TI 99 / 2
The Texas Instruments TI 99 / 2 (in-house named "Ground Squirrel") was intended to compete in a lower price range than the TI 99/4A (i.e. in the same range that the Sinclair Spectrum). But when the price war with Commodore forced TI to slash the price of a 99/4A to that level, there was no market for the 99/2 anymore.
Therefore, this prototype never made it to the shelves of the computer shops.
Harry LittleJohn and Mark Jander, the designers of the TI-99/2, explained its concept in a Byte magazine article:
We beleived a major portion of our market would be first-time computer buyers looking for a minimal investment in the world of computers. We kept the price low to compete directly with low-priced computers such as the Timex/Sinclair 1000.
We felt strongly that the first-time buyer must not be intimidated by the product. The console, we decided, must be simple and the keyboard must be no more complicated than a typewriter keyboard.
To ease the upward migration to more sophisticated computers, we decided to make our computer part of an integrated proct line basec on the 99/4A.
Having identified these requirements, we selected the following characteristics for the TI-99/2:
1 - A computer system for less than $100 including a minimum of 2 KB of RAM and 16 KB of ROM.
2 - A built-in, two-channel black-and-white RF modulator for connecting the system to a standard TV.
3 - A built-in interface for a standard audio-cassette recorder to provide economical mass-storage capability.
4 - A built-in Hex-bus interface to provide compatibility with the line of low-cost peripherals.
5 - An operating system that would be a subset of TI_99/4A TI-BASIC. For cost reasons, the 99/2 would not use the Graphic GROM of the 99/4A and, therefore, 99/4A cartridges would not be compatible with the 99/2.
6 - No sound, color, or joystick capability would be supported again because of cost constraints.
7 - The full system bus structure would be available at an expansion port. This would facilitate memory-expanding Solid State Software cartridges or any other future system expansion.
8 - A nonintimidating 48-key typewriter-like keyboard with only two legends per key top. Lowercase letters would not be supported.