My latest repair effort: RV Tangaroa

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My latest repair effort: RV Tangaroa

Postby lizardb0y on Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:21 pm

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I was contacted a few days ago by a gentleman named Paul Duncan of Electronic Services Industrial & Marine in Temuka, down near Timaru. He was repairing a marine communications system and had traced the fault to the embedded CPU. The CPU is a Texas Instruments TMS9900 - the same CPU that powers the infamously unsuccessful TI 99/4 and 99/4a microcomputers. The communications system in question is onboard the NIWA Research Vessel Tangaroa - a ship the underwent a complete refit just over a year ago, and most recently in the news for dropping off Happy Feet, the confused Emperor penguin found on a Kapiti beach.

Apparently the RV Tangaroa can't put to sea until the comms is repaired, and given the lead times getting anything from overseas at this time of year, Paul looked closer to home, stumbling across my web site. I have a TI99/4a in working but damaged condition that I was keeping for parts, so I was happy to help out. The chip is a 16 bit processor, probably the first such to be fitted to a microcomputer. It has a massive 64-pin DIL package, and is soldered into the board, so I decided to send the complete board down and let the experts remove it with the right tools. The chip in this machine is an AMI manufactured part, the S9900P, which is rated for up to a whopping 3.3Mhz!

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They should receive the board tomorrow, and I hope to hear good news soon after that :)
lizardb0y / Andrew
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Re: My latest repair effort: RV Tangaroa

Postby tezza on Fri Dec 30, 2011 8:15 am

Interesting story.

Those TI 99/4A machines were historical in a sense that they were a clear loser in the "home computer wars" of 83/84 defeated largely by the Commodore 64. So much so that TI pulled out of that whole market.

Anyway, good to see the parts bin being put to good use in this way. I should really get a working TI 99/4a myself.
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Re: My latest repair effort: RV Tangaroa

Postby lizardb0y on Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:29 am

tezza wrote:Interesting story.

Those TI 99/4A machines were historical in a sense that they were a clear loser in the "home computer wars" of 83/84 defeated largely by the Commodore 64. So much so that TI pulled out of that whole market.


It was a perfect case study of the success of Jack Tramiel's vertical market strategy - there was no way TI could compete on price with Commodore's custom chipsets while they still relied on off-the-shelf components for their own machines. Commodore dropping their Vic-20 price to $99 USD was what killed TI's microcomputer ambitions - they were already selling the 99/4a below cost just to stay in the market.
lizardb0y / Andrew
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blog: http://www.vintage8bit.com
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Re: My latest repair effort: RV Tangaroa

Postby Carcenomy on Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:02 pm

The tale of that particular saga in On The Edge was pretty hilarious, TI going all out with a massive booth at CES and all the trimmings, Commodore in a small booth with some VICs and stuff, Jack says 'VIC is now 99 dollars' and TI pull out of the market within days. Ha!
Just the local Commodore hobo and middle-aged PC hoarder.
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Re: My latest repair effort: RV Tangaroa

Postby tezza on Fri Dec 30, 2011 2:01 pm

I must read that book sometime. *mental note to check our local library to see if they have a copy*.

Otherwise I guess there is always Amazon or ebay.
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Re: My latest repair effort: RV Tangaroa

Postby Carcenomy on Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:36 pm

I could lend you mine. I'm waiting for the other half to be released already.
Just the local Commodore hobo and middle-aged PC hoarder.
eisa on Trademe. A lasting reminder of a Compaq fetish when I was younger.
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Re: My latest repair effort: RV Tangaroa

Postby tezza on Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:44 pm

That would be great! I'll PM you my address.
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