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Please Don’t Call It Trash-80: A 35th Anniversary Salute to Radio Shack’s TRS-80

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Radio Shack's TRS-80 Model I microcomputer, complete with Expansion Interface, floppy-disk drive and printer

Quick — name the most important personal computer of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Those of you who mentioned the legendary Apple II–that’s fine. I respect your decision. Forced to think objectively in 2012, I may even agree. But if you just named Radio Shack’s TRS-80, you made me smile.

Your choice is entirely defensible. And back in the TRS-80′s heyday, I not only would have agreed with it but would have vehemently opposed any other candidate.

(MORE: 25 Years of IBM’s OS/2: The Strange Days and Surprising Afterlife of a Legendary Operating System)

Gadget-retailing giant Radio Shack unveiled the TRS-80 Model I at a press conference at New York’s Warwick Hotel 35 years ago today, on August 3, 1977. (The company didn’t call it the Model I at the time: Like Apple’s Apple I, it only became the I after a II was introduced.)

It wasn’t the city’s biggest news story that day. That would be the bombings of two office buildings by Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN, which killed one man and prompted the evacuation of 100,000 people from other buildings, including the Empire State Building and both towers of the World Trade Center. But it was a big moment in the burgeoning microcomputer industry: The TRS-80, which began shipping in September, was one of 1977′s trinity of early consumer PCs, along with the Apple II and Commodore’s PET 2001.

TRS-80

D&P Valenti / ClassicStock / Corbis

I wasn’t paying attention at the time, but my father was. In the spring of 1978, as I was wrapping up junior high, he brought a TRS-80 home. The moment I saw it could do graphics and animation, I was transfixed.

That fall, I entered a high school whose rudimentary computer lab was outfitted with TRS-80s. I rarely left the lab except when I was supposed to go to class, and sometimes not even then. The fact that I was a TRS-80 user was a defining aspect of my identity until 1982, when I bought an Atari 400. And the TRS-80 helped to define things about the PC industry that persist to this day.

The project had been instigated by Don French, a Radio Shack executive and computer hobbyist. In 1976, he convinced the company’s president, Lew Kornfeld, and vice president, John Roach, that it should look into the PC market. They were initially skeptical about the idea, but French’s timing was fortuitous: The market for CB radios, which had been extraordinarily good to Radio Shack, was on the verge of faltering. The company needed something new to pick up the slack.

Arkansas TRS-80

RadioShackCatalogs.com

Forced with the challenge of creating a PC in Radio Shack’s headquarters of Fort Worth, Texas — nowhere near the epicenter of the PC revolution in Silicon Valley — Radio Shack did a sensible thing: It imported a computer nerd from the Valley.

That nerd was Steve Leininger, an employee of chipmaker National Semiconductor. Like Apple’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, he was a member of the Homebrew Computer Club, whose members designed their own PCs for fun. He’d also been an employee of Paul Terrell’s Byte Shop, the pioneering computer store where the first Apple machines were sold. Working to French’s specifications, Leininger did most of the heavy lifting of designing the TRS-80.

The computer’s name sounded a bit retro even in the 1970s. The “TRS” stood for “Tandy Radio Shack” and the “80″ referenced the machine’s microprocessor, the Z-80. Radio Shack kept the branding even on later models which used different chips.

Radio Shack parent company Tandy Corporation–which started out as a maker of products for leather handicrafters–was run by Charles Tandy. His main role in the TRS-80 project seems to have been not preventing it from proceeding, which is often the most important contribution a CEO makes to a groundbreaking effort. In November of 1978, he died of a heart attack — a little over a year after the TRS-80 shipped, and before it and its competitors and successors really started making a dent in the universe.

TRS-80

RadioShackCatalogs.com

At first, Radio Shack envisioned the TRS-80 as a solder-it-yourself kit which it wanted to sell for $199. Leininger convinced the company to build a fully-assembled, plug-and-play computer. It ended up starting at an economical-sounding $399.95, but that assumed that you supplied your own monitor, a configuration I don’t recall ever seeing in the wild. $599.95 got you a system with Radio Shack’s 12″ black-and-white display, 4KB of memory and a cassette-tape deck which let you save and load programs (albeit very slowly and very unreliably).

