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Timeline 99 -- 1983

JAN 1983: TI produces a little known 220 page catalog listing virtually every piece of software available for the 99/4A to that date, from both TI and other sources. The publication, which is authored by a team of seven TI employees, gives excellent detailed descriptions of each program and the required hardware. The first draft for this monumental effort was submitted in June 1982 to TI executives. The very same catalog was the source of information for the much valued and excellently presented Unisource Encyclopedia Catalog, which was considered almost an encyclopedia of TI-99 software. Many descriptions from the TI catalog can be seen throughout the Unisource publication, copied verbatim. The 220 page publication, dubbed the Software Directory, does not actually become available until June 15, 1983. It sells for $5.95 plus $2.00 shipping and handling, directly from Texas Instruments. (Product Support Review, Jun 1983, p.1)
  • The first official meeting of the Central Ohio Ninety Niners (C.O.N.N.I.) Users Group is held with Roger Wills as club President.
  • TI announces the impending release of the CC-40 (Compact Computer 40) computer on January 6, 1983.
  • Curt Garcia, dba Dynamic Data and Devices, announces the release of Quimbee, a new casino type game for the TI-99/4A. The announcement, found on page 59 of the January 1983 issue of 99er Magazine, lists PO Box 912 Stafford, TX 77477 as the address for DD&D, but gives no price for the software.
  • Micro Peripherals Inc (MPI) 4426 S. Century Dr. Salt Lake City, UT 84107 (801) 236-3081, announces a $100 price reduction for their Printmate 99 printer. With the new price cut, buyers can purchase the 100cps, 1K buffer, bi-directional, dot-matrix printer for $695.00 (99er Magazine Jan83, p.59)
  • Compute! magazine begins coverage of the TI-99/4A with a single article that is written by C. Regena. It covers the hardware, software and miscellaneous resources of our computer. Editor Robert Lock also announces the Spring 1983 birth of The Commodore Gazette.
  • Parsec (PHM 3112) is released in England.
  • Scott, Foresman and Company announces SPIN (School Practices Information Network), a subscription service for schools and universities that allows them to access over 11 million documents in 15 education-related databases by telephone, from almost any microcomputer.
  • Street price for the TI-99/4A after the $100.00 rebate from Texas Instruments is $199.95.
  • APPLE --
    • Apple's Lisa debuts, with much fanfare.
    • Releases the much anticipated Lisa business computer. At $10,000, the Lisa would prove too expensive for most computer buyers.
  • ATARI --
    • Street price for the Atari 800 is $499.95. The Atari 400 is $199.95 with 16K.
    • Percom Data disk drives for the Atari 800 are priced at $799.00 for the first drive, then $459.00 for each add-on disk drive.
    • Founder Nolan Bushnell's latest company, Androbot, releases a $995 PC-controlled robot called Topo.
    • Data Age releases the world's first (and only as far as I know) rock 'n' roll video game  for the Atari 2600, starring the rock band Journey.
  • COLECO -- Street price for the Colecovision game console is $199.95.
  • COMMODORE --
    • Street price for the VIC-20 is $169.95.
    • No stree price exists for the Commodore 64 as yet. It is only 4 months old, and still demands full retail at $595.00.
    • Wins the coveted back page of Compute! Magazine and starts the year off with an advertisement for the C64.
    • Announces that it has sold over a million VIC 20 computers.
    • Data 20 Corporation of Laguna Hills, CA announces the Video Pak Cartridge that plugs into the VIC-20 expansion port and immediately gives the computer 40/80 column by 24 row display capability.
  • MATTEL -- Mattel Electronics announces the Aquarius Home Computer at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show, but it will never make it to market. The rights to the machine will ultimately be sold back to Radofin Electronics, the actual creator of the computer. Tumbling profits on home computers world wide are to blame.
  • SINCLAIR -- Street price for the Timex Sinclair 1000 is $89.00.

FEB 1983: On February 9, 1983, Texas Instruments reduces the price of the TI-99/4A by $50 and leaves the existing $100 rebate program in place!

  • The TI-99/2 computer is introduced to the world. Photographs of it and it's peripherals can be found in the February and March issues of 99er Home Computer Magazine.
  • The Mid-South 99ers are formed in Memphis, TN with Howard Watson as the User Group's first president. (Mid-South TIDBITS, Jun87, p.1)
  • C.O.N.N.I. becomes an "official" TI-99 User Group when it is recognized by Texas Instruments.
  • TI announces a July release for the TI-99/2 in England.
  • TI introduces a new compact cassette Program Recorder (PHP 2700, includes PHA 2622 cassette cable) for the 99/4A. MSRP $69.95. The device is a GE cassette tape recorder with the TI logo (re-badged in other words, just like the TI Impact Printer is a re-badged Epson MX-80).
  • Shipments of the TI-99/4A are halted due to an apparent defect in the power transformers shipped with the computers. According to the March 1983 issue of TI’s Product Support Review newsletter, "A laboratory test revealed that under very unusual conditions specific AC 9500 transformers may have a potential electrical shock hazard."
  • An advertisement in COMPUTE! magazine from Datasoft Inc. of Chatsworth, CA lists the TI-99/4A as a computer that will have Zaxxon written for it by April. It never comes to be however. See Mar 1983 for more detail.
  • A Datasoft advertisement in Compute! magazine on page 215 seeks programmers for the TI-99/4A to translate arcade games such as Zaxxon.
  • Compute! Books releases the PROGRAMMER'S REFERENCE GUIDE TO THE TI-99/4A by Cheryl Whitelaw, also known as C. Regena. The cost is $12.95 plus $2 for shipping and handling.
  • 99er Magazine changes its name to 99er Home Computer Magazine.
  • The Southern California Computer Group is formed in San Diego. TI reports that this brings the number of recognized Users Groups up to 50. The group would last into the new millenium before finally disbanding in June 2000.
  • Business Week Magazine publshes an article in its February 14, 1983 issue entitled "Texas Instruments Comes Roaring Back". The article reports that at the end of 1982 the TI-99/4A had captured 35% of the under $1000 computer market, and that some 700,000 units had been sold. It was currently selling 30,000 units per week.
  • Thorn EMI announces the planned release of Submarine Commander and River Rescue cartridges forthe TI-99/4A sometime in the spring.
  • Los Angeles-South Bay 99ers change the group's name to the LA 99er Computer Group.
  • On February 8th TI lowers the price on the TI-99/4A by $48 to retailers, which makes the cost of the computer $152 after TI's rebate. (Product Support Review, Mar83, p.2)
  • A voice recognition system for the TI-99/4A is announced by Milton Bradley. It is scheduled to be released in April.

MAR 1983: Microsoft Multiplan (PHM 3113), licensed for the TI-99/4A from Microsoft, but written by TI programmers, is released for the TI-99/4A. MSRP is $99.95.

