Chicago TI 99
Faire 1990

A report on the Chicago faire

And a replacement for Triton Products


Last month I suggested strongly that Triton Products would not be serving the TI community any longer. A day after we sent the magazine to the press a former Triton official, Terry Miller. called to say that he purchased the TI marketing rights from Triton Products and set up shop as TM Direct Product Marketing. As I said last month. Triton is no longer in the TI market. Miller expected to be online with his company by Oct. 29. He expects to publish a catalog sometime after the first of the year. Business hours for the company are M-F 9-4 (Pacific time). The phone number is 800-336-9966. Miller says calls to Triton will be for.warded to TM Direct Product Marketing.


The 8th annual Chicago TI International World Faire was another big success, judging from attendance figures and conversa.tions with vendors and visitors. More than 530 people attended the fair.

Absent from the fair was Myarc Inc. In years past. the presence of Myarc’s Lou Phillips generated an enormous amount of interest. It also tended to raise the expectations of many visitors regarding Myarc and Myarc product development. For example, last year Phillips told a large crowd that the final version of MDOS was being packaged for mailing to Geneve users. A year later, that final version is still unavailable. Supposedly MDOS V. 0.98h was to be available early this month, but it, too, hasn’t materialized.

This year’s fair, however, wasn’t nearly as frenzied. People weren’t talking about big breakthroughs regarding the Geneve and Myarc. The fact that Myarc wasn’t in attendance probably helped make this the most “comfortable” fair I’ve attended. Also inconspicuous by its absence was JP Software, also known as J. Peter Hoddie and Paul Charlton. JP Software was scheduled to present a seminar demonstrating new programs for the TI and the Geneve but failed to show up.

In fact, only three vendors had major or exclusive products for the Geneve: Bud Mills was showing his Memex expansion memory card for the Geneve, Rave 99 showed its PE/2-B expansion box for the Geneve, and Beery Miller had a table for his Geneve diskazine 9640 News (he also spoke at a seminar). For the most part the vendors and seminar speakers focused on the TI99/4A. Of course, several vendors of.fered software for both the TI and the Geneve.

Nonetheless, a number of interesting products were for sale, including the Rave 99 PE/2 expansion box, Asgard’s MID interface and TI-Image Maker by Oasis Pensive Abacutors.

A product that didn’t appear that’s been the subject of much con versation on bulletin boards and in user group newsletters for months was the hard and floppy disk controller marketed by Electronic Systems Development Corp. While the company held seminar, it didn’t have a prototype to show. Even so, the company says it will have boards ready for shipment by the end of November. The card is priced at about $240 and is for use with the TI only.

Asgards MIDI Master interface, designed by Mike Maksimil of the Chicago TI User Group, supports up to 16 channels simultaneously. Using an RS232 cable, the interface links the TI PEB to an electronic keyboard, or other interfaceable device. Musical scores can be written using a word processor, or the keyboard can generate the score. Music files from the PC world can even be imported for use with the MID! interface. Everything can be saved to disk.

For those who are musically inclined, the MIDI interface represents a breakthrough. MIDI Master is available for the Ti as a cartridge and a disk version for use with the Geneve. Both versions require a disk system and RS232 port. The price is $44.95, Asgard says a cassette version of MID! Master will be available in the future.

Asgard was also selling a number of new programs, including Rock Runner, Tournament Solitaire, Waterworks, Castle Darkholm, Rattlesnake Bend, Artist Font Maker, Sports Pies, Yet An.other Paint Program (YAPP), nine enhancement packages for its Page Pro 99 program, Screen Preview for TI-Writer, The Animator and Link, a cartridge-based terminal emulator. See News-bytes for descriptions of these programs. For more inftrmation, write Asgard at P.O. Box 10306, Rockville, MD 20849; or call 703-255-3085.

The Rave 99 PE/2 expansion box looks like a mini-AT box from the PC world. It’s more attractive and smaller than the TI PEB and may be the best Christmas present a TI user could get. Principal features include a 200-watt power supply, enough to support up to three internal floppies and a 3.5-inch hard disk.

The box comes in two forms. In one model PE/2-A — the Geneve is installed in the PE/2. The second model —- PE/2-B — is for the Gcneve and the T199/4A. In this model, the Geneve or 99/4A motherboard can be installed alone or together on two separate slots. This model allows the 99/4A and Geneve to run simultaneously. The user switches from one to the other by pressing a front panel switch. Of course, there are some limitations when trying to run both computers at the same time. Both models have a 32-bit expansion slot.

