Frequently Asked Questions

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This FAQ page is currently being reorganized after moving from another web site into ninerpedia. Most parts are not properly formatted, duplicated, or need to be put together.

Getting started

How can I expand my TI-99/4a?

The simplest of expansions included joysticks, the speech synthesiser and the cassette recorder.

The speech synthesiser, when used with programs that take advantage of it, is used to create/simulate human speech. Parsec is a very famous program for utilizing the speech synthesiser. The cassette recorder allows you to store and retrieve data from standard audio cassettes. The next major upgrade for the TI-99/4a is the addition of the Peripheral Expansion Box, or PEB for short. This is a large rectangular box that has 8 slots for plug in cards as well as one 5.25" full height drive bay. A standard/stock PEB would have flex-cable to connect to the TI, a 32k memory card for larger programs, a RS232 card for communications, a Disk Controller (DSSD) to access drives and a standard 5.25 SSDD floppy drive (a 180K-drive with a maximum usage of 90K with this controller). There are lots of other additions for the PEB. The following is a run down of the most famous upgrades:

  • DSDD Disk Controller - to support DSDD 3.5" or 5.25" drives.
  • DSDD Drives - for the DSDD controllers
  • Corcomp Triple Tech - a clock, printer buffer and speech synthesiser (all in one)
  • Myarc HFDC - support for an MFM hard drive
  • SNUG SCSI - support for a SCSI drive
  • Expanded Memory - cards with more than 32K of memory
  • P-Code - support for USCD Pascal
  • Rave99 Speech - allows you to plug in your Speech Synthesiser in the PEB
  • Myarc Geneve - essentially a replacement system

How do I run programs from a diskette or cassette?

Programs will be either TI BASIC, Extended BASIC (XB) or Assembly programs. I will talk about Basic/XB programs first.

Whether they are coming off a disk or cassette you are going to have to load them first and then run them. If you are not sure whether or not it is a Basic or XB program, give it a try in Basic first and if that fails switch to XB.

To load a program from a cassette do the following:

  • Rewind/Fast Forward the cassette to the start of the progam.
  • Make sure the cassette player is attached properly to the TI.
  • In TI BASIC, type:
  • If you are controlling your tape manually then hit play.
  • Once it is loaded stop the cassette player.
  • Type
  • If it doesn't run then repeat these steps with XB instead.

To load a program from a diskette do the following:

  • Start up the TI into Basic with the PEB on.
  • Insert the diskette into a drive (dsk1).
  • In TI BASIC, type:
OLD DKS1.filename 
  • Type
  • If it doesn't run then repeat these steps with XB instead.

Now on to Assembler programs. Since a pre-requisite for E/A on the TI is a disk drive and 32k memory I'm going to assume you have a PEB and this is coming off a diskette.

To run and Assembler program from diskette do the following:

  • Start up the TI with PEB and the E/A cartridge.
  • Insert the diskette into the drive (dsk1).
  • Go into the E/A Module (#2)
  • Choose "Run Program File" (#5) from the menu.
  • Type in the filename:

Of course there are other ways to get things launched but this covers the basic methods you will need to know.

I want more than the minimum TI, what would a more complete system consist of?

Here is what I would view as a more functional system. The key part of this system is its ability to connect to a PC so you can transfer files from the Internet, to the PC and then to the TI.

  • TI-99/4a console with power supply
  • TV and RF Modulator or a Composite Monitor and cable
  • PEB with 5.25" floppy, 32K RAM, Disk Controller, Flex Cable
  • Speech Synthesiser
  • Parallel Printer and PIO cable
  • Extended Basic, Editor/Assembler and TI-Writer cartridges
  • Barry Boone's Archiver program
  • MagicFM transfer program
  • PC with WinTerm and a straight thru serial cable

What are the minimum components I need to play around with the TI-994a?

Luckily enough it has gotten to the point where you do not need any original TI equipment to play around and even develop on the TI-99/4a. You can use emulation software like PC99 or MESS.

Assuming you cannnot or don't want to use emulation software, you will need the following:

  1. TI-99/4a console with power supply.
  2. A composite video monitor and cable for the TI or the RF Modulator and a TV.
  3. TI Cassette recorder and cable - to save and load programs.
  4. Some TI cartridges (games, programs and such)

Why would I even want to use a TI?

Most people that are still using TIs are folks that have owned one all along or are coming back to it from days long past. But what about people who never used it before? Is there any value in using it?

Here are some reasons I could imagine the TI being useful:

  1. Kids and education titles. There are great number of educational cartridges available for the TI that would be great for younger kids.
  2. Hardware and low-level programming. If you want to learn about working with hardware or programming at low-levels the TI is a good stepping stone. While not a simple machine it is not too complex when trying to start out learning.
  3. Electronics and project work. You can use the TI to teach yourself the fundamentals of electronics includng circuit board design.

While I can't imagine too many people trying and picking up the TI if they never owned one, it's still nice to know that there are useful tasks for the TI.

Can I modify the TI Disk Controller to support 80 tracks?

Yes. There are two great sources of information to perform this modification and both are on You can find information on the actual upgrade, including photos and diagrams at the following link: If you would like to perform the upgrade and want to purchase the EPROMS, you can get those from Bob Carmany. For more information please visit the following link:

Can I use a Combo 5.25 and 3.5 drive with my TI system?

The short answer to this question is no. The longer answer is along the lines that these are both HD drives which are compatible. The drives operate at 360rpm and the TI needs 300rpm. The line that manages the speed is twisted between the drives and this causes complications. Don't try it, it's not worth it.

How do I get a floppy drive for my TI system?

The easiest and most common method is to purchase a Peripheral Expansion Box (PEB). The stock PEB comes with a single 5.25" full height drive that holds 90K per diskette (Single Sided). Inside the stock PEB is also a TI Disk Controller card, it supports up to three drives.

If you don't want a PEB then you could try and find a Disk Controller that came in other side-car formats. TI made an external disk controller that is the roughly the size of the cassette player and plugged into the side port of the TI. Then you would get an external floppy drive to use with it.

How do I connect a 3.5 drive to my TI?