  • The March 4, 1983 issue of the Wall Street Journal publishes an article entitled "Texas Instruments Is Trying To Keep Control of Software". The article explains TI's efforts to lock out third-party development except through their licensing program. It also states that while Funware has signed an agreement to buy TO GROM chips for their cartridges, and Milton Bradley, Scott, Foresman and Walt Disney have agreed to develop programs that TI will produce, other companies such as Activision, Imagic, Spinnaker and CBS Software do not plan to enter the TI market because of the TI royalty and licensing plan. (Houston User Group Newsletter Apr83, p.5)
  • Plans to produce Zaxxon for the 99/4A are cancelled by Datamost. The reason given to inquiring members of the LA 99ers User Group is that the program could not be successfully ported to a GROMpack (TI-99/4A 8K GROM port module) and Datamost did not believe that there were enough owners with expansion systems (disk drive systems) to successfully market the program in a disk version.
  • Texas Instruments begins offering a free Dust Cover and Cartridge Holder (PHA 2661) to any current Computer Advantage Club student who enrolls in a second class between March 1, 1983 and July 31, 1983. The Dust Cover remains a mystery to me? It is not listed in any Consumer Products Price Lists for the TI-99/4A that I own, so I don't know where it came from, or who Texas Instruments purchased it from in order to support this offer? In the April 1983 Product Support Review on page 2, TI talks about the introduction of the (now really rare) storage albums for cartridges, cassettes, disks and manuals, and even lists the 5-pack blank diskettes and TI Impact Printer paper, but no Dust Cover?
  • TI introduces a new 3-hour intro class to the Computer Advantage Club curriculum. Cost of the course is $25 and any student completing it becomes eligible for a free console dust cover and cartridge holder. (Product Support Review, Mar 1983, p.2)
  • TI offers their new Disk Manager 2 (PHM 3089) cartridge to owners of the original Disk Manager (PHM 3019) as a $9.95 upgrade.
  • A description of the never to be released Key To Spanish (library #PHL 7012, cartridge #PHM 3126) language software, developed by Westinghouse Learning Corporation for the TI-99, appears in 99er Home Computer Magazine's New Products and Services section on page 69.
  • In a March 31, 1983 letter to the Houston Users Group in Houston, TX, noted author and TI-99 supporter Cheryl Whitelaw (aka C. Regena) announces the end of her affiliation with Gary Kaplan and 99er Magazine, and the start of a new job as the monthly TI-99 columnist for Robert Lock and Compute! Magazine. As a postscript to the letter, Mrs. Whitelaw writes; "I have been trying for about a year now to get Gary Kaplan to quit the 'big mystery' about Regena --but he just won't print my address. He got upset when one of your members told him he knew who Regena is. I told Gary I wouldn't reveal anything until TI-Fest but it wasn't fair to suppress my efforts. Some of the other national computer magazines have required addresses of authors (and I like it that way too). As it was, he didn't announce my identity at TI-Fest. I was actually happy you people knew me, and appreciate your support." As an aside to Ms. Whitelaw's mention of 'TI-Fest', since it took place in October 1982, it is difficult to understand the March 31, 1983 date of Cheryl's letter? (HUG Newsletter, July 1983, provided by Richard Lumpkin)
  • Cheryl Regena Whitelaw, better known as C. Regena to the TI Community, reviews the Scott Foresman Mathematics Action Game cartridges:
    • 30300-4 -- FROG JUMP / PICTURE PARTS (Known as Module A -- Numbers and Basic Facts)
    • 30303-9 -- PYRAMID PUZZLER / STAR MAZE (Known as Module B -- Multiplication and Division)
    • 30306-3 -- NUMBER BOWLING / SPACE JOURNEY (Known as Module C -- Decimals, Fractions and Percents)

    in Compute! Magazine on page 108. Each two-program module is packaged in a durable vinyl album with a Teacher's Guide and reproducable worksheets and record sheets. MSRP is $75.95 per module.

  • Scholastic Inc. releases its WIZWARE line of computer software, to include Electronic Party, Square Facts, and Turtle Tracks for the TI-99/4A. MSRP $39.95. (IUG President's Club Newsletter, Mar83, p.3)
  • Bill Bies, a 14-year old TMS 9900 assembly language wizard, releases Arthropod and AsTIroids for the TI-99/4A. The programs are available on disk and require Editor/Assembler or Extended BASIC, 32K Memory and Disk. Arthropod is a centipede-like application, while AsTIroids is an Atari Asteroids look-alike. The games retail for $24.95 each. (IUG President's Club Newsletter, Mar83, p.3)
    • NHC 1000 -- Arthropod (Editor/Assembler version) -- $24.95
    • NHC 1001 -- AsTIroids (Editor/Assembler version) -- $24.95
    • NHC 1002 -- Arthropod (Extended BASIC version) -- $24.95
    • NHC 1003-- AsTIroids (Extended BASIC version) -- $24.95
  • ATARI -- Broderbund releases David's Midnight Magic pinball simulation by David Snider, and Stellar Shuttle by Matt Rutter. Both programs are available only on the Atari 400/800 line of computers.

APR 1983: TI drops the price of the 99/4A to $225.00 on April 16th. (Product Support Review, Apr 1983, p.1)

  • On April 25, 1983 TI begins offering a free Peripheral Expansion Box to anyone purchasing any three of the following; an RS232 card, a Disk Controller Card, a Disk Drive, a 32K Memory Expansion Card, a p-Code Card, TI-WRITER, or MULTIPLAN. (Enthusiast 99 May84, p.9)
  • Navarone Industries introduces the SELECT-A-CART module expander, more commonly know as the WIDGET and finally named the CARTRIDGE EXPANDER.
  • Bill Moseid, doing business as Model Masters of Fullerton, California, introduces Joyprint, a low cost but ill-fated RS232 printer hookup that operated out of the joystick port.
  • Tom Wynne, creator of NOLIST for the XB programmer, and a member of the PUNN Users Group in Seattle, Washington, makes it into the 99er Hall of Fame with a score of 1,009,600 points on TOMBSTONE CITY.
  • Navarone Industries moves to Amarillo, Texas.
  • Charles LaFara and Bill Gronos of the IUG are the guest speakers at the April meeting of the Houston, TX TI-99/4A Users Group. LaFara demos the new Funware cartridges Henhouse (FW 1001) and Rabbit Trail (FW 1004), DLM cartridges Alligator Mix (PHM 3114) and Demolition Division (PHM 3116), several PLATO applications and Arthropod and AsTIroids from Bill Bies' North Hills Software comapny. US Air Force member Gronos, demoed a number of hardware prototypes being considered for the TI-99/4A.
  • The second half of the Houston User Group April meeting consisted of a demo of the new TI-99/2 Basic Computer (PHC 002), the Compact Computer 40 (CC-40) and a sound demo on the TI-99/4A. This was provided by John Yantis, Allen Acree and Ed Weist from Texas Instruments. (Houston User Group Newsletter May 1983, p.2)
  • TI-99/4A Home Computer, accessories and peripherals are reported to be available at or through such major retailers as Curtis Mathes, Sears, J.C. Penney, Target, K-Mart, Venture, Video Concepts, Best Products, Service Merchandise and H.J. Wilson. (Product Support Review, Apr 1983, p.2)
  • APPLE -- John Sculley joins Apple as president and chief executive, signaling a new era in the Valley as T-shirt tycoons give way to seasoned managers.

MAY 1983: Plans to produce the TI-99/2 Basic Computer, the low end, 4.2K Ram competitor to the TIMEX-Sinclair computer, are cancelled after prices for the TI-99/4A fall below the projected 99/2 sales price.

