[ Go to Stephen's Entry Page ]

[ TI Book front page   |   TI99/4a Articles   |    TI Resources Page |   PC99 Review    |   PC99 Programs ]
contact - please use subject="pc99 page" to avoid spam trap!

Once upon a time back in 1983, members of TIHOME received instead of TIdings a rather slim but very slickly printed magazine. Unfortunately this had been set up on the premise that TI would support it, and in November 1983 TI withdrew from the market. This is issue one...

TI Home Computer Users Club
Autumn 1983
A quarterly publication for Club Members No. 1

12 new creative software titles 12 titles for just GBP 9.95 EACH (RRP incl. VAT)

Texas Instruments has commissioned twelve new cassette software packs, all written by acknowledged experts in their fields, which will be in the shops from September onwards, at just GBP 9.95 each.
Real computer literacy and educational revision to secondary (0-level) standard is becoming more and more important to Users — and these terrific software packs precisely fulfil those objectives. At a low, low cost to you!

Here they are!
12 new software titles, at just GBP 9.95 EACH

(web note- these were released)
Learning can be fun!

* STARTER PACK1 The first in a series designed to explain in detail the more difficult functions of TI Basic such as call HCHAR, call key etc. Comes with a comprehensive 128 page book.

* STARTER PACK 2 Second in the series, this program examines commands like sound, read and data statements, use of string slicing, etc. With a 128 page book.

* GAMES WRITER PACK 1: First of a series of two packs which teach how to write your own games. How to move objects on the screen, how to check for coincidence, etc. Complete with a 96 page book.

* GAMES WRITER PACK 2: Second part of the series. This package completes this 2-part tutorial set on games writing. Also with a 96 page book.

The above four titles are available from TI99/4a books.
* CHESS LEARNER PACK: This cassette program shows how to move pieces — pawns, King, Queen, etc. — and presents some simple cases and examples. Ideal for those wishing to start computer chess at the beginning.

* RECORD KEEPER PACK: This cassette contains 4 utility programs, and 2 sets of data for demonstration. The accompanying 48 page manual explains in detail the basic techniques of data manipulation, and suggests ways that your own records can be filed.

(web note- none of these were ever seen)
Useful for revision up to 0-Level standard
* MATHS TESTER 1 This program deals on a revision basis with algebra, geometry, vectors and trigonometry.
* MATHS TESTER 2 Second in the series, this pack looks further into trigonometry, and tests on equations, progressions, functions and calculus.
* PHYSICS TESTER Provides valuable pre-exam revision in physics. The program tests in charges and circuits, electricity and magnetism, electronics and nucleonics, waves and sounds, light matter, forces and motion.
* CHEMISTRY TESTER: This program deals with the periodic table, structure, binding and energy, redox reactions, analysis and organic chemistry.
* BIOLOGY TESTER This program looks at the nature, variety and functions of living organisms, including nutrition, respiration, circulation, excretion, reproduction, the nervous system, and the biology of the environment.
* HUMAN BIOLOGY TESTER: Consists of revision on nutrition, respiration, circulation, excretion, reproduction, and the nervous system.

All these titles are going into the shops now, so make sure you ask for a demonstration — at your favourite local dealer. A quick flick through the manuals will demonstrate how detailed and professional this material is. This new software offers real top value for money.

(web note- pretty unrealistic expecting a dealer to demonstrate cassette loading software- but one or two are known to have done so. However by the time this publication got into anyones hands, TI had ceased manufacture and the small number of dealers were moving left over stock as quickly as possible, only one or two kept going for a little while longer).

FROM THE EDITOR Here's the first issue of the new, and very special TI Home Computer Users Club News. We've been asked by Members to try to steer a "middle course" — not too much bumph that's too clever for the average family user, but on the other hand definitely not too much emphasis on kids' stuff either!
Obviously we'll never please "all the people all the time" — but we'll try! Remember, this magazine is your magazine — it's designed as a two-way communication medium between us and you.
We want to hear your news and views, and if they're interesting, we'll publish them. As the years go by, and we acquire more Members, we hope the Club News will get thicker and thicker, and more and more interesting and stimulating to its readers. So if you know anyone who has a TI home computer but hasn't joined yet, make sure he or she does — soon!

Our next issue is scheduled for after Christmas, and our closing date for letters or copy for consideration will be 5 December. So rather than leave it to the last minute, put pen to paper now — we'd love to hear from you.