  • Drive Number

Modern 3.5 drives do not have a jumper to set the drive number. By default these drives are coded to be B: on PCs which equates to DSK2 on the TI. You can modify a Floppy cable to hardwire and override the drive number.

To make the drive DSK1 you would cross the #10 and #12 wires. To make the drive DSK3 you would route the #14 wire to the #12 pin and drop the original #12 wire.

A picture of this can be found on Ron's Mainbyte site at:

  • Drive Connector

The TI disk cables have a card edge connector while 3.5 drives have pin connectors. Purchase a 3.5 to 5.25 adapter kit for cheap off of eBay and make sure it has a card-edge connector. These kits should be less than 5.00.

What are my options for upgrading the disk drive in my PEB?

The standard PEB comes with a full height, 180K 5.25" floppy drive. This is a Single Sided, Double Density (SSDD) drive. But please be aware: As the original TI disk controller comes with the capability of Double Sided Single Density (DSSD), the maximum capacity for this drive here in this combination is 90K (SSSD).

The typical questions are either "can I fit two drives in the system" or "can I use a drive with more capacity".

There are three major constraints you have to work with when answer these questions; power, controller, compatibility. Power is important due to what the standard PEB power supply can provide. The controller is important because it has to support large capacity drives. Finally there is compatibility that certain drives have to operate at certain speeds.

On there is an upgrade project where you can upgrade the power supply from 12V 1A to 12V - 2A. If you are running into power problems then this is your answer. The upgrades can be found at:

To use the higher capacity drives you will need a disk controller that can support it. If you have a Myarc or Corcomp disk controller then you are set. If you have a TI controller then you will either need to replace it or upgrade it. Once again, the upgrade page at has information about performing the 80 track upgrade for the TI controller. Also, there is an entry in this FAQ for it as well.

I also started to find drives in older computers systems that had internal floppy drives. For example, I found an old Kaypro 2X which has (2) half-height drives that are 360 or DSDD for about $15.00. It had a broken screen so I gutted it for the drives.

No matter what you choose you will only be able to use either SSDD (180k) or DSDD (360k) drives. Do not even try using a 1.2mb drive, it will not work. Also, you can skip the idea of using a Combo drive that has both a 3.5" and 5.25" drive in it. Combo drives are all 1.2mb and they don't work with the TI.


Are there any publications for the TI available?

I'm not aware of any publication that is available for the TI. Your best source of information will be found on the Internet, user groups and faires.

I need detailed information regarding the inner-workings of the TI-99/4a for development, where should I go?

I will warn that this information source is not meant to teach, it's meant to present technical facts. If the sight of HEX, pin-outs, memory-address, assembler and other mathematical/technical items is scary then don't go here! :)

Seriously, Theirry Nouspikel has a great website that details out the inner-inner workings of the TI system and peripherals. If you are thinking of creating devices, coding DSRs and other low-level stuff then this is the place for you.

You can visit the site at:

If you want a copy of the entire site you can download the following components that make up the site:

1) Webpages:

2) Software:

3) Pictures:

If you ever receive a 404 on the above URLs, the website has been archived and can be recovered from using the site url - (for technical reasons, NOT

Is Micropendium still around for the TI?

Unfortunately Micropendium, the last printed publication, is no longer being produced. It was produced for 16 years and played a major part in the continued success for the TI-99/4a computer. If you are lucky enough you have some of the issues in your collection to use.

If you don't then don't worry, all of the issues have been scanned in and are available online at WHTECH. Of course search for a particular kind of article is hard to do and has taken care of that too!

On Mainbyte you can access a searchable database that will return you what issues and articles matched your search criteria. Once you know that then you can go to WHTECH and get the issue and even print it out. To access it just go to the following location:

What and when is the Chicago TI Faire?

The Chicago TI Faire is held annually and is usually on or around the first Saturday in November. The faire is held in Evanston, IL and the Evanston public library and is free of charge.

Beyond meeting some the folks in the TI community it is a great chance to see some demonstrations on current TI topics. In addition to this there are vendors present selling a variety of TI hardware/software that ranges from common cartridges, full systems and such all the way up to rarer items like Geneve cards or SCSI cards.

There is typically a get together dinner the Friday before the faire as well as one after. Evanston is just north of Chicago and it makes for a great trip for the family if they want to see downtown Chicago while you are at the faire.

What are my best sources for information regarding the TI?

Today the Internet is the principal source, it has stored on it many books, articles, magazines, and programs for and about the TI99/4a.

You can find publications, pictures, manuals and software for the TI at

Ron Reuter's

Thierry Nouspikel's

Stephen Shaw has put his book and a lot of TI articles on the web at

Lots of books to download from

What awards are given out in the TI community?

There are several awards in the TI community and each one addresses specific contributions. The awards are as follows:

Birdwell Award - a yearly community service award where the plaque is funded by fairware funds from the Birdwell DSKU proceeds.

Jim Peterson Award - covers (4) categories of contribution to the TI community: Community Service, Hardware, Software, Myarc 9640 Geneve.

TI99ers Hall of Fame ( - recognizes those who have contributed to the success of the TI. Active since 2004.

Rob Tempelmans Plat Award - yearly award to honor those with the best website for the TI.

Edgar Mauk Awards - awarded annually since 2000 by European TI groups at an annual meeting held in a different country each year for services to European TI 99ers.

What is the best way to store diskette based software for safe keeping and preservation?

I treat my diskette and cassette software collection like I would comic books. I store them in acid-free zip-lock baggies. Another step that I take is to put a silica-gel packet in each baggie to absorb moisture.

Everytime I purchase something and it has a silica-gel packet, I save it in seal-tight container. If you need a lot then head on over to eBay. I purchased a bag of 200 for a couple of dollars.

Beyond this, I can't think of much more you can do besides keeping the stuff in a climate controlled area but that's a bit overboard for most folks.


Is there any software that can help someone learn Morse Code?

There is an XB listing of a morse code trainer in Micropendium; April 1990 - Vol 7, Number 3 - Page 14.

The book "Programs for the TI Home Computer" by Steve Davis has a programmed listed on page 72.

The book "Learning TI/994A Home Computer Assembler Language Programming" by Ira McComic has a source listing of a program on page 203.

