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When did you first see/use a TRS-80?

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I missed out on the Model I-IV/CoCo scene growing up. My first time really using them has been this last year via emulation. Nothing against my Commodore 64, but these are a completely different thing!

 

It's weird. I visited Radio Shack a lot as a kid for the toys, books, and electronics. I don't remember any computers there! They probably had some window displays, but not anything a kid like me could touch or play with. (It was a small Radio Shack, and that would have been a smart move, I was a hyperactive kid . . . 🙂 )

 

The TRS-80s I remember growing up:

One kid had a MC-10 color computer. I don't think his family even bought any games for it! It didn't get used much.

My school may have had a TRS-80 Model II in the front office for keeping student records. I remember all-in-one design and eight inch disks . . .

My neighbor's dad bought a well-equipped TRS-80 model IV that his son was encouraged to use. Orchestra-90 sounded GREAT through a stereo amplifier!

 

What about you? When did you first see/use a TRS-80?

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The TRS-80 Model 1 was my first encounter with Microcomputer back in 1980.

Our local library had one in their typing room - and you could sign up to use either devices (Model 1 or the Typewriter) for an hour at a time.

A friend and I would sign up to use the Model 1 for two consecutive hours on Saturday afternoons, and usually no one else signed up after us, so we'd continue to use it for hours until the library closed.

I was also friends with the manager of a local Radio Shack - he'd allow me to sit in front of the Model 3 display model and use it as long as I liked.

He had a couple bootleg games which I copied right on the Model 3 - and I also would pop the cassette versions of the games on the rack into the Model 3 and copy them too when he was in the back room

watching his soap operas.

 

I really wanted to buy a Model 3 for myself, but couldn't afford it.  In 1981, I was a junior and our high school got 3 Model 3s - one of them was connected to a printer.

Students would do their programs on one of the two w/out the printer, and then CSAVE it to their cassette and carry it to the printer equipped machine for creating a hardcopy for turning in.

 

About this time, I managed to find a used Model 1 4K Level 1 machine - and I had it upgraded at Radio Shack to 16K Level 2.

I was then able to do my class assignments at home - and basically read programming books in class.  I just had to reset the printer equipped Model 3 when it was my turn to print,

since it was always defaulting to 1500 baud instead of my Model 1's 500.

 

I was aware of the Atari 800 and I really wanted one, along with the Apple II - but they, along with the Model 3, were out of my reach budget wise.

I continued to upgrade my Model 1 to a disk system - since I had already invested money into it already.

 

In 1984, I retired the Model 1 and bought a CoCo II - since it could use my Model 1 floppy drive and cassette recorder - something the C64 couldn't - so even though they were similarly priced,

I was already locked into the TRS architecture by my previous purchases.

 

In 1987, I moved on and assembled a PC XT clone and thus my original TRS-80 Adventures came to an end...

 

Until in 1993(earlier?) when I found a copy of Volcano Hunter running in a Model 3 emulator someone had created.  It was an all in one package - just an EXE which contained the game and the emulator.

That's when I discovered the joy of emulation and started corresponding with Jeff Vavasour - yep - I knew him before he made it big 🙂

I registered his Model 1 emulator, and send him ROM dumps from my CoCo 2 when he was working on creating that emulator.

 

I also started corresponding with David Kiel about that time - and he was working on a CoCo emulator also - on par with his Model 1/3 emulators - in that they would use his disk format.

I sent him my CoCo service manual to help him out - and when he was done, he sent it back.

 

Finally in 1995, a co-worker brought a Model 3 to work - and asked if anyone wanted it - I jumped at the chance, and finally after about 15 years of wanting one, I had one!

I made the foolish mistake of then deciding to get rid of my Model 1 and Coco 2 - and since I didn't know about eBay - into the bin they went.  Yes, I tossed them in the garbage.  A sin I shall carry to my grave.

 

In 2000, I discovered the joy of eBay and bought a Model 4, and a Model 4P.

The Model 3 was now being supplanted by the 4s - so I gave it away.  Yes, honestly, I learned my lesson of binning working TRS-80s.

 

In 2007, on a lark I bought an Atari 800XL and an Apple IIgs on eBay dirt cheap - and they sat in storage for 10 years until I dragged them out in 2017 and started experimenting with them.

Those were the days before retrocomputing was the rage it is currently.  I bought the Apple IIgs with 5.25" drive, 3.5" drive, monitor, keyboard, base unit, mouse all for the winning bid of:

$36.  It cost me $47 in shipping and I still have the email notification from ebay when I won 🙂

 

I have since started investing in Atari computers - since I had always wanted one as a teenager - and now I have multiple 800XLs, the 800 I always wanted, a 600XL, a 1200XL and just for fun, a 400 - with an upgraded keyboard.

 

After reading about "The C64" - as soon as it was available on the US Amazon website for ordering earlier this year, I ordered it - instead of paying a scalper for an EU model.

I received it a couple weeks ago - but haven't plugged it in yet - but I will.

