Thomas Wills
Enabler of Communication for TI99ers Around the World

Tom Wills is a well known and long established figure within the TI Community. Known as a skilled communicator and proactive contributor, he has throughout his nearly thirty year TI99er career enabled many 99ers from all over the world to easily keep up with one another both via Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) operated by himself, and as an enthusiastic organizer of many Fests and TI meetings over the years.

Tom’s contributions to both the SouthWest 99ers User Group ("SW99UG") and Fest West computer fairs are without doubt a major contributory factor to the longevity and popularity of those communities. The Fest West '98 - Lubbock TI Computer Faire in 1998, a meeting for TI99 fans held in Lubbock, Texas was a huge success, due in no small part to his hard work, dedication, and organizational skills. The Texas Instruments Lubbock plant, site of Fest West '98 - Lubbock was where the TI-99/4A home computer was conceived, developed and manufactured.

Over the years Tom has continued in his tireless efforts to unite TI99ers from around the world. Forming the Yahoo TI-99/4A list server (AKA The Yahoo TI-99/4A OnLine User Group), a Yahoo mailing list dedicated to the TI-99/4A, in 1999, maintaining The TI'99ers Hall of Fame (HOF) website, and running the TI99ers On-Line User Group website has further served to cement Tom's reputation as a much respected, tireless contributor to the TI-99/4A community.

In August of 1983 Tom bought his first TI-99/4A and promptly joined the Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Area 99ers User Group ("SA99UG") and became heavily involved in the TI99er community. Tom immediately became involved as a SA99UG representative to the Wisconsin 99er Computer Council ("W99CC") and remained involved with the W99CC until his move to Tucson, Arizona in December of 1988 where he was already a member of the SouthWest 99ers User Group.

During his time with the SA99UG, Tom held the positions of Vice President (1984-1987), SysOp of the Nearer The Lake BBS (1985-1988) and finally President (1988). As a W99CC representative, Tom was involved with four W99CC TI Computer Faires. Tom also contributed monthly articles in the SA99UG newsletter.

In 1986, Tom was given credit for forming a coalition of four small home computer groups (TI-99/4A, Apple, Atari and Commodore) in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, enabling the larger collective to be in a position to hold local computer fairs.

When Tom moved to Tucson in 1988 (long before the Internet boom of the mid 90's) he immediately took over the SW99UG BBS as its SysOp renaming it to The Cactus Patch. Although The Cactus Patch is no longer with us, it lives on in the fond memories of many American 99ers. A year later he became SW99UG Vice President and in 1996 their President. Here, as with the SA99UG, Tom was a regular contributor to their newsletter as well as the Editor of the newsletter from 1998 until it ceased publication in January 2000.

Tom's accomplishments over the years include:

Tom was born in 1944 in Marquette, Michigan less than a month before D-Day while his Father was in Wales preparing for the invasion of Europe. In 1951 his family moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin and in 1962 he graduated from Oshkosh High School. In 1976 working as a truck driver, he sustained a back injury forcing him to be retrained in Computer Science (then called Data Processing). He obtained his Associate Degree in 18 months instead of the normal 2 years with a 3.6 GPA. He then moved to Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 1978 where he met his wife, Carol. From then until he retired from Pima County, Arizona, he went from being a mainframe Programmer to Programmer Analyst (both mainframe and PC) to a Tech Support Supervisor to an Information Systems Manager. While in Tucson, he continued on with his education earning enough hours at the Pima Community College for a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science.

Tom, now "retired" from full time work, is living happily, in Tucson, with wife Carol. He is currently working part time as the director for the Institute for Technology Asset Management, a division of the Business Consumer Technology Network, Inc.

In his "spare" time, Tom is in the enviable position of being able to tour the Natural Wonders of the United States, and still have some left over for his beloved TI99/4A.

Biography prepared by Terrie Masters

Inducted into the TI99ers Hall of Fame on November 7, 2009