  • In an article on page 26 of the May83 issue of Compute! magazine, which was no doubt written several weeks earlier, Features Editor Tom R. Halfhill tells readers about the impending release of TI's new HX-1000 printer/plotter ($199.95) for the TI-99/2 and CC-40, as well as the impending release of the Hex-Bus Interface ($59.95) that will allow the TI-99/4A to use the HX-1000. Both items are scheduled for release in the "spring".
  • Plans to introduce several TI-99/4A educational programs from the Minnesota Educational Computer Consortium (MECC) are cancelled by Texas Instruments. The reason given by TI is the MECC programs duplicate existing software already available for the TI-99/4A Home Computer. The titles to these 11 products were actually listed in TI's "U.S. Consumer Products Suggested Retail Price List June-December 1982" for the TI-99/4A. All programs required Extended BASIC:
    • PHD 5078 - METRIC and COUNTING
    • PHD 5079 - ELEMENTARY ECONOMICS
    • PHD 5080 - ELEMENTARY MATH and SCIENCE
    • PHD 5081 - ASTRONOMY
    • PHD 5082 - WORD BEGINNINGS
    • PHD 5083 - EXPLORING
    • PHD 5084 - MATH PRACTICE
    • PHD 5085 - SCIENCE FACTS
    • PHD 5086 - NATURAL SCIENCE
    • PHD 5087 - SOCIAL SCIENCE
    • PHD 5088 - TEACHER'S TOOL BOX
  • TI announces to its Product Support Representatives the upcoming releases of Equations (PHM 3100), Key To Spanish (PHL 7012, PHM 3126), Laws of Arithmetic (PHM 3099), Measurement Formulas (PHM 3101), Number Readiness (PHM 3098), Numeration I (PHM 3050), Numeration II (PHM 3051) and the TI Count accounting package consisting of: (Product Support Review May 1983, p.1)
    • PHD 5092 -- TI-COUNT GENERAL LEDGER
    • PHD 5093 -- TI-COUNT ACCOUNTS PAYABLE
    • PHD 5094 -- TI-COUNT ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE
    • PHD 5095 -- TI-COUNT PAYROLL
    • PHD 5096 -- TI-COUNT INVENTORY
    • PHD 5097 -- TI-COUNT MAIL LIST
  • Texas Instruments discontinues the toll-free hotline for Product Support Representatives. (Product Support Review May 1983, p.1)
  • Cheryl Whitelaw begins writing the "A Woman's View" column for Enthusiast 99 magazine.
  • Jerry Riley is elected as the first President of the Front Range 99ers Computer Club in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with John Pearce as VP, Bonnie Snyder as Secretary and John Williams as Treasurer.
  • The last issue of TIHOME TIdings is issued.
  • TI cancels plans to produce E.T. The Extraterrestrial (PHM 3125) cartridge for the TI-99/4A.
  • Forty TI-99/4A computers are used to open the Computer Discovery Center at Magic Mountain in Valencia, California.
  • Art Lillegraven, pioneer member of the LA 99ers, dies in Los Angeles.
  • TI drops the $100 rebate program when the TI-99/4A retail price falls to $149.95. A new $50 rebate program begins May 15th, scheduled to last until Jan 31, 1984. (Product Support Review, May 1983, p.2).
  • TI begins shipping Disk Manager 2 (PHM 3089) with all new disk controller cards sold.
  • Enthusiast 99 magazine debuts from the International 99/4 Users Group Bethany, OK.
  • Fred Gray authors an article on the TI-99/4A in Creative Computing magazine on page 31.
  • Robert Cashman authors an article on TEXNET in Creative Computing magazine on page 33.
  • Texas Instruments (TI) and Control Data Corporation (CDC) sign an agreement on May 6, 1983 giving TI right to 108 of the over 400 PLATO courses created by Control Data Corp. (Enthusiasst 99, Jul83, p.29)
  • MISC -- Tac-Scan, a space shoot 'em up game, becomes the first 'Home Video Game' ever offered by arcade games veteran SEGA Enterprises. It is programmed for the Atari 2600 and Sears Video Arcade System (which of course is an Atari 2600 with the Sears name on it). (Games magazine May83, p.26).
  • PC/MS-DOS -- Philippe Kahn launches Borland International. He would become a database king before Borland started to fizzle in 1993.

JUN 1983: Plans to introduce the TI-99/8, officially named the Computer 99/8, a 64K upgrade computer for 99/4A owners, are shelved indefinitely, but the decision is not made public. The beige colored (what TI calls gray), plastic cased version of the TI-99/4A, with its new proprietary GROM designed to defeat unlicensed third-party software creation, is released however. William J. Turner, President of the Consumer Products Group is quoted as saying, "After extensive research into the color preferences of persons for both a home and office environment, Texas Instruments has found a marked preference for lighter colors in both its computers and calculators.. Therefore we have decided to change to a light gray color for the 99/4A and future home computers." (IUG President's Newsletter, Jun83, p.3)