Answers were pulled from Yahoo List (R.Reuter, J.Groslouis)

Can I use the Course Designer Authoring System without a Video Controller peripheral?

Yes. You can actually play around with the software except for funtions that required communication to the Video Controller.

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Ben Yates, Bill Gaskill)

What are ARK files?

ARK files are compressed archive files that are like today's modern ZIP files. They were created by Barry Boone's ARCHIVER program. You will need this program to create and extract these files.

What is a DF80 file?

DF80 is a Display, Fixed length, 80 character file. Display means the characters can be displayed, but does not mean the data is in human readable format. Fixed length means that every line of the file has a set length. 80 means that the set length of every line is 80 characters. Data that does not go up to 80 characters gets padded with blanks or zeros. Random access is faster when working with DF80 files.

What is a DV80 file?

DV80 is a Display, Variable length, 80 characater file. Display means the characters can be displayed, but does not mean the data is in human readable format. Variable length means that each line of the file can varying lengths (like a paragraph). 80 means that the maximum size of any line is 80 characters.

What was the last version of TI-Base?

As shown in Micropendium, the last version was 3.0. Version 3.02 is available at whtech's website.

PC Communication

What is the "PC Communication" category for?

This category was added to document questions and answer on how to have your TI computer talk/communicate/transfer information to and from a modern computer. Most of the discussion will revolve around an IBM compatible but references for either Linux or Mac based machines will pointed when applicable. I should point out that this category does not cover Emulators to the PC, only the real TI computer.? Emulators are already running and communicating with your PC.? If there are specific features, like printing to printer and such, they will be describe in the Emulation section.

Can you connect to the internet with the TI99/4A?

Yes - but text only. Lantronix makes a product called the UDS-10 which is a serial to ethernet converter. In short, it allows you to communicate via your RS232 card to your network and out on to the internet.

You can access text only versions of websites or telnet into Internet based BBS that have an open telnet port. A couple of guys on the TI Yahoo mailing list are doing this and can probably help you out.

The interesting question though is why you would want to do this?

How can I tell if a file on my PC is a TIFILES?

Open the file in TextPad, NotePad or some other text utility. It will come up with garbabe but in the the very front of the document you will either see or not see the actual word "TIFILES". If it is there then it is a TIFILES. If it is not there then it is not.

How can I transfer files from my PC to the TI?

This topic is huge! There are a lot of different ways to do this. Some methods are easier then others and some methods require more equipment. I took a stab at this because I need to do it for myself. You can find a complete article about how to do this the forum pages at:

Internet to the TI

What is "TI Disk Drive" (TIDD)?

TI Disk Drive (TIDD) is a PC program that communicates with the TI via the serial port. It allows you to load a program that resides on the PC, into memory on the TI. This subtle tool is great for solving the "bootstrap" problem for the TI.

The bootstrap problem is occurs when you want to download files from the internet to your PC and then transfer them to the TI. If you don't have the right software on the TI you can't even transfer the programs that you need.

What is a "TIFILES" file?

If you were to take a file and send it over to a PC or some other computer via a modem or serial cable it would arrive on the other end but lose some information. It would lose information like what kind of file it is, protection status, how large it is, etc. In order not to lose that information, proper communication programs on the TI prepend (stick on the front) a 128 byte header to the file that captures this information. So now when the file arrives on the other computer it is actaully a little bit larger.

When the 128 byte header is prepended to the file it becomes a "TIFILES". So by definition, a TIFILES file is a regular file with a 128 byte header. Now if you were to send that same program back to the TI, the 128 byte header gets read so the file is created properly on the TI. Of course, the 128 byte header is removed when it is back on the TI. The 128 byte header is small set of information used to properly rebuild the file once sent back to the TI. If you send a NON-TIFILES file (one without the 128 byte header) to the TI it will get built but more than likely it won't work properly.

What kind of cable do I need to connect/communicate with a PC?

In order to direct connect to a PC you do NOT need a null-modem cable/adapter. The TI-RS232 card already has its pins switched.

If your PC has a DB25 serial port then you will need a 25-pin Male to 25-pin Female cable. If your PC has a DB9 serial port (laptops and modern computers typically do) then you will need a 25-pin Male to 9-pin Female cable.

If you have an older Macintosh computer with the DIN-8 serial connections then you will need a Macintosh Modem Cable with is a 25-pin Male to DIN-8 Male cable.

What software do I need on my TI to connect to and share files with my PC?

First and foremost you will need a communication program on the TI that can operate at a decent speed and send/receive files. MagicFM is an easy to find program that does the trick. It allows you to operate at faster speeds and sends/receive files using XModem protocols. All you will need is a straight-thru serial cable and something like HyperTerminal on your PC. If you are using a older Mac then you can use a Mac Modem Cable and something like ZTerm.

A copy of Barry Boone's Archiver is essential on the TI as well. Many files will come in an ARK package off the net and this utility can open and uncompress them. This is the TI version of a ZIP program. If you have these two programs you are in business and can start to transfer files back and forth. This means you can start to download and use stuff off of WHTECH! :)


How do I connect my TI to work on a modern TV with no RF Terminal?

You can use a 300 ohm RF to Coaxial adapter along with the TI Video Modulator to accomplish this. Another option is to purchase the TI Video Cable (find them on eBay or and it goes from the TI Video Port to two RCA connectors (mono audio and video) and plug it into the RCA inputs on a TV or Monitor.

NOTE: This refers to an NTSC (American) console. The European model used an unusual YUV colour model for the PAL output requiring complex circuitry and few monitors can handle it. The European PAL RF modulator used a European PAL standard that caused problems with many British tv sets which used a slightly different audio-video spacing.

How easy is it to open and work with the console?

You just need a smaller phillips screw driver and you are on your way. Basic screws are on the bottom and inside where you can fully dis-assemble a console within five minutes. Once again Thierry's TI Tech Pages and Ron's Mainbyte site provide excellent information on doing this.

What are QI consoles?

QI stands for "Quality Improved".? At one point TI redesigned, or improved the motherboard in the TI-99/4a.? Sometimes you will here people refer to these as v2.2 motherboards which is not always the case.? V2.2, which is visible on the TI startup screens, were an attempt by TI to lockout 3rd party cartridges.

