PUBLISHED IN MICROPENDIUM DECEMBER 1994 TI`S CC40 COMPUTER SYSTEM by Charles Good The CC40 (which stands for "Compact Computer 40") was in early 1983 TI`s first ever entry into the portable computer market. It is in many respects a little brother to the 99/4A, so much so that Funnelweb's senior author Tony McGovern calls the CC40 "Little Tex". This article, based on my own experience using the CC40 system, describes the CC40 computer and its tiny peripherals. Some of these are very rare collectors items. The article also lists current sources of supply where you can purchase the CC40, its software, and important peripherals. The CC40 computer is battery powered, very small, (smaller than most modern laptops), and it was offered with a host of small peripherals, most of which are also battery powered. Without the need to plug into an external power source, a CC40 system allows truely portable computing and printing anywhere. This little orphan is of interest to owners of 99/4A computers for two reasons: 1- The syntax of its built CC40 BASIC language is almost identical to the 99/4A's TI Extended Basic. 2-TI intended the 99/2, the 99/8, the 99/4A, the CC40, and all its tiny peripherals to be physically cabled to each other and to talk to each other using a propriatary bus connector called a "hexbus" that is found on all these machines except the 99/4A. To make hexbus devices work with the 99/4A, TI intended to sell a "hexbus interface", a peripheral that had a hexbus connector and that attached to the right side of a 99/4A console. The hexbus interface is pictured on the boxes that contained beige 99/4A consoles but it was never officially released. I own a hexbus interface and use it regularly as part of the 99/4A system on a little table next to my bed. The interface when combined with tiny hexbus peripherals permits an expanded 99/4A system to occupy very little surface area. Although the CC40 is no longer manufactured by TI, the computer, cartridge based software, and some of its tiny peripherals are still available from dealers such as those listed at the end of this article. When it was introduced the CC40 had a list price of $250. Sales were not good in 1983 and 1984 because no mass storage device was made available by TI. The promised cheap Wafertape Digital Tape Drive turned out to be exactly that, cheap. It was unreliable and thus never released, and at that time TI had no other inexpensive CC40 compatible mass storage device to offer the public. In 1984 production of this fantastic little computer ceased. In May 1990 I paid $95 my new CC40. New CC40s are available now for $49 from Jim Lesher, and used computers are available from several of the dealers listed below. For an extra $20-25 you can purchase an expanded memory CC40 or have dealer installation (by L.L. Conner Enterprise) of the necessary chips to bring the CC40`s internal RAM to the maximum 18K, up from the 6K RAM found in the typical CC40. L.L. Conner will also sell you the RAM chips if you want to do the job yourself. This extra memory increases the CC40`s internal buffer capacity to around five double spaced pages of word processing text. The CC40 measures about 9x6x1 inches, the size of a small textbook. It uses a 2.5MHz TMS70C20 8-bit processor and has 34K of ROM and 6K (expandable to 18K internally) CMOS RAM. There is a "solid state cartridge" port, and the internal RAM can be further expanded with 8K or 16K memory expansion cartidges. Software cartridges such as the Memo Processor word processing cartridge can also be inserted into the cartridge port. The ROM includes a very powerful and vary familiar looking BASIC. Both upper and true lower case letters (not just small upper case letters) are provided. Error and system messages can be displayed in either English or German. I have no idea what the "40" in CC40 refers to, certainly not the CC40`s display. The LCD display shows 31 characters of a single 80 character line. You need to move the display left/right to view the entire line. Four dedicated cursor keys allow you to scroll up/down to view other lines or left/right within a line of text or program code. The LCD display includes special indicators for such things as low battery, the status of the shift function and control keys, upper case lock, and special math functions. Some LCD display indicators are user programmable. A control on the left side of the CC40 regulates the contrast (intensity) of the LCD display. The CC40`s keyboard consists of chicklet keys. Alpha numeric keys are arranged in a 44 key qwerty typewriter layout with number keys on the top row, looking very similar to the 99/4A key arrangement. No, you can`t easily touch type. The alpha keys are just too close together. One finger pecking is the usual method of laptop data entry while holding the CC40 steady with your other hand. It is not ever necessary to