I was listening to the Mike Tech Show and he mentioned a TI 99/4a. He fired up the Win994a simulator and ran the extended basic cart. That blew me away I had no idea a simulator existed. So I went digging around in my basement because I knew I had at least one 5 1/4″ floppy of games I had written in 1983. As you can see I tried my best to make it professional looking. It was a shrink wrapped, labeled and even had cover art not bad for a 14 year old.
I found the floppy but now I needed a way to read it. I searched the forums and buying a TI 99/4a with the PEP expansion box and disk controller and 5 1/4″ disk drive was not going to be cheap just to find out if this 30 year old floppy was even readable. Then I ran across Device Side Data’s FC5025
USB 5.25″ floppy controller. It allows you to plug in a old school 5 1/4″ 1.2Mb floppy drive into a USB port so you can read the old floppies on modern computers. At $60 including shipping this was much more reasonable then buying a vintage TI99/4a and accessories. With the USB adapter on the way I started looking for 5 1/4″ 1.2Mb floppy drives. They are not as easy to find as you would think. I checked my basement and old computer cases. On EBay they go for about $40 for a used drive and most were AS-IS. I was not ready to give up and risk $40 on an AS-IS drive. Then I thought of my old friend Gene Mitchell. During one summer in high school (1987) I worked as a tech building and repairing XT compatible computers a the Downingtown Computer Center. Gene was also working there at the time as a tech. Gene later went on to open Gene’s Computer Outlet
in Frazer, PA. So I reached out to Gene asking about a 5 1/4″ floppy. He said he had one in a box but the question was where was the box. So I stopped by one day after work and Gene gave me a tour of his radio studio and shop. Then he went to work looking for that box. He had three places that it could be. And like always I was the last place he looked. Gene pulled out a Mitsubishi MF504B-347UA drive that at one time was in his personal computer.
Once I got home I plugged in the drive and found a sacrificial floppy. It was a X10 home automation floppy. I put it in the drive plugged in the USB and power then ran the software installer. Once installed I ran “Disk Image and Browse” that came with the FC5025 adapter. The software lets you choose the disk type and where to image it. I picked DOS 1.2Mb and hit start. The drive made lots of noise and was throwing sector after sector of errors. I quickly opened the drive and pulled out the disk. I could see two lines on the floppy read area that were not there when I started. This was not a good sign. The disk drive must be bad I though. I took a look a the drive heads and could not tell if there was something pealing up. I decided to grab some rubbing alcohol and Q-tips and cleaned up the top and bottom read heads. I put the X10 floppy and this time I picked DOS 360K disk. When I hit start I could not believe my ears I heard the whirl of the disk and the sound of the heads moving through the sectors. It was music to my ears.
Now that I saw the disk drive was fine I learned two things. 1. keep it clean and 2. choose the proper disk format. I imaged about 15 DOS disks containing all my programs I wrote in Clarion 2.1. I had two commercial utilities I was selling to Clarion programmers. Trax the software serialization program that would embed the customers information into the EXE. So if they shared or pirated the program it would show their contact info. CPU’s was the Clarions Programmers Utilities. I also found some Victor Engineering software I wrote in Clarion to control and monitor high tech NiCad battery chargers for RC racers. Every 6 or so disks I would use the alcohol to clean the heads. And now I felt comfortable to try and image my TI 99/4a disks. I had two of them. One was shrink wrapped and labeled with “Looping by Mr. Toy”. The other was just handwritten “Looping” so I took the hand written one and imaged it. Success no errors! I renamed the file to .TIdisk and fired up Win994a. When the disk booted I was shocked to find it contained about 16 games I had written in 1983 as a 14 year old. I can’t guaranteed all the code it original. But it was a nice walk down memory lane playing my games 30 years later.
Device Side Data FC5025 USB 5.25″ floppy controller
Disk Image and Browse all formats supported
1 – CASINO
You can play blackjack or craps.
5 – Goober the Gremlin
Original game. Help Goober baloon down to a safe landing spot while avoiding the many flying arrows.
8 – Looping
I think there was a commercial game like this. The idea is to fly a plan that can only loop. So you can pull the stick UP or DOWN with the arrows. You need to shoot (Q) the barrels and get the 3 keys to win.
11 – Missle
Guide a missle into the Klingon exaust vent and blow up the ship.
12 – Pirate Adventure
Not sure if I wrote pirate adventure or not
13 – Reactor
Original game. Run and jump.
14 – ROBORUN
Run, jump and duck to avoid the obstacles.
15 – Snake
I don’t think I wrote this.
16 – Space Junk
Save the astronaut and the two satellites while avoiding the astroids.
17 – StarWarz – Land Speeder
Original game. Jump the land speeder over the obstacles. Impossible to play as far as I can tell might be the simulator.
18 – StarWarz – TI Fighters
I stole the code from some other game and changed the theme to Star Wars