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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The Compact Computer 40

TI CC-40


Texas Instruments (US)


Compact Computer 40
(CC 40 from the total ROM + RAM)

Date Launched

March 1983



Microprocessor type

TMS 70C20 @ 2.5 MHz
(An 8-bit CMOS microcontroller designed by Texas Instruments and derived from the TMS 1000 which was used in some pocket calculators.)

ROM size

34 kilobytes

Standard RAM

6 kilobytes

Maximum RAM

18 kilobytes internally by replacing the three original RAM chips.
A further 16 KB could be added via the external cartridge port.

Keyboard type

Calculator style QWERTY keyboard plus separate numeric pad, but smaller than a standard keyboard.
BASIC commands could be entered by pressing CTL and a single key. A keyboard overlay was provided to show the keywords.

Supplied language

A version of TI BASIC, similar to that in the TI 99/4

Text resolution

One line of 31 characters on a liquid crystal display.
Could be scrolled to 80 characters.

Graphics resolution

No graphics, but seven user-definable characters were available.

Colours available


Example Screenshot

CC-40 LCD display
As with other pocket computers of the time, the CC-40's single line display restricted its uses.



Cassette load speed

No tape interface

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

236 x 145 x 25

Special features

A self contained and battery powered portable computer.
Had a socket at the top right for cartridges holding the extra RAM or applications including Finance, Statistics, Electrical Engineering.

Good points

Easily portable.
Long battery life of 200 hours from four AA cells.
Memory was retained while switched off.
Could be used like a scientific calculator.
Had connections for a printer and modem.
Supplied with a well-written user manual.

Bad points

There was no provision for external program storage, not even by using an audio cassette recorder as employed by most other home computers of the time.
The intention had been to produce a matching 'Wafertape', a continuous-loop tape drive with data stored digitally, operating at 8000 baud and holding around 48 kilobytes. Such a device was indeed designed but was found to be unreliable and never launched commercially.
Software on cartridge was expensive at £40 to £60.

How successful?

The lack of any means of storing or loading a program meant the only way to enter programs was to type them in on the small keyboard. This was a serious disadvantage of the CC-40 and the likely reason it only sold in small numbers, despite its appealing design.


There was going to be a TI CC-40+ which would be the same as the CC-40 but with connections for a standard cassette recorder. Unfortunately in March 1984 Texas Instruments decided to withdraw from the computer market and the CC-40+ never appeared.
Read a review of the Colour Computer 40.

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