What you really wanted, though, was a TRS-80 with 16KB of memory, the powerful Level II BASIC programming language (provided by a company called Microsoft), and a floppy-disk drive that could store up to 49KB of data. In 1979, that cost $1,647–about what you’d pay for a 16KB Apple II without a display or disk drive.

At first, Radio Shack kept its hopes for the TRS-80 in check. Legend has it that it originally planned to build just 3,500 units, figuring that if the product was a flop, the company could just use the machines for book-keeping purposes in its 3,500 company-owned stores. But it soon found that the computer was shattering its expectations, and just kept doing better and better.

According to one analysis, the TRS-80 was the best-selling PC from its introduction through 1982. The Apple II steadily gained on it, but even as late as 1980, Radio Shack’s machine may have outsold the pricier Apple II by more than five-to-one.

That isn’t surprising given the huge advantage the TRS-80 had on the retail front. The Apple II and other microcomputers were initially sold mostly in funky little mom-and-pop computer stores. But Radio Shack had 5,000 company-owned locations and franchisees in 1977, many of which were located in malls. The TRS-80 was therefore the first computer widely sold in stores frequented by typical consumers, not just geeks.

Superman

Radio Shack

The richest ecosystem of the era sprung up around the TRS-80. You could buy TRS-80 hard drives  and networking gear and kits to give the system lower-case letters. (Radio Shack had initially left out lower case to save $1.97 per TRS-80 sold.) There was a TRS-80 voice synthesizer, and joysticks and a box which added color graphics capability. You could buy an add-on that gave the system the ability to play sound, although some enterprising users discovered that you could place a radio nearby and write BASIC programs that would cause the radio to buzz in a manner that approximated music.

There were even TRS-80 clones, such as Australia’s Dick Smith System 80, perhaps the most wonderfully-named computer of all time.

TRS-80 software was just as important as TRS-80 hardware, and at first, it had a wider selection than any other microcomputer. Conventional wisdom has long held that Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston’s VisiCalc spreadsheet for the Apple II was the first killer app–a program so useful that people bought a computer to run it. But even before Apple got VisiCalc, the TRS-80 had the Electric Pencil, the first microcomputer word processor. At the very least, it was a proto-killer app.

A bevy of games were available, too, despite the fact that the computer did only black-and-white graphics at 128-by-48, which was bare-bones even back then. For some of us, the name “Scott Adams” will always bring to mind not Dilbert but the author of the plain-text adventure games which started on the TRS-80 before migrating to other platforms.

And a genius schoolteacher named Leo Christopherson was the Disney of TRS-80 graphics, creating masterworks such as Dancing Demon, which let you play choreographer for a tap-dancing gremlin:

Many of these products were advertised in the first slick computer magazine devoted to a specific PC, Wayne Green’s 80 Microcomputing. Wildly successful later publications such as PC Magazine, Macworld and my former employer, PC World, all followed its template.

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56 comments
JohnLaury
JohnLaury

I used both Model I's and Color Computers (all 3 versions), The color computer wasn't a bad machine.  In many ways it was as capable if not more (graphics for example), than the Model I/III's.  

AngelOke
AngelOke

Hi there. I really appreciate the points you made. I don't think I've actually thought about it in that way. I can really appreciate how you approached the subject matter and what you said really gave me a new perspective. Thanks for taking the time to write this all out.

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enchantedneuron
enchantedneuron

Thank you so much for this excellent piece of computer history documentation. As a 27 year old man who grew up using the computer I've always made a point of reading in detail about each and every computer system that existed in computer history. These sorts of documents are priceless and so valuable for the handful of us who are dead set on understanding everything possible about interaction experience and user interface design long term. There are lessons in each of these types of systems that came along; individual decisions were made differently and there's so much value in understanding them. You give a perfect entryway to understanding the TRS-80 in this article and I'll definitely be looking in detail at the museum and the blog you linked to. 
Great piece. Just perfect. Thank you so much.