No Club would be much fun, if there was never any opportunity to meet, talk or hear from other Club Members. The TI Club not only intends to keep every single Member in touch with each other through TI Club News but also in direct contact.
You may have had special, personal or business reasons for investing in your TI 99-4A — it could be anything from compiling your own musical symphonies to cataloguing archaeological finds — WHATEVER your specialist interests you could be surprised to find you are not alone and that out there somewhere is another TI Club Member who shares them!
Through the pages of TI Club News, let us put you in touch with each other so you can share and interchange ideas and expertise.
The In Touch section will feature material (and pictures we hope) of Tiers at work and play — buffs and beginners, adults and youngsters. So if you'd like to be featured in In Touch — get in touch!
You can write to us initially at the following address: TI Club News (In Touch), PO Box NNN, Maidenhead, Berks SLN NYX. Then we'll probably get one of our writers to come and interview you, at home — perhaps over a weekend. You could suddenly become a local celebrity!

HAVE A LOOK AT THESE SOFTWARE PACKAGES They'll perform all sorts of tasks!

As an Owner, you and your family are probably having great fun exploring the exciting world of computer software. Computer jargon is no doubt quite familiar to you now, and as your computer skills and knowledge increase, you will have discovered many exciting and useful applications for your home computer. For instance, have you thought about how useful the computer can be in the field of personal and small business organisation? TI have software to help you organise properly the many routine tasks that occur from day to day in the home or in your job. Things like budgeting, planning your shopping list, controlling your personal address list — all time-consuming, and subject to routine.

For instance, take a look at three organisational packages available for the TI 99-4A on diskettes: Inventory, Invoicing and Mailing List — each can be purchased from TI dealers for about £85.95. The Inventory diskette allows inventory updating and movement tracking. It can be used for performing stock evaluations by cost, profit margin or price. The Invoicing package allows you to keep current and accurate customer information such as addresses, discounts where applicable, taxes and other invoice information all in one easy-to-use system.

The Mailing List package will take the chore out of many of those monotonous listing jobs and provide an accurate and efficient record of names, addresses, telephone numbers and other related mailing information. It will sort, alphabetise and search for mailing list information, and would be a useful programme for both business and personal use. There are lots of other packages which will prove invaluable in small business and personal organisation — have a look at these four— all available as Solid State software modules.

The Personal Report Generator is ideal for clubs and societies too — and can create, edit and print standard letters and reports. This module will cost you only GBP 39.95 and is used in conjunction with the Personal Record Keeping or Statistics modules which can be purchased for GBP 39.95 and GBP 54.95 respectively.

The Record Keeping Programme module will create, maintain and utilise a computer-based filing system that is useful for applications such as home inventory for insurance purposes, car maintenance records, medical and dental records. It can be a complete reference medium for birthdays, anniversaries and other important occasions, too. As we said, it's great value at around GBP39.95.

The Statistics module costs GBP 54.95 and performs a variety of statistical calculations for you with speed and accuracy. This leaves you more time to analyse the results and apply them to your particular situation. Its capability includes descriptive statistics, correlation, linear regression analysis and other inferential statistical evaluations.

The TI Writer Word-Processing module is extremely versatile and was designed to provide many of the features of large and more complex word processing systems. Text editing and formatting include features such as insertion, deletion and moving of text, automatic paragraph indentation, margin justification, underlining and so on. At GBP 85.95 this Solid State software module provides extremely good value for money, since users can create, edit, save and print documents at the drop of a key!

It's really worth going to your home computer specialist to have a demonstration and "hands-on" with these software items — until you try them, words can't really do them justice.

PUBLISH YOUR PROGRAMS As well as producing the quarterly Club News we're planning to print Members' programs up and send them to you separately, in the quarterly magazine envelope. So if you have anything special up your sleeve, let us have a look at it. Not only will we pay you GBP 15 if we use it, you could get yourself quite well known — what a way to start a new career! We can only accept program material which is typed (with a dark ribbon) or written in black biro or ink, because we'll be mounting your actual manuscript on our program grid sheets and printing direct from them. So try to keep your efforts brief — to two pages, maximum. The address to send this material to is TI Club News (Programs), PO Box NNN, Maidenhead, Berks SLN NYX.

As we keep saying, we like to hear your views so here are just a few we've received to date! [web note- this first issue of the magazine was the first anyone had heard of this organisation - so guess all these submissions are fiction, or possibly forwarded by Mr Dick]

A selection of your letters will be published on these pages every issue. Keep them rolling in! And we promise not to just publish praise but useful and constructive criticisms as well!

Since we're a new operation, we haven't had too many letters yet, but here are some high score claims. Send 'em all in, and for the next issue we'll have them sorted out by title and should be able to award some Top Scorer prizes. Let's start with Parsec, Munchman and TI Invaders.

Dear Editor,
I have recently bought the new TI game, Parsec. The game is the best game yet produced. The game is fast moving and very exciting. My top score is 71,000 on the fourth level. I would recommend Parsec to anyone.
Yours sincerely, A. H. Baker — Rhondda.