press two keys at once. For those features such as one time capital letters that require the use of the SPACE, FN (function), or CTL (control) keys either press both keys at once or you can press the special key first and see an indicator on the LCD display turn on. You then press the second key (for instance SHIFT and then D to display an upper case "D", or FN and then ~ for insert), and the special LCD display indicator turns off. A separate numeric keypad is to the right of the qwerty alphanumeric keys. The number keys on the top row of the qwerty layout are duplicated in this keypad. Special keys are included for cursor movement (4 dedicted keys), BREAK, RUN, ON, OFF, and reset. A very important feature of the CC40 is that any BASIC program or any word processing document entered into the CC40`s RAM stays there even after the computer is turned off. Four alkaline AA cells are said to provide enough power for 200 hours of operation and my experience shows that these batteries will last many months of "computer off" time. Compare this to the 2-4 hours most "modern" laptops will run using their batteries. The CC40 and all its small battery powered peripherals can also be powered with an AC adapter. The BASIC that comes as standard equipment on the CC40 closely resembles T.I. Extended Basic, but lacks most of the 99/4A's graphic, color, and sound features. There are no sprites and only one kind of programmable BEEP. Multi line statements up to 80 characters in length are supported, as are user defined subprograms with variables independent of the main program. Seven characters (ASCII 0-6) can be user defined with CALL CHAR on a 5x8 pixel grid. CALL`s relating to assembly code include POKE, LOAD (an assembly subprogram from an external device), PEEK, and EXEC (starts an assembly language program). Two dimensional arrays are supported. Typing BASIC code into the CC40 is made easy with automatic line numbers (NUM) as in TI extended basic. DELETE will delete one line number or a specified group of line numbers from the middle of a BASIC program. You can, if you want, type the words for BASIC functions and commands with the alpha keys one letter at a time. However many BASIC commands and functions can also be displayed on screen by pressing only 1 or 2 keys. A plastic keyboard overlay that comes with the CC40 shows these special keypresses, most of which involve pressing the CTL or FN key followed by another key. A particularly powerful feature you can access from command mode or from a running BASIC program is CALL DEBUG, which brings up a built in assembly language monitor and memory manager. This is designed to be used with the CC40`s Editor Assembler Module (never officially released), but can also be used by itself. When in the DEBUG monitor you can display, modify, or copy any memory in hex. You can also change the microprocessor`s program counter, stack pointer, and status register. You can set break points, single step through assembly code, start execution at a given address, and control paging in and out of system ROM and cartridge ROM. DEBUG is very powerful, and it is built into the CC40 for use whenever needed. Up to 9 user defined hot keys can be set up to instantly display a preset string of up to 80 characters. Hot keys remain in battery backed memory even after the CC40 is turned off. FN + 1-9 are the potential hot keys. These can, for example, be set up for commonly entered BASIC code, number sequences used in math calculations, or short text memos such as names and addresses. No little calculator can do a better job than the CC40 for the display of chain number calculations. I routinely use the CC40 to balance my checkbook and to calculate student grades from a series of numerical student exam scores. You can type in up to 80 characters of mathematical numbers and symbols (such as 112.56+56.35-45-54.95+12) and then scroll left/right to make sure that all your numbers are correctly entered before pressing
to display the answer. Then pressing "play back" will redisplay the numbers of the chain calculation that gave you that answer. If your chain is greater than 80 characters, you can enter part of the chain and press for an intermediate answer. Then, starting with the intermediate answer, enter the rest of the numbers of the chain and press to get the complete mathematical answer to the entire chain calculation. You can also use the CC40 as a scientific calculator by typing in your calculations directly rather than writing a BASIC program to do the calculations. Calculation accuracy is 13 significant figures, with 10 significant figures usually showing on(the CC40`s display. Scientific notation is supported, allowing the CC40 to deal with numbers as small as +/-1E-128 or as large as +/-9.9999999999999E+127. PI, SQR, any other power or root, log (base 10, and base E), sine, cosine, tangent, arcsine, arccosine, and