  • Texas Instruments' stock plunges $50 in two days following the company's announcement its second quarter losses will be $100-million dollars. Company officials attribute the loss to unsold inventory of its 99/4 home computer.
  • Actor Alan Alda is named as the new Atari spokesperson. "Alan Alda, certainly one of the best-liked and most-credible stars in the entertainment world, has signed with Atari, Inc. to be spokesperson for its computers for the next five years. He will represent Atari in TV advertising and public relations capacities. The announcement was made by Atari President Raymond Kassar and by Warner Chairman Steven Ross at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago in June, where several new products in the XL line were unveiled. The arrangement with Alda is expected to more than match the celebrity-spokesman impact achieved by competing computer companies.Although not previously an ATARI owner, Alda did have an unnamed computer he stopped using because it was too difficult to understand, "like being at the wise man's knee and not knowing his language,' Alda is quoted as saying. Atari has supplied him with all its products, and he expects to find them easier to use." (By Robert DeWitt from the Aug '83 issue of Antic magazine, page 14)
  • In a move signalling problems within the company, Texas Instruments reorganizes the Consumer Products Division by ousting Don Bynum as Division vice president and replacing him with Herb Shanzer. Unfortunately, making the popular Bynum the fall-guy for problems that lie much farther up the corporate ladder, will ultimately fail to curb the massive financial loses the Consumer Products Division is incurring. (Enthusiast 99 Jul83, p.11)
  • TI announces to its Product Support Reps that a color change will be forthcoming for the 99/4A and its peripherals. The new color is called grey, but future owners will call it the "Beige" console. (Product Support Review, Jun 1983, p.2)
  • TI releases the following accessories for use with the 99/4A Home Computer. (Product Support Review Apr 1983, p.2)
    • PHA 2640 DATA CERTIFIED CASSETTE TAPE $3.99 (was released at $3.95)
    • PHA 2641 CASSETTE STORAGE ALBUM $9.95
    • PHA 2650 BLANK FLOPPY DISKETTES (5 Diskettes) $19.95
    • PHA 2651 DISKETTE STORAGE ALBUM $9.95
    • PHA 2660 SOFTWARE MANUAL LIBRARY $4.95 (was released at $9.95)
    • PHA 2661 CARTRIDGE STORAGE ALBUM $9.95
    • PHA 2672 IMPACT PRINTER PAPER $19.95
    • PHA #### SOLID STATE CARTRIDGE STORAGE CABINET $14.95
  • Texas Instruments begins offering a free Solid State Speech Synthesizer (PHP 1500) to anyone who purchases six cartridges or an Entertainment Value Pack and three cartridges or two Software Libraries between June 1, 1983 and January 31, 1984. (Product Support Review, May 1983, p.2)
  • Effective June 1, 1983, the price of the Solid State Speech Synthesizer (PHP 1500) is reduced from $149.95 to $99.95 and the Editor/Assembler (PHM 3055) package goes from $99.95 to $49.95. (Product Support Review, May 1983, p.2)
  • TI decides to stop shipping the Beginner's BASIC Manual (PHA 2602) with the 99/4A, and begins offering it as a $9.95 option. (Product Support Review, June 1983, p.2)
  • At the June 5-9, 1983 summer Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, Epyx announces the planned release of seven of their game titles on cartridge for the TI-99/4A and six of their game titles on cassette for the TI-99/4A. The information is taken from an article written by Houston User Group member Jane McAshen, who visited the CES and then reported on her experiences in the July 1983 issue of the HUG Newsletter. "Epyx Computer Software plans to make several of their programs available for the 4A, seven on cartridge and six on cassette. The cassette titles include; Seawolf, Spectar, Gun Fight, Circus, Starfire and Fire One. The cartridges are:
    • Jumpman Jr. - 12 screens featuring electrocution traps, moving walls, hellstones, and other dangers.
    • Pitstop - Fast paced racing action, plus the strategy of the pits.
    • Gateway to Apshai - 8 different screens with 50 chambers per screen. Explore the dark labrynth of rooms and caverns which lead to the fabled Temple of Apshai. Glorious treasures and nasty monsters!
    • Lunar Outpost - Alien invaders are preparing a full scale invasion of Earth, and your Lunar Outposts are all that stand between the invasion force and ultimate defeat. Strategy and 3-D graphics are featured.
    • Swat Rescue - Police action plus strategy and planning are combined in this new high-resolution graphics game.
    • Silicon Warrior - 3-D graphics, characters that disappear and reappear and real time competition for up to 4 players.
    • Fun with Music - Learn and play music on your video screen, easy to use with its handy keyboard overlay, the perfect blend of education and fun."
  • Jim Peterson, 156 Collingwood Avenue Columbus, Ohio, issues "TIPS FROM TIGERCUB" #1.
  • 20th Century Fox runs a 2-page ad in Games Magazine on pages 60 and 61 announcing a contest to "Design the best new M*A*S*H video game". $25,000 in cash is guaranteed to the programmer who gets the contract for the game. A whole list of other prizes are also offered for other game ideas received, including: Four First Prize AMC Jeeps; 400 Second Prize Texas Instruments TI-99/4A Home Computers, and 4000 free Fox Video Games.
  • Newport Controls 15425 Los Gatos Blvd Los Gatos, CA 95030 releases the Prostick II joystick for $24.95.
  • Milton Bradley announces that the MBX Voice Recognition System originally planned for release in April, will be available sometime in the fourth quarter 1983. The announcement is made at the summer Consumer Electronics Show. In addition to the MBX system, Milton Bradley shows off Championship Baseball, Space Bandit, Sewermania, Big Foot, Meteor Belt, and Super Fly.
  • TI releases the Microsurgeon (PHM 3220) and Super Demon Attack (PHM 3219) game cartridges licensed from Imagic Corporation.
  • TI announces the impending release of TI Mini Writer (PHT 6103), a Mini Memory based word processer written by James A. Roberts. Availability is scheduled for the third quarter of 1983.
  • TI announces the impending release of Entrapment (PHT 6101), M*A*S*H (PHM 3158) Moonmine (PHM 3131) and Sneggit (PHM 3145) at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show. IUG president Charles LaFara, reporting in the June 1983 "President's Newsletter", would pan the offerings as being low quality.
    • "...After actually viewing each of the packages, we at the Users-Group were less than impressed with these new releases and feel that TI has neglected their duty to supply good quality software to their consumers. While other manufacturers are dealing with outside software houses for good quality arcade-style packages, TI seems to be groping to release anything they can regardless of the quality."
  • Impending release of Entrapment (PHT 6101), a Mini Memory assembly game, is announced for the third quarter of 1983. The program is authored by Tom Johnson of American Software and Design and Distribution.
  • Funware president Michael Brouthers promises the release of eight new game modules for the TI-99/4A. He does so in direct defiance of TI's warning about producing un-licensed software. Brouthers promises that all Funware modules will run on ANY 99/4A computer currently produced, as well as any future ones that Texas Instruments modifies to keep un-licensed third-party software houses out of the TI-99/4A market. Most of the titles are existing games that will be ported to the TI-99/4A from Atari, VIC-20 or C64 formats. Several such as Ant Colony, Astroblitz, Crisis Mountain, Pipes, Rat Hotel and Trashman never make into TI-99/4A format. Cave Creatures will show up in TI-99/4A disk format, coded but never released. Part of this is due to the fact that Brouthers will sell Funware to Paul Zuzelo, dba Creative Software, and the TI-99/4A projects may have gotten lost in the shuffle of transferring assets? The modules that Brouthers promised included:
    • ANT COLONY -- unknown game type
    • ASTROBLITZ -- a variant of the arcade coin-op "Defender" by Williams Electronics.
    • CAVE CREATURES
    • CRISIS MOUNTAIN
    • DRIVING DEMON -- (FW 1008)
    • PIPES -- a "concept home education program" involving exercises in planning, economics and spatial relationships.
    • RAT HOTEL -- an original game theme, involving climb-and-run and treasure collection.
    • SAINT NICK -- (FW 1009)
    • TRASHMAN -- a clone of the arcade coin-op classic "Pac-Man".
  • Romox announces intentions to release the Hen Pecked, Typo and Whiz Kid cartridges.
  • Tenex Computer Marketing Systems PO Box 6578 South Bend, IN 46660 announces the TI/CEN centronics printer cable, which allows TI-99/4A owners to print to Okidata and Smith-Corona TP-1 printers. The price is $37.95.
  • Sears runs an ad in Games Magazine on page 1 offering the TI-99/4A Home Computer for $149.99.
  • Atari forms Atari Publishing, a spinoff division of the company that will write and sell game programs for competing computers. In the announcement, Atari promises that Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Defender, and Donkey Kong will be ported to the TI-99/4A, and that Shamus, Protector, Picnic Paranoia and Slime will be licensed from Synapse Software so these titles can also be ported to the TI-99/4A in cartridge format. (Compute! Aug83, p.36)
  • ATARI -- Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, agrees to allow his former company to sell new video games he developed through his Pizza Time Theater Chain. Bushnell sold the game giant 7 years ago, agreeing to stay out of the game business until this fall. The video game giant, a Warner subsidiary, lost $45.6 million in this year's first quarter. Atari spokesmen say the company is revamping its distribution system and moving its manufacturing operations to the Far East.
  • COLECO -- Connecticut Leather Company (COLECO) announces the ADAM home computer at the summer Consumer Electronics Show. The ADAM sports 80K of RAM, a Z80 CPU, a 500K tape drive, CP/M in ROM and a daisy-wheel printer, all for about $600-dollars.
  • EAGLE -- Dennis Barnhart, founder of Eagle Computer, dies in an accident, forcing cancellation of public sale of the fledgling company's stock.

JUL 1983: Texas Instruments reports that it lost $119.2 million in the second quarter of 1983, thanks to slow sales of the TI-99/4A home computer.

