An Obscure 1980s Minicomputer Meets an Obscure 1980s Home Computer

An unsuccessful and largely forgotten entry in the 1980s “home computer” sweepstakes was the Texas Instruments TI-99/4, introduced in 1979. It was the sole home computer to use a 16 bit microprocessor, which the genius engineers at Texas Instruments hobbled by forcing it to run through an 8 bit memory bus and only 16 Kb of RAM, which was shared with the display processor. The machine ran consistently slower than 8 bit machines such as the Apple II and TRS-80.

Even more obscure was the Centurion minicomputer, a 16 bit design using the AMD 2900 bipolar bit slice chip set and custom microcode. It could support multiple serial terminals running in multi-tasked mode and was sold mainly to business clients in the oil and gas industry.

After painstakingly restoring these two vintage systems, David Lovett of Usagi Electric decided to see if they could be made to talk to one another. How hard can it be? There is, of course, a bunny at the end.