The Texas TI-99/4A was launched in 1981 in the American markets, following shortly after worldwide, and was the successor to the TI-99/4. It boasted a new, more functional keyboard over it’s predecessor and a new lower case mode, with the previous offering only capable of upper case characters.
The system itself employs a rather strange method of requiring a “solid state” cartridge to form extended memory for a particular game or program, with additional data loaded by either disk or cassette. It comes with TI BASIC built in, and provides a joystick port, and expansion slot where you could daisy chain various peripherals onto the side. One of these additions was the Speech synthesis module, which Texas was touting as it’s leading technology, having created it’s line of speech synthesis toys throughout the decade. It’s actually the first home computer to utilise a 16 bit processor, although it’s rather strange use of memory, limits it’s effective speed as the cartridge memory requires 4 clock cycles to operate, effectively slowing the whole architecture down 4 fold, and rendering it somewhat behind the curve in terms of technical stakes rather than being in front of it, as you’d expect. Join me as I take an inspection of my Texas TI-99/4A and flick through the various leaflets and documentation which come with it.