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CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer

TRS-80 Color Computer

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#1 Bill Lange OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:34 AM

I just finished reading "CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer" by Boisy Pitre and Bill Loguidice.  
 
About two months ago, I knew very little about the history of the Tandy/Radio Shack (TRS) line of computers.  What I did know, was basically gleamed from browsing the Radio Shack catalogs in the late 1970s and early 1980s that my amateur radio licensed father would receive in the mail and seeing them on display at the local Radio Shack store (sadly, now closed) in the Ocean County Mall.  I did spend an inordinate amount of time during my high school years using a TRS-80 computer, albeit remotely, as my favorite go-to BBS growing up was the JSTBBS (Jersey Shore Telecommunication Breadboard System) running on a TRS-80.
 
Fast forward to Vintage Computer Festival East 10 in April 2015, where my wife Lucy and I (ok, mostly me) had an Atari 8-bit Home Computer display setup.  Boisy Pitre stopped by our exhibit and we talked about vintage computers and Atari.  He told me about his Liber809 product which is a Motorola 6809 upgrade for the Atari 8-bit computes.  He also mentioned his book "CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer", which I told him I would read.
 
While I was looking for "CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer" on Amazon, I came across "Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Microcomputer Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution" by David and Theresa Welsh.  I decided to read "Priming the Pump" first since it went back to the beginning of the history of the Tandy/Radio Shack (TRS) line of computers.
 
Once I completed "Priming the Pump", I ordered and read "CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer".  These two books cover much of the history of the Tandy/Radio Shack (TRS) line of computers.  "Priming the Pump" comes across as two disjointed repetitive autobiographies merged together with the early history of microcomputers, it does provide some insight into running an early software business by the seat of your pants.  
 
Boisy's book is a well researched and his passion for the brand really shine through.  He provides great detail on the cast of characters around the development of the TRS Color Computer models and related technologies as well as the leaders in the CoCo user community from the beginning through to the early 2000s.  He also provides insight into the goings on at Tandy/Radio Shack corporate.  
 
I read the printed book which has many black and white photographs.  I believe that the eBook version has color photographs.  I actually used YouTube to go view some of the Color Computer demos, demos, demos that were mentioned toward the end of the book.
 
I enjoyed reading this book, it has a lot of great early computer history.
 
Regards,
Bill


#2 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:49 PM

I'm not a CoCo fan, but I'll read anything computer history related. :)

 

I always felt the CoCo was like having a V8 in a Yugo. Too bad the 6809 didn't really catch on (although it enjoyed some popularity in the arcades). Not until the CoCo 3 did it have the potential to be a fun system.



#3 Stephen OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:22 PM

I'm not a CoCo fan, but I'll read anything computer history related. :)

 

I always felt the CoCo was like having a V8 in a Yugo. Too bad the 6809 didn't really catch on (although it enjoyed some popularity in the arcades). Not until the CoCo 3 did it have the potential to be a fun system.

Fun fact - there's a 6809 running the engine control computer in my 87 Daytona (pretty much every Mopar in the mid to late 80s).  So MoPar helped sell a few million 6809s back then :)

 

I removed the original calibration (16k), and installed a ZIF.  When I live tune, I use an Ostrich 2.0 EPROM emulator.  Once I get a calibration I want to use, I burn it to a flash chip.  I can have 4 cals on a single chip, selectable with a 2 bit- rotary encoder.  It's a pretty sweet setup for an '87.  I'm getting around 300HP and 300 ft/lb torque from a 2.2L.

 

Before.jpg After.JPG



#4 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:25 PM

I'm sure the book is awesome, but $42 for a paperback? Oy vey!

#5 Jinks OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 6:15 PM

Fun fact - there's a 6809 running the engine control computer in my 87 Daytona (pretty much every Mopar in the mid to late 80s).  So MoPar helped sell a few million 6809s back then :)
 
I removed the original calibration (16k), and installed a ZIF.  When I live tune, I use an Ostrich 2.0 EPROM emulator.  Once I get a calibration I want to use, I burn it to a flash chip.  I can have 4 cals on a single chip, selectable with a 2 bit- rotary encoder.  It's a pretty sweet setup for an '87.  I'm getting around 300HP and 300 ft/lb torque from a 2.2L.
 
Before.jpg After.JPG

Is that turbo'ed then.
I drove my gramps 82 omni with a 2.2 auto it was kinda a crap car but could never blow the engine up.. Too bad it hasnt the glh model...

#6 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 6:22 PM

I remember working on a Bosch-made ECU that used a Hitachi 63xx 6809 derivative.



#7 Stephen OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 6:42 PM

Is that turbo'ed then.
I drove my gramps 82 omni with a 2.2 auto it was kinda a crap car but could never blow the engine up.. Too bad it hasnt the glh model...

