In January Texas Instruments begins designing the TI-99/4 computer in
Dallas, Texas. By May the 99/4 group is moved to Lubbock where it would
remain until the end of the TI-99/4A's lifetime in 1983/1984.
Texas Instruments begins programming the Early Learning Fun, Beginning
Grammar, Physical Fitness, and Home Financial Decisions cartridges for
the TI-99/4 computer. Also, Microsoft is contracted to program TI Basic
for the 99/4, which will come built into the system.
Sometime during the year TI gives 200 selected workers prototypes of
the up-and-coming TI-99/4 to take home and play with for 6 months.
units use TMS 9900 chips emulating the TMS 9985, which is the chip
to be used in the final production console (the TMS 9985 is a new and
cheaper to produce chip than the 9900).
Texas Instruments sends their RF Modulator device to the FCC for
approval so that the 99/4 can be used with a standard TV, however, the
FCC rejects the modulator since TI did not also send the entire TI-99/4
system. This in turn forces TI to bundle
the computer with a 13" monitor, jacking up the price.
Rumors are flying about Texas Instruments' impending entry into the
personal computing market. The unit will reportedly use the TMS 9900
processor (the TMS 9985 turned out to be a complete failure, forcing TI
to go with the more expensive 9900 chip) with 40K of read only memory
circuits, will generate 20 lines of 40 characters on a standard
television, will have provisions for accommodating video disk players
and video tape recorders, and will have sophisticated sound production.
Sources predict a mid-1979 unveiling.
Texas Instruments introduces the TI-99/4 Home Computer at the June CES
show in Chicago. At the show TI had wireless infrared keyboard
and joystick peripherals ready to demonstrate to the public, however
the presenters of the
unit were told not to bring them out since the price of the 99/4 was
now much higher than originally anticipated (first the TMS 9985 having
to be replaced with the gold lead ceramic packaged TMS 9900 and then
rejection from the FCC on the modulator). Even though the wireless
units were withheld from public viewing, the 99/4 that was shown still
had the Infrared slot on the top of the casing.
The first TI-99/4 review is printed in Interface Age magazine and gives
the system a good grade. Obviously the author had access to a
prototype unit, as the computer was not yet out on the market at the
time. Also reported in the article is the fact that Milton Bradley is
coming out with a cartridge series later in the year for the computer
Gamevision. Milton Bradley actually had a hand in
developing the TI-99/4 computer, which is one of the reasons for the
close friendship throughout the years.
Texas Instruments starts shipping the TI-99/4 computer system, with a
suggested retail price of $1150 that includes the 13" color monitor
(which is actually a re-branded Zenith TV without a tuner). The initial
11 cartridges offered for the system are Diagnostic, Demonstration, Early Learning
Fun, Beginning Grammar, Number Magic, Video Graphs, Home Financial
Decisions, Household Budget Management, Video Chess, Football, and
These cartridges would make it to market at various months before the
close of the year.
It is reported that TI is unsatisfied with the TI-99/4 system due to
the high initial offering price. Magazines report that the 99/4 is only
expected to be an interim project that will later be replaced with a
cheaper system, under $500, sometime in 1980. The later system would
use the TMS 9985 after further development is done on the chip and an
RF modulator with approval from the FCC. This system is assumed to be
the TI-99/3 that TI had on the drawing boards since the beginning of
Milton Bradley releases the Gamevision cartridges Connect Four, Hangman, Yahtzee, and
Zero Zap. They are
manufactured and sold by Milton Bradley and come in
attractive blue boxes. This would mark the first 3rd party to actually
release games for the TI-99/4 system. Interestingly, Milton Bradley is
only planning on producing these cartridges for a short time period
(about 1 year) before passing production over to TI. This was probably
written in a contract between Milton Bradley and TI since TI had a
habit of making everyone sell them the rights to their games for
Image Computer Products announces the TI Six Pack which consists of 6
cassette based games (Tournament
Brick-Bat, Wall Street
Challenge, Wildcatting, Strategy Pack 1, Mind Master, and Skill Builder 1)all
programmed in TI Basic. This is again another milestone in the
TI-99/4's lifetime, since it is the first 3rd party to actually produce
games for the system that did not have a close connection to TI (Milton
Bradley had hands in developing the 99/4, so it's no surprise they came
on early with games for the system).
TI gets a waiver from the FCC which allows them to sell an RF modulator
for the TI-99/4. This in turn means that users will not be forced to
buy a TI monitor along with their console anymore, bringing the 99/4's
price down to
$599. This waiver from the FCC might have been a big reason why TI
never introduced the 99/3, since the price of the 99/4 was now around
the price that the cheaper 99/3 would have sold at.
TI releases the Disk Controller and Disk Drive stand-alone units for
the 99/4. They retail for $299.95 and $499.95 respectively. This gives
users the opportunity to finally use something other than cassette
tapes as a storage medium.
According to the June issue of Fortune magazine, it is
determined by an independent market research firm that TI would sell
only 25,000 total units by the end of the year. This number covers the
total number of units expected to be sold from October 1979-December
TI discontinues production of the 13" Color Monitor made by Zenith and
replaces it with a smaller 10" monitor from Panasonic. This new
monitor sells for $374.95, while the Zenith-made monitor sold for $450.
The new and improved TI-99/4A is shown at the June CES show at a price
of $525, which includes an improved keyboard and better graphics (TMS
The TI-99/4A finally hits the streets and replaces the old TI-99/4
model. The new TI-99/4A would in turn go on to sell around 3 million