  • Romox releases the Anteater (ROM02025) game cartridge for the TI-99/4A.
  • Magic Software 3148 S. 14th St. Milwaukee, WI 53215 releases Bomber, Boxer, Maze and Maze Games. All are 100% assembly language coded and require 32K memory, disk and Extended BASIC to run. The games are favorably reviewed in the July 1983 issue of the Houston, TX Users Group newsletter. BOXER, will ultimately appear as a DaTaBioTics cartridge game in 1988.
  • SEGA's Star Trek (PHM 3225) prototype for the TI-99/4A surfaces on the cover of the July 1983 issue of "Enthusiast 99" magazine. The manual shown on the cover is from a prototype e-prom module that IUG president Charles LaFara received from Sega. LaFara would later report that only 3 copies of the prototype were made. One was sent to Texas Instruments, the second was sent to the IUG for their evaluation and the third was sent to Jack Carroll who worked for the IUG at that time. LaFara recalls that Jack Carrol may have re-burnt 4 other copies for other IUG employees, and once he broke the source code, he added some "text-to-speech" features to his copy. According to LaFara, the game was almost identical to the Atari 800 version except it ran much faster on the 99/4 and had better sound qualities.
  • Texas Instruments creates and releases a new point-of-purchase software storage and display cabinet for distribution to retailers. The glass-fronted display contains 36 slots, each capable of holding 5-6 software packages. (Product Support Review, Jul 1983, p.1)
  • The first issue of TI*MES is published by Britain Clive Scally in England.
  • The TI Computer Advantage Club curriculum tops out at 10 courses:
    • Children’s Computer Awareness -- $49.95
    • Programming Discovery in TI LOGO -- $49.95
    • Programming Discovery in TI BASIC -- $49.95
    • Computers for Early Learners -- $35.00
    • Adult Computer Awareness -- $49.95
    • BASIC Programming for Adults -- $75.00
    • TI Extended BASIC -- $75.00
    • TI-Writer -- $49.95
    • Microsoft Multiplan -- $95.00
    • Computers in the Classroom
  • TI releases a cartridge software comparison chart which shows there are 104 modules available for the TI, 26 for the Atari 400, 26 for the VIC-20 and 57 for the Radio Shack Color Computer. (Product Support Review, Jul 1983, p.2)
  • Texas Instruments' merchandising support issues a document listing Software Sales Ranking by title for the 2nd Quarter 1983.
01. Pac-Man 11. Cosmic Cruncher
02. Parsec 12. Household Budget Management
03. Galaxian 13. Teach Yourself BASIC
04. Centipede 14. A-MAZE-ing
05. Star Raiders 15. Gorf
06. Munchman 16. Early Learning Fun
07. Frogger 17. Jupiter Landing
08. TI Invaders 18. Hunt the Wumpus
09. Missile Command 19. Personal Record Keeping
10. Defender 20. Car Wars
  • APPLE -- INFOWORLD Magazine reports that the "MacIntosh", an Apple computer due out in January, will sport a $1200-$1500 price tag, 128K of RAM, come with a 9-inch screen and a 3 1/2" micro-floppy drive.
  • APPLE -- In an effort to spur sales, of it's other computers, Apple introduces the Apple Card, a credit card useable for all Apple product purchases. Finance charges will be the going market rate. Cards are available at all Apple dealers.
  • ATARI -- Digital Research announces the impending release of Visual CP/M, a home version of their CP/M operating system, that will be offered for Atari, Colecovision, Epson, Mattel and Sinclair computers. Although it is never released under that name, it will appear in 1984 as the GEM (Graphical Environment Manager) product which will become the basis for Jack Tramiel's Atari ST line of computers as well as Commodore's Amiga line. (Enthusiast 99 Jul83, p.10)
  • ATARI -- Raymond Kassar, under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for alledged "insider" stock trading, resigns as Atari's chairman and chief executive officer. Kassar's resignation also comes at a time when Atari's profits have plummeted.
  • COMMODORE -- Commodore and Mitsumi of Japan start a new venture to jointly make floppy disk drives in Japan. Their new company will be named Newtronics, will produce drives at a new plant in Northern Japan.
  • FAIRCHILD -- Reports surface that Fairchild Camera and Equipment Company, the maker of the 1970s' Channel F video game machine, may soon be unloaded by its parent company, Schlumberger Corp. This despite investments over the last 4 years by Schlumberger of $250-million for research and development and another $500-million for capital investments.
  • MATTEL -- Mattel reports that it expects a first half loss of more than $100 million in 1983, due to severe slowdown in its electronics business. More layoffs put 260 employees out of work, which amounts to 15% of Mattel Electronics operating and administrative staff. Mattel Electronics does most of its work on its Intellivision entertainment and computer systems.
  • MISC. -- Industry analysts predict that video arcade profits will drop from $7 billion last year to $5.3 billion by December 1983. Digital Research demos multi-tasking Concurrent CP/M for the IBM PC. Industry analysts believe that the top contenders for the 16/32 bit microcomputer operating system software market are Bell Lab's Unix and Microsoft's MS-DOS.

AUG 1983: Effective August 1st, TI extends the warranty on the 99/4A console from 3-months to a full year.

  • Retailers begin carrying the Entertainment Value Pak (PHV 1001) and the TI Variety Value Pack (PHV 1002) priced at $99.95 and $49.95 respectively. (Product Support Review, Jun 1983, p.2)
  • The TI-CARES hotline goes into effect on August 8th.
  • TI announces to their Product Support Reps that the following PLATO titles will be available in September: (Product Support Review, Aug 1983, p.1)
    • PHD 5273 - BASIC NUMBER IDEAS 1
    • PHD 5274 - BASIC NUMBER IDEAS 2
    • PHD 5275 - MATH SENTENCES IN ONE VARIABLE 1
    • PHD 5276 - MATH SENTENCES IN ONE VARIABLE 2
    • PHD 5277 - MATH SENTENCES IN TWO VARIABLES
    • PHD 5278 - GEOMETRY
    • PHD 5279 - MEASUREMENT
    • PHD 5280 - SPECIAL TOPICS
    • PHD 5281 - PRACTICAL READING 1
    • PHD 5282 - PRACTICAL READING 2
    • PHD 5283 - GENERAL READING 1
    • PHD 5284 - GENERAL READING 2
    • PHD 5285 - PROSE LITERATURE 1
    • PHD 5286 - PROSE LITERATURE 2
    • PHD 5287 - PROSE LITERATURE 3
    • PHD 5288 - POETRY
  • Morning Star Software of Beaverton, Oregon, offers a CP/M card for the Peripheral Expansion Box.
  • H/S Enterprises, Suffern, New York, offers a custom designed carrying case for the 99/4A that let you take your computer on the road with you. The product let you pack the console, RF modulator, cassette recorder, speech synthesizer, power supply and several cassette tapes in a high-impact carrying case. It retails for $59.95.
  • Not-Polyoptics introduces the Texas Light Shooter light pen in six gun shape.
  • TI signs with Spinnaker Software to produce Facemaker (PHM 3177) and Story Machine (PHM 3178) for theTI-99/4A. They also reach an agreement with SEGA (an acronym for SErvice GAmes) to produce Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (PHM 3225), Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom (PHM 3226), and Congo Bongo (PHM 3227) for the TI-99/4A.
  • The Chicago Users Group goes on line with the first Users Group BBS.
  • Ralph Fowler's TIBBS (TI Bulletin Board System) goes on-line in Kennesaw, Georgia.
  • COMPUTE! magazine reports that the TI-99/8 is close to production.
  • AMLIST Inc., 4542 Memorial Dr. #202 Atlanta, GA (404) 292-0576 releases Basic Tips book for the 99/4A by Terrance Castle.
  • Doryt Systems releases a 32K Ram stand alone memory expansion unit, as well as their new Paraprint interface device for parallel printers.
  • Vaughn Software (David Vaughn, owner), author of the Bitmac drawing program, releases a new series of game programs on cassette.
  • The first issue of TI USER, a British 99er publication, appears.
  • Counterpoint Software of St. Louis (Mark Sumner and Ken Dibble, owners), MO change the company name to Challenger Software International.
  • Memory Devices of Lilburn, Georgia, makers of business software for the TI-99/4A, changes its name to BizWare Inc.
  • ATARI -- Milton Bradley files a $43 million lawsuit against Atari for alledgedly failing to follow through on a deal to buy nearly half a million voice synthesis recognition units for Atari's VCS 2600 and 5200 game consoles.
  • COMMODORE -- Reports are that a recent shortage of floppy disk drives is threatening the sales of Commodore 64's. Apparently nobody at Commodore thought consumers would want the floppy drives, but they were wrong! Over half a million units have been sold since Commodore's 64 was introduced. Reports also surface that Commodore is suing keyboard manufacturer AMP Inc. of Harrisburg, PA claiming that 35,000 keyboards purchased from AMP were defective.
  • COLECO -- Computer Industry press indicates that analysts are skeptical about Coleco's claim that it will be shipping half a million new "Adam" computers by the end of the year. The $600 price of the computer and printer may scare away home computer buyers. Coleco calls rumors that its "Adam" computer release will be significantly delayed, a "non-event'. The company originally scheduled August 31 as the Adam release date.
  • MATTEL -- Another 400 employees are laid-off following a layoff of 260 in July at Mattel Inc. The company's electronics division, which markets Intellivision home video games expects to report a loss for more than $100-million so far this year.
  • MISC. -- More than 200 computer related magazines are available to consumers.
  • VICTOR -- Chuck Peddle's Victor Technologies surprises the industry by laying off 600 employees it had only recently hired. Victor ranks third in domestic sales of small business computers and has enjoyed a 6-fold increase in earnings over last year.

