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Ti-990

commodorejohn

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Okay, that makes more sense. Still kind of an odd design choice, though...I suppose the idea was to minimize the serial bottleneck for screen drawing?
 
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jbdigriz

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Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
I always wanted a 990 but didn't get a chance at one until recently when I lucked into a Business System 300, which seems to be basically a 990/10A with an integrated disk controller built into a terminal enclosure. It came with no peripherals, of course, so now I'm hunting for a keyboard and a WD500 or WD800 mass storage system as well as any documentation/software I can find. The system looks to be maxed out to 512K memory and with all optional I/O, and even more interestingly has a "PBIC" card in place of the usual 2/4-port terminal card they were offered with, it seems like it might be some sort of CRU buffer card to allow the machine to interface to an external expansion chassis, but I've never found any mention of it anywhere as an option.

Other than the hardware, if anyone has any information or even just commentary on these machines I'd love to hear about it! They seem like a killer system for a space-constrained mini enthusiast, but there isn't much out there on them aside from a couple documents on Bitsavers and some product announcements in InfoWorld/Computerworld and the like.

Sounds like the one in SC I was watching on Ebay. Unfortunately for me I was unable to buy at the time. Glad somebody here got it, though, and it's not going to be scrapped!

The keyboard from a 931 terminal is the same, I'm told. Maybe also one from a 940 (which looks like an S300, same case, I think.) Those are really scarce, though.

The seller also had a couple of 990 chassis, one populated, with a couple of TPBI boards that I could see, and a WD800. Those sold several months ago, however. Not sure which CPU set was actually in it.

There is a PBI interface built-in on the S300, so you don't actually need the add-in PBI interface, you could put a 4CCC board in to support more terminals. I'm trying to remember whether there was a SCSI board available for the S300 that you could put in that slot, too. If so you would have another storage option. Not aware of any PBI emulators like there are for MFM, SMD, etc. PBI on the 990s is a TILINE board.

Maybe Caldwelltech can help you out with a WD800 or the WD800A, which can have larger capacity disks, and a keyboard. The tape drive on these mass storage units is one of the many that typically sees the rollers turn to goo, but there are fixes for this. There are manuals for the WD800(A) on bitsavers, and they go into a lot of detail.

More later on the software. I need to check a few things, but congratulations on your acquistion!

jbdigriz
 

jbdigriz

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Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
Ok, back, ict.

S300 was designed to be software compatible with the 990s. It does not have a TILINE bus, just CRU (internally, not brought out for external devices that I can see). All memory is on the main board+up to 3 daughter cards. If yours is indeed the SC machine I've mentioned, it has 3 of them installed, so you may have as much as 1024K. Not sure on that, one document lists 512K max on the 300, 1024K on the 300A. If you have 1 meg, though, that will be better, particularly for DNOS. So, you can run DX10 or DNOS. Actually you could run TX990/TXDS, TX5, Forth, UCSD P-System, for an OS. Anything that ran on 990's, as far as I can tell. And any software that doesn't absolutely require access to a TILINE device.

So, you can run:

BASIC
PASCAL
COBOL
FORTRAN
TIPE
TI FORMS
RPG II
etc.,

Then there are applications, which I won't go into here.

Unfortunately I don't see any reference to a SCSI interface for the S300. Maybe there was a 3rd party one. It does look like it might not be too difficult to interface PBI (or PBUS, for Peripheral Bus) to SCSI. It's a differential 8-bit bus with 7 control lines. Otherwise you're limited to finding a PBUS device like a WD800 or WD800A. The latter would be preferred as it uses 5-1/4 drives (ST506). The 800 uses 8". The smaller drives are likely easier to find, and maybe lasted better.

A neat hack on the S300, if the MAP and CCC (Correction Control Chip) and the rest of the memory circuitry support it, would be to replace the 4164s with 41256s.

A rom dump would be of great help to ongoing emulation and development efforts, if you're able. Ask if you need any guidance on that. Plenty of people here more qualified than I who can answer questions there.

HTH,
jbdigriz
 
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ict

New Member
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Jan 16, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Idaho
Sounds like the one in SC I was watching on Ebay. Unfortunately for me I was unable to buy at the time. Glad somebody here got it, though, and it's not going to be scrapped!

