Debunking Buyers’ guide liars!!!! (part 3)
Luckily, TI99/4A owners were spared all the PEEKs and POKEs of Commodore 64 BASIC V2, because no such commands or their equivalents are even available on the TI99/4A.
“Luckily” in this case could perhaps mean that PEEK and POKE were omitted because…
Unfortunately, for some time it was also impossible for members of the public to write Machine Code programs on the TI99/4A, because they were denied the necessary software tools, unless they worked for a software house contracted by Texas Instruments, or had paid them a large fee to develop software on cassette.
…Texas Instruments understood that doing so prevented would-be programmers from either accessing the hardware sprite registers to use them from BASIC or hand assembling their code, POKEing it directly into memory and neatly sidestepping the process of paying money to become a developer. Isn’t it a good job that other computer manufacturers didn’t do that and instead provided all the tools and documentation required for a budding programmer… companies like Commodore for instance!
As you’ve probably guessed, there’s no mention of these restrictions in “The A-Z of Personal Computers”. They wrote that the TI99/4A comes with “Basic, Internal Graphics Language”!
It has a BASIC interpreter and the author has already mentioned the “built in Graphics Programming Language (GPL)” in his post so where exactly does The A-Z Of Personal Computers actually lie in the quoted text?
Obviously, a few very clever programmers somehow eventually managed to bypass these restrictions of TI BASIC as explained on http://tigameshelf.net/tibasic.htm . The official TI Extended BASIC added commands for sprites, as well as to run Assembly Language programs, but unlike with Commodore computers, it seems this may have been the only extended BASIC available, then various commercial programs were actually written in TI Extended BASIC!
Ah, good old “various” being used in a faintly ridiculous manner once more… in this case that “various” doesn’t mean anything useful because it doesn’t tell us how many programs were written in TI Extended BASIC at all, for all we know the author is making that “fact” up like he has many times previously. There were “various” commercial programs written in the original C64 BASIC but somehow the author skips over this fact because it doesn’t agree with his personal worldview.
And then there’s the question of why there was only one extended BASIC, to which a fairly reasonable guess would be that third party options didn’t come into being because, as the author noted, Texas Instruments held back the all-important programming information required to write one. As noted when we mentioned Atari doing something similar, for some reason the author doesn’t find this to be a crime against humanity but would be crying foul had Commodore done the same thing.
Obviously, they should only have been reviewing the computers themselves and any software which was built in to them, or supplied with them, not any software which could be bought to improve them.
This is dim-witted. Computers aren’t just a single package and the range and quality of first and third party software available for a platform is incredibly important when making a buying decision. The only people who didn’t worry were the ones who planned to write everything for themselves and these people are a very small niche indeed because even the most hardcore programmer usually relies on other people to write the first of their development tools.
Obviously, my Dad, as well as my Mum to a lesser extent, made the final decision that I should have a Commodore 64, instead of a BBC Micro, an Atari 400, 800, 600XL, 800XL, or some other computer. This was because of what I called his IKB or IKBA (I Know Best Attitude), but which is generally known as an ITA (Ivory Tower Attitude).
As the saying goes, like father, like son. The author has spent nearly two years trying to convince people online either via his blog or directly by posting responses to their comment threads around the web that the view from his personal ivory tower should, somehow, magically override how they personally feel about the C64; his view has been completely and utterly outweighed by the tens if not hundreds of thousands of people who learnt to program with the C64’s BASIC but, perched up high as he is, the author utterly fails to see that.
“Elektra Glide” (1985) shows ehat the Atari XL computers are capable of
And it has to be noted dear reader that Atari didn’t release the documentation required to actually write Elektra Glide until a couple of years after they released the computer it runs on so would-be developers were in a similar boat to TI-99/4A owners in that respect; it will always be harder to learn programming on a computer with incomplete documentation than one where everything is done via PEEK and POKE commands.
 Your correspondent doesn’t really know the reasoning behind these commands being omitted, but here are, apparently, other reasons which are more about how the machine itself works. But plugging that hole certainly wouldn’t have hurt what Texas were trying to achieve… and it seems that the Extended BASIC adds PEEK and POKE to the command set anyway!