DonaldH.French
DonaldH.French

The story is correct, I did it, the original computer was to be a solder project because it was easier to attempt to get it accepted that a full computer. That was changed after a clock ProjectBoard was retuned because it would not work. The customer had soldered everything together  in one big solder mess. Steve and I made a push to get the full product in and keep the price at the same $199 for the CPU. It was done with things like no lower case characters and a software based equivalent of the Tarbell cassette driver, no hardware. We did it. the base CPU with keyboard, ram, BASIC in rom, and cassette interface sold for $199. It even had expansion capabilities.  The "Monitor" was an Mercedes Silver RCA TV from which we had removed the tuner. This monitor defined to color for the entire system because it was the only color it was available.

curriden
curriden

I bought my trs 80 model I  in 1980. For my senior project as an EE at cal poly, I made a voice recognition and voice synthesizer system. It would  recognize 12 words and say what ever you wanted to program it to. I boxed it all up and forgot about it. Now in 2013,
I pulled it out and it all works. Senior project and all. I bought a Spartan 3e xilinx FPGA board and recorded all of the old Cassettes into eeeprom and now I can load them without the cassette player. I have adventureland,haunted house , EDTASM, Nova, Duel, Micormovie, and several others. I have come out of the closet as a TRS-80 addict. I think it's time to share.  I think I just started. Where do i start?

LegitQuestions
LegitQuestions

Don't trash the Color Computer.   I was in Jr. High when it came out.  I didn't have any way to get my folks to drop a grand on a TRS-80 or an Apple.  They were willing to spring for the Color Computer, so thats what I had.  Sure it was under-powered, but it was significantly cheaper and who knew how important power and memory were back then. 

I used the Color Computer to teach myself Basic and I wrote a program to determine the types of procedures my dad did in his medical practice (he was a pediatrician).  Using superbills, I showed my dad what types of procedures he was doing and what types of procedures he should be doing to maximize his reimbursement.  Of course, he had no idea how to implement the information I was providing to him.  Who knew I was in the early stages of conceptualizing practice management and medical information management. 

Then I went to high school and off to college, leaving the Color Computer and my budding practice management business in the spare bedroom of my parent's house.  How I wish now that I had the foresight then to continue that interesting little experiment in practice management and medical economics that I started on that low powered little device.

So give the Color Computer its due - its where many of us got our first exposure to computers.

Grant Robertson
Grant Robertson

I did my very first "IT work" on a TRS-80 Model I. This would have been about 1976. I had just gotten my license and where did I go? To Radio Shack, of course, to play on the computer I could not afford to buy. Yes, those tape drives were unreliable unless you knew the trick I had figured out. You had to record the program on one volume setting and then play it back at a different setting. I marked those settings with tape and the tape drive never had a problem after that. Ahhh, life was so simple then.

avrguru
avrguru

Used a Model III (overclocked with a 4MHz Z-80 of course) to create some embedded firmware for an energy management system in the early '80's.  This system ran in buildings all over the world, and is actually still running today (believe it or not).  Fond memories of everything except the tape deck, which would actually erase tiny portions of your recorded program if it encountered a 'read' error during layback and it automatically stopped the motor in the tape deck (a design flaw in the tape deck, not actually anything in the computer, took me over a year to figure out what was going wrong).

allenhuffman
allenhuffman

The advantage the TRS-80 had over systems like the Apple II was you could find them. Radio Shack had a huge advantage there, even when I worked for them in the late 1980s. At that time, there were more Radio Shack's than McDonald's, and I used to joke that it was easier to find a place to buy a TRS-80 than a Big Mac.

KAPROIIAND8
KAPROIIAND8

Hearty congrats on TRS-80 article !

 

Harry,

 

So you know, if you do not, your article is very popular with those of us in vintage computing.

 

Tez of New Zealand alerted us on a special email list.

 

I responded as GADFRAN on the www.vintage-computer.com site.

 

All the best always, especially keeping the “real history” of computing crystal clear !

 

Frank

SE PA USA

SG1_Guy
SG1_Guy

Ahh, the memories...

At some point I owned at least one of all of them. Mod I, III, 4, II, 12, 16

I even had a 12 and a 16 connected to "monstrous" 5 megabyte hard drives. (monstrous in physical size, of course, not capacity.)

