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Color Computer Coco questions Hxc

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Couple questions.

 

1) Why does it seem like disk usage/storage is minimal for the Coco (which came out later) than the TRS80 Model I through 4 lineup? It appears to be more of a cartridge and cassette media computer. Why???

 

2) I finally got a FD502 for my Coco. Does anybody know if the Hxc Floppy works with the Coco?

 

thanks.

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I think most people only had cassette but that was largely due to it being a budget home machine and disk drives were expensive.
I had a disk drive as a kid and it cost around $425 which was about what the original machine cost.

The Hcx web page lists compatibility with the CoCo but I've never used one

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Model I through 4 had a larger user base, especially in businesses and schools which needed floppy drives. I think most home users like me were using the 16K cassette based systems. I recall the drive 0 kit for my Model III was $1,000. Then you needed to at least bump it to 32K and that kit was was around $200. It was also supposed to be installed at a RS service center, so add labor on to that. Looking around $1300 after taxes...or closer to $1500 if going 48K. The computer itself was $1,000.

You could save by buying a loaded business setup right from the start. I think a dual drive, 48K with RS232 Model III was around $3,000. I don't think RS offered any kind of CoCo bundle with a drive?

Businesses and schools eventually upgrade so you get thousands of used disk based I, III and 4s on the market.

 

I added memory and an aftermarket kit later on at a fraction of the price. I'm pretty sure the aftermarket was many times greater for that series than the CoCo, so that helped too.

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1) Why does it seem like disk usage/storage is minimal for the Coco (which came out later) than the TRS80 Model I through 4 lineup? It appears to be more of a cartridge and cassette media computer. Why???

 

I think you've answered your own question right there. It IS cartridge-based computer. It was designed and marketed as a cartridge computer. Nothing wrong in that. Simply a matter of style and choice by the manufacturer. When I had my CoCo back in the day I didn't feel a disk drive was important. To me it was, well, a cartridge computer! That's what I bought it for.

 

Later in the game (too late) marketing decided to add a disk drive. The aura of the computer was established across the buying public. And disk drives were not part of it.

 

Other rigs of the era were marketed with strong expansion. Some even having Herculean capabilities in that area. People buying those systems fully expected to buy future peripherals not yet invented. A whole different demographic.

 

It's the same thing with the Graduate for the VCS. VCS was never marketed as a device you'd program, but instead to play games on.

 

---

 

On the technical side of things. You could ask:

 

1- how well does a disk drive integrate with the computer's ROM/Firmware?

2- what is the transfer speed of the bus?

3- how versatile and logical and easy-to-use is the DOS?

4- does adding a disk drive impede or limit the computer's use in any way?

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The only time I missed not having a disk drive on my coco 2 was when I started BBSing, but I moved to the Atari and C64 soon after.

A friend of mine still has his coco3 with dual FDD but he was into OS-9.

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I think you've answered your own question right there. It IS cartridge-based computer. It was designed and marketed as a cartridge computer. Nothing wrong in that. Simply a matter of style and choice by the manufacturer. When I had my CoCo back in the day I didn't feel a disk drive was important. To me it was, well, a cartridge computer! That's what I bought it for.

 

Later in the game (too late) marketing decided to add a disk drive. The aura of the computer was established across the buying public. And disk drives were not part of it.

 

Other rigs of the era were marketed with strong expansion. Some even having Herculean capabilities in that area. People buying those systems fully expected to buy future peripherals not yet invented. A whole different demographic.

 

It's the same thing with the Graduate for the VCS. VCS was never marketed as a device you'd program, but instead to play games on.

 

---

 

On the technical side of things. You could ask:

 

1- how well does a disk drive integrate with the computer's ROM/Firmware?

2- what is the transfer speed of the bus?

3- how versatile and logical and easy-to-use is the DOS?

4- does adding a disk drive impede or limit the computer's use in any way?

The CoCo reserved a large area of ROM space for the DOS. All the commands are in ROM so it doesn't need to load anything off of the disk.

Commands include DIR, FORMAT, the same BASIC sequential and random file I/O as the model III, it's really quite easy to use.

In addition, there was the DOS command used to boot other OSes or programs.

 

Transfer speeds are the same as the Model I/III. It's a parallel buss and transfer speed is really dictated by the drive.

 

Adding the DOS took a little memory for the file I/O buffers which was evident on a handful of games that were shoehorned into RAM to begin with.

You had to type in a series of POKEs to disable the DOS and free the memory if I remember right.

 

The one drawback is that TANDY chose to use cheaper 35 track drives instead of 40.

They actually worked with a few more tracks and there were utilities to back up your directory on an unused track.

There were patched versions of DOS or 3rd party DOSes that used 40 tracks, double sided drives, etc...

I had a setup with a 5 1/4 and 3.5" drives a few years ago.

I believe some people had high density drives for OS-9 on their CoCo 3 but that required modifications to the original disk controller to do.

 

Edited by JamesD
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I think I was a pretty typical kid CoCo user. I started out with the basic grey model and the jump to 32K (for one Christmas) and then a cassette player (birthday) was about as much as could be afforded. I don't even remember a disk drive being offered and there weren't any disk games or applications on my radar at that time.

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In late-1983 or early-1984, the in-house magazine, TRS-80 Microcomputer Newsletter, published a lengthy "review" of Sands of Egypt -- it was the first game to be released on disk by Tandy/Radio Shack. I recall wanting that game very badly (though, as noted, the disk drive cost almost as much as the original system did).

 

At least a few games were later re-released on disk with enhanced graphics and some other content.

 

By the mid-1980s, even most of the non-game type-in program listings in magazines required a disk drive. I can recall trying to convert a spell-checker program from disk to cassette; the tricky bit was working around the absence of random-access files... :ponder:

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There were tons of games available on diskette. Maybe not so much through Tandy, but certainly through mail-order. And let's face it, mail-order was 80% of the Color Computer's software base.

 

My happiest day on that machine was switching from tape to a real disk drive. It was fast and awesome.

 

I think what kept people from jumping on the disk train sooner was the price. Yes, i realize the CoCo disk drives were less expensive than those for the A8 and C64. However, the Color Comptuer was budget machine.

 

Check out the listings in these issues. Lots of great disk-based software:

https://archive.org/details/rainbowmagazine

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