Texas Instruments Inc. (Austin, Tex.)

Before releasing the TI/994 and TI/994A in 1979, TI was best known as a manufacturer of semiconductors and small engineering/industrial systems. In fact, these early home computers used a TI-made CPU, the TMS 9900.

TI improved on the TI-99/4 design shortly after its introduction by adding a full-travel keyboard and slightly more memory capacity with the TI-99/4A. More important, the company expanded its software catalog for the system. The TI-99/4A came in either a silver or a less common cream color. The Peripheral Expansion System is an important option that allows the addition of disk drives, an RS-232 interface, and additional memory. It can double the value of a TI 99/4A system or more.

In 1983, TI developed a lower-cost version of the TI-99/4A, the TI-99/2. Like the Timex Sinclair 1000, the TI-99/2 was a bare-bones system designed as an inexpensive introduction to computing. It was loosely based on the TI-99/4A design and could use the same peripherals. However, it required its own cartridges. The TI-99/2 apparently was produced but never officially sold by TI. Examples are rare, which is why their value is so much higher than the TI-99/4 or TI-99/4A.

TI boasted that its Professional Computer had better graphics than the IBM PC. The company also used its experience to develop a speech synthesis/recognition card for the system. The Business Pro used a tower enclosure and offered performance far superior to the IBM PC AT.

One interesting feature of the Pro-Lite was that its keyboard pops up at a better typing angle when you flip up the LCD. TI promised that the CC-40 would run 200 hours on four AA alkaline batteries. The CC-40 is small enough that some might consider it a handheld computer.

Texas Instruments TI-99/4 (June 1979, home computer)
Base Configuration: TMS 9900 CPU, ROM cartridge slot, 16K RAM (48K max), 26K ROM, integral Chiclet-style keyboard, cassette port, TI BASIC, three-voice sound, AC adapter
Video: 24-line x 32-column text, 256 x 192 graphics, 16 colors
Size/Weight: 10/2 x 15 x 2.5, 5 lbs.
Important Options: external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 13-inch color monitor, RF modulator, RS-232 interface, joysticks, Speech Synthesizer, thermal printer

Texas Instruments TI-99/4A (1979, home computer)
Original Retail Price: $525 Base Configuration: TMS 9900 CPU, ROM cartridge slot, 16K RAM (52K max), 26K ROM, integral keyboard, cassette port, TI BASIC, three-voice sound, AC adapter
Video: 24-line x 32-column text, 256 x 192 graphics, 16 colors
Important Options: Peripheral Expansion System, external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 10-inch color monitor, RF modulator, 80-column card, Speech Synthesizer, acoustic coupler, joysticks, thermal printer

Texas Instruments TI-99/2 (1983, home computer)
Original Retail Price: $99
Base Configuration: TMS-9995 CPU, external TI Hex-Bus expansion port, ROM cartridge slot, 4.2K RAM (36.2K max), 24K ROM, TV video ports, integral keyboard, TI BASIC
Video: 24-line x 28-column text
Important Options: Program Recorder cassette drive, HX-2000 Wafertape drive, RS-232C interface, HX-1000 printer/plotter

Texas Instrument Professional Computer (1983, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $2,595
Base Configuration: 8088 CPU; MS-DOS 1.25, CP/M-86, Concurrent CP/M-86, or UCSD p-System; five slots; 64K RAM (256K max), 8K ROM (16K max); two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives; 12-inch monochrome monitor; keyboard/keypad; parallel port
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 720 x 300 graphics
Important Options: Z80 coprocessor, 5- or 10MB hard disk drive,13-inch color monitor, graphics upgrade, RS-232C interface, Omni 800 Model 850 or 855 printer, internal modem, speech synthesizer

Texas Instruments Business Pro (1985, desktop PC)
Base Configuration: 80286 CPU, MS-DOS 3.1, 14 ISA slots, 512K RAM (640K max), 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, keyboard/keypad, serial and parallel ports
Video: 720 x 300 graphics, eight colors
Important Options: Microsoft Xenix System V, 21MB hard disk drive, monochrome or color monitor, CGA or hi-res monochrome graphics card, mouse

Texas Instruments Portable Professional Computer (1984, transportable PC)
Original Retail Price: $2,395
Base Configuration: NEC 8088 CPU, MS-DOS, five ISA slots, 64K RAM (768K max), 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, integral 9-inch monochrome monitor, keyboard/keypad
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 720 x 300 graphics
Size/Weight: 34 lbs. Important Options: second 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 10MB hard disk drive, integral 9-inch color CRT

Texas Instruments Pro-Lite (Jan. 1985, laptop PC)
Original Retail Price: $2,995
Base Configuration: 5MHz 80C88 CPU, MS-DOS 2.13, two expansion slots, 256K RAM (768K max), 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, 12-inch monochrome LCD, RGB and composite video ports, integral keyboard, RS-232C and parallel ports, battery pack, AC adapter
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics
Size/Weight: 2.75 x 11.5 x 13 inches, 10.5 lbs.
Important Options: expansion box, external floppy disk drive, internal modem, thermal printer, carrying case

Texas Instruments Compact Computer 40 (CC-40) (1983, notebook)
Base Configuration: ROM cartridge port, 6K RAM (22K max), 34K ROM, monochrome LCD, integral keyboard/keypad, TI Enhanced BASIC, AC adapter
Video: 31-column text
Size/Weight: 9.25 x 5.75 x 1 inches, 1.4 lbs.
Important Options: Wafertape drive, RS-232C interface, printer/plotter

3 comments

  1. If someone owns the Texas Instruments pro-lite laptop let me know. Laptop needed for the museum of computer technology. I want to buy. leskovezATmail.ru

  2. Ben Carlson · · Reply

    The ECE department at the University of Oklahoma has a Pro-Lite. However, we want to keep it for the students, and we need a bootable floppy disk. I have 720K 3.5 inch disks but can only put MS-DOS 6.22 on them and the Pro-Lite does not seem to like it! Any help getting this system to boot would be appreciated!

    1. You don’t see many 30-year-old laptops in use these days. I suspect you need an earlier version of MS-DOS. The Pro-Lite originally shipped with version 2.13. Should be able to read 720K floppies.

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