Dear Editor,
I am writing to tell you that I have beaten Domonic R. Huffer's score on TI Invaders on the 'Downright Nasty' level. Domonic R. Huffer's score was in the May edition of 'Tidings'. My score is 23,767.
I am also writing to tell you that on TI's wonderful new cartridge called 'Parsec' I managed to achieve a score of 259,000. So please could you tell me whether these two scores are records. Yours sincerely, Steven Dunn (age 13) — Hornchurch.

The Downright Nasty score looks pretty good, but you've got a long way to go on Parsec, Steven. Ed.

Dear Editor,
I have just scored 88,330 on my Munchman using joysticks. I reached my 20th card, is this score a record?
Yours sincerely, James D. Elliott (age 12) — Knutsford.

Here's part of a letter from Adrian Kyte of N Winwick Road, Reading, RGN NAX, who is keen to get a User Group going in his area. If you're interested, please write to Adrian direct.

Dear Editor,
Hi, my name is Adrian Kyte. I'm the county contact for Reading. So far I've had one call from a new user but I do know two other people in the Reading area who have 99-4As.

I would like to build up a register of members in this area and, if there is sufficient interest, I could arrange meetings where we could discuss problems over a pint or so. If you are interested please drop me a line — preferably telling me what hardware and software you've got and whether you are prepared to let other members borrow or swap any of it.

If you have any programming problems I may be able to help but I'm not making any promises. I've been in programming for 15 years using assembler (not 9900) but my knowledge of BASIC and 9900 assembler is growing.

TI tell me that the disc controller for the TI box can handle double density discs. If you have one of these controllers can you tell me if it can handle single and double density drives at the same time. Presumably Disc Controller 2 (double sided discs, USA only at the moment) can handle double density as well as 368 Kb on one 5 1/4" floppy disc!

Recently I got TI to demonstrate 99-4A and all the peripherals except the printer at our works computer club. Everyone who attended enjoyed it and I would like to thank TI publicly for this demo. My initial contact was Robin Frowd in case you want to try to arrange a similar event.

Bye for now, Adrian Kyte.

Dear Editor,
I am glad to hear that you are organising a new magazine for the Users, which will not be as expensive as the old one. I myself do not have to join as my membership has not run out on the old club yet.

I have enclosed a listing of a small program which 'mixes' two colours that are input from the keyboard.

120 FOR C = 2 to 12
130 CALL COLOR (C,13,1)
140 NEXT C
150 CALL SCREEN (12)
170 INPUT "1st Color?": COL1
180 IF COL1 > 16 then 160
200 INPUT "To be mixed with ?": COL2
210 IF COL2 > 16 then 190
220 Call CLEAR
230 Call COLOR (13,COL1,COL2)
240 Call CHAR (128, "AA55AA55AA55AA55")
250 Call HCHAR (1,1,128,736)
260 GOTO 170

Yours sincerely, Graham Cooke — Cowes.

Dear Editor,
We originally bought our computer for my husband but now he and my son (16) share it. The modules for it are very expensive — is there a Swapping Club which you could put us in contact with? Also I must say I was surprised how my 13-year-old daughter Janice has taken to the computer. Do a lot of girls use them?
Yours sincerely, Jennifer Arundel — Barking.

Two games modules close up CLOSE-UP ON HUNT THE WUMPUS and TOMBSTONE CITY

In this issue, Close-Up takes a look at two exciting TI Solid State Software game modules which are not only enormous fun for the whole family but require good skills and really fast reactions!

HUNT THE WUMPUS You are the intrepid hunter embarking on a dangerous mission to seek out and destroy the man-eating Wumpus in his secret lair, which is concealed somewhere in the depths of a maze of hidden caverns and twisting tunnels. You must combat unknown obstacles and perils en route, such as green slime pits and menacing giant bats.

After choosing the complexity of the maze which varies from Easy with about 32 caverns, Hard with about 24 caverns to Pro with about 16 caverns, you then select one of the four options — Normal, Blindfold, Express or Blindfold and Express. 'Normal' allows you to see the entire maze as you stealthily plot your course but in 'Blindfold' the map erases behind you.

With `Express' you really have to watch your step as you are whisked from cavern to cavern without the tunnels appearing on screen and 'Blindfold and Express' creates the game's ultimate challenge to experienced Wumpus hunters! After selecting an option the computer constructs a hidden maze and a bugle trumpets the start of the hunt!

The game begins with an empty cavern and the blinking figure of the lone hunter. Either by the appropriate arrow keys on the keyboard or by using one of the Wired Remote Controllers move off into the unknown through the openings in the maze. Now, the fun really begins!

