TI-99/4A FAQ: Loading Assembly Language Programs

What do I need to load assembly language programs?

The big requirement is RAM, assembly language programs need the extra 32k memory expansion to load into since they are programmed for that memory space.

The basic playground loader uses the teeny amount of cpu RAM in the console to leverage loading assembly in TI basic but that’s limited to very small programs. TI basic has no built in ability to access expansion RAM.

Most games from TI on cartridge for instance are written in GPL and run from GROM carts. They can be copied to RAM and run from there but it has to be the 32k expansion RAM. This is how we run GROM games from a ROM cartridge board such as the flashROM99.

The Mini-Memory cartridge includes 4k of battery backed ram* that can be used for small assembly language programs. See Mini Memory entry for more details. This can NOT load programs into 32k like the editor assembler.

The Editor assembler cartridge gives you the loader to load assembly programs.  Assembly programs come in two varieties. DF/80 object files and PROGRAM image programs. In the EA cartridge you pick option 3 for loading DF/80 object files and option 5 for loading PROGRAM image programs. 

DF/80 object files tend to have a start program name defined that should be included in the documentation for the program,  most programmers used START as the program name for starting the program so try that if you don’t have the info on the specific program name to use.  After you load the file you will be prompted for the program name.

EA option 5 programs start automatically

Editor assembler sets up a environment with routines that can be called by programs. It also has add on routines for TI basic while the cart is installed. Both require 32k expansion RAM to do this.

Extended basic gives you the ability to load SOME assembly natively.  People have written loaders for extended basic that create the editor assembler environment that many programs require to load correctly.

These days with sidecar 32k availability for a reasonable price and SAMS cards for less than $100us and the FinalGrom99 sd card cart you can have a full assembly language capable TI for not much investment.

Also the TIPI DSR rom contains an EA option 5 PROGRAM loader that can be called from basic with CALL TIPI(“DSKX.PROGRAMNAME”) it can also load programs from http sites!

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