The keyboard from a 931 terminal is the same, I'm told. Maybe also one from a 940 (which looks like an S300, same case, I think.) Those are really scarce, though.

The seller also had a couple of 990 chassis, one populated, with a couple of TPBI boards that I could see, and a WD800. Those sold several months ago, however. Not sure which CPU set was actually in it.
That one it is, I stumbled upon it while looking for one of those TravelMate portable VT clones and when I saw that configuration label on the back I went for it. I asked the seller if he knew of anything else for it that might be coming up, didn't think to ask if he'd already sold it! I'll definitely keep an eye out for a 931/940 keyboard then, thank you for that. Wonder if I could get any information out of the seller as far as the origin of this particular machine, too. I've found a couple articles mentioning Ace Hardware had standardized on the Business System line and used quite a few for point-of-sale and inventory management.

There is a PBI interface built-in on the S300, so you don't actually need the add-in PBI interface
I feel a bit silly about it all now, I couldn't find any mention of this board option in the S300A documentation I had and was doing a bit of reading into the more traditional rackmounted 990s at the same time, so I figured it was this system's equivalent of the CRU buffer boards that let you attach additional expansion chassis. Never thought to just pay attention to the name of the storage bus and put 2 and 2 together...

If yours is indeed the SC machine I've mentioned, it has 3 of them installed, so you may have as much as 1024K. Not sure on that, one document lists 512K max on the 300, 1024K on the 300A.
You're right, and I believe it has 512K installed, I came across an announcement for the S300A in I think Computerworld that touted the 1M capacity bump and most of the older articles I could find only mention up to 512K.

Unfortunately I don't see any reference to a SCSI interface for the S300. Maybe there was a 3rd party one. It does look like it might not be too difficult to interface PBI (or PBUS, for Peripheral Bus) to SCSI. It's a differential 8-bit bus with 7 control lines. Otherwise you're limited to finding a PBUS device like a WD800 or WD800A. The latter would be preferred as it uses 5-1/4 drives (ST506). The 800 uses 8". The smaller drives are likely easier to find, and maybe lasted better.
Interesting proposition. I was curious to see if it was possible to emulate one of these drives until I could get a real one, it seems like it would be a challenge a bit above my pay grade but maybe still worth pursuing given how uncommon the drives must be nowadays.

A rom dump would be of great help to ongoing emulation and development efforts, if you're able. Ask if you need any guidance on that. Plenty of people here more qualified than I who can answer questions there.
That sounds like a good idea. As it starts getting warmer I will definitely want to disassemble this machine to clean out the decades' worth of dust caked inside (that poor intake fan has got to be on its last leg) and that sounds like a good opportunity to do that. I might be dropping back in the thread around then if I need some assistance, I haven't done a ROM dump on a system before.

Thank you for all of the information, it's quite helpful! I'm hoping to eventually restore this machine into something I can hang on to for a long while, with all of those development options I could probably have quite a bit of fun with it.
 

jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
That sounds like a good idea. As it starts getting warmer I will definitely want to disassemble this machine to clean out the decades' worth of dust caked inside (that poor intake fan has got to be on its last leg) and that sounds like a good opportunity to do that. I might be dropping back in the thread around then if I need some assistance, I haven't done a ROM dump on a system before.

Thank you for all of the information, it's quite helpful! I'm hoping to eventually restore this machine into something I can hang on to for a long while, with all of those development options I could probably have quite a bit of fun with it.

Ok, that's great. Good luck getting it cleaned up and going. Let me know if you need any more questions answered. I may not have all the answers but hopefully I know where to look.

Talk about dust, I just started tearing down my TI S1505. It was quite filthy. No rodents, at least. I'll put some before and afters in a new thread soon, maybe.

jbdigriz
 

Caldwelltech

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Aug 7, 2018
Messages
7
Been out of touch for a while. Reading through the posts, I do have a couple of 10x boards and a manual. I do have a couple of wd800's. I was cleaning out a storage unit and came across more manuals, but haven't had time to go through them. I will try to get a list out when I have a chance. I have a stack of 931 keyboards. Some of the keys might need to be replaced, but have that covered as well. If there is something specific you need please PM me.
 