Entering any of the caverns with a green slime pit spells an instant and gruesome death as you see yourself plummet into its murky depths. Also beware of the caves with fiendish giant bats. Trespass once and you will be ignored. Appear a second time and you will be picked up bodily and dumped elsewhere in the maze. And this could be in a green slime pit or even right into the jaws of the Wumpus!

The object of the game is to determine the location of the Wumpus and then move in for the kill. You know when you are getting close as red blood spots appear in all caverns within two caverns of the Wumpus. Press Q or the fire button on the Wired Remote Controller to indicate you are ready to fire your arrow, then press the appropriate arrow key or move the lever to direct your shot.

But make sure you are a crackshot or the Wumpus comes to get you and as you are devoured whole, the ominous chords of the funeral march play. On the other hand, if you win, a fanfare plays and the screen tells you you've "GOT IT"! The intrepid hunter lives to fight another battle!

TOMBSTONE CITY In Tombstone City, it's always high noon! But this is no ordinary old Wild West town and no ordinary gun battle. The setting is a ghost town of the 21st Century which comes under attack by a ferocious fleet of invading space monsters called MORGS. After,selecting one of the three skill levels — Novice, Master or Insane — move your schooner space ship with the Wired Remote Controllers and fire your missiles with the fire button on the lever.

Remember Tombstone City is your refuge but once out in the open desert you are under constant attack by the Morgs. Every Morg destroyed immediately turns into a saguero (cactus) but accidentally hitting a saguero means zero points. However, obliterating a Morg means you score 150 points and for a tumble weed 100 points.

But keep dodging and outwitting those Morgs because if your schooner is destroyed you only have a maximum 10 new ships per game.

Once in the sanctuary of Tombstone City you can recharge your fuel tanks but be warned, Morgs will close in on all your exits from the town, and if you then shoot and turn them into cacti, they will permanently block every way out. When you are totally sealed in, you will be rapidly expelled from Tombstone City and deposited outside in the desert — completely at the mercy of the Morgs.

Your retreat to sanctuary is, of course, now prevented and the Morgs attack wave after wave until, if your reactions are slow, you are totally zapped!

BUT you can be clever too and thwart the Morgs by darting and firing from advantage positions such as behind sagueros. Destroy all the Morgs and a new day dawns for Tombstone City and you — the fastest gun in the 21st Century!

All over the U.K. there are TI Home Computer User Groups, already set up by people who want to communicate with other people who have the same interest in computers as they have. In our next issue we hope to get as many as possible names, addresses and phone numbers together, so that the numerous new owners who have bought a machine recently can get in touch with the Groups. Paul Dicks has kindly given us lots of contacts, but we'd like to do a proper area-by- area listing, as a service to our Members, so please, Group Organisers, let us have your details.
Anyone, like Adrian Kyte, whose letter is published on our Letters Page, can set up a User Group, and it hardly costs a thing. So if you are planning to set one up make sure we are notified of your existence, too!
We'll need the following details for our records:
Organising Speakers

Once your Group has taken off and you've established a regular communications pattern, you'll probably want to invite guest speakers along from time to time. TI is often prepared to "lend" someone for this purpose, or you may be able to obtain the services of someone in another Group. This can work both ways — so if you feel that one of the Members of your Group is qualified to give a talk or present a lecture on a computing subject, let us know and we will make other Groups aware of your offer. An interchange of ideas and people will ensure that the Group stays interested, and enthusiastic.

Who takes responsibility?

Any group will need at least a small amount of organisation by someone — probably you! This burden can get heavy as the group expands, so its best to have a Committee of two or three people who share any writing or communications tasks. Or alternatively, change the Group leadership round every now and then — often people have hidden talents.

The address to write to with User Group information is the same one as is shown elsewhere in the magazine, but mark your letter GROUPS — it will help us spot them quickly.

NEW CASSETTE PROGRAM RECORDER If you haven't seen it yet, you should have a look at the new compact cassette program recorder designed for use with the TI 99-4A. The program recorder is optimised for use as a program and data storage/retrieval system. With its slim design, it is a perfect desktop complement to the system. The package includes a computer interface cable.

Major features of the unit include the ability to be controlled from the base system, an automatic recording level control, a digital tape counter, clearly marked optimum settings for volume and tone control, colour-coded input jacks for easy setup, a pause control and a built-in condenser microphone which allows use as an ordinary audio cassette recorder. The program recorder, which has a suggested retail price of around GBP 40, can be mains or battery driven.

Did you know that the first true electronic computers were built in Britain during the second World War and were used to decode enemy messages?

Did you know that a microprocessor or chip is smaller and thinner than a contact lens? Everyone knows a robot is controlled by microprocessors today but did you know the word `Robot' is the Czech word for 'worker', and first used to describe artificial men in a play by Karel Capek in the 1920s.