arctangent are all supported with special keypresses. Angles are calculated in either degrees, radians, or grads. A special indicator on the LCD display (DEG, RAD, or GRAD) shows which kind of angle is in effect. RAD is the powerup default. You could easily spend $30 for a hand held scientific calculator, and you would still not have a 31 column display or a scrolling 80 column data field. For a few more dollars you can have a CC40, which can function as a scientific calculator AND as a real programmable computer. WORD PROCESSING For me the most practical use of the CC40 is as a portable word processor. When used as a word processing system, the following CC40 hex bus peripherals are important: 1- Memo Processor, a CC40 software cartridge; $20 new with an extensive instruction book. Actually I prefer to use my own BASIC CC40 word processing program, which does not require a cartridge and which is more stable in the CC40's memory. Send me $1 and I will send you a 99/4A disk that contains the BASIC listing of my CC40 word processing program plus other type in CC40 software. 2- The Hexbus RS232; about $30-75 depending on whether you purchase the parallel printer cable option. This is a VERY important peripheral. The parallel cable option lets you print to a regular parallel printer from the CC40. Even without the parallel cable option the RS232 lets you send word processing text or other data to another computer. To send word procesing text from a CC40 to a 99/4A use a hexbus cable to connect the CC40 to a hexbus RS232 peripheral and run a serial cable from it to the RS232 port of your 99/4A. (L.L. Conner can custom make the needed serial cable for you.) Cabled this way you can send text directly from the CC40 into TI Writer or the Funnelweb editor without using a terminal emulator program or null modem on the 99/4A. Here's how. From TI Writer type "LF" (load file) and specify "RS232.CR" as the file name. Then using either Memo Processor or my own CC40 BASIC word processing program tell the CC40 to SEND its text. Text will flow out of the CC40 and into the TI Writer edit buffer. When the computer lights stop flashing press FCTN/4 on the 99/4A and your text originally entered into the CC40 will be displayed on the 99/4A's monitor ready for further editing and saving to a TI disk. The Hexbus RS232 is the only hexbus peripheral that is not battery powered. It needs an AC adapter. 3- The hexbus PRINTER 80; around $100 new or used. This small (about 13x6x2 inches) 80 column thermal dot matrix printer is powered by 4 "D" batteries or an ac adapter. It uses small ribbon cartidges to print on ordinary 8.5 x 11 inch typing paper or you can print on rolls of 8.5 inch wide FAX paper without the ribbon cartridge. Thus for an investment of $150 ($50 for the CC40 and $100 for the Printer 80) you can have a totally portable battery powered word processing system using my BASIC word processing software. For an extra $70 ($50 for a new hexbus RS232 from Jim Lesher and $20 for Memo Processor) you can have everything you need for a complete word processing package. I am composing this article on my CC40. This paragraph is being written while sitting on a bench in the quadrangle of the O.S.U. Lima Campus enjoying the sun. Other paragraphs will be written later today sitting on my fromt porch at home and laying in my bed watching the evening news on TV. Then I will dump the text, via my hexbus RS232, to the Funnelweb (TI Writer) editor on my 99/4A and save it from there to a 99/4A disk that I will send to Micropendium. This is truely portable word processing! A CC40 system is absolutely the cheapest word processing system it is possible to purchase anywhere. Compare these prices to the cheapest "modern" laptop computer advertised in Computer Shopper or the nonbattery powered dedicated word processor/printers with little flip up screens (Brother, Smith/Corona, and similar brands) sold in retail stores, OTHER PERIPHERALS In addition to the peripherals described above the following two hexbus peripherals are sometimes still available new or used from dealers. All hexbus peripherals should be purchased with a hexbus cable. Make sure you get one with each peripheral you purchase. You daisy chain the needed peripherals together with such cables and connect the first peripheral in the chain to the CC40. Most hexbus peripherals measure about 6x4.5x1.5 inches and are designed to neatly stack on top of each other. ---Hexbus Printer Plotter. This cute little printer uses adding machine paper to print on. There are four little ball point pens, each of a different color. Replacement pens can still be purchased at Radio Shack stores. You can program the X-Y axis movement of each pen as you print multicolored graphs, and drawings. Several different text sizes from teeny tiny to about 1 inch tall are available. Text can be printed