Texas Instruments is the other American company that made calculators and pocket computers I consider as being successful. Today, I reflected on the TI CC-40. CC meant Compact Computer. Even in 1983, it was bigger than its direct competition (the pocket computers), and barely smaller than the new portable systems (such as the TRS-80 Model 100 or the Epson HX-20), while packing much fewer capabilities.
All that is true. However, I really like this computer. It’s size first. Well, I think that the CC40 has a decent size and is a good step-up when you came to it with the pocket computer mindset. The keyboard is nice to use, and the case has a stand that tilts the machine in a very comfortable angle to use. Where HP’s were using the HP-IL loop to attach peripherals, the CC-40 was using the HEXBUS. To demonstrate its use, I powered-up my HEXBUS Modem.
Although application-specific ROMs were available – as the Mathematics one I also undusted for the occasion –, the BASIC is the interesting part of the machine. It was pretty close to the one fueling the TI-99/4A (Extended Basic stripped of the graphic and audio instructions). PEEK and POKE were available too, so you could hack the machine and pimp your code. Later on, the CC-40 was re-embodied as the TI-74 Basicalc (1986). So what happened to the CC-40 in between? It died… Often I can read that the CC-40’s demise was caused by the unavailability of a reliable wafer tape drive (a mass storage HEXBUS device that never made it to the market). I could not resist the close-up on the “Wafertape digital tape drive is not available” sticker on the back of the box. Now from the perspective of the user I was, even if such a device was available, it cost would anyway prevent me to buy it! One real regret I had, was that the wide and crystal clear LCD display was not a full matrix. The CC-40 reminded me of the great Voyage 200 that I may present here next week – assuming I can put my hands on it. But for now, enjoy the pics of this nice computer.