TI-99 Home Computer Timeline

Bill Gaskill

part 4 of 4

JUN 1983: TI releases the beige console with its new operating system that is designed to defeat cartridges that bypass the use of TI's patented GROM. The console is now made of plastic in an effort to get the price of the Home Computer as low as possible.

- Under the stewardship of Jerry Junkins, the TI-99/4A becomes a loss leader when it's price is reduced to $99 in order to match the VIC-20. It is now selling for $25-30 less than it costs to make it.

- TI releases its now famous "Notice" to plug-in cartridge makers that warning them of possible patent infringements if they try to make cartridges for the 99/4A without going through TI's licensing program.

- In a series of meetings after the Consumer Electronics Show, in which TI purposely failed to display the Computer 99/8, plans to introduce it are shelved indefinitely, but the decision is not made public.

- Yet another sales promotion surfaces when TI begins offering a free Speech Synthesizer to anyone who purchases six Solid State Software Command Modules or an Entertainment Value Pack and three modules, or two Software Libraries between June 1, 1983 and January 1, 1984.

- Microsurgeon, Super Demon Attack, Moonmine and Sneggit are announced by Texas Instruments.

- Former TI employee Michael Brouthers, founder of Funware, announces that his firm will produce Ant Colony, Astroblitz, Cave Creatures, Crisis Mountain, Driving Demon, Pipes, St. Nick, and Trashman for the 99/4A and guarantees that all will run on the new operating system despite TI's efforts to lock out unlicensed third party developers.

- Milton Bradley announces that the MBX Voice Recognition System originally planned for release in April will be available some time during the fourth quarter of 1983.

- Jim Peterson's first Tips from Tigercub Software is published.

- Romox announces the impending release of their Hen Pecked, Typo and Whiz Kid cartridges.

- TI announces a 3rd quarter release for Mini Writer, a word processor on cassette that runs out of the Mini Memory cartridge, and Entrapment, a Mini Memory based game program.

JUL 1983: Texas Instruments releases an internal report listing software sales ranking for the 2nd quarter 1983 which shows that Texas Instruments has three of the top eight games, the #1 seller in home productivity programs (#12), the #1 seller in the computer programming category (#13),and the #1 seller in the educational area (#16).

01. Pac-Man
02. Parsec
03. Galaxian
04. Centipede
05. Star Raiders
06. Munchman
07. Frogger
08. TI Invaders
09. Missile Command
10. Defender
11. Cosmis Cruncher
12. Household Budget Management
13. Teach Yourself Basic
14. A-Maz-Ing
15. Garf
16. Early Learning Fun
17. Jupiter Landing
18. Hunt The Wumpus
19. Personal Record Keeping
20. Car Wars

- Control Data Corporation announces its PLATO Courseware Development 2 program, or PCD2. PCD2 allows third-party courseware developers to submit programs for evaluation and possible acceptance into the PLATO Courseware line. Ken Modesitt of the TI Computer Based Learning Center in Lubbock is named as the PCD2 contact for Texas Instruments.

- Anteater is released by Romox Software Publishing.

- Texas Instruments announces a $119 million loss on the Home Computer during the 2nd quarter 1983 alone.

- Scott, Foresman and Company releases the Mathematics Action Games programs as individual cartridges for $39.95.

AUG 1983: TI's Audits and surveys of retail sales data indicates the following video game and home computer sales breakdown for 1983.

Videogames Home Computers
---------- --------------
January 72% 28%
February 70 30
March 62 38
April 53 47
May 57 43
June 53 47
July 51 49

- TI signs an agreement with Spinnaker Software that allows TI to produce Facemaker and Story Machine for the 99/4A. They also reach a similar agreement with Sega that allows TI to produce Buck Rogers, Congo Bongo and Star Trek for the Home Computer.

- Ralph Fowler goes on-line with the first TIBBS in Kennesaw, Georgia and the Chicago TI Users Group goes on line with their first BBS. Both systems are the first electronic bulletin board systems ever created for a TI-99/4A system.

SEP 1983: Consumer Reports publishes an non-complimentary review of the 99/4A system, stating the pricing of the peripherals is too high and the system cannot do much without the peripherals.

- Atari Chief Executive Officer Raymond Kassar is fired as Atari continues to lose money on their home computer line. While Atari was the darling of investors in 1981, all gains in stock price since then have been lost. James J. Morgan is named as Kassar's replacement.

- Coleco's Adam Home Computer receives FCC approval and is announced to the world as being ready to ship.

- On September 20, 1983 Texas Instruments announces its 4th quarter 1983 Home Computer Network TV schedule to retail dealers. The line up includes over 160 airings of two commercials; "Reaching" and "Sixth Grade Math", both 30 second spots prepared for TI by McCann-Erickson's Houston, Texas office.