SEP 1983: TI announces the upcoming release of Word Invasion (PHM 3169) and Word Radar (PHM 3185) cartridges. (Home Computer Newsletter Sep83, p.3)

  • Curt Garcia and Dynamic Data Devices release Compact Plus, a utility for Extended BASIC programmers that comapcts the code to save memory. MSRP is $29.95. (HUG Newsletter Sep83, p.2)
  • TI announces the upcoming release of TI Mini Writer (PHT 6103) and Entrapment (PHT 6101) applications for use with the Mini Memory cartridge, both of which were announced at the summer Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago on June 5-9, 1983. (Home Computer Newsletter Sep83, p.5)
  • Challenger Software (Mark Sumner and Ken Dibble) release Pede, Starprobe and Wallaby games. (HUG Newsletter Sep83, p.2)
  • Consumer Reports Magazine publishes the following article on the TI-99/4A with the headline reading, "The Also-Rans."
  • "TI-99/4A. This model, currently selling at a knockdown price of $100, looks like a computer well worth considering-until you consider it carefully. It has a true typewriter keyboard, and there is an extensive library of good educational software available.

    "But the low price on the TI-99/4A can be deceiving. A good deal of the software available for the TI requires more than the 16K included in the basic price. To expand the memory, you must plug in a peripheral expansion box ($250) and a 32K memory expansion card ($300). Thus, to gain access to many of the more attractive applications programs, you need not a $100 TI-99/4A but a TI-99/4A system that will cost about $750, by the time you add a tape player and a couple of joysticks.

    "The only word processing program we could find for this model (the TI Word Processor, $100) is on a disk. To run it, you need the aforementioned peripherals plus a disk drive ($400) and a disk controller card ($250). That brings the price to almost $1400 before you buy a printer.

    "We regard the basic TI-99/4A as a loss-leader because of all the high-priced TI peripherals required to make it a practical computer system. It can be argued that the basic TI-99/4A without any peripherals is still a cheap tool for learning BASIC. But we found the ketboard unusually cumbersome to use, and the TI-99/4A ran BASIC programs we devised rather slowly. The TI is sold exclusively in toy stores and department stores, where salespeople may not be well informed."

  • Tracksmith PO Box 738 Cooper Station, NY 10276, release Horse Racing Handicapper on cassette for $34.95. (Compute! Sep83, p.238)
  • Amiga Corporation 3350 Scott Blvd Building 7 Santa Clara, CA 95051 (408) 748-0222 releases the Power-Stick joystick for the TI-99/4A. Price is $20. (Compute! Sep83, p.294)
  • Infocom Inc., 55 Wheeler St Cambridge, MA 02138 (617) 492-1031 announces the release of Enchanter for the TI-99/4A and other computers. (Compute! Sep83, p.296)
  • The TI-99/4A system is shown at State Fairs in Puyallup, WA, Albuquerque, NM, Pomona, CA, Oklahoma City, OK, and Tulsa, OK.
  • A previously unheard of company in the TI-99/4A Community named Valorum 441 Clyde Ave Mountain View, CA 94043 (415) 968-8500 runs an ad in Compute! magazine offering personal and business productivity software for the Commodore and TI. (Compute! Sep83, p.304)
  • On September 20th Texas Instruments issues an internal document listing the dates, networks and shows for its 4th Quarter 1983 TV advertising time lineup. The three major networks, ABC, CBS and NBC are all targeted. Prime time shows and events targeted include:
    • 60 Minutes,
    • Alice,
    • Baseball Playoffs,
    • Bob hope Christmas,
    • Cheers,
    • Christmas in Washington,
    • Different Strokes,
    • Fall Guy,
    • First Camera,
    • Gimme A Break,
    • Goodnight Beantown,
    • Facts of Life,
    • Family Ties,
    • Fiesta Bowl,
    • Here's Entertainment,
    • Johnny Carson's Anniversary Special,
    • Johnny Carson's Practical Jokes,
    • Knight Rider,
    • Little House Christmas,
    • Mississippi,
    • Monday Night Football,
    • Real People,
    • Silver Spoons,
    • T.J. Hooker,
    • Webster,
    • TV Bloopers,
    • TV's Greatest Commercials,
    • Whiz Kids,
    • Wide World of Sports,
    • World Series.

    The Houston, TX office of Madison Ave ad firm McCann-Erickson puts together two 30 second ads for the quarter.

  • APPLE -- Apple announces that 165 software companies worldwide are developing application software for the Lisa computer.
  • ATARI -- Walt Disney Telecommunications 500 South Buena Vista St Burbank, CA 91521 (213) 840-1111 releases Mickey in the Great Outdoors exclusively for the Atari computer, but at the same time announces plans to produce as many as 50 titles for the Atari, Radio Shack, TI, NEC and Panasonic computers. (Compute! Sep83, p.290)
  • ATARI -- Former Phillip-Morris marketing man Jim Morgan takes over as Atari CEO, filling the position vacated by Raymond Kassar.
  • MISC. -- Macy's Department Store Chain decides to discontinue its sales of video game cartridges because of lagging sales. Other retailers indicate that consumers are opting for sale-priced or discontinued game cartridges because they're less expensive.
  • MISC. -- Texas Instruments acquires 25% of LISP Machine, Inc., a company which makes computers for artificial intelligence research.
  • OSBORNE -- The company founded by early PC pioneer Adam Osborne files for bankruptcy protection on September 13th. On September 19th, down to 85 employees from 1,000 employees in August, the firm is allowed to borrow up to $600-thousand dollars from three banks to keep payroll and operations afloat.
  • VICTOR -- Company founder Chuck Peddle, of Commodore PET fame, says his firm is consolidating it's 8 distribution centers into 5, but denies that Victor will go the way of Osborne and file for bankruptcy.

OCT 1983: Sierra On-line agrees to produce Jawbreaker (PHM 3194) for the TI-99/4A.

  • 99'er Home Computer Magazine publisher announces a corporate reorganization at Emerald Valley Publishing in Eugene, OR on the editorial page of the October 1983 issue. "We've undergone a major corporate reorganization to facilitate our rapid growth and increased levels of both reader and advertiser service..."
  • The TI-99/4A system is shown at State Fairs in Dallas, TX, Raleigh, NC, Phoenix, AZ and Shreveport, LA.
  • TI extends the $50 rebate program on the TI-99/4A Home Computer and includes the cassette version of Teach Yourself BASIC (PHT 6007) with the purchase.
  • TEXware Associates of Wellington, Illinois announces a "Computerized Giveaway" valued at $1750 that is conducted under the sponsorship of Doryt Systems Incorporated and Dhein's True Value Hardware.
  • Navarone releases the GROMBUSTER cartridge that is designed to defeat the v2.0 operating system found in beige colored consoles so that third-party cartridges that plug into the GROM port can be run on the plastic computer.
  • The Prostick 2002 joystick is released.
  • Texas Instruments announces publically (on the 28th) that it will no longer be producing the TI-99/4A Home Computer. The $50 rebate program is cancelled on October 31st but TI decides to continue the free Speech Synthesizer (with the purchase of six modules) offer until January 31, 1984. Many questions arose after the TI announcement, such as why the TI-99/8 was not brought out? Apparently the answer was that Texas Instruments had filed or wanted to file bankruptcy on the Consumer Product Division losses, but could not because one division doesn't make a company, and companies or corporations file for bankruptcy, not their divisions. With their staff of attorneys hard at work, TI was apparently able to work out an agreement with the courts that allowed them to take the tremendous write-off if they removed themselves from the home computer segment of the market totally. This was apparently why Texas Instruments would choose a "Fulfillment House" in 1984 to handle all of their remaining TI-99/4A inventory.
  • Andrew Pollack writes a multi-page article on the demise of the TI-99/4A in the October 29, 1983 edition of the New York times.
  • Romox Inc. announces the release of several cartridges for the TI-99/4A with the following entry in 99'er Home Computer Magazine's New Products and Services section on page 61.