And did you know that one of the first computers, ENIAC, took up the space of a house, weighed 30 tonnes, and cost $1/2 million to build!

SOFTWARE REVIEWS Were the first to admit that numerous clever people have designed some pretty good software for use on the 99- 4A — we call it "independent software". Several of our readers have taken the trouble to review material which has come into their possession — and we've printed some here.

Andrew Myers from Wigan has kindly provided the first three:

"Squadron Leader" by Time Travels Inc. First of all the instructions provided are quite impressive. An 8 page booklet is provided giving a large amount of information. Initially you must choose your plane, either Lancaster or Blenheim, then, if you have chosen the Lancaster you are given a choice of bombs.

Taking off is simply a matter of choosing a figure for the engine power based on wind speed and direction. After this there are a couple of screens where you can either shoot or bomb ships and guns. The next screen's hazard is barrage balloons which can also be destroyed as above. The balloons pose the extra danger of being fatal if crashed into.

Penultimately you are given the chance to destroy the secret laboratory by dropping a specially designed bomb, which only the Lancaster can carry on it. The Lab. is fairly hard to find at first as it is only a dot against the mountainside.

Finally after crossing the mountain you are asked to land on a small runway which has obstacles at both ends. This is always fatal! 

This is quite an enjoyable game considering the limitations of BASIC and a reasonable amount of skill is needed to complete all the tasks.

Presentation  8  Instructions  9
Playability   6  Ease of Use   9
Value         7

"Keys of the Castle" and "Octal 1" by P.S. Software
(web note: this program package was sold by Stainless Software in the UK)
Language — Extended Basic.
This graphic adventure has been around for a while but is none the worse for that! Your task is to travel through a maze collecting keys with which to open chests. When a chest is opened you are given two letters of a six letter word When you know the whole word you advance to the next level. When you pass onto the next level a further hazard is added such as electrifying the walls or making them invisible

If you pass through the first six levels (very hard) you enter the second castle which has a different maze and a shorter time limit, and ultimately onto the third castle.
There are, of course, various monsters which attack you upon entering a room occupied by one of them. The least evil are ghosts then of course banshees and the dreadful skeletons.
If you are caught, they will either wound or kill you depending on their type and the number of wounds you already have.
Your defence against them, apart from escape, are spells which you throw at them. Beware if you throw too soon the spell doesn't work!

Octal 1 involves you, as a space ship, turning around a fixed point in the centre of the screen, and some pretty nasty spyders which appear around the screen and occasionally fire at you.
Not to mention the special attack waves. of which there are two. One involves a squad of purple spyders closing in on you. The other is a command ship which deposits invisible spyders all around you.
To beat off all these attacks you have a laser that fires in opposite directions at the same time.
This is quite a fast, exciting game due to the small amount of movement used and is fairly entertaining
Presentation  10   Instructions  7
Playability    9   Ease of Use   8
Value         10

"Chalice" by Apex Trading Language— TI BASIC
"At last!" I hear you cry.. "Cheap software for the TI". Very true... However 'all that glistens is not gold' and this is also very true here!
You are first presented with an instruction screen and offered a skill level of 1 to 10. Then a maze is displayed. The situation is now the chalice at the top, you at the bottom and the monster (name of Gork) is at the side
The maze then vanishes and naturally you must essay to gain the top
Occasionally a flash of lightning displays the maze for a second. If you touch a wall you find yourself at the bottom of the screen.
At the highest level the game is difficult but still not very interesting.
On side 2 is a simple invader type game involving a penguin and an attacking bird
Presentation  5    Instructions     7
Playability   3    Ease of Use      9
Value         4

As you probably know, independent software is available from all sorts of sources, including by mail order — and the best places to find listings and ads are the numerous home computing specialist magazines you can find on the bookstalls.

Joseph Altham, age 11, has reviewed the ultimate Frogger for us. He's obviously very into games, and this is a very expert synopsis:
"Superfrogger" by Norton Software
(web note: this program was sold in the UK by Stainless Software who never had a mention from TIHCUC)
Language — Extended Basic
The program loaded first time on both Joystick and Keyboard versions. So, after loading, I typed 'RUN' and a few seconds later the computer responded with the input 'Does your machine have the hardware problem'''. I typed 'Y', as Stephen Shaw said that almost all UK consoles do, pressed 'Enter', and the program then asked me if I wanted to play the advanced level. If I had said 'Y', it would ask me for a password and then would give me all the full hazards of the game. But 'N' was the reply, and I started to play, after waiting for the computer to set up the screen with cars, the time (shown in a block graph), banks, and the swamp.