TI-Image Maker (T.I.M.) is an expansion board that fits into the Ti console and replaces the TMS9918 video chip with a V9958 Video Display Processor. This chip, which is compatible with the TMS9918, lets the console support an 80-column RGB monitor. The board, which measures 4x3-inches. is installed by the user. The board provides 192K of video RAM, an analog RGB video monitor port and an external analog/digital expansion port for fu.ture OPA products, such as a digitizer. The board supports 80- column color monitors with graphics modes ranging from 256x192 pixels to 256x424 with up to 256 colors and 512x192 to 512x424 pixels with 16 colors from a palette of 512 colors. OPA says the board can display up to 19,268 colors by using the YJK system display.

The board supports up to 32 sprites with up to eight sprites on the same horizontal line. It also supports all features of the original TI video chip. A chip is also on board that removes software compatibility problems.

TIM is said to be compatible with all software written for other 80-column cards. TIM comes with a variety of software, including an 80-column Funnelweb, 80-column Telco and a special GIF viewer to view GIF pictures in high resolution mode, among other programs. Price of The Image Maker is $179.

OPA’s Gary Bowser also showed "Gismo", a cartridge expander device that allows up to eight cartridges to be plugged into the TI at one time. It might be called a super-duper Widget. The device lets the user switch from one module to another through software. Gismo also lets the user access routines in one cartridge while using another. For example, you can access the speech capabilities of Terminal Emulator II while in Extended BASIC.

One product shown privately was a floppy disk controller from Germany designed and produced by Michael Becker. Called BWG-Disk Controller, it is one of the best built cards for the TI that I’ve seen. Because of its use of low energy chips. it dose require heat sinks. The card supports formats from single-sided single-density to double-sided double-density. It formats disks in 9 and 18 sectors per track, the same as the CorComp disk controller. It does not support the Myarc disk format of 16 sectors per track.

A unique feature of the card is a battery backed clock that is available for use through software, including Extended BASIC. More than 40 of the cards have been sold in Germany. The card does not include a clamshell case.

Judging from the appearance of the disk controller card I saw, Becker is an accomplished engineer. He is said to be working on other hardware projects for the TI.

The disk controller card is priced at $240, depending on the currency exchange rate, and includes software For information.

Although JP Software wasn’t in attendance, Tom Freeman of T&J Software handled questions about JP Software products. Here’s information on three JP programs: Disk One by John Birdwell. a rewrite of his popular DSKU, is expected to he available in early 1991. The program supports all of DSKU’s tloppy disk editing and management functions as well as similar support for hard disk drives for those with a Myarc Hard & Floppy Disk Controller. Disk One works on the both TI and Geneve’s.

Gen-Tri, Wayne Stith’s Geneve version of Triad, is also expected to be available in early 1991, if not sooner. Gen-Tri combines a terminal emulator, word processor with spelling checker and a disk manager in one program. A description of its main features was published in the October MlCROpendium. The program is expected to retail fOr $49.95. JP Software is not accepting orders at this time.

FirstBase Utilities One, released several months ago, includes two utilities for users of the FirstBase database manager. Included are Field Totaler by Warren Agec that allows the creation of summaries of numeric fields across a range of records and a second utility by J.Petcr Hoddic that allows the importing of data from any program that outputs in D/V80 format. The price is $10.

T&J Software showed three of his programs, including Hardback, DlSkAsscmbler V2.0. and The Bugger VII. Hard.back is used to backup one hard drive directly to another hard drive and sells for $15. DlSK Assembler V2.0 is used with the Geneve and disassembles D/F80 object code with resolution of REFs, or program files. It can load an entire set of chained pro.gram files into memory and disassemble all files. It sells for $22.95. The Bugger V1.l is similar to TI Debug and SuperBug with with output directed through the RS23212 port to a terminal or second computer. It includes three kinds of single-stepping and breakpoints. It sells for $18.50. DlSkAssembler V2.0 is for the Geneve only.

In addition to selling the Memex memory expansion for the Gen.eve, Bud Mills showed the p-GRAM card for the TI and the Hori.zon RAMdisk.

Ken Gilliland of Notung Software had a variety of software, including many music programs. Gilliland said that he is developing Star Trek calendar containing digitized pictures of Star Trek The Next Generation crew members. Other products under development are a hook on TPA, a TI Casino game and a companion for Certificate.

