Monday, January 30, 2006

Texas Instruments TI-99/4A computer

A coworker sent this to me, which brought back all kinds of great memories. We had one of these when I was a kid, and got a lot of use out of it. We had a bunch of video games for it, like Parsec, Munchman(PACMAN rip off), and some really bad football game. We also had the speech synthesiser which was very cool and futuristic. And we played text adventures with it, but since there was no disk drive on ours anyway), they were stored on cassette tape. Give it seeming eternity to load (modem-like sounds emitting from it the whole time), and you were whisked to some great adventure with no graphics whatsoever. All my friends had atari 2600's, and I always felt like we had the knock-off version, but looking back, the TI games were a lot better than that Atari 2600 crap. Actually, those were some pretty great games, considering the limited resources available. Hell, even with the limits, they were better than a lot of crap that you see today. Great graphics certainly doesn't equal great games.

Speaking of old games, I went to visit my parents this weekend, and my Dad had hooked up our old Atari 5200. The buttons on that thing really sucked ass, so we could only play the games that would work with the trackball, or Space Dungeon, which used two joysticks and no buttons (and we had to use a paperclip to short out the start button to start it). I quickly got re-addicted to Space Dungeon, which is a great game. My brother and I used to play it for hours.

Anyone else have a TI-99/4A, or Atari 5200? If not, what video game system/PC was the first one you remember using? And if you say Nintendo, Sega or Playstation, you're too young to participate in this discussion, so go to your room, because I don't want people making me feel old, damnit.

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8 comments:

Rob the Dirty Liberal said...

We had an Atari, though I can't remember the exact model. I remember playing a game where you are a chicken trying to cross the road (a variation on Frogger) and some game where you are trying to flying a rocket from ground into outer space. Those were good times.

manxome said...

All I know is that ours was yellow, only played Pong, and my brother and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Chris Howard said...

I have a ti-99 and an Atari 5200 in my office. I haven't hooked them up yet. We got this really cool video cable for the TI to connect it to the tv. A guy made it out of an original, but he had it wired up to plug into regular RCA jacks. It was only $12 on Ebay. So now we have a crystal-clear picture, but we need new TI joysticks.

John Howard said...

Good luck finding the joysticks, those things were not very well made. I remember we went through quite a few of them. But whichever ones we had are probably still in a box at our parents house. He never seems to throw stuff like that away.

Toast said...

My first game system was a Pong console (1977) (no idea what the brand was, or even if there was more than one brand). My first computer was, in fact, a TI-99/4A (1983?). I even wrote a passable video game program for it. From there I graduated to a Commodore 64 (1985), then a Commodore 128 (1986), which took me through my senior year in High School. Didn't own a computer as an undergrad at RPI -- just used the campus ones -- but I did have to get a Nintendo game console (1988) because getting baked at the frat and playing Super Mario Bros was just too much fun to resist. After graduating I got a Macintosh SE/30 (1991). Four years after that (1995) I got a Mac Performa 635. Around then I also bought my first Palm Pilot. About two years after that (1997) I finally caved and got a 386, since I used Windows 3.1 at work. Then it was a 486 DX after that (1998). Upgraded the Palm to a IIIe too. Finally, about five years ago (2001), I bought an AMD Athalon 750 rig at a show that I use as my home PC to this day. Since then I've had a Palm m505, and now a Palm Zire 71. Oh, and last year, Mrs. Toast bought me an X-Box. And that, Mr. Howard, is all there is to tell about my tech history. Bet you're glad to know it, too.

John Howard said...

Interesting, Toast. Is it just my memory, or are you running considerably behind on your OS's and processor speeds? I'm pretty sure I had a 486 in 1993, and I know I was off Windows 3.1 by 1994.

Anyway, I forgot to mention that we also had a pong system before the TI. It was called a Telestar Ranger. It played all your basic pong games, including one with a gun.

Toast said...

When it comes to technology, I'm neither an early adopter nor a late adopter, I'm a practical adopter. Take my current PC: Sure, I'm about two processor generations behind, but I don't do a lot of multimedia or a lot of games (got the X-Box for that). For what I do at home -- web surfing, blogging, Quicken, Excel, etc. -- a 750 MHz Athalon is more than adequate. (Now, that said, if I get a big enough bonus this year I'm probably going to upgrade just because I'm worried this thing might crap out from age pretty soon.) On the other hand, I was one of the first people to run out and buy a Palm Pilot because it was a brand new device that did all kinds of stuff my old-school organizers couldn't do. But once I had one, I didn't feel compelled to get the next gen one the second it came out. Hell, I'd still have my m505 if I hadn't left it on a plane by accident...

John Howard said...

I'd be an early adopter if I ever had any money.