ELECTRONIC DISTRIBUTION AND PROGRAMMABLE CARTRIDGES

    "Romox Inc. has announced the forthcoming availability of Edge Connector Programmable Cartridges. ECPCs can be erased and reprogrammed, and are compatible with the new in-store Romox Programming Terminals. A "personality module" will be available for TI-99/4A formats. Romox's Programming Terminals will be leased by retailers for their customers' use in selecting and "manufacturing" their own game cartridges or reprogramming their ECPCs. In addition, Romox has converted three of its game cartridges for use on the TI-99/4A computer. Ant Eater is a two-player game of ant hill survival with increasing levels of difficulty. Hen-Pecked is another two-player game, with an emphasis on high resolution graphics. Princess and Frog is based on the old fairy tale of transformation. All three cartridges are immediately available for the TI-99/4AA with a suggested retail price of $39.95 each. Also for the 99/4A Romox offers TYPO for improving touch typing speed and Whiz Kid, an educational game of words or mathematical equations with an ice-hockey scenario. They each carry a suggested retail price of $39.95. For more information contact Romox Inc. 501 Vandell Way Campbell, CA 95008 (408) 374-7200."

  • The ROMOX ECPC is announced to more than just the TI-99 Community in this newsbyte from Video Games Player magazine.
  • "CARTS CAN BE REPROGRAMMED! -- Even the best games get boring, so Romox is marketing a cartridge that can be reprogrammed with the new game of your choice. This is possible only with their patent-pending "ECPC" (Edge Connector Programmable Cartridge). Regular games use ROM cartridges that can't be reprogrammed. All you'll have to do will be to visit the local shop, trade your old Romox cartridge for a blank one and pop the cart into one of nine slots on the Romox terminal. In less than a minute, you've got a new game, for only $10. In addition to lower prices, Romox will be electronically transmitting new games to the 1300 "Programming Terminals" around the country, so you won't have to wait months for new games. Games for Atari VCS and all Atari computers, Commodore's 64 and VIC-20, and the TI 99/4A will be available in September. Plans are being made to provide cartridges for Mattel, Oddysey [sic] and other formats upon agreements with game publishers. Romox anticipates each terminal to eventually offer 500 games." (Video Games Player Oct/Nov83, p.17)

  • Moonbeam Software releases Robot Runner and Zero Zone. (Compute! Oct83, p.39)
  • COLECO -- After missing its scheduled August debut, on October 2nd, the Coleco Adam finally receives FCC approval and is expected on the shelves of retail outlets by mid-October. (Compute! Dec83, p.40)
  • DIGITAL -- DEC introduces an upgrade to its Rainbow 100 system and a new plan to convince buyers of the computer's reliability.
  • OSBORNE -- As an apparent result of Obborne's 9/13/1983 bankruptcy filing, a group of Osborne's debtors file a lawsuit against the firm, charging the company lied to shareholders and debtors by predicting last year it would earn 9-million dollars.

NOV 1983: Development and introduction of the Computer 99/8 is cancelled completely as TI decides to pull out of the Home Computer market. About 250 TI-99/8's are actually produced.

  • On November 16th, IUG president Charles LaFara mails a letter to group members entitled "After the TI Pullout". The full text of the letter may be found in The Cyc from CADD Electronics.
  • In an article entitled "A Home Computer Casualty", Newsweek Magazine provides the following account of the demise of the TI-99/4A in its November 7, 1983 issue on page 108.

    "The announcement should have come as no surprise. Battered by losses of $223 million during the first nine months of this year, Texas Instruments is bowing out of the overcrowded home-computer business. The Dallas-based electronics company said late last week that it will stop production this month of its 99/4A. As a result, TI will lay off an estimated 1,700 workers at its Lubbock, Texas, operation but plans to continue production of its more expensive Professional Computer. Competition in the $1 billion home-computer business has been fierce. Other major players, such as Mattel and Atari, have also suffered heavy losses this year. But TI was primarily the victim of its own self-destructive strategy to bolster sagging sales. In a series of price reductions and rebates over the past year, TI slashed the price of its 99/4A in half. The gamble didn’t pay off. Even though sales soared, the firm reportedly lost up to $50 for every machine it shipped. By the end of September, its home-computer operations were more than $500 million in the red. This isn’t the first time TI president J. Fred Bucy has miscalculated. During the l970s the company’s digital-watch division lost millions of dollars whenTl followed the same deep-discount pricing strategy and then dragged its feet in switching to the latest technology. TI abandoned digital watches in 198 l. Texas Instruments also lingered too long in the low-cost, handheld calculator business, well after it was apparent that the Japanese would gobble up the largest slice ofthe market. • IBM is expected to end months of speculation this week with the unveiling of its new personal computer for the home and education markets. The PCjr will be available in two versions. The basic model—expected to retail for $800—will be a stripped-down computer without disc drives or a computer screen; it will have 64 kilobytes of random access memory (RAM) and slots for game cartridges. The enhanced version— featuring 128K of RAM, a single disc drive, video-display screen, printer, modem (for telephone communication) and software—isexpected tosell for $2,000. The operating system is designed so that some software programs running on IBM’s best-selling Personal Computer will also run on Junior."

  • D & M Software Publishers 1510 S. 97th St Tacoma, WA 98444 (206) 537-8155 releases Volume 1, Number 1 of their EASY COMPUTING magazine. The 40 page publication looks curiously like 99er Magazine in some ways, but contains no author names for the articles and even lists the name of the editor only as Don. Aside from the articles and type-in program listings, EASY COMPUTING's premier issue contains New Product announcements for TI Mini Writer, the HX-3100 modem for the Hex-Bus line of peripherals and Milton Bradley MBX cartridges.
  • Armed with "some very strong financial backing from an Oklahoma City bank" IUG president Chales LaFara approaches Texas Instruments in an effort to purchase the entire remaining inventory of hardware and software. While considering LaFara's offer he is given 1 each of the current command module inventory and 17 unreleased projects from Texas Instruments and third party producers. LaFara would report some years later (August 1999) that none of the 17 cartridges ever reached the consumer level. According to LaFara all but one cartridge was on e-prom. Several of the projects were from Milton-Bradley; some from Creative Software and some from Sega. One was from Activision. (source is Charles LaFara, in an August 1999 email to Cartridge Collector Bryan Roppolo. See August 1999 Timeline page for the full context of the email).
  • Dr. Guy Steffen-Romono files a 1 million dollar suit against the IUG (presumably over ownership of the software library distributed by the IUG).
  • IBM announces the PCjr on November 1st with a huge press conference held at its Gallery of Science & Art in midtown Manhattan. (Compute! Oct84, p.50)
  • House of Software PO Box 2797 Tri-Cities, WA 99302 releases Gamblers Helper. (Compute! Nov83, p.332)
  • General Systems Consulting 2312 Rolling Rock Dr. Conley, GA 30027 (404) 433-7143 announces Amortizations, Bar Charts, Annuity Evaluation, File Manager, Bank Statement Balancer, Depreciation, Home Budget, Home Inventory, Home Equity Evaluation, Real Estate Investing, Savings Investment Analysis, IRS 1040 Long Form, IRS 1040A Short Form & 1040EZ, Income Tax Projections, and IRA Analysis programs for the TI-99/4A in TI BASIC or Extended BASIC. (Compute! Nov83, p.330)
  • Don and Lucy Veith release the first issue of The National Ninety Niner newsletter from Bakersfield, CA.
  • Bill Cosby is dropped as the advertising personality for the TI-99/4A.
  • A photo and article on the Racal-Vadic modem appear in Compute! magazine. This is one of the early third-party, TI-99/4A compatible modems.
  • Excalibur Enterprises Box 4775 Riverside, CA 92514 (714) 359-8567, a previously unknown vendor in the TI-99 Community advertises themselves as a supplier of Texas Instruments hardware and software. (Compute! Nov83, p.333)
  • Control Data Corporation releases their PLATO Courseware titles for the TI-99/4A.
  • Compute! magazine reports that TI has signed agreements with Broderbund to produce Choplifter and David's Midnight Magic cartridges for the 99/4A. Similar agreements were also signed with Sega to produce Congo Bongo and Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom for the 99/4A, and Spinnaker, to produce Facemaker and Story Machine. (Compute! Nov83, p.314)
  • Compute! Books announces the early 1984 release of a book entitled "The Anything Machine: TI-99/4A". It never surfaces. (Compute! Nov83, p.48)
  • Compute! magazine publishes a newsbyte stating that Texas Instruments has changed its marketing strategy for TI-99/4A peripherals. Prices for peripherals and some software has been cut and TI has begun selling its disk storage peripherals as a package. The Disk Drive Memory System consisting of the Peripheral Expansion Box, Disk Drive Controller, a Disk Drive, and 32K Memory Expansion card now sells for $550. Under TI's previous pricing strategy the combination would have cost $1200. In other price cuts the p-Code Card went from $250 to $100. The RS-232 Card went from $175 to $100. The Telephone Coupler went from $200 to $100, and the TI Impact Printer went from $750 to $500. Lastly, TI also cut the price of TI LOGO II from $129.95 to $99.95. (Compute! Nov83, p.314)
  • Encore Video Software 354 Lancaster Ave #212 Haverford, PA 19041 advertises TI-99/4A software in Compute! magazine.(Compute! Nov83, p.332)
  • Aardvark Action Software releases Pyramid for the TI-99/4A. (Compute Nov83, p.91)
  • TANDY -- At the fall Comdex, Tandy Corporation announces the TRS-80 Model 2000, it's first IBM compatible PC, for a sugguested retail price of $2999 for the basic system. (Byte, Mar84, p.306 and p.360).

