peripherals..." In any event I am fairly certain the
software support for these peripherals was left in GROM at least until
the switch to 99/4A which included the new (actually the "original")

Also the first few hundred units had the "hooks" to bring in external
video and genlock the TMS9918 - a capability which even today is not
generally found in personal computers. This was removed from the
connector (despite its < $1.00 in parts) because at the time of the
99/4 introduction the interface had not been tested sufficiently and
there was still too much uncertainty about the FCC implications of
genlocking a class 1 TV device. Remember at that time (1979) any TV
game or Computer that had an RF modulator had to pass very strict FCC
testing. The 99/4 originally had a built-in RF modulator which was
removed shortly before the June 79 introduction when the decision was
made to package the 99/4 with the Zenith color monitor... In 1978 we
built 200 prototype 99/4's with builtin RF modulators and a 9900
"emulation" of the 9985 on a 9" x 4" board sandwiched onto the
original PWB and crammed into the original 99/4 tooled case. These 200
units were givin to TI executives and board members to play with for
six months. I have a wire-wrapped prototype with one of the very few
9985's ever produced but I would be interested in acquiring any of the
200 prototypes which might be extant. If anyone knows where any are I
would appreciate it...

Everyone was actually quite shocked when the FCC ruled in TI's favor
- that ruling distinguished personal computers from video games. ( I
have been told, however, that the cost of compliance to the new set of
rules for the mini-computer industry (HP, DEC, etc) was in the 100's
of millions of dollars...)

Incidently, one final historical note: the decision to remove the RF
modulator from the console was initiated when the FCC agreed to test a
fiber optic interface we had developed which optically coupled the
computer console with a standalone RF modulator. This interface was
dubbed the "video light pipe". After the system was sent to the FCC
they returned it UNTESTED - stating that they could not accept it
afterall but would accept petitions for rule making to modify the
existing rules. The rest was history...

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