Al Kossow

Documentation Wizard
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Sep 1, 2006
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2,907
Location
Silicon Valley
Good to know. I have a big pile of the earlier systems/boards and one /12. As jim mentioned there are still holes in the documentation I've been able to find and put up on bitsavers.
I would think there would be interest in the SCSI boards. I have a bunch of 1/4" carts that I still need to recover but they are their own unique non-QIC tape format
 

Caldwelltech

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Aug 7, 2018
Messages
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Right now I have a working system I pulled from one of my clients. It's taking up room that I don't have. I would really like to find a new home for it. system consists of: 990 A13 chassis, 990/12 AU, 990/12 SMI, Cache 2MB, 4) CI403. It had a 990/SCSI and Mass Storage II,PRI,MS100,CT, but could switch out for TPBI and WD800, or FLEX controller with SCSI HD. Could add 10x board or remove CI403's. If anyone is interested let me know. I would want to go through it to make sure all the CI403 ports are working and test whatever HD option wanted to make sure everything is working correctly. Could add 924+ Terminal And Keyboards.
 

Caldwelltech

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Aug 7, 2018
Messages
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Manuals that I have on hand right now: WD800/WD800A Mass Storage System - installation and operation, Field Maintenance. Model F 880 Magnetic Tape Transport Vol 1 Operation and maintenance. Model 990A13 Chassis Maintenance Manual General Description. Four-Channel Asynchronous Communications Interfaces (CI403/CI404) installation and operation. Model 990/10A Computer General Description. ROM Loaders User's Guide. Error reporting and Recovery Manual DX10 operating System Volume VI. DX10 3780/2780 Emulator Release 4 User's Guide. DX10 Online Diagnostics and System log Analysis Task User's Guide. DX10 Online Diagnostics Self-Study Guide for Operators. Model 810 Printer operating instructions. Video Display Terminal user's guide. Microgate 931 User's Guide. Model 924 Video display terminal User's Guide. Model 931 Video Display terminal general description. 928 to 931 Conversion Kit pamphlet. Model 830 and 835 Printers Technical Reference Manual, Operators Manual. TenX99 Reference Manual.
More to come.
I'm interested in getting the info out to folks, so any help would be appreciated.
 

bear

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Joined
Mar 28, 2006
Messages
619
Location
Seattle, WA
I recently acquired, from multiple sources, two /10s (one empty chassis), a number of spare boards (probably enough to make the second /10 a complete machine), an FD1000, a WD800, and a couple DX10-related QIC tapes (in the standards-based CT60 format, though I believe the QIC in my WD800 uses the earlier non-standards-based format). At some point I may find the time to make them work, and will probably look to part with one of the chassis at that time. I would probably be interested in a SCSI host adapter if one were to be offered.
 
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jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
Right now I have a working system I pulled from one of my clients. It's taking up room that I don't have. I would really like to find a new home for it. system consists of: 990 A13 chassis, 990/12 AU, 990/12 SMI, Cache 2MB, 4) CI403. It had a 990/SCSI and Mass Storage II,PRI,MS100,CT, but could switch out for TPBI and WD800, or FLEX controller with SCSI HD. Could add 10x board or remove CI403's. If anyone is interested let me know. I would want to go through it to make sure all the CI403 ports are working and test whatever HD option wanted to make sure everything is working correctly. Could add 924+ Terminal And Keyboards.

I'll pm, but color me interested.
 

jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
Manuals that I have on hand right now: WD800/WD800A Mass Storage System - installation and operation, Field Maintenance. Model F 880 Magnetic Tape Transport Vol 1 Operation and maintenance. Model 990A13 Chassis Maintenance Manual General Description. Four-Channel Asynchronous Communications Interfaces (CI403/CI404) installation and operation. Model 990/10A Computer General Description. ROM Loaders User's Guide. Error reporting and Recovery Manual DX10 operating System Volume VI. DX10 3780/2780 Emulator Release 4 User's Guide. DX10 Online Diagnostics and System log Analysis Task User's Guide. DX10 Online Diagnostics Self-Study Guide for Operators. Model 810 Printer operating instructions. Video Display Terminal user's guide. Microgate 931 User's Guide. Model 924 Video display terminal User's Guide. Model 931 Video Display terminal general description. 928 to 931 Conversion Kit pamphlet. Model 830 and 835 Printers Technical Reference Manual, Operators Manual. TenX99 Reference Manual.
More to come.
I'm interested in getting the info out to folks, so any help would be appreciated.

