The TI-99/4A Home Computer

Saturday, April 15, 2006
By: Matthew Doucette

This page is a slight dedication to the TI-99/4A Home Computer, my first computer. (The Tandy 1000 SX was my second computer.)

(original image from "Ma collection d'ordinateurs anciens".)


(Our) TI-99/4A History:

The Texas Instruments "TI-99/4A Home Computer" was my first computer -- and Jason's first computer, too. We likely got it for Christmas in 1982 (grade 2), and potentially Christmas 1983 (grade 3), and certainly by Christmas 1984 (grade 4). Jason believes that we got the computer for Christmas 1982 and TI Extended BASIC for Christmas 1983. I do recall getting TI Extended BASIC for Christmas after we already owned the TI-99/4A.

It was on this computer that I learned how to program, optimize code, and how computer graphics worked. I designed and programmed lots of incomplete games on it as a child. I still remember when I figured out GCHAR meant "get character", which meant I could read the screen, which meant I could (all-of-a-sudden) make game characters interact with objects and levels on the screen. At the time, it was a big deal. It was an unbelievable discovery. I think I was in grade 3 at the time, trying to learn TI-BASIC from a reference manual. Non-programmers may not understand, but the ability to make your game characters interact with your environment was an awesome concept to implement when you first realize how it is done. I fully completed my first game when I was in grade 4, called, "Treasure Hunt". It was a simple maze game. Some of the code still exists somewhere on a cassette tape.

2013-DEC-08 EDIT: I just found the tape:

Treasure Hunt, my first complete video game ever, on the TI-99/4A.
(I am not sure what "Threaded Blanket" is.)

2021-MAR-20 UPDATE: I believe I recalled what "Threaded Blanket" is! I believe it is related to the "10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10" (written in Commodor 64 BASIC and also called "DataGlyphs") maze generation algorithm that uses only / and \ characters. If you change those characters to be threads of strings going on top and under each other, then it creates a "threaded blanket."

2020-DEC-26 UPDATE: Our cousins found a photo of them playing our "new gaming system", in the kitchen of our old house in Arcadia, Nova Scotia:

Kristin Grad playing our new TI-99/4A.
(We believe this to be Christmas 1982. The cartridge was verified to be Parsec from other photos.)


TI-99/4A Games:

A few of my favorite Cartridge games on the TI-99/4A were Parsec (especially with the speech synthesizer), TI Invaders, Munchman (not Munch-Man), and Car Wars. Here's a few we have articles on:


TI-99/4A Emulators:

Classic99 (previously known as Ami99) is the TI-99/4A emulator of choice. It includes system ROMs and cartridges under license from Texas Instruments. This is a big deal. Normally, emulators are only that, emulators, without cartridge/games ROMs and also without the system ROMs (the preset memory that comes inside the system itself.) Classic99 solves all of this. Just download it, and run it. Also, it is open source and 100% free. Simply amazing work.

TI-99/4A YouTube playlist -- videos from Xona Games' authors.


Fan Mail

I love sharing the fan mail I receive. (I always ask before posting, so have no fear of contacting us, too!)

Hi Matthew & Jason,

I just wanted to say I enjoyed your facts about TI99A computer, this was also my first computer.
I worked at Texas Instruments in UK at the time & we were able to buy warranty returns and discounted products from the Staff Shop, so lucky me. I had Parsec, Alpiner, Hunt the Wumpus, Invaders, Munch Man, Tombstone city cartridges and learned TI Basic. I wrote a 3 wheel one armed bandit type game & spent hours with that 64KB ram.

Thanks for the Memories

Graham Lloyd

Another one from Stan, links (other than his YouTube footage) added by us. I believe Stan to be the youngest TI-99/4A fan I have met so far:

Hello Matthew,

I came across your PARSEC page a few weeks ago after downloading the Classic99 emulator. Since then I've not been able to stop playing!

Thank you for the hint to hold both fire keys down, I wasn't able to ever get past level 3 in all my years of playing (our original TI99 system died when I was 12; I'm 38 now); but after discovering that little glitch, I was able to effectively beat the game!

After that I tried my hand at Car Wars. Had never gotten past level 4 in that game but now I have beaten it too. Here's a link to the youtube video of level 6 repeating:

Keep up the good work!!

- Stan


TI-99/4A Resources:


More Tech History Articles:

2019/Jan/14 How I Record Retro Gameplay on PC
2019/Jan/13 Mode 13h Demo Effects (1997)
2019/Jan/13 3Dfx Demo Effects (1998-1999)
2015/Nov/30 Tandy 1000 SX
2015/Sep/10 How I Record My Console Gameplay
2013/Sep/17 Running CityDesk on Windows Vista/7/8/10/11
2013/Sep/09 Our Own NES Game Genie Codes
2013/Jun/03 Munch Man (TI-99/4A)
2013/Jun/03 TI Invaders (TI-99/4A)
2012/Nov/21 Nintendo Love
2012/Oct/28 To Be Continued... 3Dfx Graphics Demo (1999)
2006/Jul/29 Turbo Pascal's 64-bit comp Type
2006/Apr/15 The TI-99/4A Home Computer
2006/Apr/15 Rare Parsec Facts (TI-99/4A)


About the Author: I am Matthew Doucette of Xona Games, an award-winning indie game studio that I founded with my twin brother. We make intensified arcade-style retro games. Our business, our games, our technology, and we as competitive gamers have won prestigious awards and received worldwide press. Our business has won $190,000 in contests. Our games have ranked from #1 in Canada to #1 in Japan, have become #1 best sellers in multiple countries, have won game contests, and have held 3 of the top 5 rated spots in Japan of all Xbox LIVE indie games. Our game engines have been awarded for technical excellence. And we, the developers, have placed #1 in competitive gaming competitions -- relating to the games we make. Read about our story, our awards, our games, and view our blog.