For more information regarding QI consoles you can visit at the following address:?

What are the specs for the TI-99/4a console (computer)?

CPU - TMS9900 (16-bit) Clock - 3.3Mhz RAM - 16K ROM - 26K Video - 256x192 Dot Density - 24 lines with 40 characters each. Video Chip - TMS9918A (the A is where the A in TI-99/4a came from) Sound Chip - TMS9919 Keyboard - 48 key QWERTY Ports - Cartridge, Expansion, Joystick, Video, Cassette, Power

What are v2.2 consoles?

These consoles were created by TI to lock out 3rd party cartridges like Atari. This was very annoying and there were even 3rd party devices sold to circumvent these types of consoles. You can tell if you have a v2.2 type motherboard as it will say it on the startup screen.

Whats the difference between the Beige and Silver/Black consoles?

Functionally they are identical except that there are certain Beige consoles with a 2.0 ROM that does not allow it to run 3rd party cartridges like Atari games. Otherwise the only difference is cosmetic.

TI, based on the prototypes of future systems, were moving toward the Beige color scheme. Whether it was a cosmetic coloring choice or cheaper/easier materials to work I'm not sure but it was going to be the direction until it was pulled from production.

Where can I get detailed specs on the operations of the TI console like memory mappings and addresses?

For a detailed technical analysis of the TI Console you should visit the TI Tech pages hosted by Thierry Nouspikel. For a graphical representation of the console, including a great deal of photos, you should visit the Mainbyte website hosted by Ron Reuter.

Which beige consoles were v2.2 or QI models?

It seems that there were three major production runs of beige consoles. This does not include the special run that was produced at the very end for Control Data.

The first run of beige consoles were around June 1983 and these were v1.0 OS and NOT QI. The second run of beige consoles were around Aug/Sep 1983 and were v2.2 OS and NOT QI. The third run were created between Oct 1983 and Mar 1984 and these either v1.0 or v2.2 and QI models.

Summary: xTA2283-2983 - 1st Run - v1.0 - not QI xTA3083-3983 - 2nd Run - v2.2 - not QI xTA4083-1384 - 3rd Run - v1.0/v2.2 - QI ** NOTE **: replace "x" with either 'L' for Lubbock TX or 'A' for Abilene TX.

Not all of the QI models came with QI Power Supplies. If the expansion port on the console has silver colored fingers/grips then it is a QI model. If the power supply has 2-pins then it is QI if it has 4-pins then it is old/regular style. This information was pulled from the Yahoo Mailing List - Bryan Nicalek.

About this FAQ

How can I contribute to this FAQ?

Please consider adding information to existing articles or creating new articles. This is a wiki, open to all- just request going to Special Pages (in the box on the left) and then choose Request Account.

Remember this is a Wiki, so there is no guarantee that your contribution will remain unchanged, especially when it turns out that the content is wrong or otherwise inappropriate.

How is the FAQ portion of this site related to the rest of ninerpedia?

This faq originated elsewhere, when bulletin boards had ever increasing lists of questions and answers. Little by little the contents are being moved into new articles with cross linking between them. This should make information easier to access. Ninerpedia is a wiki intended for users to share their knowledge with others by means of short but well linked informative articles.

The FAQ is intended to capture brief questions and answers while the rest of ninerpedia is used to capture information and descriptions for specific aspects of the TI and Geneve world. There are some grey areas but for the most part if something needs to be talked about I will put it in the site and leave a reference from here to there.

Is it possible to get a text download of the FAQ?

You can save the page content with your browser.

Why create another FAQ for the TI-99/4a?

As an owner of a TI System I found that locating information about the TI in one central location was tough to do. There is a lot of good information out there but it's just not captured very well. On a personal note I want to contribute to the longevity that the TI has experienced and this is a great start at doing that!

Expansion cards

IDE Project Card

To read about connecting an IDE hard drive to a TI99/4a see the article IDE Project Card

Serial Cards: Can the TI RS232 card handle speeds faster than 9600bps?

Yes (mostly). The ROM on the card can be replaced with an EPROM that allows you to have higher speeds like 19.2 and 38.4kbps. Programs like Extended Basic or TI-Writer cannot utilize the newer codes. Programs like Telco, that program the card directly, can take advantage of the new speeds coded into the EPROM. The following link to provides information for this and other upgrades. Bob Carmany is still providing these EPROM upgrades for a fair price.

Serial Cards: Does anyone know of any articles where a TI99/4A was ever used to control a model train setup through its RS232C cards?

All the equipment can be built in kit form or pre built and ordered from JLC Enterprises, Inc.

I have a copy of the C/MRI User's Manual V. 3.0 that Dr. Chubb has published. Also in many back issues of Model Railroader Dr. Chubb has written many columns on his interface and how it is so easy to get working.

There are a few articles back in the 80's that started all this C/MRI and Dr. Chubb had it all working from a Heath kit computer. Also there were versions for all the older computers, C-64, IBM PC, etc.

It is a really neat system. There is even a Java version of it. I hope this points you in the direction you are look for.

Question by Eric Bray and answer by Emory Lehman.

Memory Cards: Does anyone still repair RAMdisks?

Yes. Richard Bell still performs these repairs and if you don't have an email address you can contact him throught the TI mailing list on Yahoo.

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Richard Bell, Hal Shanafield)

SNUG Cards: What are SNUG cards?

SNUG cards are third party cards created by the System Ninety Niners Users Group (SNUG). This is German based users group that started to make high quality cards for themselves after vendor support disappeared. Some of the cards were variations of existing cards (controllers, memory) but had enhanced features. Other cards were totally different and offered new functionality to TI systems (80 column, SCSI support, advanced CPU, etc).

To see more about these products and what they can do visit the SNUG site at:

For a list of SNUG cards please see the article SNUG

P-Code: How do I turn on/off the P-Code card?

There is a switch on the back of the card that sticks outside the PEB that toggles the card on/off. When the card is off the TI operates as normal. When the card is on it takes control of the TI at startup and places you at a command prompt.

Other Cards: What is the Myarc 9640/Geneve card?

Please refer to the article Geneve.