And naturally a Line Printer II, Massive daisy-wheel machine, that was.

The printer of desire was the Epson MX-80.

My Mod I started with 16k LII, upgraded to an EI, and maxed-out at 48k! Wow. 

By the time it was replaced entirely by a III then a 4, it was carrying 3 double-sided 80-track (720k!!) floppy drives. Some of our club members had hung Mistubishi 1.2 Megabyte drives on theirs! Amazing!

Let's not forget Leo Christopherson "invented" a method of making sounds  for games using a cheap (R.S.) amplifier plugged into the Mod I (or III) cassette port. Legend has it he offered the idea to R.S., and they blew him off as being a crank.

Dancing Demon proved them wrong!

But I will also say, at least among our "byte head" hobbyists, the Coco's (don't forget that teeny Sinclair-like thing either) were pretty universally derided as being more toy than "real" computer. Our "serious" TRS-80 crowd never embraced color until we went somewhat noisily into that night of IBM clone-dom...

Hector Ayala
Hector Ayala

My TRS-80 color computer II was my inspiration. I owe it my engineering degree!

Scott Adams
Scott Adams

One of the reasons for the missing lowercase was the chip used to provide the text had a funky lowecase A in it. I remember researching this and finding the chip specs. It really was built to have a weird character at that location!

They must have been able to buy a bunch of them free. When I wrote my first adventure game it originally had a Capital A whereever you might expect a lower case a. This was so it would properly display on machines with the lowercase after market option added!

Scott Adams

www.msadams.com

Boisy Pitre
Boisy Pitre

It's ironic that Mr. McCracken abhors the use of the term "Trash-80" while showing utter disrespect to one of Tandy's most beloved computers, the Color Computer (CoCo).  An otherwise good article has been blemished by his assertion that the CoCo was "cheesy and underpowered", and I presume that such comments stem from abject ignorance.  The CoCo was used by many people who got their start in computers, and was much more accessible (i.e. lest costly) than any of Tandy's other models.  It was indeed, Tandy's first "color" computer.  The Color Computer line also survived 10 years with the advent of the  CoCo 2 and CoCo 3.  The 6809 microprocessor was arguably a superior CPU to the Z-80, and to Tandy's credit, they exploited it with Microware's OS-9, a multitasking, multi-user operating system that was way ahead of its time.  Even today there are CoCo aficionados who still make software and hardware for the machine.  Is there a following for Model I users that parallels?  I doubt it, and I would suggest Mr. McCracken actually educate himself on this fascinating computer instead of deriding it in a paragraph.  Cheap shot, sir.

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Caias Ward
Caias Ward

I had a TRS-80, connected to a regular television.

jimmy kraktov
jimmy kraktov

I was working for a living when the TRS-80 was introduced. I knew nothing about computers, but knew, by the number of times it came up in discussions I had with the nerds of the day, that it must be pretty good stuff.

My last year in high-school I saw the computer room, which was bigger than the one room apartment I lived in. That whole room couldn't do much, as I recall. The teacher said that a job as a 'keypunch operator' was something that would guarantee employment for those who qualified. (do not fold bend staple or mutilate)

That was in 1967.

drcaius
drcaius

Don't give Radio Shack credit for the Model 100, it was just a rebranded Toshiba or Hitachi model

ERenger
ERenger

Several of my friends had TRS-80's and did some cool programming on them. The Commodore 64 was my first computer. I mostly played games with it, but I did do some programming as well. 

ApacheO_O
ApacheO_O

Back when radio shack was cool. Now you wonder how they even stay in business,the guys running it , don't  have a clue on how to run it,alienating their loyal fan base , basically shooting themselves in the testicles.   

trans
trans

Those were quality machines. They were really nice to use. But the C64 came along and basically put the nail in the coffin of every other consumer system. Unfortunately they were unable to compete with Apple in the school market or IBM in the business market --they lacked a solid vision.

