Texas Instruments Model 99/4A Microcomputer


When the TI-99/4A was introduced in 1981, Texas Instruments claimed it was both "a major breakthrough in computer technology," and, probably more important, the "lowest priced, 16-bit computer available." It cost only $525. The TI 99/4a was a redesign of the TI-99/4 system, which had been a market failure and was discontinued. The new machine sold well, but by August 1982, TI was falling behind its competitors, especially Commodore. So it began offering a $100 rebate on the TI-99/4a. It quickly became the best-selling home computer in America, controlling, by the end of 1982, approximately 35% of the market--150,000 machines a month.

In February 1983, TI cut the price to $150, and then in June 1983, it offered a plastic version of the TI-99/4a for less than $100. But now it had gone too far. It was selling computers for less than cost, resulting in a second quarter loss of $100 million.

The TI-99/4a operated on a TI TMS99000 at 3 MHz and included 16 KB of RAM and 26 KB of ROM. The computer included a RS-232 interface card and a 32K memory expansion card as well as a Data Storage cassette. Texas Instruments controlled the development of software for the machine and offered only around 300 titles. These did not include many of the most popular programs of the time.

Initially, the only way to expand the machine was to use a port on the right side of the console. Peripherals could extend out several feet. To remedy the situation TI released a more convenient Peripheral Expansion Box (PEB) and, surprisingly, sold 250,000 units at $1,475.00 each--far more than the cost of the computer.

Eventually Texas Instruments sold over 2.5 million units of the TI-99/4A. However the company decided that computers were not a promising business and dropped out of the PC market in 1984.

This example of the TI 99/4A was acquired by the donors in 1982. For related objects, see the rest of accession 1990.0494 as well as acquisition 1990.3142.

Date Made: 1981-1984Date Made: 1982

Maker: Texas Instruments

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Computers, Family & Social Life, Computers & Business Machines


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Scott and Shane Briscoe

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1990.0494.01Catalog Number: 1990.0494.01Accession Number: 1990.0494

Object Name: microcomputer

Physical Description: plastic (overall material)metal (overall material)Measurements: average spatial: 5.7 cm x 3.81 cm x 2.6 cm; 2 1/4 in x 1 1/2 in x 1 in

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a9-0471-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1064832

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