The Geneve computer is a card for the 99/4A Peripheral Expansion Box which replaces the interface card used to connect to a 99/4A console. In its standard configuration, the 9640 comes with 512K of CPU RAM, 128K of video RAM, a battery-backed clock chip, joystick and mouse ports, and an IBM PC/XT keyboard. The video processor provides an 80 column text display, and uses an analog RGB (not VGA) monitor. The native operating system is an MS-DOS clone called MDOS, and 99/4A software is run with an emulation utility called the "GPL Environment".

Original information from comp.sys.ti FAQ by Jim Reiss

Serial Cards: CorComp and TI RS232 cards?

Functionally these cards are equivalent to each other.

Serial Cards: What do I need to hook up a printer to my TI-99/4a?

Refer to article Printer

Memory Cards: What is a RAMDISK?

See also articles Memory Expansion Cards regarding the use of general Memory Expansion Cards as ramdisk, and Mini Memory regarding the use of the module to save programs or data to.

A RAMdisk in the functional equivalent of a physical disk drive without the moving parts. A physical disk drive system stores data on a mylar disk with a coating of iron oxide. The data is retrieved by a read/write head that is controlled by a stepping motor as the disk spins in its protective cover.

A RAMdisk stores data on a series of static RAM chips that have been divided into sectors similar to the arrangement on a physical disk. However, since there are no moving parts, the RAMdisk is much faster than a physical disk drive and the data is available almost instantaneously.

Loading a RAMdisk The two surviving modern RAMdisks (QUEST and HORIZON) are battery-backed to ensure that the data is maintained even after the computer and P-Box are turned off. Each is powered by three 1.25V NI-CAD batteries that charge whenever the computer and P-Box are turned on.

Both come with a software package that allows the user to initialize, partition and assign drive numbers to the RAMdisk. The first step is to load the generic DSR (Device Service Routine) into the RAMdisk. This allows the computer to find the RAMdisk. Each of the configuration program is menu-driven and very easy to follow. The only limitation is that a single disk drive cannot exceed the maximum size of 1600 sectors (ie. 400K). Let's assume that we have a 512K RAMdisk installed in a system with a TI Disk Controller.

Once the RAMdisk has been initialized, the configuration program will ask for a drive number and size. It is wise to assign a drive number greater than the maximum number of drives that your physical controller can handle (ie. 4-9 for a TI Controller and 5-9 for a Corcomp Controller) to avoid any conflicts.

We can designate part of our RAMdisk as DSK4 (1600 sectors) and the other part as DSK5 (448 sectors) which fill up the entire 512K (512*1024/4 sectors per kilobyte = 2048 sectors).

Each of the RAMdisks come with a menu-type program (MENU for HORIZON and AUTO for QUEST) that are variants of the John Johnson BOOT program. These can be configured to allow for the loading of both XB and A/L programs available when the system first boots. In each case the menu program intercepts the TI startup routine and slaps the user-defined menu in place of the title screen. They come with full instructions.

In addition, there are user defined CALLs that can be invoked to either directly load A/L programs from the command mode or CALL them from a running program. There are simple instructions for there use as well.

When you are through, the generic DSR has been modified to the users configuration and installed into the RAMdisk. It should now be saved to disk under a different name than the original.

At this point, you are ready to load whatever programs you wish into your RAMdisk. This can be done with ANY disk manager program. Oh yes, you can write protect either or both parts of the partitioned RAMdisk and enable or disable the MENU/AUTO program.

Common problems There are two problems that arise with RAMdisks that can be perplexing at times. They are easily curable.

If the RAMdisk will not load programs and a check with a disk manager indicated that the RAMdisk is "not there", the DSR has been corrupted. The easiest cure is to go back to the configuration program a reload the saved version of your customized DSR.

If the RAMdisk will not hold programs in memory, the problem is with the battery circuit. This can be a loose battery or a cold solder joint or a dead battery. The easiest way to check to with a voltmeter. Check voltage and continuity.

Original information by Bob Carmany. Original listing in TI FAQ by Dan Eicher.

P-Code: What is the P-Code card?

The P-Code card is a card for the PEB that provides and emulation environment to support and run P-Code. When the P-Code is active, via a switch on the back, it takes control of the entire TI environment and replaces it with one to edit, run and assemble P-Code.

The P-Code card along with the documentation and software is more like a environment as opposed to a a piece of software or a peripheral. P-Code software that is developed is transportable to other platforms that support P-Code.

Rave: What is the Rave99 Speech Adapter?

The Rave99 Speech adapter is a half-height card for your PEB box where you can plug your TI Speech Synthesiser into. Basically you take the circuit board out of the synthesiser and plug it into the adapter. The adapter and the circuit board then go into your PEB. There is no software to load or CRU switches for it. You just simply plug and play. The main advantage is you no longer have to have your synthesiser hanging off the side of your TI console. Of course you are taking up 1 of the 8 slots in your PEB but most people have the spare room.

Not yet categorized


Modems: Can I connect to the Internet with my TI and a Modem?

Yes, but with some caveats. First and foremost you need an ISP that provides dial-up, shell access. This is basically a UNIX account that you can connect to with a modem and work from the terminal. You can access text based resources like text based email and web browsing. For most people it is not very useful. The problem is finding an ISP that will provide you with this kind of account and then there are the costs.

Modems: Did TI produce a modem that I can use?

Yes. TI produced the "TI Coupler Modem" and it is still usable (not in Europe). The trick is that a coupler modem does not have any dialing mechanics so you have to manuall dial the telephone.

Coupler modems require you use an older handset telephone, the ones with the round mouth and ear pieces. You dial the phone by hand and then you set the handset on the coupler modem which has 2 suction cup like connectors to listen and speak with phone. If you saw the movie War Games, it's the same type of modem they used.

One thing to note is that the TI modem only operates up to 300bps, which for all intent and purposes is beyond usable. Because of that it is more of a nostalgic piece of equipment.

Modems: What kind of modem can I use with my TI?

This assumes you have an RS232 device to communicate with the modem. These came as side-car peripherals that plugged into the side of the TI or they are card that go into the PEB.

You can use any modem as long as it is Hayes compatible and can operate at a speed your software and the RS232 card supports. The standard TI RS232 card operates at speeds from 110bps up to 9600bps. Terminal Emulator II operates at either 110bps or 300bps. Other emulator programs, like Telco, can operate at higher speeds.

