Chicago TI 99
Faire 1998

New software debuts



The following was posted on the TI listserver.—Ed.

I have been attending the annual Chicago Faire for many years. It is always nice to actually talk to TI personalities that you normally only read about, and it is nice to see the new stuff that continues to appear for our ancient but favorite computer. This year was no exception. There was interesting new hardware and software.

The Faire is “International” because European user groups are usually represented. This year Berry Harmsen was there representing the TI Club Errorfree (Germany) and the TI Gebruikersgroep (Netherlands). He had a free disk of mostly new software from these groups that he gave to those attending the Faire. Contrary to pre-Faire publicity, this disk is copyable. Berry also had a European-made SCSI card which he ran on a 99/4A system. Attached to the SCSI card was a zip drive set as SCS7. He used this system to demon.strate the new European software. Unlike my early production Western Horizon SCSI card, the European card had connectors for both an internal SCSI cable and an external SCSI cable (some sort of D connector). The external zip drive was attached to the external connector of the SCSI card.

The most interesting piece of software Berry demonstrated was a 40-column disk manager that is fully compatible with floppy disks, with MFM hard drives controlled by Myarc’s HFDC, and with SCSI hard drives. When you catalog the root directory of a hard drive the listing shows all the subdirectories at the end of the list, If you click on a subdirectory you get a listing of that subdirectory and at the top of the list you are given the opportunity to go back to the previous (next highest) directory. You can move up and down the entire directory structure. This disk manager lets you execute copy move rename and protect files, and you can view files in ASCII and hex. I have reviewed a number of 40- column disk managers in my MICROpendium column, and this seems to be the best such product to date. All 9914A users with hard drives should check out this disk manager. TI BINGO CALLS OUT THE NUMBERS

Bruce Harrison demonstrated his new TI BINGO software. It prints out bingo cards, up to four on a single 8.5 x 11-inch sheet of paper. It then speaks the bingo letter number combinations and puts the called combinations on screen for reference. You can run an entire large-scale bingo operation with this software. It is fun. Bruce also demonstrated the non-AMS version of his MIDI Play In software. He convinced a member of the public to play a short piece on a keyboard and then the 9914A played it back. The non-AMS version stores up to 2,400 notes. This is actually quite a bit of music. The AMS version stores 2,400 notes in each block of six AMS memory pages.


Lew King demonstrated how a 99/ 4A using Term-80 software can access the Internet, read the text of web pages, and read e-mail. The trick is to get an Internet access provider to provide a Unix shell account. The available Chicago Internet access provider could only provide a PPP connection, which we found won’t work with Term-80. Lew ended up having to telephone long distance to a known Unix shell provider.


Mike Wright of CaDD Electronics showed the latest development trend for PC99, a prototype Windows 95/98 version of PC99. This is a native windows 32-bit program that can make use of the various fancy features that windows provides. At the top of the PC99 window one of the options is “cartridge.” Click on this, and a window opens up that allows you to select the cartridge you want to run with PC99. Another option is “size.” Click on this and you get your choice of three different PC99 window sizes. Another option is “disk.” When this is made operational you can click on it and from a window load any PC99 “disk” into your various PC99 disk drives.

Mike demonstrated multiple PC99 programs running on screen simultaneously, each in its own window and each running a different cartridge. This prototype is not yet ready for prime time. It is version 0.1 and was not released. Mike makes no promises when, if ever, the windows version of PC99 will be available to the public. Now for the bad news. Mike said that development of 80-column 99/4A emulation has been suspended because the programmers can’t figure out how to fully emulate the actions of the 9939/9958 video chip.


Bud Mills was the best known TI vendor present. In response to a direct question from me, Bud said that he still supports his products and still repairs them. People are welcome to send him their Horizon RAMdisks, PGRAM cards, MEMEX cards for repair or upgrade. He said that his fees, payable after the repair is completed, would average $35 plus return shipping. He claims that, except for a couple of cards found in a corner of his home shortly before the show, all cards sent to him for repair have been returned to their owners. If you have questions about this, Bud’s e-mail address is and his phone number is 419-385-5946. Bud had some PGRAMs for sale at his table.

At an informal dinner after the faire Hal Shanafield, faire organizer, presented the 1998 John Birdwell Memorial Award for Excellence in Computing to Bud Mills. This award is financed by shareware fees sent in by users of the late John Birdwell’s DSKU (Disk Utilities) disk manager.