The object of the game is to jump your frog to home avoiding the cars and lorries, tankers and trucks of the five- lane high-way, and then jump onto the logs and barges, being careful to avoid touching the piranha-infested water. Easy? You only have a certain amount of time to do it in, and only four lives, and a few screens later you must also avoid snakes on the logs and crocodiles lurking in your home (lily pad).

It is different from other games (Munchman, TI Invaders, Pinball, Potshot — last two on Video Games 1) in that one must work quite hard, and concentrate, to score any points at all. For the first few games, the score and screens completed both registered zero. However, practice makes perfect, and I soon got a frog home. On later screens it comments on the style of play and even told me I had never played video games!

The graphics are superb, but I feel that some of the hazards could be represented with more graphics e.g. being eaten by a crocodile, or a snake; instead of seeing a picture of a skull.

The instructions are all right, but rather illegible as they obviously have been printed on a computer with the pseudo lower case letters being redefined as upper case without true descenders on such letters as p,q,g,y.
Also they are misleading! as they told me to avoid anything blue (the home lily pads are blue!). However, they did give a comprehensive list of the ways to lose a frog, and the scoring system.
Graphics     95%    Instructions     90%
Playability  95%    Value for money  80%

We've been asked it we'll take advertisements in the Club News. We may well be able to in time, but this first issue is pretty packed already, and it looks as if it might be a little while before we are able to include ads.
BOOKS YOU SHOULD READ In every issue we hope to review books on computer subjects which we think you will find useful Here's J.E J Altham of Cambridge's opinion of Mindstorms, a paperback by Seymour Papers.

"MINDSTORMS — Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas" By Seymour Papert. Published by the Harvester Press (paperback). ISBN 0-71080-472-5
Many readers must be like me in having children who spend lime with their TI 99-4A, who are interested in the effects that the computer culture can have on their children's education, and who know that TI sell a LOGO module. Mindstorms is by one of the chief developers of LOGO, who believes that microcomputers can bring enormous educational benefit I find it a fascinating book, and recommend it strongly, not only as giving a first taste of LOGO, but also for its general ideas about learning. Seymour Papert's obvious enthusiasm and love of children, and his easy style, make the book enjoyable to read. Here all I can do is to convey a few of its many ideas in a highly simplified form.

Papert is dismayed by a fact that must worry all educators. Up to the age when they first go to school, children learn a fantastic amount, with very little pain, without formal teaching, and without a structured curriculum. Once at school, far too many of them seem to slow right down so far as learning goes. They experience great difficulties, and before long many no longer seem to want to learn. Papert, as a good educator, refuses to accept this situation.

He does not believe these children lack ability. Rather, they pose the urgent problem of finding, for each single child, a route which will take him or her from where he is now into a rich world of powerful ideas. One of the main guiding principles in doing this is that if anyone is to become fully at home with a new idea, he must relate it to ideas he already has. A new intellectual model must be built from ones we already have. A child has a store of such intellectual models, acquired in its pre-school learning. Important ones are implicit in such obvious abilities as the child's abilities to move around. Secondly, a child is greatly helped by being enabled to get an understanding of, and hence some control over, its own learning. It can learn that it has a choice of styles of thinking, and that different styles are appropriate to different problems. As Papert puts it, the child becomes an epistemologist.

Pre-computer education was badly placed to build the needed bridges from the child's early models to those required for school subjects such as maths and physics. Papert sees this as stemming from a lack of the necessary technology. But now we can make computer-based learning environments in which children can build their own bridges to new intellectual models. In doing so they learn about learning.

Before computers, the environment was not naturally rich in structures that were both ones children could easily appropriate and ones that helped them to grasp e.g. Newtonian physics. And it was expensive and difficult to manipulate the pre-computer environment to make such structures. Programs in a suitable computer language are now a much more flexible and cheaper source.

Much of the book is devoted to showing that the Turtle, the central character of LOGO, can play an important role in a child's learning based on these principles. (The Turtle, by the way, comes in various guises, as a geometry Turtle, a velocity Turtle, an acceleration Turtle, etc). The basic kind of Turtle is a triangular block that appears upon the screen. It can be easily moved around with simple commands, and can draw its own path if required with a 'pen'. As a simple illustration of the use of the Turtle, consider a child who wants the Turtle to draw a circle. The instructor may say to the child 'Play Turtle. You move round in a circle, and try to say (think out) what you have to do to go round in a circle.'

The child is thus encouraged to draw upon and articulate its own existing knowledge. Once it can describe going round in a circle as keeping on going forward a little and turning a little, it is close to being able to write the correct LOGO program Here the learner goes from a bodily skill to a computer program, that encapsulates an idea. One can also go the other way. Papert describes a structured juggling program , and claims that it enables people to learn to juggle in about half an hour.