The modem should have a serial connection and typically they are db-25 pin connectors on them. You will need a serial cable to connect the modem to your RS232 device.


Utility: Can I see the contents of an ARK file on my PC?

At first this may seem an odd question for a TI FAQ but it is relevant since most people download files with their PC for either emulation purposes or to transfer to their TI.

Fred Kaal's TiDir program will allow you access Archive files (v9t9 format and created with Barry Boones archiver).

Utility: Is there a way to convert MultiPlan files to MS Excel?

Yes, you can save a MultiPlan file as SLYK and MS Excel can read and open that.

Question by 'Susie and Deck'' and answer by Jacques Groslouis

Utility: What are ARK files?

ARK files are compressed archive files that are like today's modern ZIP files. They were created by Barry Boone's ARCHIVER program. You will need this program to create and extract these files.

Utility: What are the passwords for DU2K?

DU2K is Fred Kahl's program Diskutilities 2000 to Format and Initialize SCSI, IDE and DSK devices. With the program it is also possible to create a partition table on IDE drives.

DU2K prevents you from accidentally doing something destructive by prompting for a password. There are three operations that require passwords and each one is different. • Partition: SAVEPT • Initialize: INITIALIZE • Format & Initialize: FORMAT

Utility: What is Funnelweb?

Funnelweb is a descendant of the TI-Writer word processor, but has gone far beyond it. Funnelweb provides a menu-driven environment into which you can integrate all sorts of software. Among the many features of the environment is the ability to catalog a disk without loading a disk manager, the ability to run all sorts of machine language programs with the Extended BASIC cartridge plugged in, and bundled utilities like a disk editor and a disk manager. There are word processing and programming versions of the editor portion, and there is support for 80 column cards. There's far more to say about Funnelweb than is appropriate for a FAQ, but hopefully this will be enough of an overview to give some idea. Original information from comp.sys.ti FAQ by Jim Reiss

Utility: What is the latest version of the Archiver program?

3.03G and 4.0 are the latest versions. 3.03G supports both the TI and the GENEVE computers. The 'G' was an update to fix a bug when running it on Geneves.

4.0 is an update created by Tim Tesch to handle hard-drive paths. This feature works only for extracting, not creating archives.

Original content from TI Yahoo List (Barry Boone, Ben Yates)

Buying and Selling: Can I still buy TI related merchandise?

There are a couple of people who have opened or in the middle of opening TI related shops on the website. The nice thing about CafePress is that it allows individuals to open stores for free and they manage all the production and ordering processes. For the owner it can be as simple as creating some graphics, applying it to stock merchandise and setting prices.

Here are some known TI merchandise stores:

Buying and Selling: How do I make sure that I'm not paying too much for a TI related item?

This is subjective and the answer depends on who you talk to. Even then it could change from time to time from the exact same people.

For example, I'm almost done with my Micropendium Collection of magazines. The magazine ran from Feb-84' through Jun-99' and had just over 150 issues. All I have left to collect are the very last two issues and I'm done. If some one said I will sell you the two for $30.00, I would probably buy it just to finsih the collection. While 1 year ago I would only spend $30 bucks for about 30-40 issues.

The change in value and why I'm purchasing has changed. It has gone from buying many to build the collection to very specific and narrow to finish it. The same thing applies to you and your purchases.

Here is what you can do though. Watch eBay and see what things sell for. Ask questions on the Yahoo list and see what people will pay for. Read the collecting lists and information on the forums page of, it has some good information too. No single source is ever right, look at various sources and try and triangulate a target price. Don't forget to factor yourself into the equation too. Don't buy anything unless you are comfortable and feel that you are getting a good deal.

Buying and Selling: Where do I go to buy/sell TI related equipment?

There is actually a healthy bit of TI related equipment out there to purchase, you just need to know where. The following are the actual places I go to purchase my TI equipment:

1) eBay - search on "ti99*" or "ti 99*", you may want to exclude some items as well. For instance, "ti 99*" return items like Nike shoes and such so I use a search string "ti 99* -nike".

2) TI Mailing List on Yahoo - if you haven't joined, join! If there is something you need just politely ask. In fact, I just purchased some Micropendiums magazines from one of the other members.

3) Chicago TI Faire - I live in Chicago and the faire is hosted on a Saturday each November. Great deals, great prices and some hard to find items. Plus you get to meet some fine folks.

4) There are some folks who supply/sell items on a regular basis. You can find them on the Yahoo list. The following is a list of items I know of, forsale:

  • Upgrade Eproms for TI, Myarc and other cards * TI Monitor Cable - connecting TI to a Video Monitor * Console RAM upgrades - put 32K in your console * PC99 Emulation / Cyc CD - Commercial emulator for the TI

5) Rumage, garage and antique sales - this stuff has a habbit of turning up. There are numerous stories of folks finding stock piles of TI stuff from estate sales and such.

In addition to these places there are many other places you will find.? Some of these will only have a couple of items but you never know which one will have something you need.? Check the various TI Websites because some of them have either classified sections or auctions, though a lot of the information is old/stale there some bargains to be had.

Hardware: Can I use the Rave99 Speech Adapter to plug in other peripherals than the Speech Synthesiser?

No. The Rave99 Speech Adapter does not use all connectors and there is specialized PAL for speech access.

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Tony Knerr, Ben Yates)

Hardware: What are the known CRU addresses for the TI and its peripherals?

This information was posted by Eric Bray from an article of his from 1990. The following are the assigned CRU adresses used by the TI:

1300 RS232 1ST CARD 
1500 RS232 2ND CARD 
1700 HEX BUS 

Hardware: What peripherals were there for the Course Designer Authoring System?

The peripherals consisted of a Video Controller unit and a cable to connect it to a VCR/Video unit. The following is a list of the parts and prices:

PHP1290 Video Controller $399.95
PHA2310 Video Cable-Panasonic $99.95
PHA2320 Video Cable-Sony $99.95
PHA2330 Video Cable-Pioneer $99.95

Orginal content from TI Yahoo List (Bill Gaskill)

Joysticks: Do I have to use the TI joysticks or can I use some other brand?

