Monday, May 26, 2014

Texas Instruments TI99/4 Vintage Computer new never out of the box

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The Texas Instruments TI 99/4A is a common computer with 2.8 million units sold from 1979 until discontinued in 1984.  TI really did not do well with this computer - for a company that was one of the pioneers in the semiconductor and microprocessor field it missed the market on this product. In just the 3rd quarter of 1983 the company lost $330 million.

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Texas Instruments TI 99/4A computer 
The TI 99/4A introduced in 1981 at $525 it lost ground to mostly the Commodore computer and a price war lowered the final price to $100 - far below what it cost to manufacture the computer.

This computer is interesting to me because I purchased it new November 18,1983 for $54.95 + $2.20 tax and no shipping charges. I put the computer into my collection and never opened the box until today 31 years later. See the invoice below.
I see unused ones like mine on ebay for $25 or so - not rare but interesting to have in collection. 

I am still leaving the computer in the original wrapping and placing it on display in our 'Bugbook Computer Museum' in Floyd , Virginia.

Texas Instruments TI 99/4A computer 
This  was a plug and play computer ready to go out of the box. It was indeed a rather complete computer with many options available and could have had a much better market share if TI had be open with the design and software. They were not and as a result users - hobbyist and hackers did not provide any second sourcing of products or software. This is the same mistake a number of early manufactures made - IBM did go the route of an open computer architecture with their IBM PC in 1981 and IBM quickly had the major market share.

TI 99/4A computer manuals
I am leaving the manuals and operating information sealed in the original containers.

Options available included - RS 232, 5 1/4 inch Floppy Drives, cassette tape drives, speech synthesis, extended basic, ROM cartridge or 'solid state software' and a lot more.

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Invoice for $54.95 cost of new TI 99/4A

I was fortunate to keep the invoice with the computer and it show the date and purchase price of $54.95.  Really cheap.

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A beautiful color brochure advertising the newsletter "99er Home Computer Magazine included in the box - click on the photo and take a look - lots of information.

WOW the cost was $25 for one year - that was a big price in 1983 - I don't think their were many subscriptions at that price.

Texas Instruments TI 99/4A computer 

If you expand this photo of bottom of box you can see many of the options available.

More information Wikipedia "CLICK"

David G Larsen
David G Larsen
This not a rare computer but nice to have one in never opened condition. It is a good lesson on how difficult it can be to have a successful product -- even for well established companies like "Texas Intruments".

"by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   
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