in any direction (vertically facing either left or right, horizontally, and even upside down). Although this printer does have some unique features, it is not really useful in printing documents. Also, it has some reliability problems. There is an internal plastic gear that has a history of breaking (Cecure has a metal replacement gear), and its alkaline battery is soldered in and cannot easily be replaced. If the battery fails to hold a charge you are out of luck even if you use the optional AC adapter. ---Hexbus Modem. This is a 300 baud direct connect modem with rear connectors for two hexbus cables and two RJ11 phone cables. I am told that electronically it has properities that are identical to the 99/4A's acoustic "telephone coupler" modem. It works well, but today would probably be considered little more than a toy. It has been a long time since computer data crawled along phone lines at a speed of only 300 baud. Many information services and BBS systems do not support such a slow speed any more. AVAILABLE SOFTWARE: The following official TI software cartridges for the CC40 are available new for $20 each from Cecure Electronics and sometimes less from other dealers listed below. Each cartridge comes with a well written user guide. Learn Pascal. Memo Processor. Finance. Elementary Engineering. Statistics. Math. Games. I have about 25 CC40 BASIC programs, including the word processing program, which I will be glad to send you. Some of these programs take advantage of the special features of various hexbus peripherals. Either send me a quickdisk (see below) and a paid return mailer or send me $1. Those sending money will get a 99/4A SSSD disk by return mail which contains text file listings of my CC40 BASIC software library. THE MASS STORAGE PROBLEM Lack of mass storage options is why the CC40 failed commercially in 1984/84 and this is still a big problem for CC40 owners today. Since I use the CC40 mostly for word processing, I can usually get along without mass storage. Text I enter into my BASIC word processing program for the CC40 (or into Memo Processor) is conserved for weeks or months in the battery backed RAM of the computer until I can dump the text to my 99/4A system via the hexbus RS232. The following mass storage options are possible: ---8K Memory Expansion. About $30 used. Functionally this resembles the 99/4A's Mini Memory cartridge. The 8K CC40 cartridge is battery backed and can be used either for program storage or as memory expansion, but not both. These 8K battery backed cartridges are not very common anymore, but some are still available from dealers listed below. You can purchase a bunch of these and store one BASIC program in each cartridge. Program storage only works if you have a 6K CC40. If you are using an enhanced 18K CC40, the 8K cartridge can only be used for memory expansion. Combined use of the battery backed cartridge for program loading and the non battery backed 16K cartridge for RAM expansion works very well with my Basic word processing program. 16K cartridges are still commonly available for about $30-40 from dealers. First I plug in an 8K cartridge that contains my word processing program and transfer that program to to the RAM of my 6K CC40. I then unplug the 8K cartridge and plug in the 16K RAM expansion cartridge. Executing a CALL ADDMEM adds the 16K to the 6K already in the CC40 giving me 18K of RAM (I don't know why its not 22K, but it isn't), enough to store text (about 5 double spaced pages) using my word processing program. You can't do this using the Memo Processor cartridge, which must remain inserted in the CC40 while in use. This is one of the reasons I prefer my Basic word processing program. ---TI's PC Interface. $60 new, sold directly by TI. This small peripheral, known as the PCIF, plugs into a PC parallel or LPT port and allows BASIC programs and data files in a CC40 to be stored on or loaded from a floppy disk or the hard drive of an IBM compatible computer. The IBM computer then becomes your mass storage. Sounds great doesn't it! Unfortunately it is a bit tricky to hook the PCIF to the CC40. The PCIF was made for use with the TI74, which is a more modern and somewhat smaller version of the CC40. Although the PCIF is electrically compatible with the hexbus, the 10 pin holes arranged in one straight line on the PCIF's female connector will not directly plug into a hexbus or a hexbus cable. The hexbus has 8 pins arranged in two rows of 4. I cut common paper clips to make short wires that stick snugly into the holes in the end of a female hexbus cable and the corresponding holes in the female connector of the PCIF, filling 8 of the 10 PCIF connector holes. The remaining two PCIF connector holes are for power, 6 volts in and out. The CC40 has no way of delivering this needed power to the PCIF. You have to modify a Radio Shack black cube ac-to-6vDC