The Tandy TRS 80 model 1 was the first member of one of the most famous computer family. It was one of the first home computer and was launched at the same time as famous computers like the Apple II or the Commodore PET. Beside, Tandy competitors nicknamed was "Trash-80".
The TRS-80 was developed was developed within the Radio Shack engeneering group, based upon several processor chips, SC/MP, PACE, 8008, 8080 and finally the Z80.
It used a black & white TV set, made by RCA, without tuner as monitor. The earlier models use a poor basic called Basic Level 1 (the Basic and the OS fit in the 4 KB ROM!). It was replaced later with the Basic Level 2 which needed a 12 KB ROM.
To offset its poor characteristics, Tandy developed a device called Expansion Interface which brings a lot of new features : additional 16 or 32kb RAM, two tape unit connectors, a printer port, a floppy disk controller, a serial port and a real time clock.
Tandy did as well 5, 10 and 15 MB hard drives. The case for them is about the size of a small PC tower. It's possible to fit 2 drives into each case. They were compatible with all TRS-80 versions.
When it was connected to a floppy disk unit, the TRS-80 uses the TRS DOS operating system, it was pretty bugged and most of the TRS-80 users prefered NEW DOS, it was an operating system done by a third-party company called Apparat. This OS was the real TRS-80 operating system.
LS-DOS was also an excellent DOS, superior to NEW DOS for most users. Interestingly, Microsoft's MS-DOS became more and more like LS-DOS each time it was updated, although never as good. LS-DOS was finally adopted by Tandy as the official DOS for the Model 4.
Documentation for all the TRS machines was superb. Even Microsoft provided documentation for its BASIC interpreter listing all the machine calls. You could use these calls when programming with either machine code or BASIC.
The Model I was followed by the TRS 80 model II (a business computer) and model III which had almost the same characteristics as the model I.
Contributors : Donald French, Paul D Moore
Special thanks to Marc Neiger who donated us this computer !
In October 1977, my first semester in high school, my father bought a TRS-80 (model 1). The Radio Shack store in Bryan, TX was unpacking it, their first one, to put on display and my father bought it before they even turned it on. It was the optional 16K memory model. We kept it a few years and added accessories, including hard drives, a thermal printer, and later a dot-matrix printer and TRS-80 desk. It was sold to a local businessman for his bookkeeping, after we got an Apple II. I remember the dot matrix printer was made of steel, cost $1000 and was very slow and loud, sounding like tiny men with jackhammers inside.
Wednesday 30th January 2013
I had one of these. I bought it used in 1981 or so when I entered high school. Level II basic with 16K. I had the disk drives, the cassette recorder, and I even had the TALKER speech box thing It sounded JUST like the system Matthew Broderick used in WarGames. I remember spending hour after house playing the games. Another computer geek/friend of mine had set up a BBS using a TRS-80. It crashed quite a bit.
The monitor died in the early 90''s. I lost the power supply in a move. I am not sure where the speech box went, I think I sold it. I do still have the machine and a bunch of disks and tapes. It is missing at least ONE RAM chip. I had an old video arcade game in my basement. One day I turned it on to play it and, it came up with a RAM ERROR. Following the directions I was able to see the diagnostic LED''s on the board and see it was reporting the RAM chip in socket 1, row 7, was bad. Now, this is like 1993. No ebay, no real internet, how the heck am I going to find a RAM chip that has been out of production for god knows ow long? Just for grins, knowing the TRS-80 was from the same era, I popped open the TRS-80 and, it has the same RAM chips! So, I yanked one from the TRS80 to put in my stand up video game. It''s been working ever since and works to this very day. My 8 year old daughter and her friends loves the old video games. Even my wife''s nieces and nephews (ages 8 to 15) when they come over love playing these old games. Both the stand up one I still have and the old ATARI games. So, while my TRS-80 is still on a shelf, a small piece of it is still helping bring smiles to kids faces.
Thursday 24th January 2013
The Dude (Chicago, IL)
In 1977-78 I was a freshman in high school and my school offered a BASIC programming class. The main computer in the class was a DEC pdp-8 with tape drives. But halfway through the school year, we got one of the first TRS80''s sold in the state of Maine. It was a 4k Level 1 system, that was quickly upgraded to a 16k Level II machine. I remember how amazed I was that the entire computer was in the keyboard unit. The pdp-8 was about the size of a large fridge! And also the little TRS-80 was much faster and had GRAPHICS! Later in life I owned several Tandy computers (Model 4p, Coco 2 and 3, and even a Tandy 1000) but I still remember the shock of of that tiny weeny little TRS 80 in my first computer science class.
Wednesday 12th December 2012
Chuck Rose (USA)
TRS 80 MODEL I
Tandy Radio Shack
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
Basic Level 1 (4k ROM models) Basic Level II (12k ROM models)