DEC 1983: TI layoffs continue. The real losers of TI’s decision to leave the home computer market may well be the employees in Lubbock and Abilene, Texas, who built the 99/4A. A week before Christmas some 500 workers were furloughed at the Abilene plant and another 100 were told they would be cut from the payroll at the Lubbock plant. Several hundred other employees involved in the production of the 99/4A in Lubbock were reassigned to other TI facilities in Texas, company officials report.(MICROpendium Feb84, p.23)

  • 99er Magazine fails to appear with the December issue, supposedly because of a problem with advertisers after the TI announcement of October 28th stating that TI-99/4A production would end.
  • Texas Instruments mails out a full color brochure to registered TI-99/4A owners announcing cartridge software price reductions and new cartridge titles for the home computer. A letter from Executive Vice-President Jerry R. Junkins printed in the brochure speaks about TI's decision to discontinue the Home Computer.
  • New cartridge titles released by Texas Instruments, post-bailout include:
    • PHM 3131 MOON MINE $29.95
    • PHM 3146 MUNCHMOBILE $29.95
    • PHM 3158 M*A*S*H $29.95
    • PHM 3168 TREASURE ISLAND $29.95
    • PHM 3177 FACEMAKER $29.95
    • PHM 3178 STORY MACHINE $29.95
    • PHM 3189 RETURN TO PIRATE'S ISLE $29.95
    • PHM 3194 JAWBREAKER II $29.95
    • PHM 3197 SLYMOIDS $29.95
    • PHM 3219 SUPER DEMON ATTACK $29.95
    • PHM 3220 MICROSURGEON $29.95
    • PHM 3225 STAR TREK STRATEGIC OPERATIONS SIMULATOR $29.95
    • PHM 3229 HOPPER $29.95
    • PHM 3233 BURGER TIME $29.95
  • ATMenterprises PO Box 1145 Millbrae, CA 94030 advertises five new Extended BASIC games for the TI-99/4A on cassette tape in the December 1983 issue of Compute! on page 197. :
    • Lunar * TICS ($19.95),
    • Jet * Chopper ($14.95),
    • $$ * Slots ($8.95),
    • Krazy * Keno ($8.95), and
    • Black * Jack ($14.95)
  • Aardvark Action Software releases Paranoids Anonymous. (Compute! Dec83, p.195)
  • A review of the game Millionaire for Apple, Atari and Commodore computers, written by 99er Magazine's own Gary M. Kaplan, appears in Compute! (Compute! Dec83, p.178)
  • Data West Sales 3916 Swallow Salt Lake City, UT 84107 (801) 261-4744 offers a floppy disk drive upgrade kit for the TI-99/4A for only $39.00, plus $9 extra to access a 3rd drive. The kit includes a new power supply cable, a DSK2 ribbon cable, easy instructions to install disk drives, and a template to show how to modify the Peripheral Expansion Box to accept the upgrades. (Compute! Dec83, p.391)
  • Emerald Valley Publishing announces an upcoming book, due out in January 1984, entitled THE BEST OF 99ER.
  • Pace Micro Software Centers 345 East Irving Park Rd Wood Dale, IL 60191 (312) 595-3860 advertises dust covers for the TI-99/4A in Compute! magazine. (Compute! Dec83, p.223)
  • Jim Robinson 1778 Hays Dr. Louisville, Colorado, attempts to unite 99/4A users into an International 99/4A Users Group similar to the original IUG in Bethany, Oklahoma.
  • InfoWorld reports that CorComp of Laguna Hills, CA is planning to produce a TI-99/4A compatible computer.
  • Olympic Sales 216 S. Oxford Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90004 (213-739-1130) runs an ad in the December 1983 issue of Family Computing on page 153 that still offers the TI-99/4A for $99.99.
  • Sakata U.S.A. releases the SC-100 13-inch color monitor that is compatible with the Apple ][ line , Atari 8-bit computers, the Commodore 64 and VIC-20, IBM PC, Osbore and TI-99/4A computers. MSRP for the monitor is $329.00. (Family Computing Dec83, p.158)
  • Penguin Products PO Box 7008 Roseville, MI 48305 (800) 732-0614 advertises the Kcover keyboard cover for $9.95 for the TI-99/4A, Apple, Atari, Commodore and TRS-80 computers. (Compute! Dec83, p.387)
  • APPLE -- On December 27th industry reporters are treated to a preview (after signing a non-disclosure agreement with Apple) of the MacIntosh computer, to be released Jan. 24, 1984.
  • ATARI -- The Atari 1400XL is announced as being available "sometime this winter". The new computer features a built-in voice synthesizer, a direct-connect modem, 64K RAM (unexpandable), 66-keys on a full-stroke keyboard and built-in BASIC programming language. (Family Computing Dec83, p.158)
  • ATARI -- On Dec 20th, Atari and Activision announce a plan to broadcast software to home receivers. Customers must have special receivers that plug into Atari video game consoles to receive the software.
  • COLECO -- Atari and Coleco raise the prices of their computers following the introduction of the PCjr. Coleco, also appraently unnerved by all the negative publicity about the numbers of Adams shipped this year, has threatened ESPN's "Business Times", claiming the magazine misprepresented its production rates. The publication printed a retraction of the production estimates.
  • MISC -- Nolan Bushnell, founder of Sente Technologies (a division of Pizza Time Theater) has announced his new video arcade computer game machine is a smash hit. Pizza Time expects to sell 24,000 Sente arcade machines in 1984.
  • SINCLAIR -- Timex Computer announces the Timex Sinclair 2000. It is said to support 8-color high-resolution graphics, programmable sound, a 32 x 24 character screen display, mini-cartridges and cassette tape storage and one-touch keyword commands. MSRP for the 24K unit is $149.00, while the 48K unit will sell for $199.99 (Family Computing Dec83, p.158)

Copyright 2001 by HCE Timeline and William Gaskill – All rights reserved. -- 02/23/01