TI Educator and Chronicler
Jack was a grade school teacher with a real love for our Home Computer. Before the TI-99/4A existed, Texas Instruments generously loaned him a TI-99/4, with the chiclet style keyboard, to use in his 5th-grade classroom for a year. They probably had the first computer in an elementary classroom in America. It was great! He and the kids learned how to have the computer do calculations. They learned how to make the computer fill up the screen with their names and to delay with a FOR NEXT loop. There was no software or storage device at all and only a photocopied attempt at a manual.
At about the same time the Massachusetts Users of the Ninety-Nine and Computer Hobbyists (MUNCH) in Worcester MA was formed. In 1983 Jack started to attend meetings, ask questions, write articles and reviews for their newsletter and quickly gain an understanding of this computer. His enthusiasm and the knowledge he gained have subsequently been of great benefit to the TI-99 community. He was editor of the newsletter for a time and subsequently became a demo leader for the club meetings until October 1996. He was a presenter at and helped organize the First New England Fall Fair put on by MUNCH on October 14, 1995.
After Jack acquired cassette and disk storage devices, he wrote some programs in TI Basic for his students and also introduced them to the many game and educational programs and cartridges released by Texas Instruments and similar programs written by programmers, such as, Jim Peterson (the Tigercub). He used these programs during his teaching and also made them available to his students for after school use.
Around 1986 Jack collected on disk various software tools and programs that he called FunlPlus! This initial collection was intended to enhance the use of Funnelweb as it then existed. The disk included an active cataloger that allowed printing, deletion, loading, etc.; a banner program, desk calendar, label maker, presentation program, templates for borders, boxes, letterheads, etc., transliteration codes for use with TI-Writer and quick reference charts. By 1988 he had expanded this collection to fill two DSSD disks and now named this collection as PLUS! Many in the TI-99 community have used these utilities. In particular, the transliteration codes were used with Epson compatible dot matrix printers, which were very prominent at the time, to create a variety of special printable characters.
Jack was a prolific writer of articles about the TI-99/4A. A collection of about 70 of his articles appears on the WHT site. An edited extract from a description by Chris Bobbitt on the Genie 2217 disk states: “There was a real void in many user group newsletters with the virtual passing of Jim Peterson's Tips from the Tigercub. Jack Sughrue moved to fill in the void with his wonderful Impact/99 column. Unlike Tips, Impact/99 is not programmer oriented. Instead, it is a lively discussion of the things that affect the 4A world most. It is insightful, dynamic, critical, biased, outrageous, inspiring, and very personal. It will cause you to argue, disagree, and fulminate — in short it's great!”
In 1989 Jack was involved in a serious car accident. This is how he described it: “I was on my way home from school on a bright, sunshiny afternoon in May, when a tree leaped in front of my brand new car. Car was totaled, but I wasn't. My head was badly smashed in. There was a distinct possibility that I would lose my left eye and/or suffer severe brain damage if I lived. I lived. The left eye is not perfect, but it is see-able and will remain with me. Regarding the brain damage: my wife said, "If Jack has brain damage, who would know?"
“I sure had a chance to re-prioritize my life, however, and dropped lots of things that were not important. But the things most important to me (family, teaching, reading, writing, and, of course, computing) are where my time and energy and money will go.”
In 1990 he started a new series of articles named New-Age/99 to continue the Impact/99 articles that had been interrupted by his accident. This series of 15 articles makes very enjoyable reading and reviews many programs as well as providing a TI history of the time.
Most of his works originally appeared in the newsletters of MUNCH in Worcester, MA, or the Lima 99/4 User Group.
In 1992 Jack wrote "TI-101: Our 4A University" consisting of long essays in the form of university class lectures on "how to use your TI as an educational tool." Last line of this series reads as follows: ”So, on behalf of Mr. Shakespeare, Ms. Bronte, Mr. Bell, The Old Professor, and all the other members of the TI-101 Class, good fortune! There's always TIme for TIing for educaTIon, enterTaInment, and InTellectual sTImulaTIon.”
Inducted into the TI99ers Hall of Fame on July 18, 2009