- TI delivers a Product Status Sheet to retailers that is designed to provide the latest information on 99/4A software development. The sheet lists the following products:

------------------------ ------ --- ------- ----------- --------
Baseball 3148 ENT 33.75 11/14/83
Bigfoot 3151 ENT 27.00 11/14/83
Burgertime 3233 ENT 26.00 11/14/83
Computer Math Games III 3085 ED 26.00 10/03/83
Computer Math Games IV 3086 ED 26.00 10/24/83
Congo Bongo 3227 ENT 26.00 12/05/83
Crossfire 3207 ENT 26.00 11/14/83
Demon Attack 3219 ENT 26.00 11/14/83
Early LOGO Learning Fun 3144 ED 26.00 10/10/83
Face Maker 3177 ED 26.00 10/03/83
Fathom 3222 ENT 26.00 11/21/83
Honey Hunt 3156 ED 27.00 11/14/83
Hopper 3229 ENT 26.00 09/26/83
I'm Hiding 3155 ED 27.00 11/14/83
Jawbreaker 3194 ENT 26.00 09/26/83
Key To Spanish 3126 ED 97.50 10/17/83
Logo II 3109 ED 57.20 09/26/83
M*A*S*H 3158 ENT 26.00 09/26/83
Microsurgeon 3220 ENT 26.00 10/03/83
Moonmine 3131 ENT 26.00 09/26/83
Moonsweeper 3224 ENT 26.00 11/21/83
Munchmobile 3146 ENT 26.00 11/14/83
Plato 3122 ED 32.50 09/26/83
Sewermania 3150 ENT 27.00 11/14/83
Slymoids 3197 ENT 26.00 10/03/83
Sneggit 3145 ENT 26.00 09/26/83
Sound Track Trolley 3157 ED 27.00 11/14/83
Space Bandits 3149 ENT 27.00 11/14/83
Star Trek 3225 ENT 26.00 11/12/83
Superfly 3153 ENT 27.00 11/14/83
Teach Yourself Basic PHT 6007 ED 19.50 09/26/83
Terry's Turtle Adventure 3154 ED 27.00 11/14/83
TI Mini Writer PHT 6103 HU 13.00 10/17/83
Treasure Island 3168 ENT 26.00 11/18/83
Wingwar 3223 ENT 26.00 12/08/83
Word Invasion 3169 ED 26.00 11/21/83
Word Radar 3185 ED 26.00 11/14/83

OCT 1983: TI extends the $50 rebate program and includes the cassette version of Teach Yourself Basic with the purchase.

- Navarone releases the Grombuster cartridge designed to defeat the new operating system in the beige consoles.

- Two top Atari executives, John Cavalier and Jeffrey Heimbuck, leave troubled Atari as the company's new CEO James J. Morgan appears to be cleaning house.

- Battered by loses of $223 million during the first 9 months of 1983, on October 28th TI publically announces that it will bow out of the home computer business. It is a victim of its own self-destructive strategy to bolster sagging sales. In a series of price reductions and rebates over the last year, TI slashed the price of the computer in half, a move which cost the firm $50 on every computer shipped according to Business Week. By the end of September 1983, the Home Computer Division was more than $500 million in the red.

- The $50 rebate program is canceled on October 31st, but TI decides to continue the free Speech Synthesizer (with purchase of six modules) offer until January 31, 1984.

- Andrew Pollack writes a multi-page article on the demise of the 99/4A in the October 29, 1983 issue of the New York Times.

NOV 1983: The last 99er Home Computer Magazine is published.

- Don and Lucy Veith release the first issue of The National Ninety Niner newsletter out of Bakersfield, California.

- Corcomp announces a 32K memory expansion card that is available immediately, and they announce the impending release of a DS/DD disk controller card, a Peripheral Expansion System with 32K memory, an RS232 interface, a disk drive power supply, a quad density disk controller, a hard disk connection and 3-4 expansion slots. Corcomp also announces that they are developing a 128/256K Ram card.

DEC 1983: 99er Home Computer Magazine fails to appear with the December issue, supposedly because of a problem with advertisers after the TI announcement of October 28th.

JAN 1984: TI's Ron Wolfson releases figures of 2.5 million TI-99/4A consoles sold with about 250,000 having expansion systems.

FEB 1984: JC Penney department stores drop the 99/4A after trying to unload as many during the Christmas season as they could.

MAR 1984: San Francisco based Triton Products Company is chosen as the fulfillment house for remaining 99/4A hardware and software.

- Texas Instruments officially leaves the home computer market on March 28, 1984 when the last 99/4A is produced and the assembly lines are shut down forever.

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