power adapter so you can plug the adapter into the last two pins of the PCIF. Connecting my CC40 and power adapter as described here to the the PCIF allows me to store CC40 software on IBM disks. ---Mechatronic QuickDisk peripheral. This small disk drive is the only hexbus peripheral I have ever heard of that is not made by TI. It was made a German company specifically for the CC40. I find it to be very fast, reliable, and easy to use for data file and program mass storage. The peripheral is fairly small (7x5.5x3 inches), not battery powered, and uses 2.8 inch disks (not the common 3.5 inch disk size) to store up to 64K on each side of a flippy disk. In 1990 I paid $110 for a new one. The QuickDisk drive is now out of production and there apparently are no new QuickDisk drives gathering dust on dealer's shelves. If you can find a working used QuickDisk drive then buy it! Used QuickDisk drives are hard to find. ---Wafertape Digital Tape Drive. This was going to be TI's cheap portable mass storage device. It ran on batteries or an AC adapter and used a tiny continuous loop tape cartridge about the size of a modern microcassette audio tape. Although data was stored serially, it had many of the characteristics of a random access device. For example, programs and data files can be loaded by file name from a wafertape whcih contains several different files. I own one of these rare devices (serial number 0000007) and several official TI wafer cartridges that have a TI logo on the label. My wafertape drive is not very reliable. Many times I have saved and verified data files or basic programs to wafertape only to find that later I can't load this information back into my CC40. Reliability problems are probably why TI never released this peripheral to the public. If you can find one to buy, Jim Lesher will sell you wafertape cartridges. ---Hexbus Floppy disk drive controller. This also was never released by TI, probably because the CC40 and its peripherals were marketed as an inexpensive alternative to other 1983 computer systems, and the hexbus floppy drive was not inexpensive. This is the rarest and probably the most useful of the hexbus peripherals. The controller worked with IBM compatible 360K drives and 5.25 inch disks, formatting DSDD at 16 256K sectors per track just like TI's never released DSDD disk controller for the 99/4A. I know of four working hexbus floppy controllers in the whole world. Its too bad one of them isn't mine, yet! SOURCES OF SUPPLY: ---CECURE Electronics. P.O. Box 222, Muskego WI 53150. Phone 800-959-9640. This is the official TI service and exchange center for the CC40 and its peripherals. They don't sell the computer or peripherals but they do repair them on a flat fee exchange basis. They sell the following CC40 cartridges new: 16K expansion RAM ($40), Memo Processor and other software cartridges listed above ($20 each). They also have new "user guides" for those who have the computer but no book and a "Learn Basic" book published by McGraw Hill specifically for the CC40. ---Jim Lesher, 722 Huntley, Dallas TX 75214. Phone 214-821-9274 A nice selection of new and used CC40s ($50 for a new 6K CC40), HexBus peripherals, and rare documentation. Write or call for a current product list. He is the only source I know of for 8K battery backed RAM cartridges. Jim also sells software cartridges and 16K expansion RAM cartridges and has the two books mentioned above. ---L.L. Conner Enterprise, 1521 Ferry St. Lafayette Indiana 47904. Phone voice 317-742-8146 or fax 317-423-4879. A source of used and (occationally ) new CC40 computers, Hex Bus peripherals, and cartridge software. Phone almost anytime for a list of what is currently in stock. Larry Conner will upgrade CC40s from 6K to 18K of internal RAM or sell you the chips to do it yourself. He will also make the serial cable to hook a hexbus RS232 to the 99/4A RS232. ---Texas Instruments. Phone 800-TI-CARES and have your credit card ready to order the PCIF, which is considered by TI-CARES representatives to be a TI74 or TI95 product. TI is the only source I know for this peripheral. It is part number 1065751-0001 and costs $60 plus shipping and state sales tax. You may have to tell the TI-CARES phone representative to type in "TI74" on her terminal to find the sales listing for the PCIF. TI also sells an ac adapter you can use instead of batteries to power the CC40 and some of its peripherals. This is called the AC9201, part number 1055601-8900, and costs $18.95. TI now refers all enquiries about sales and repair of CC40 products and hexbus peripherals to Cecure Electronics. ---Charles Good, P.O. Box 647, Venedocia OH 55894. Phone 419-667-3131. That's me, the author of this article. Send me $1 and I will send you what I have in the way of CC40 BASIC software as described earlier in the article.
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