No but you need an adapter. TI's wired controllers have the same type of plug as an Atari 2600 joystick. The only difference is the wiring of the pins. If you buy an adapter or build one then you can use any joystick that works with the Atari 2600.

If you can't locate a joystick adapter and have some basic electronic skills you can build one for yourself. has an excellent project page with diagrams to do this. You can find this information at:

Joysticks: I can't find an Atari adapter, what else can I do?

The adapter is a relatively simple device with a couple of d-sub 9 connectors and some diodes. With a quick trip to Radio Shack you can find all the parts. Information about this project can be found on Mainbyte at:

Joysticks: What would you recommend for an Atari based joystick?

This is very subjective topic but I can speak from my own experiences. First of all the original Atari 2600 joystick is a lot better than the TI wired controller so you could start with that.

If you don't like the Atari brand joystick then there are two others I can recommend. First is the Epyx 500XJ for Atari joystick. This is a great joystick because it is ergonomic and fits into the palm of your left hand so you your finger can wrap around it. Your index finger on your left rests comfortably on the fire button. Your right hand, the free one, operates the joystick. The joystick is tactile and clicks.

The second joystick that I would recommend is the Suncom Slik Stick. It is a smaller joystick but it had a great feel with precision for the most complicated of moves. Either of these joysticks are great but the Epyx 500XJ is considered to be the cadillac of Atari type joysticks by many gamers.

Games: Does anyone know of an editor available for Tunnels of Doom?

There is an editor for Tunnels of Doom called the "Tunnels of Doom Editor". You can find a PC99 image of the diskette on WHTECH at the following link:

If you don't have PC99, you can use V9T9 and there is a utility program to convert PC99 disk images to V9T9 format.? Both MESS and Win994a use the v9t9 format as well.

This utility can also be found on WHTECH at the following link:

Or you can use the Windows program TiDir

System Information: I need detailed information regarding the inner-workings of the TI-99/4a for development, where should I go?

Thierry Nouspikel has a great website that details the inner-inner workings of the TI system and peripherals. If you are thinking of creating devices, coding DSRs and other low-level stuff then this is the place for you. If the sight of HEX, pin-outs, memory-address, assembler and other mathematical/technical items is scary then don't go here! :)

You can visit the site at:

If you want a copy of the entire site you can download the following components that make up the site:

1) Webpages: 2) Software: 3) Pictures:

System Information: Is the TMS9900 big or little endian?

The TMS9900 is Big Endian.

Displays: If I bought an old TI 99/4a monitor, would it use the RF modulator and cable, or was some other cable type used?

The TI Monitor does not use the RF Modulator, it is a separate and different cable. The TI Monitor Cable has the same large round 5pin connector as the modulator but ends in two RCA style plugs (like the ones on a stereo).

One RCA plug is for video and the other one is for audio. Please note that the TI Monitor does not have an RCA plug for audio, it has a headphone jack. You will need to go to Radio Shack or other electronics shop and buy an RCA-to-Headphone adapter which is pretty cheap.

Displays: Is it possible to use a modern LCD monitor with the TI-99/4a?

NOTE this answer refers to NTSC USA consoles with analog RGB video output and does not apply to European PAL consoles which had a YUV video output requiring a very special monitor (although a monochrome monitor could be used fairly easily).

Yes, you can use certain LCD panels with the TI. The trick is finding one that support composite video input or buying a special adapter that converts composite video to VGA.

The Samsung "MP" series of monitors is great for this purpose. Essentially these monitors have the following input connections: Composite Video (RCA), S-Video, VGA and Coaxial (antenna/cable). I have a Samsung 150MP which is a 15" version of this monitor and have a TI coming into it.

Displays: What are the types of displays I can hook my TI up to? VGA, TV, etc...

NOTE this answer is about the USA NTSC console which had an RGB video output. In Europe the console output was YUV requiring a very special monitor, or the RF (analog) modulator.

There are essentially two directions you can take with TI, a TV or a composite video display. The TV is a bit easier to tackle so let's start there first.

Every TI system shipped with an RF Modulator. This modulator allowed you to connect your TI to a television set on a VHF channel. The problem you will run into is that the modulator connects to the older, two screw terminals, that were made for antenna conneciton on older television. Modern televisions will not have these. You can go to Radio Shack and buy an adapter that goes from Coaxial (cable) input to these screw terminals.

TI made two versions of a monitor for the TI-99/4* series of computer. The first one was a repackaged 13" TV modified to accept input via composite connections (RCA plugs). The second one was a 10" color monitor. Any display you own that has composite video inputs (RCA inputs) can be used.

Here is a short list of ways to hook up a TI to different displays. RFM stands for RF Modulator. TVC stands for TI Video Cable.

RFM -> Older TV RFM -> Coaxial Adapter -> Modern TV TVC -> TI Monitor TVC -> Composite Video Monitor TVC -> VCR -> Modern TV TVC -> Composite Video Adapter -> VGA Monitor TVC -> Composite Video Adapter -> LCD Panel TVC -> Composite Video Adapter -> PC TVC -> LCD Panel with built-in Composite

UDS-10: What is the Lantronix UDS-10 adapter?

The UDS-10 allows you to connect a serial device to an ethernet network. This opens up possibilities for equipment that cannot be directly connected to modern networks.

The TI, with an RS232 expansion card/device, can be connected to a UDS-10 and then placed on the network. The result is that the TI can communicate with other devices (like a PC) over the network. In theory you could actually have two TI's communicating with each other over the Internet as well.

UDS-10: Where can I get a UDS-10 adapter?

You can buy these items new from various companies and they retail for over $100. I found mine on eBay and got it for the low price of $35. So do some hunting and get one for cheap.

Trivia: What is Black Friday?

Black Friday refers to October 28, 1983 when Texas Instruments publically announced that they are leaving the home computer market.

