A Quick History...
Texas Instruments entered the home computer market in June 1979 with a computer which sported a processor well ahead of its time.
The TMS 9900 was the first 16-Bit processor and was created in 1975 and used in TI's own 990/4 and 990/5 mini-computers.
When the company decided to enter the home computer market, it fitted its new computer with the the TMS 9900 CPU, added 16K of RAM and the TI-99/4 was born...
Originally designed to use a TV as its output, this plan had to be dropped when the RF modulator failed FCC testing, forcing the company to sell the TI-99/4 with an expensive monitor at a whopping $1,150 which immediately put off any home computer buyers.
The poor calculator style keyboard was also very unpopular.
Worse still, TI wouldn't permit anyone but themselves, or official licensees to develop software or peripherals for the TI-99/4.
Sales stood still...
Listening and reacting to the criticisms (not to mention the struggling sales at this point), TI launched the TI-99/4A in June 1981.
The new machine now had approved RF output, a new graphics chip and a proper full travel, professional keyboard.
At $525 without a monitor it was still expensive, but proved to be very successful for a period, and at the end of 1982 was the number one home computer in America with 35% market share and an output of 150,000 computers per month.
However, competition was fierce and TI had been forced to discount the TI-99/4A via a $100 rebate to dealers in August 1982 to get to this point.
In February 1983, in a bid to remain competitive and to destroy its main competition, it locked horns with Commodore in a price war which all but killed the TI-99/4A and also hurt Commodore very badly in the process when they responded.
The price of the TI-99/4A was now only $150 and TI were forced to drop it further as Commodore fought back hard.
In a bid to survive, TI launched a new beige plastic version of the TI-99/4A to lower production costs, but with a selling price now of only $100 the company made a loss of a reported $100M in the second quarter of 1983!
Texas Instruments never recovered from this and from 1983 the company lost money on every computer it produced. After just 4 years, it announced in October 1983 that it intended to pull out of the home computer market.
In March 1984, production stopped forever...