Muriel Schlecht
Muriel Schlecht

I had several Radio Shack computers.  I loved using them, and I even liked the OS.  In fact, I believe Radio Shack was the first to include personal software with the purchase of a computer.  It was called "Deskmate" which I found extremely useful, practical, and easy to use.  The demise was the marketing genius of the Microsoft and Windows and the backroom deals with other computer manufacturers.  Back then I thought Deskmate was better.  Too bad they didn't have a chance to modify and improve the produc because of the Microsoft monopoly.  Apple's method was give  their compters away to schools and then "suck up" the money with over-priced software.  A parent wanting to provide their child with a home computer had no choice but to buy what they were using in school......provided, of course, they could afford one at all.

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

Apple II owners–those pompous, style-obsessed twits

Some things never change.

SanLouisKid
SanLouisKid

We had a Model II in our office.  Every 3 or 4 months, like clockwork, we had to take it in for the floppy disk drive heads to be "aligned." 

xprintman
xprintman

During about the same time, 1981, but apparently forgotten Texas Instruments had a sweet little home computer, the TI-99/4a, on the market.  I still have mine although it's all boxed up.  It's odd to speak in K's when we've since blown by megabytes to Gigabytes, but there was a time when it was a big (and expensive) deal to buy an add'l 12 K of RAM that came in a cartridge bigger than a hardcover novel.  Ah, memories!

PseudoNeo
PseudoNeo

September 1980, The small room behind the math class.  I started programming on a TRS-8o Model 1, No backup not even a tape drive.

Fastforward almost 32 years and I'm making 84k / year as a programmer but never went to college.  This computer changed my life.

Markgregory007
Markgregory007

It was called a Trash 80 because it was all plastic.  Not meant to insult users. I never owned a TRS-80.  However, I clearly recall visiting Radio Shack and seeing the computer. It was very cool.   Didn't it start out with 8 inch disks and drives?  I also remember the cool comic books, like the one you mentioned in your article. I wish I had one now.  Eventually, I bought a Tandy 1000, DOS compatible computer that ran Windows v. 1.0.   Pretty crappy imitation of MAC OS.  Kept the 1000 for a few years and then bought an Apple IIc.  

Zagros
Zagros

I loved the old TRS-80. I remember the nickname of the apple was quite a bit worse with a "cr" appended to the beginning of the corporate title. In any case, our family's three TRS-80s are STILL working (disk drives and everything) while every other computer bought since then by my family never seems to make it past about 5 years....

Blue-eyed Gal
Blue-eyed Gal

Somewhere in my parents' house is the mini-comic where Superman had some sort of kryptonite-induced brain fuzz, so a couple of kids with TRS-80s and a headset talked him through various physics problems as he attempted feats of derring-do. (As if his stunts had anything to do with real-world physics, but it was a cute idea).

RH
RH

I remember those!  The one I played around with in high school even had a cassette tape drive LOL.

lylejk
lylejk

When I was in High School, I was in the computer club (yes, we had computer clubs back in 1980; lol). Our school had just one computer; it was a TRS-80. lolAmazing at that time. A year later, Dad got me a CoCo and 2 years later a CoCo3. Fantastic computers they both were for the time. Learned some Basic and had fun learning. The exploration is probably what keeps the hackers interested now, but the personal computer was still more then in it's infancy when I was in High School. Fun time; now we have to worry about things that folks back then didn't even have a clue about. Oh well. :)

Dave Newton
Dave Newton

There were already computerized medical info systems, including those that did patient/treatment analysis and management. That was actually one of the earlier things I worked on while I was still a kid, grafting functionality on to an existing package for a... Wang? Something large that sounded like a helicopter when starting up (5M hard drive with removable disks larger than a dinner plate).

Bob C
Bob C

 As I recall, the TRS 80 Color Computer was soon dropped and just called it the Radio Shack Color Computer (and, later, the Tandy Color Computer). It was a great system. Mine was one of the 32K CoCo I models that came with the "disabled" 64K chips, which a minor modification allowed all 64K to be used by OS/9 (which I had). I also had the expansion pack and a floppy disk drive (added a second TEAC later). Remember notching the floppy disks so the other side could be used. Later, I bought the CoCo III with 512K of Memory and the monitor plus the OS/9 version for it. OS/9 was essentially a subsetted Unix clone. Later, I bought the Disk Controller from Frank Hogg Labs, which added more capability (like double sided disks - no more notching).

