Chicago TI 99
Faire 1989

Chicago TI Faire report

Geneve environments, FDOS, MIDI interface highlight seminars


There weren’t as many new products introduced at this year’s Chicago TI Faire as in years past, but for hundreds of visitors and scores of vendors it was a full-day well spent.

The most notable new products was a 512K memory expansion card for the Gen.eve, expandable to 2 megabytes marketed by Bud Mills Services. The 7th annual fair, held Nov. 4, featured a series of seminars throughout the day and over 3,000 square feet of exhibition space packed with TI vendors and users.

Seminars were conducted by Bud Mills of Bud Mills Services (Horizon RAMdisk, MEMEX and p-GRAM +), Roger Merritt of Comprodine (Artist Printshop, Living Tomb and Jiffy Card). Gary Bowser of Oasis Pensive Abacutors (Super Module Expander and RAMBO), Chris Bobbitt of Asgard Software (PRESS and other releases), Bruce Harrison of Harrison Software (music software), Barry Traver (Genial TRAVelER Diskazine), Jan Janowski of the Chicago TI User Group (portable TI project), Mike Maksimik of the Chicago user group (MIDI interface and FDOS), Jim Horn of the Mid-Atlantic 99ers (donating TI computers to schools), J. Peter Hoddie of JP Software (MacFlix Professional, tdentiFile and other new software releases), and Lou Phillips of Myarc Inc. (Geneve).

Perhaps one of the reasons that new products weren’t being introduced at the Chicago fair is that so much remains under development. Many of the seminar speakers focused their presentations on what users can expect in the future — near and far — rather than what they can go out and buy today.

A case in point is Gary Bowser of OPA. He described an operating system for the Geneve similar to GEM by Digital Res.earch that would replace MDOS and the GPL interpreter. He expects the product to be marketed early in 1990. Judging from his presentation, the product would be in direct competition with Myarc’s GEME, which is also under development.

Bowser also discussed a card with a Yamaha sound chip that would allow the programming of digitized sound. It would include an input for CD players and support 16-bit sound. It is Geneve-compatible and would be priced at about $100. No marketing date was mentioned. Similarly, Bowser is continuing his project to develop a Z80 co-processor for the TI. The project has been underway for several years but still isn’t near enough to completion to make marketing plans.

When Chris Bobbitt of Asgard Software spoke, everyone was listening for news about PRESS, the long-awaited word- processing software that was supposed to be introduced at last year’s Chicago fair.

Although a release date wasn’t announced, Bobbitt described some of the new features that are being incorporated into the program as the debugging continues. Noting that the program consists of 250,000 lines of assembly language code, he said those that prepaid for the program could have their money back if they didn’t want to continue waiting for delivery.

PRESS is compatible with the 4A and the Geneve and supports a variety of devices — ranging from GRAM cards to RAMdisks — and allows for unlimited length text files, even on the 4A. It uses the keyboard, a mouse or joystick for input and features pull-down menus.

One of the most intriguing seminars was conducted by Mike Maksimik who demonstrated an electronic keyboard under the control of a TI. The full-sound of the keyboard/speakers surprised many in the audience as it played classical music under the direction of the 4A console. A college student, Maksimik said that no hardware modifications were required to make the system work. The only expense was an RS232 cable to connect the TI to the Casio electronic keyboard, and the Casio, which cost $100, and a short assembly language program written by Maksimik.

The musical score is in text-file form on the TI and is sent at 31,200 baud to the Casio. He said that IBM-compatible music MIDI files are directly compatible with the TI in text-file (or ASCII) format.

Another Maksimik project is FDOS, a programming environment for the 4A. It includes internal and external commands that can be executed by the user at any time. Internal commands are those that arc loaded into memory when FDOS is booted and remain in memory. These include frequently used commands such as DIR to run a directory. Less common commands remain on disk similar to the way that Microsoft DOS works on a PC. These commands are loaded into memory when called. The program runs in SuperCart. The version demonstrated was V2.0. Maksimik said that future versions would support hard disks.

One hardware item that was ready for the market is P-GRAM+ by Bud Mills Services. The card is an upgrade of the P-GRAM card. It adds 120K of GRAM for a total of 160K of GROM emulating memory. The P-GRAM+ is priced at $280. The cost of upgrading a P-GRAM card to a P-GRAM± is $100.

Mills also introduced the MEMEX card tbr the Geneve. Created by Ron Walters, the card provides 512K of CUP expansion RAM to the Geneve. It is expandable to 2 megabytes. The cost is $245.


The Milwaukee TI Fair, held Nov. 5 as a companion event to the Chicago fair, featured about a dozen vendors, many of them coming up from the Chicago fair. There seemed to be more deals available on used software and hardware than at the Chicago fair. Several seminars were also held throughout the day.