Gibby's Game Room

gameroom.jpg gameroom2.jpgGibby’s Game Room (Nescapades)

That’s my first computer on the bottom shelf, a Texas Instruments TI-99 4A (c. 1981). The key combination that produced “+” was “shift+equals.” The key combination that produced “System Reset” was “namelessbutton-right-next-to-shift + equals.” One day it started smoking, so we took it back to the store.

I didn’t see an Atari 800 (c. 1979) on Gibby’s page. An internal speaker was set to beep every time you pushed a key. The Atari 400 had a membrane keyboard, so I guess the beep was supposed to substitute for the click. But for the Atari 800, which had a real keyboard, the key beep was redundant. I opened up the case, snipped the speaker wire, and threaded both ends out through a gap between the keys. When I wanted sound, I twisted the wires together. What a geek.

Hm…. the TI really was our first computer, but “oldcomputers.net” says the Atari 800 came out earlier. Could we actually have gotten the TI 99 4 first? I remember we got a replacement at one point…. but I specifically remember the sound of the voice synthesizer saying “Texas Instruments TA 99 4A computer.”

I’ll appeal to my sister…. Rosemary, can you help me out on this?

There seemed to be better games for the Atari, and a summer computer course that I took as a middle schooler used HP terminals in one room and Atari 800s and 400s (check out that profile) in the other, so perhaps when we had enough of the Texas Instruments I convinced the rest of the family to go with the machine that I knew well.

On the top center, that’s a Commodore 64 (c. 1982) — the computer I took with me to college in 1986. (I used a tiny 4-inch TV screen as the monitor.)

If Gibby dies now, I think Gibby will win.