TI's CC40 Computer System- By Charles Good

Thanks to Charles Good for donating this article.



     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



     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,


     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.



     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



     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,


     ---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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