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Texas Instruments made a line of laptops called "Travel Mate." Obviously, you were supposed to travel with the laptops, so they're not too heavy, and designed for travel. However, the 4000 series of laptops had a floppy disk drive in the front of the system, so you couldn't easily eject a disk with the system on your lap.

The Travel Mate 4000 series of laptops had many excellent things on it. First, they keyboard on them is the best laptop keyboard I have used. Only a keyboard such as the IBM Model M keyboard (desktop) is better. Second, many of the systems shipped with a 486WinDX2-50 CPU, Which is a 50 mHz 486 with better performance than a standard 486.

Manuals for this system can be downloaded at: http://www.acersupport.com/notebook/html/tm4000_dl.html (link broken, but left for posterity).

Inside the system

Internally, the laptop is composed of several major componet parts: disk drives, modem, motherboard, I/O card, LCD Screen, power board (and switch) and battery.

The hard drive is a standard laptop hard drive, about 200 megabtye, but the floppy disk drive is not standard. Only another drive from a 4000e will fit a 4000e. The TravelMate 4000 drives may be compatible, however. An internal modem is an option in a TI TravelMate 4000e. It plugs in to its slot, and you plug the phone line in to it. Unlike a desktop modem, there is no pass-through for connecting a phone. If you wish to connect both the modem and the phone, you'll need a phone line splitter.

The motherboard contains the CPU, RAM, processor and system buses. It's on the proprietary I/O Card that the video, parallel port, hard disk and floppy disk controllers are. The I/O card also contains about 10 LED (Light Emiting Diodes) status lights. There is one that is a multi-color LED, marked by its 3 pins. The rest of the LEDs are the green T1 size.

When it comes to the LCD screen, the options Texas Instruments offered were simply black and white or color. My laptop has a color screen, and it is very easy to see when you're using it. There is a switch to switch between low illumination and high illumination, but I cannot tell that much of a difference between the two in terms of readability. I just leave the switch on low.

The power board and switch are where the AC adapter plugs in to the system. There are a few jumpers between the mother board and this board, as the battery connects to the motherboard. This board is about an inch wide, and almost as long as the laptop. If you put too much strain on the AC adapter connector, eventually it will have to be fixed, which means the whole laptop must be taken apart. (You'll need about 15 different tyes of screw drivers to do it too!!!)

The overall weight of the laptop and battery is about six pounds, but it can easily be doubled by adding more batteries. On a full charge, this machine will get about 2 and a half hours of battery life. As the battery gets used, you may need to condition it. Leave the system in DOS, and let the battery go completely dead. Charge it up, and repeat this for 3 or 4 times.

External Hardware


Parallel, serial, external monitor, modem
These are located all on the left side of the system. They do nothing special, but are standard ports. You can connect a null-modem cable to the serial ports of two systems, and transfer information.

Expansion Port
This is a long connector at the back of the system that the network adapter and other devices connect to.

Quick Port
This is located on the right side of the system, and the track ball or numeric keypad connect to it. I do not know if both will connect to the system at one time, as I do not have the numeric keypad.


Network Adapter

The network adapter allowed access to a local area network. It has a RJ 45 jack on it, so it can connect to any standard network using the 802.3 ethernet standards. It came with its own power supply, but could use system power. There is a set of jumpers to set, and a manual to tell you how to do so. There is also a power switch, so it can be turned on and off.

Track Ball

This was standard with the system. Instead of an annoying track-pad, this was an actual track ball. It connected on the side of the system, tight enough to make good connection an loose enough to not break anything if it was knocked off. Using the track ball rather than a mouse takes some getting used to, but it is no where near as bad as the infernal finger pointer or track pad.


From the factory, the TI 4000e had either DOS 5 or Dos 6 on it, and Windows 3.1. There are a variety of accessories, including a network adapter. In some places, if you purchased the network adapter, you got an upgrade for Windows 3.1 to Windows for Workgroups 3.11. This allowed network support through Windows.

Software included with the system includes Drop N Go (Put icons on the Windows 3.1 desktop), a battery conservation program, laptop manager, and of course the programs that come with Dos and Windows (Qbasic, Edit, Solitare, Minesweeper...). Some of this system software can be downloaded at: http://www.acersupport.com/notebook/html/tm4000_dl.html (link broken, but left for posterity).

While the hardware in this system is capable of running Windows 95, I do not recommend it. You're in for quite a wait if you do that. Expanding the memory will help a lot, but still not give you the same performance as a Pentium would. If you wish to install a different operating system, go with something like OS/2 or Linux. (This is just my opinion.)

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