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|CED in the History of Media Technology|
Texas Instruments actually began their TI99 line of computers with the TI99/4 in June 1979. This model sold for $1150 with a monitor and was the first home computer to use a 16-bit processor, the TMS9900 running at 3MHz. Unfortunately the TI99/4 actually appeared to be slow when programmed in BASIC because the language was double interpreted on this machine. Production problems and the lack of an approved RF modulator (to use the computer with a regular TV) caused the original TI99/4 to have poor sales.
That changed in June 1981 with the TI99/4A, a machine with the same processor, and outwardly similar to the TI99/4, except it no longer had the chicklet keyboard of its predecessor. This model initially retailed for $525 with the monitor being optional. Another option was the Peripheral Expansion Box which contained a 5.25" floppy drive and eight expansion slots. The versatile TI99/4A sold well, but TI got into a price war with Commodore and their VIC20 computer. This was seen on TV with Bill Cosby pitching the TI99/4A and William Shatner the VIC20. The 16-bit TI99/4A was clearly superior, but with their home computer business losing money, TI discontinued it in October 1983. Only a few prototypes of the next-generation TI99/8 were made.