The most moving parts of the book are the passages where examples are described of children who were bored or frightened of learning, and who started to make rapid progress after some experience of LOGO Any educational idea is likely to be able to claim some successes, but it is now common experience that children often reveal surprising talents even in so tedious a language as Basic, so it seems quite plausible that if computers are made really suitable for children's learning, the difference they will make may be very large indeed.

TI should be congratulated for taking LOGO seriously. Unfortunately, the cost of equipping our 99-4As to run it is still too high for far too many of us.

J.E.J Altham


First of all, we want to thank LOUISE BARDELL (aged 14) who wrote to us and suggested younger readers of TI Club News might be called 'TI-GERS'. Well, Louise, you can see we thought it was a terrific idea — so much so that we've decided to call this special Kid's Section — TI-GERS PAGE.

And just to show that apart from being pleased to get great suggestions and giving nice rewards, we do actually put them into action! Louise — GBP 15 is on its way to you with a big thank-you for naming the page!

And, to all our TI-GER readers — everything we publish that you have contributed, automatically wins £5. Now, we know WHO we are let's have a special TI- GERS badge! Just for us! Send in your designs and the best one will not only win £15 but become our TI-GERS CLUB Badge and appear in the next issue of TI CLUB News. Make them as colourful as you like, and the shape and size is up to you! Send your designs to: TI- GERS Club, TI Club News, PO Box NNN, Maidenhead, Berks SLN 1NN.


Here are some tips on achieving high scores on Parsec
— also from Andrew Myers. Thanks a lot, Andrew.
1) Don't panic!
2) To make killing Dromites very easy, switch to lift 2 and go to the bottom of the screen. When the Dromite reaches you move upwards and fire.
3) Fire in bursts of about 4 shots. Much more than this causes your ship to explode on higher levels. If you wish to cheat, there are a couple of things you can do:
a) To fire an unlimited number of shots press '0' and the fire button on joystick 2 at the same time. (This also has the effect of filling the screen with leftover laser fire).
b) To move to the far left of the screen, first move to the right a little way, then move to the left and push the joystick upwards. The ship then continues moving backwards. Be careful or you will appear on the far right of the screen.
If you follow the first tips you should do well. At the moment my best score is 2 million plus — I eventually gave up. This doesn't mean it's easy, just that too many bonus ships are given.


Dear Editor,
I would like to write a childrens page if it has not been already taken.
If you decide to take me on, perhaps the first time you could give me some idea of what to write or a program to review. After that I would be able to handle it myself! Yours faithfully, Patrick Cauthery (age 13) — Wilmslow.

Dear Editor
As I am fourteen, I was naturally interested in your children's column. Unfortunately, you do not specify the age group you are aiming at. If it is the 12-15s then I would forget it as most of us 'younguns' can do the things you 'olduns' can — and often better! I have a few high scores for you — Parsec 578,400 on level 14 (honest!!) and Tombstone City 135,500 on day five of insane level.
Yours faithfully, Peter Connors — Rugby

We want to use a lot of material from younger users, so if you have anything interesting to say, send in your ideas to TI-GERS PAGE. Anything at all — reviews, high scores, programs, queries — and we'll see if we can use it! Write to The TI-GERS Club, at the Club address given on this page.


You all know already how indebted the new Club is to Paul Dicks, our Associate Editor and proprietor of TIHOME. Paul has run TIHOME for several years, providing a terrific software and literature selection for Users (including "Tidings" magazine).

Paul and TIHOME will continue to operate independently to the TI Home Computer Users Club, but in friendly co-operation, as he describes below, and all his subscribers have become Members of the new Club. Only "Tidings" is no more — we hope you like this new- format magazine instead. With each issue it will become thicker and thicker, depending on your own input. We'd like to hear about everything you think and do — and don't forget, we can print pictures, too!

Paul will be writing a Paul Dicks Column (or columns!) for Buffs in all our future issues — we value his contribution very much.


How it all began

Two years ago, or was it three years ago, I sat at my desk on a Friday afternoon, after a rather good business lunch and decided that I was fed up with being the only person I knew that had a TI 99-4. I called my secretary and dictated a letter to be sent to all the micro magazines. The letter said "Please contact me if you are interested in joining a TI 99 User Group".

Unfortunately, all the micro magazines published the letter and replies came flooding in! I was faced with the problem of what would I do with all these people. I decided to form my own user group and I called it TIHOME. After a while I contacted Texas Instruments, or did they contact me, and we agreed to work together for the benefit of owners of the TI 99-4. Over the years I have discovered that TI are great in lending hardware, but are not keen on giving money or information. I am not too interested in money — but the information could have been useful.