Trivia: Not Polyoptics Trivia

Not Polyoptics Firstly a list of 22 product names and possible descriptions. Now match them up. 01/06/2007

Description and product name:

A. 99'Vaders (15) 01. The adventure of CETI
B. Addvance (09) 02. Graphic Adventure Game
C. Ant Wars (06) 03. The Investment Game
D. Bankroll (03) 04. Flight Simulator
E. Cars & Carcasses 2 (20) 05. Air Traffic Controller
F. Cosmolopy (10) 06. Insect World Combat
G. Crosses (17) 07. Guerilla War in Viet Nam
H. Hordes (11) 08. Medieval Japanese Warfare
I. Khe Sanh (07) 09. Computerized Board Game
J. Laser Tank (13) 10. Space War
K. Maze of Ariel (18) 11. Game of Global Conquest
L. Ophyss (12) 12. The Serpent Game
M. Sengoku Jidai (08) 13. CIREV Showdown
N. Ships! (14) 14. Battle for the High Seas
O. Starship Pegasus (01) 15. Kamikaze Aliens
P. T-Shirt (21) 16. Strategy Soccer
Q. Texas Light Shooter (22) 17. Original game of Juxtaposition
R. Tickworld (19) 18. Lantern and Grenades
S. Tower (05) 19. A Forest
T. Treasure Trap (02) 20. City invaded by Monsters
U. Waldoball (16) 21. Navy and yellow on silver grey
V. Winging It (04) 22. Plugs into the Joystick port

And some open questions, this time with the answers:

01. In which product would you find the use of a 'randomized earth simulacrum'? A: Winging It

02. Which product required that you specify Civilian or Military in order to use the program? A: Tower

03. Which product provided news headlines to help assess the future? A: Bankroll by Arthur P. Jacoby.

04. Which product featured the Builders' Planetoid? A: Treasure Trap

05. Which product plugged into the joystick port of the 99/4A? A: Texas Light Shooter

06. Which product sported navy blue and yellow colors on a silver-grey background? A: Not-Polyoptics T-Shirt

07. Not-Polyoptics, founded in 1981, was a division of what Co/Corp? A: Syncronet

08. What product had Androids pitted against Robots? A: Waldoball.

09. What product was created/programmed by three teenagers from Suffolk County New York and marketed to Not-Polyoptics by Timothy Trapanotto and accepted by Not-Polyoptics under their Author Co-Op Program? A: 99'Vaders

10. The names of the three partners in Not-Polyoptics were? A: Gene Harter, David Harter, Michael Copobianco

This trivia was created by


Trivia: What was the most expensive cartridge for the TI?

TI LOGO (PHM3040) was offered for $299.95 in the TI 1981 catalog CL581B.? It was on page 6.? This tidbit was provided by Bill Gaskill.

Trivia: What was the most expensive diskette program for the TI?

Course Designer Authoring System (PHD5068) was offered for $199.95 in the TI 1982 catalog 1049706-1.? It was on page 10.? This tidbit was provided by Bill Gaskill.

Electronics: What are the basic tools I need for any of the projects?

1) Low wattage / pencil tip soldering iron. 2) Desoldering Pump Iron 3) Various size 60/40 solder (thin, med and thick) 4) Wire cutters (sharp) 5) Wire stripper 6) Various size DIP Sockets 7) 22AWG wire 8) 24AWG wire 9) Electrical Tape 10) Digital Multimeter 11) Helping Hands w/Magnifying Glass 12) Latex gloves 13) Anti-static work mat 14) Various screwdrivers 15) Various small screwdrivers

Electronics: What kind of EPROM burner can I use to burn chips for the TI?

This is not my area of expertise but I have found out that there are two major chips that are used for the TI. The TMS2532 can be used as a replacement for TI Peripheral ROMS and the 2764/27128 can be used for EPROM cartridges.

The standard WILLEM burners (~$35.00) will support the 27xx series of chips. Most burners will support them. The problem one seems to be the 2532. If you are looking at burner be sure to check the device list.

I found a commercial programmer that supports the 2532 is the EETools ChipMax Device Programmer but unfortunately it costs around $300 dollars. If you are technically inclined you may be able to build a burner on your own and save the money.

Electronics: What other tools beyond the basics are useful for projects?

1) Some type of desk/bench dedicated to the work. Sharing a desk with other stuff gets to be a real mess.

2) Storage cabinets.

3) DC Power Supply with variable voltage and current controls.

4) Bread board and wires for prototyping.

5) Digital Multimeter.

6) Books, books and books!

Communication: What is MagicFM (MFM)?

MagicFM (MFM), not to be confused with MFM hard drives, stands for Magic File Manipulator. This is a TI Extended BASIC program that allows you send and receive software via X-Modem protocol. This means you can download a TI file from the internet on to your PC and then transfer it to your TI with this program. On the PC you will need a term program to send the file and HyperTerm comes with Windows and does the trick. If you have a Mac then you will need something like ZTerm or White Knight. Magic FM was shown, including a complete listing, in the Vol 13, No 6 issue of Micropendium. It was pointed out that MagicFM has some embedded Assembly code so you can't type it in from the listing. You can get a PC99 image from WHTECH at:

To speak a phrase such as "that is incorrect", it needs to be wrapped in hash symbols eg "#THAT IS INCORRECT#"

Speech: What is the Rave99 Speech Adapter?

The Rave99 Speech adapter is a half-height card for your PEB box where you can plug your TI Speech Synthesiser into. Basically you take the circuit board out of the synthesiser and plug it into the adapter. The adapter and the circuit board then go into your PEB. There is no software to load or CRU switches for it. You just simply plug and play. The main advantage is you no longer have to have your synthesiser hanging off the side of your TI console. Of course you are taking up 1 of the 8 slots in your PEB but most people have the spare room.

Speech: Why won't my Compact Flash Adapter work with the Speech Synthesizer?

The CF7 draws its power from the side port and some side peripherals like the Speech Synthesizer block this. If you have a CF7+ with the power plug then you can supply your own power and use it with the Speech Synthesizer.

CF7+ Compact Flash: Why can I only use half the size of my Flash memory?

The compact flash cards are made up of 512 byte sectors. The original TI disk system used 256 byte sectors so half of the sector is unused. This is why you can only use 8mb of a 16mb compact flash card.

CF7+ Compact Flash: Why won't my Compact Flash Adapter work with the Speech Synthesizer?

The CF7 draws its power from the side port and some side peripherals like the Speech Synthesizer block this. If you have a CF7+ with the power plug then you can supply your own power and use it with the Speech Synthesizer.