Texaments was represented by Barry Boone who demonstrated his new GIF Mania program. GIF Mania displays GIF pictures on the T199/4A. GIF is a file format developed by CompuServe to allow users of different computers to exchange common graphic/image files. More than 100,000 images are available in GIF format. GIF Mania converts GIF images into a format used by TI-Artist. The cost is $14.95.

Texaments also debuted Checktrack, a checking account database that runs out of TI Base. The program keeps track of checkbook transactions and provides monthly and year-to-date reports. The cost is $14.95.

Comprodine Software showeded several software products, including a new game similar to Breakout called Backsteine. Also new was Artist Catalog, providing an easy way to print out a picture catalog of TI-Artist instances and fonts. Comprodine Software also was selling Great Lakes Software products and copies of TI-Base Tips, a book of TI-Base tips by Bill Gaskill.

Beery Miller of 9640 News was selling subscriptions to his diskazine for Geneve 9640 users . Each issue includes programs written for the Geneve 9640. New from Miller was $$CRASH$$, a stock market analysis program capable of tracking up to 20 stocks into a spreadsheet, with data plotted out over a one year period. $$CRASH$$ runs under MDOS. Miller also demonstrat.ed a MY-Art scrolling demo capable of storing 42 MY-Art pic.tures in memory and scrolling them over the screen. Also released was Global Wars, a new game that runs out of Myarc BASIC.

Larry Conner of L. L. Conner Enterprises had a vast assortment of equipment and software, including hard-to-find CC4O and hexbus equipment. printed circuit boards for cartridges and peripheral expansion cards. In addition, he offered parts and chips for the TI99/4A.

Competition Computer displayed a variety of software and hardware, including some unusual 1/3 height 5 1/4-inch drives of which three will fit in the Peripheral Expansion Box. However, the power supply must be modified to meet the power requirements of three drives.

The Chicago TI User Group sold a number of public domain programs as well as very useful “encyclopedias” of graphic images and fonts. Called Encyclopedia of Graphics for the TI and the 9640 Home Computers, the two volume set depicts fonts and TIPS (TI Print Shop) There are thousands of reproductions of the graphic images and hundreds of fonts. The price is about $10 plus postage. Each volume consists of well over 100 pages of three- hold drilled, loose leaf paper.


Also at the fair were CompuServe (P.O. Box 4170, Rockville. MD 20850), electronic informationservice; C.O.N.N.I. User Group of Columbus, Ohio, software for the TI; Delphi (P.O. Box 244 Lorton, VA 22199), electronic information service; Fox Valley Users Group (1536 Amarillo, Carpentersville, IL 60110; 708-426-6301), software for the TI; Genial TRAVELER Diskazine (835 Green Valley Dr., Philadelphia, PA 19128), disk-based magazine for the TI; H&H Computer Supplies (824 Garfield, Aurora, IL 60506), general computer supplies;Harrison Software (5705 40th P1., Hyattsville, MD 20781, music software, word processor and golf score ana.lyzer; Hunter Electronics (4N370 Pine, Bensenville, IL 60106; 708-766-0566), software and hardware for the TI and Geneve; Indianapolis User Group (185 N. Post Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46219), software for the TI and souvenirs; MlCROpendium Mag.azine; Milwaukee User Group; MS Express Software (P.O. Box 498, Richmond, OH 43944; 614-282-5627), adventure games, Galactic Emperors game, sliding block puzzle software for the TI; Prodigy Services Co. (1411 Opus P1., Suite 105, Downers Grove, IL 60515; 708-515-0890), electronic information service; Ramcharged Computers (6467 E. Vancey, Brook Park, OH; 8669-1214), software and hardware for the TI; and Will Cou User Group (P.O. Box 216R, Romeoville, IL 60441), software for the TI.

Speakers at the fair included: Roger Merit of Comprodine Software, software; Ken Gilliland of Notung Software, software demonstration; Shane Truffer and Christopher Pratt of Electronics Systems Development Corp., discussed hard and floppy disk controller; Bruce Harrison of Harrison Software, demonstrated music software, golf score analyzer and enhancements to his word processing software; Jim Yeaman of Prodigy, demonstration of the Prodigy electronic information

The faire report was supplemented by information from Gary Cox of the Mid-South 99 User Group. -Ed.