About a year ago, I discarded the 80 Micro magazines that had the CoCo articles and programs (I did clip out the CoCo articles). I still have all the issues of Rainbow, Hot CoCo and the Color Computer magazines. Tandy also put out a freebie magazine for a while which had tips and the like. There is a CoCo group at http://five.pairlist.net/mailm... .

Bob C
Bob C

 As I recall, the TRS 80 Color Computer was soon dropped and just called it the Radio Shack Color Computer (and, later, the Tandy Color Computer). It was a great system. Mine was one of the 32K CoCo I models that came with the "disabled" 64K chips, which a minor modification allowed all 64K to be used by OS/9 (which I had). I also had the expansion pack and a floppy disk drive (added a second TEAC later). Remember notching the floppy disks so the other side could be used. Later, I bought the CoCo III with 512K of Memory and the monitor plus the OS/9 version for it. OS/9 was essentially a subsetted Unix clone. Later, I bought the Disk Controller from Frank Hogg Labs, which added more capability (like double sided disks - no more notching).

About a year ago, I discarded the 80 Micro magazines that had the CoCo articles and programs (I did clip out the CoCo articles). I still have all the issues of Rainbow, Hot CoCo and the Color Computer magazines. Tandy also put out a freebie magazine for a while which had tips and the like. There is a CoCo group at http://five.pairlist.net/mailm... .

Bob C
Bob C

 As I recall, the TRS 80 Color Computer was soon dropped and just called it the Radio Shack Color Computer (and, later, the Tandy Color Computer). It was a great system. Mine was one of the 32K CoCo I models that came with the "disabled" 64K chips, which a minor modification allowed all 64K to be used by OS/9 (which I had). I also had the expansion pack and a floppy disk drive (added a second TEAC later). Remember notching the floppy disks so the other side could be used. Later, I bought the CoCo III with 512K of Memory and the monitor plus the OS/9 version for it. OS/9 was essentially a subsetted Unix clone. Later, I bought the Disk Controller from Frank Hogg Labs, which added more capability (like double sided disks - no more notching).

About a year ago, I discarded the 80 Micro magazines that had the CoCo articles and programs (I did clip out the CoCo articles). I still have all the issues of Rainbow, Hot CoCo and the Color Computer magazines. Tandy also put out a freebie magazine for a while which had tips and the like. There is a CoCo group at http://five.pairlist.net/mailm... .

Bob C
Bob C

 As I recall, the TRS 80 Color Computer was soon dropped and just called it the Radio Shack Color Computer (and, later, the Tandy Color Computer). It was a great system. Mine was one of the 32K CoCo I models that came with the "disabled" 64K chips, which a minor modification allowed all 64K to be used by OS/9 (which I had). I also had the expansion pack and a floppy disk drive (added a second TEAC later). Remember notching the floppy disks so the other side could be used. Later, I bought the CoCo III with 512K of Memory and the monitor plus the OS/9 version for it. OS/9 was essentially a subsetted Unix clone. Later, I bought the Disk Controller from Frank Hogg Labs, which added more capability (like double sided disks - no more notching).

About a year ago, I discarded the 80 Micro magazines that had the CoCo articles and programs (I did clip out the CoCo articles). I still have all the issues of Rainbow, Hot CoCo and the Color Computer magazines. Tandy also put out a freebie magazine for a while which had tips and the like. There is a CoCo group at http://five.pairlist.net/mailm... .

