The TI-99/4A was a home computer introduced by Texas Instruments in 1979. The computer itself has a standard QWERTY keyboard, cartridge port, joystick plug, expansion port, and various other I/O stuff, all housed within a single black and metallic gray (or beige) console. As far as software, the '99 comes equipped with a BASIC interpreter (NOT TI's TI BASIC for calculators!) and not much else.
Visual output for the '99 is generally through a normal television to which the TI has been plugged, or to a monitor specially made for the system. Data input (and output) can come from any standard cassette player with stereo outputs. A floppy drive, Speech Synthesizer, Peripheral Expansion Box, modem, and many other add-ons can be attached through the expansion port.
Due to oversights in design, '99's generally become very warm after a few hours of usage, although not to the point of overheating. Because of this quirk, and a convenient empty space on the top of the computer above the processor, 99's are often affectionately referred to as coffee warmers. They are very durable, and most '99's that are still around today will work perfectly, some 20 years after initial production.
The '99 was marketed for Texas Instruments by comedian Bill Cosby. Because of the impending Video Game Crash, however, sales were low, so TI changed its marketing strategy: they sold the system for less than its production costs, hoping to recoup the losses in sales of cartridges, peripherals, and third party licensing deals. Unfortunately, this strategy failed, and TI orphaned the 99/4A in 1983. (thanks go to kamamer for explanation of the TI 99 loss leader strategy)
'99 users, however, did not give up on the computer. In the late 1980's, Myarc (a third party developer for the '99) introduced the Geneve 9640, a significant upgrade to the '99. This extended the market life of the system's software and peripherals for years. Even now, there are very active User Groups dedicated to the '99 - check out <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ti99-4a/> for the '99 online community's main mailing list. Many emulators also exist, and AFAIK are perfectly legal in this instance as a result of the aforementioned orphaning.
Short Cartridge List:
Other '99 Nodes:
Please /msg me with additions/error-fixes (thanx to Saige
for doing so)!