This is good news. I see some of these that aren't already on bitsavers going up there; are you're coordinating with him? I hope you run across the 990/10A and the A13 field maintenance and depot maintenance stuff, too. Btw, I've already scanned in the Ten-X 99 Reference Manual here: ftp://dragonsweb.org/pub/ti/docs/Ten-X/TenX_99_Reference_Manual.pdf .

Richard Norman in the UK has some 990 documentation at https://www.rknorman.co.uk/DART and TI990 Documents.html . Nice to see all these documents getting online, in addition to what's already on bitsavers and Dave Pitts' site, and I'll be happy to help any way I can to that end.
 

jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
I recently acquired, from multiple sources, two /10s (one empty chassis), a number of spare boards (probably enough to make the second /10 a complete machine), an FD1000, a WD800, and a couple DX10-related QIC tapes (in the standards-based CT60 format, though I believe the QIC in my WD800 uses the earlier non-standards-based format). At some point I may find the time to make them work, and will probably look to part with one of the chassis at that time. I would probably be interested in a SCSI host adapter if one were to be offered.

Cool, I have a /10 here, and now a 2M 10A system in a custom chassis with a SpectraLogic 46, Ten-X 99, KLE 7ch serial mux and a COMM board. These boards need troubleshooting, but hopefully no insurmountable issues. Also have a number of spare boards: memory, EIA, CI402, 911VDT, COMM and so on. And I have DS10 and DS50 controllers, and some DS10 cartridges, but no drives. I do have a Fujitsu M2322 and power supply. Trying to work down a backlog and get to all this. Hopefully RSN.
 
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Caldwelltech

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Aug 7, 2018
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I have had the best luck with 3M DC 300XLP, Verbatim DL 300XLP tapes for the WD800. There is a company that makes new tapes. I haven't used them because of the cost. So far I have been able to find old new stock tapes on ebay. That has worked fairly well, but I have had to rebuild some, and got 2 boxes of tapes still in the original wrapper where each tape had a broken tensioning band. I was able to replace the bands on some of them and some of them worked. Tricky to get them just right.
 

Terry Kennedy

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Jul 7, 2017
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I worked for a company that used some 990 stuff in the early '80s. Kind of an odd duck. Much preferred DEC stuff at the time, and wound up helping them migrate to PDP-11s. The 990/12 I played with needed 3 phase power, ran dx10, had a DS50, 1600 bpi tape, and a fixed/removable disk cartridge drive (DS10?), and I don't know how many of those bizarre 911 VDTs. I stuck a 990/5 board on the TIline to handle synchronous serial communications. Two years of that stuff was plenty for me (really? 288 byte ADUs?).
I used to consult for Royal Air Maroc on their Boeing 727-200 simulator (now decommissioned). I have one page from one of those incredibly expensive industry reports here (PDF). It shows just how varied the host systems were - the company that made that simulator (CAE) lists VAX, SEL, Sigma, and SDS hosts, just on that one page. The Royal Air Maroc simulator used a TI 980 as the host (with racks and racks of D/A, A/D and binary I/O cards) and a Varian 76 for visuals.

One of the benefits of consulting there was the stack of red carbon paper (anyone remember those) airplane tickets that said "OPEN/OPEN" (any flight, any destination, any airline) that they gave out.
 

Caldwelltech

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Aug 7, 2018
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Finally had some down time to get more manuals. add to the list: Western Automation Acumen 301/301+ User's Manual. TI WD800 Trim Kit. TI Model 810 Printer Maintenance Manual Vol I and II. TI DX10 Application Programming Guide Vol. III, Vol. V. TI Link Editor Reference Manual. TI Model 990 Computer 990/10 and 990/12 Assembly language Reference Manual. TI Model 990 Computer DX10 Operating system Release 3 System Design Document. Northwestern Digital CI-808 Hardware Installation Manual. TI Model 990 Computer Assembly Language Programming Card. Wyse-325/es Programmer's Guide. TI The TTL Data Book for Design Engineers. TI TTL Logic Standard TTL, Schottky, Low-Power Schottky Data Book. TI Interface Circuits Data Book Data Acquisition and Conversion, Display Drivers, Line Drivers/Receivers, Peripheral Drivers/Actuators, Memory Interface, Speech Synthesis.
I found some other books such as RCA receiving Tube Manual and alot of Motorola books(early 80's) which might fit better in a different area of the forum.
 

jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
Finally had some down time to get more manuals. add to the list: Western Automation Acumen 301/301+ User's Manual. TI WD800 Trim Kit. TI Model 810 Printer Maintenance Manual Vol I and II. TI DX10 Application Programming Guide Vol. III, Vol. V. TI Link Editor Reference Manual. TI Model 990 Computer 990/10 and 990/12 Assembly language Reference Manual. TI Model 990 Computer DX10 Operating system Release 3 System Design Document. Northwestern Digital CI-808 Hardware Installation Manual. TI Model 990 Computer Assembly Language Programming Card. Wyse-325/es Programmer's Guide. TI The TTL Data Book for Design Engineers. TI TTL Logic Standard TTL, Schottky, Low-Power Schottky Data Book. TI Interface Circuits Data Book Data Acquisition and Conversion, Display Drivers, Line Drivers/Receivers, Peripheral Drivers/Actuators, Memory Interface, Speech Synthesis.
I found some other books such as RCA receiving Tube Manual and alot of Motorola books(early 80's) which might fit better in a different area of the forum.

Using bitsavers and Manx as references, I found the following. Please verify document part nos. if you would, sir, and are you familiar with Lenox Computer Store in Lenox IA?

Western Automation Acumen 301/301+ User's Manual.
This doesn't appear to be online anywhere. WA is a predecessor to Spectra Logic, not sure what the Acumen 301* are, but this needs to be scanned in.

TI WD800 Trim Kit.
Only the the WD800 Installation and Operation guide (2306140-9701 *B 1985-02) and Field Maintenance (2306142-9701 *B 1985-04) appear to be online, so yes,
this needs to be scanned)

TI Model 810 Printer Maintenance Manual Vol I and II.
Sections 1-4 of 994386-9701 "Model 810 Printer Maintenance Manual" are online, but I'm going to assume these need to be scanned regardless.

TI DX10 Application Programming Guide Vol. III, Vol. V.
Only Vol. III (946250-9703 *F) appears to be online, so, yes, definitely Vol V, and III just in case of revisions.

TI Link Editor Reference Manual.
Only the ToC online for this (if 949617-9701 1977-12-15), so yes, needs scanning.

TI Model 990 Computer 990/10 and 990/12 Assembly language Reference Manual.
Does not appear to be online or in the Manx catalog. Definitely needs scanning.

TI Model 990 Computer DX10 Operating system Release 3 System Design Document.
Not online, needs scanning. Manx lists documents for subversions 3.4. 3.5, and 3.7

Northwestern Digital CI-808 Hardware Installation Manual.
By all means. Saw some of these on a guy in Lenox IA's FB, apparently Northwestern is still around? Apparently there is a 16-port version as well. Sweet.

TI Model 990 Computer Assembly Language Programming Card.
If this is 2272065-9701, it's already online, courtesy of a TI Austin alum who sent me a scanned copy.

These should all be online already:

TI The TTL Data Book for Design Engineers.
TI TTL Logic Standard TTL, Schottky, Low-Power Schottky Data Book.
TI Interface Circuits Data Book, Data Acquisition and Conversion, Display Drivers, Line Drivers/Receivers, Peripheral Drivers/Actuators, Memory Interface, Speech Synthesis.

Not online:
Wyse-325/es Programmer's Guide. Needs scanning.

If you want me to check the other docs you mentioned, just let me know.

Thanks,
jbdigriz
 

jbdigriz

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Messages
36
I used to consult for Royal Air Maroc on their Boeing 727-200 simulator (now decommissioned). I have one page from one of those incredibly expensive industry reports here (PDF). It shows just how varied the host systems were - the company that made that simulator (CAE) lists VAX, SEL, Sigma, and SDS hosts, just on that one page. The Royal Air Maroc simulator used a TI 980 as the host (with racks and racks of D/A, A/D and binary I/O cards) and a Varian 76 for visuals.

One of the benefits of consulting there was the stack of red carbon paper (anyone remember those) airplane tickets that said "OPEN/OPEN" (any flight, any destination, any airline) that they gave out.

If you run across any more docs on that system, please let us know.
 
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