Yeah - it was originally a Turbo2 (175HP).  I've customized pretty much every piece of it now.



#8 flashjazzcat ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:04 PM

Would this not be more at home in the Tandy sub-forum?

http://atariage.com/...andy-computers/

#9 ClausB OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:28 PM

Lance and I have worked on ECUs with the 68HC08, 68HC11, and HCS12. Nice micros, but not much like the 6809. Well now I've gone completely OT.



#10 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:30 PM

So when's the book on the history of the ECU coming out?



#11 SoulBlazer OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 7:36 PM

I'd really like to read this, but I'm just waiting on a price of the used book to drop to about $25 before I get it.  For something I have no personal connection to and just interested in for the history of it, that's about as much as my frugal mind will let me spend. :)



#12 gozar OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:04 PM

Is that turbo'ed then.
I drove my gramps 82 omni with a 2.2 auto it was kinda a crap car but could never blow the engine up.. Too bad it hasnt the glh model...


Better yet, the GLHS model.

#13 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:41 PM

Fun fact - there's a 6809 running the engine control computer in my 87 Daytona (pretty much every Mopar in the mid to late 80s).  So MoPar helped sell a few million 6809s back then :)
 
I removed the original calibration (16k), and installed a ZIF.  When I live tune, I use an Ostrich 2.0 EPROM emulator.  Once I get a calibration I want to use, I burn it to a flash chip.  I can have 4 cals on a single chip, selectable with a 2 bit- rotary encoder.  It's a pretty sweet setup for an '87.  I'm getting around 300HP and 300 ft/lb torque from a 2.2L.


Very cool. I owned an 85 Daytona. It was black, had dark tinted windows and Enkei wheels.
The ladies loved that car!
:)

#14 Bill Lange OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:03 AM

 

 

Would this not be more at home in the Tandy sub-forum?

 

... or to the "Classic 80s Car" forum it seems.  I don't typically venture outside of the Atari 8-bit forums.  

 

Bill



#15 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:13 AM

Because it's primarily an academic publisher, the price of the book is probably higher than it should be. They also made the text very dense, so there's quite a bit of content packed into what seems like relatively few pages. To be honest, it was a miracle we got this picked up by a major publisher because of the niche subject matter. I'm quite proud I was able to get that done, despite some of the other publishers I've written for almost certainly being able to get the book out for less (but not believing such a book was viable to sell). With that said, a lot of research has gone into the book and I think the Amazon (and other reviews) speak for themselves, so, even though it's higher priced than Boisy and I would have liked, I'd like to also think it's shown to be worth it.

 

As for the eBook version, yes, that has color images. 

 

I posted some bonus images not in the book in three separate blog posts: http://armchairarcad...oco-book-bonus/

 

You can find the full set and more on the book's official Facebook page.



#16 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:39 PM

For those who don't remember, Boisy Pitre was the man behind the Liber809 6809 CPU replacement for the Atari 800. A fantastic hardware achievement, if only something actually USED it :)

 

-Thom



#17 Larry ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 18, 2015 4:48 AM

Fun fact - there's a 6809 running the engine control computer in my 87 Daytona (pretty much every Mopar in the mid to late 80s).  So MoPar helped sell a few million 6809s back then :)

 

I removed the original calibration (16k), and installed a ZIF.  When I live tune, I use an Ostrich 2.0 EPROM emulator.  Once I get a calibration I want to use, I burn it to a flash chip.  I can have 4 cals on a single chip, selectable with a 2 bit- rotary encoder.  It's a pretty sweet setup for an '87.  I'm getting around 300HP and 300 ft/lb torque from a 2.2L.

 

attachicon.gifBefore.jpgattachicon.gifAfter.JPG

 

That's really interesting, and 300 HP from a 2.2L -- WOW!  I was a Chrysler employee for all my working career, and our plant cast (gray iron) the 2.2L.  I worked with the Engine Design guys on the 2.2 from the rough sketches until it went out of production.  You have a turbocharger?  Can't see how you would get 2.2 HP per in3 unless it was blown.  Had a couple of stock 2.5 turbos -- nice package.  One last bit of trivia -- we had a 2.2L engine from a taxi or delivery vehicle with something like 350K miles on it, and when we tore it down, nearly all engine tolerances were within original specs!  (Obviously it had good oil changes/maintenance.) We were proud of that one!

 

-Larry



#18 Stormtrooper of Death OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 19, 2015 5:42 AM

I learned my first programming on an TRS-80 model III and the TRS-80 MC-10 (the little brother of the CoCo).

 

2 weeks ago, i bought a 2nd hand TRS-80 model 4P (the luggable version). Its a nice machine.







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