Andrew Ayers
Andrew Ayers

 Just chiming in here to promote my life-long love of the Color Computer. My parents bought it for me after seeing how much I enjoyed the "computer lab" (with a bunch of donated Apples) in our small elementary school. I was 10 years old. They bought me a CoCo 2 w/ 16K, a tape drive, and a few tapes and cartridge games, and a couple of joysticks - and a computer desk. My dad put the desk together, and we got the system set up (and hooked up to our TV for a monitor), and we started typing in BASIC programs from the book. We quickly learned what "?SN ERROR" meant ("syntax error"). Eventually, we got programs working, music and sound playing, games running, and having a good time. Eventually I outpaced my old man, and the computer was moved into my bedroom; it got upgraded to 32K, then 64K, then later a tape drive, a modem, and an MPI (multipak interface). Later on, I got a CoCo 3 w/ 128K - then later a Bamp;B 512K expansion. I played Dungeons of Daggorath, Pyramid, and Gates of Delirium, among others. I programmed my days and nights away. Eventually, it came time to move beyond high school - and my parents got me my first "laptop" (a Tandy 1100HD). Since then, I've owned a ton of other computers; but I still have all of my "firsts". My CoCo 2 and 3 are packed away, but they both still run, and I still play with emulation. I also buy a bit of new hardware and software here and there when I can; still supporting the community. I owe my career to that machine; I work as a web application developer now - and have been doing software development of one kind or another since about 6 months after leaving high school. All thanks to a small, generally unappreciated little box of a machine...

Bob C
Bob C

 As I recall, the TRS 80 Color Computer was soon dropped and just called it the Radio Shack Color Computer (and, later, the Tandy Color Computer). It was a great system. Mine was one of the 32K CoCo I models that came with the "disabled" 64K chips, which a minor modification allowed all 64K to be used by OS/9 (which I had). I also had the expansion pack and a floppy disk drive (added a second TEAC later). Remember notching the floppy disks so the other side could be used. Later, I bought the CoCo III with 512K of Memory and the monitor plus the OS/9 version for it. OS/9 was essentially a subsetted Unix clone. Later, I bought the Disk Controller from Frank Hogg Labs, which added more capability (like double sided disks - no more notching).

About a year ago, I discarded the 80 Micro magazines that had the CoCo articles and programs (I did clip out the CoCo articles). I still have all the issues of Rainbow, Hot CoCo and the Color Computer magazines. Tandy also put out a freebie magazine for a while which had tips and the like. There is a CoCo group that can be joined at http://five.pairlist.net/mailm... .

Carlos Camacho
Carlos Camacho

Spot on. The article was nice until he 'trashed' the CoCo. I think everyone's first computer is the one they love the most. His was TRS-80. But for many more of us it was the CoCo. Putting down the CoCo is like putting down the C64 by Vic20 users.

Bob C
Bob C

 It wasn't just Microsoft and the OEMs, Tandy (Radio Shack) learned marketing PCs from the IBM school of marketing PCs. I think to Tandy, it was still a "hobbyist" thing, just like IBM's early mentality that PCs were for hobbyists or kid's toys. Although, Tandy did get somewhat serious with the Tandy 1000 and 3000, but they were still an "electronic parts" store and assumed businesses would just come to their store (which small businesses did to a point).

CitizenX
CitizenX

@Dan Bruce Things do change.  Personal delusions rarely do though.

CitizenX
CitizenX

@xprintman No doubt.  August 1980, 16k S-100 board for over $1,300.00 dollars AND you had to patch CP/M to even recognize it in the system.

jeanocelot
jeanocelot

Wow, it was in the small room behind the math class at my school too!

Did you also used to pick on the slow kid by telling him he could fix the problem on his computer by adding "5 NEW" into his program? :-)

Andrew Ayers
Andrew Ayers

 I don't think it was called that because it was "all plastic" - most home computers of that era all had plastic cases (especially Apple) - I think only the Commodore PET had a metal case; of course, so did the original IBM 5150 and PC machines that came later, but they weren't originally considered "home computers".

Blue-eyed Gal
Blue-eyed Gal

Ah, the dulcet sounds of a computer program loading in from a cassette player. Why did we leave the volume up? (Grind, grind, brzzzzt, brtrzzzt)

Dave Newton
Dave Newton

The CoCo III w/ OS-9 was a fantastic machine, with a horrible keyboard. Ran circles around our IBM PCs, too. Nice OS at the time, still nice in embedded systems.

CitizenX
CitizenX

@Andrew Ayers Tandy/Radio Shack ... T.RA.SH 80 makes it a lot easier to reference the computer.  It wasn't a disparaging remark.  It wasn't a dig.  It was an "acronym" for Tandy/Radio Shack, pure and simple.