TI 99/4A
QI Model

In August of 1983 TI released the TI-99/4A QI. Though this name was not official for the console, it was what the motherboard was designated. QI stood for Quality Improved. No visual changes were made to the exterior of the console, and in fact they are very hard to distinguish from the beige models. On the other hand, major changes were made to the internal components of the QI. We will take a look at these changes a little later.

One change that was made that created major grumbling was TI's decision to change the internal workings to lockout unlicensed ROM cartridges. This was done to keep other 3rd party companies from producing cartridges for the TI-99/4A. Not all QI consoles had this "feature", and even non QI, later beige consoles may have. It is easy to determine if you have the lockout or not. Look at the first screen (the one with the color bars) when you turn on the console, if you show a copyright date of 1981 you do not have the lockout, but if it shows a copyright date of 1983 then you do.

Screen shot showing ver 2.2 / 1983 copyright.

The console I own was "donated" to me by John Creviston Jr and it does not have this feature. The original owner of this system was Steve Erickson. According to John, at one time, the regular beige models and the QI models, were produced at the same time in the TI plant. This would not have posed a problem as all parts for both types are interchangeable in the beige console.

Taking apart a QI console will show that it is one. But the easiest way to determine if a beige console is a QI or not is to just look at the expansion slot.

The top expansion slot pictured on the right is a QI slot. Notice that the grounding fingers are silver in color, while the "regular" slot's fingers, pictured below, are brass in color.

Upon disassembling the console majors changes in the design of the motherboard and power supply will be evident. The first thing you might notice is that there is a shield over the keyboard. Upon removal of the motherboard it will also be noticed that there is no shield on the top of the motherboard (component side). I must admit that the power supply and motherboard look very nice. TI did indeed up the quality of construction of these products.

Another shot of the expansion slot on the QI motherboard.

Since the QI does not have a top metal shield, where the heat sink is attached on the non-QI motherboards, an actual heat sink is placed on the TMS9918A video IC. This is the only IC on the QI motherboard that has a heat sink

The new power supply design is very clean and almost looks like it could be a switching supply. If anyone might have additonal information on this supply, and/or a schematic please contact me.

Also notice that the socket for the tranformer plug only contains two pins. Where the old power supplies required 5V,8V,and 16v, the QI supply only needs 5V and 16V. You can still use the old transformers with the QI though.

TI-99/4A QI and TI-99/4A Motherboards

As can be seen above there is quite a change in the QI motherboard. The above motherboard is a QI while the the bottom one is the more standard TI 99 motherboard. The idea for the QI design was to try and make the TI-99/4A as inexpenisve as TI could. One way to do this was to reduce the number of IC's required. While the standard motherboard contains 42 IC's the QI motherboard only contains 35.

To see a large view of the TI-99/4A QI motherboard click here