International Interest

TIHOME blossomed and became known around the world as the European Users Group. After a while I was receiving queries from Australia and so I sent my complete software collection to Shane Anderson in Sydney and suggested that he start his own Users Group. There are now at least 5 Users Groups in Australia, and I like to think I had a little to do with their birth. Later I started to receive enquiries from the Netherlands, from a fellow called Paul Karis. He was interested in programs for Holland. I repeated the process with him and sent him the collection of software. I am happy to report that there is now a flourishing Users Group in the Netherlands.

During all this time, I found myself accepting members in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malta, Nigeria, Cayman Isles, United Arab Emirates, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Bulgaria, Norway, Channel Isles, Eire, U.S.A., Ceylon, but nobody in New Zealand. Since then the number of countries we have added to our list has continued to grow.

Administering a growing giant

After using one of my son's bedrooms as an office I found myself thrown out and had to install TIHOME in our dining room. Later the look of the face of my dearly beloved became rather strained and so I thought it was time that TIHOME moved somewhere else. Having got the roof converted into an office I embarked on the job of satisfying the members and customers.

During the life of TIHOME I managed to produce and distribute fourteen editions of TIDINGS, the TIHOME subscribers magazine. TIDINGS started as two A4 copied pages and ended as a fat little journal of 120+ pages. Back copies of TIDINGS can still, of course, be purchased at GBP 2.00 per edition at my address:-

Paul Dicks, TIHOME, NNN Bathopsfard Road, Morden, Surrey.

Earlier this year, TI decided that they would take an interest in the User Group that had been supporting them for the last 2 years. Could this be a reflection of the way Sir Clive Sinclair was affecting the market! TI decided that they would ask an outside organisation to run a User Group for their home computers.

I was, therefore, invited to assist the new Group in getting off the ground. TIHOME, being nothing if not totally reasonable, agreed to this project and there then ensued a series of discussions between TI, the new Users Group and TIHOME.

The new TI Home Computer Users Club

The outcome of these discussions and agreements is the TI Home Computer Users Club. This new club, with TIs support, looks like providing a really good service to users.

The Club officials I have met and spoken with are all people really interested in producing an excellent service for TI Users. TIHOME subscribers get a really excellent deal (webnote- almost all members disagreed quite strongly with this sentiment! Eight pages with very little content failed to replace 64 pages) in their Membership transfer to the TI Home Computer Users Club, and can look forward to the same standard of service that they have received in the past.

TIHOME continues

So, what happens to TIHOME? TIHOME becomes a software house devoted to the production of software for the TI 99-4A. It will still continue to sell the various booklets needed for the 99. It will still offer subscriptions for the "99'er" magazine. On problems of software you can still ring (01-NNN 750N) between the hours of 7 and 10 in the evening for answers to your programming troubles.

During the life of TIHOME a number of contributors to TIDINGS made themselves very popular. Do not worry, you will continue to read these people in the new Club's NEWS of which this is the first issue.

(web note- well, no, you never did, as the new publishers never accepted any contributions from them and indicated that contributions were not wanted...)

So, here we are, it is 1983 and everything changes. The French have a saying that says everything changes and all things stay the same. I rather think it applies in this case. Both TIHOME and the TI Home Computer Users Club are in the business of giving a good service to users of the TI 99-4A.

The importance of communicating

Please continue to write your letters to both organisations; without your opinions we really have no way of knowing what you really think. Please also continue to send in your articles. You may find that they will be subject to more editing than they have been in the past, but they stand just as much chance of being published.

A User Group — any User Group — depends for its success on the participation of its members. TIHCUC is your Club and it will be as successful as you make it. So, if you don't like the contents of the magazine, then say so! (web note- and be ignored...) If you want something that TIHCUC does not provide, then say so! There is nothing for nothing in this world, so they say.

The director of the new Club, who I have met and worked with over the last three months is a person of swift intelligence, and this means that the new administration will be swift to respond to the opinions coming in from Members.

A look to the future

So there we are, I think I have brought you up to date on what is happening in the world of TI home computers. Whoever you deal with, you can be assured that we will make sure that you get the best use and enjoyment out of your possession of your system.

When I set up TIHOME all those years ago I didn't expect these political arrangements involving one of the world's largest multi-nationals. However, that is the way life goes. My interest is the interest of TI 99-4A Users and so I will continue to ensure that TI Users have the best service available.

Sincerely yours

end of article

Members of TI*Home were so impressed by the new publication that within a few months a replacement user group was in operation run by Clive Scally, called TI Exchange, publishing the magazine TIdings, which continued well past quarterly issue 100! TIHCUC disappeared after five thin issues.
[ TI Book front page   |    TI Resources Page    |   PC99 Review    |   PC99 Programs ]