Texas Instruments TMS9900 - First True 16-bit Microprocessor


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About this Artwork

This artwork is a mixed media display celebrating the Texas Instruments TMS9900. Introduced in 1976, the TMS9900 was based on the Texas Instruments 990 minicomputer. Like its minicomputer parent, the TMS9900 had very efficient register-to-register computation and memory-to-memory data transfers. The TMS9900 had no general registers on board, but used external RAM memory instead. This allowed the TMS9900 to deal with more interrupts and handle the context switches much more quickly. The architecture provided a very clean and flexible programming model. The TMS9900 was also used in TI's TI-99/4 and TI-99/4A microcomputers.

The first 16-bit microprocessor was the National Semiconductor PACE. However, while the PACE could handle data in 16-bit chunks and had 16-bit accumulators it still had many internal architectural aspects of an 8-bit orientation. The PACE was designed to run in 8-bit and 16-bit modes, but was optimized for the 8-bit mode. The TMS9900 being derived from a robust 16-bit minicomputer architecture was 16-bit all the way. In benchmarks, the TMS9900 out-performed the PACE by 3 to 1 while using 75% of the memory. In addition, the PACE was somewhat of a retread, it that is was a single chip implementation of a multi-chip IMP-16 bit-slice configuration. Consequently, even though the clock cycles were increased, the older architecture could not perform at the TMS9900's levels. It is clear that the TMS9900 was the first true 16-bit microprocessor.

This artwork includes 3 major items. It has a large image of a Texas Instruments TMS9900 chip. On the back are the artist’s signature and a narrative describing the artwork and the TMS1000. Also, the artwork includes a Texas Instruments TMS9900 chip (TMS9900JDL).


    The artwork is framed in an 11"x14" black shadow box frame, with glass. All framing materials are acid-free. A narrative about the artwork that includes the artist’s signature is placed on the back of the artwork.

    Please note:  The look of the artifacts in the artworks may vary, each piece is unique.