 

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I saw a Model I in a Radio Shack about an hour's drive away from our town which was too small to have a Radio Shack.  I don't remember exactly when, but I think either 1978 or 79.

 

It was running and the manual was there; I think they encouraged you to try it.  Typed in about the simplest possible BASIC program:

10 INPUT"WHAT IS YOUR NAME";A$
20 PRINT"HELLO, ";A$

I was transfixed.  I'd seen calculators and heard of computers but this ability to record letters and spit them back out at you was something I'd never seen before.

 

I also remember at some point, perhaps a later trip, typing in the entire Lunar Lander program from the back of the Level II manual.  Another fascinating experience for a 13 year old.

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BITD, ( 1982 ), I remember seeing the Model I, II, III and 4 at Radio-Shack and I faintly remember the Color Computer 1.   Since I was into the Apple ][, ( an Apple ][+, 48K at my High School and an Apple ][e at Home ), and a Commodore SX-64, because most of the rest of my family had the C64s.. In college, ( 1985 ),  I had a friend that Started with the Model I, and by the time I met him and his wife, they had moved up to the Model III and Model 4, and a Tandy 2000.  I go to borrow the Tandy 2000 for a month, but is was only MS-DOS compatible, so unless I wanted to write all my own Software, there wasn't much to run..

 

Today, i'm into the Tandy Color Computer, because in 2012 I got a NIB, Color Computer 3, ( CoCo 3 ), that was included with an Apple //e Platinum with Apple Color Monitor ][e and some original software.  At first I wasn't quite sure what to do with it, but found it has the MC6809, which is very much like the 6502 family, and since I never had any Color Computer equipment before, so I kept it...

Since then, I have gotten, Two of the CoCoSDCs, Two FD-500 Drives, a Extended Basic 64K CoCo 2, and then a Standard BASIC 16K CoCo 2, with a BONUS, ( reported Non-Working ), 4K CoCo 1.. By the time it arrived, the CoCo 1 worked fine... Three more CoCo2s and another CoCo 3 and a few CoCo Carts.
 
MarkO

 

Edited by MarkO
Added years to story.

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I hate to say it, but the first time I ever saw a TRS-80 computer in person was at my local computer recycling center about three years ago.  It was a Model III with two floppy drives and a few missing keys.  Fortunately, they're not in the habit of throwing away such treasures.  It ended up getting buried on a low shelf for about two years until they let me dig around.  Long story short, I bought it, fixed it up as best as I could, and now it sits in my bedroom where I blowup pixilated tanks and try to program it to play Tic-Tac-Toe!  

 

There was a Model IV there as well.  But someone got to it before me. 

 

All and all, a happy ending as two TRS-80 computers found new and loving homes! 🙂 

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IIRC it was in 1978.  The Model I kiosk was in front of the store.  The folks had come to town for shopping and I always headed to Radio Shack for parts, new gadgets... as well as to use my handy dandy "Radio Shack Battery Card(s)". 😄  I stood in front of that thing for a couple of hours the first time.  My Dad eventually came and got me as he knew exactly where I would be.  When he saw what I was playing with, he let my tardiness slide that time.  Years later I would get a Model III... which I bought in Canada for a very specific reason.

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2 hours ago, Omega-TI said:

Years later I would get a Model III... which I bought in Canada for a very specific reason.

Some time after seeing the TRS-80 in Radio Shack our high school business teacher bought a Model I which we used extensively as part of an informal computer club.  Then my brother and I bought a Model III.  From the US because it wasn't going to be available in Canada for a while.

 

So I bought a Model III in the US for a very specific reason.  I'm glad to hear it has balanced out.

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My uncle used to own the Model III Color Computer; he eventually gave it to us along with two books he had - Getting Started with Color Basic and Going Ahead with Extended Color Basic.

 

I spent many hours typing up programs and such until the computer finally short-circuited beyond repair.

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I first saw them at the Radio Shack in the mall, probably around when they first came out.   Back then Radio Shack was a really cool store that I also stopped in when we went to the mall.

 

I was fascinated by them and kinda wanted one, even though I had no idea what I'd do with it at the time.  But you could type a letter and it would appear on the screen,  amazing!  

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I first saw a PET at Olson Electronics in the Mid-West area. Right when the machines came out, with the punk-ass calculator keyboard.

 

Not too clear on the TRS-80 though. It was likely through print media such as a catalog. Or more likely a book like so.

320471327_51QXdghSlGL._SX369_BO1204203200_.jpg.5371898a945da7717952ee3338f220f9.jpg

 

This was an awesome book. Took it with me wherever I went. Had plenty of photos from a micro-chip die through expansion cards and complete systems. Featuring both desk-sized and desk-top rigs. S-100, Apple, TRS-80, Pet, NorthStar, Cromemco, RCA, Sol, everything up to around 78/79. Written in a style a kid could understand (mostly).

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For me, that was at various Radio Shacks (although the closes to me the most often).

Back then, I lived in Los Angeles so there were a wealth of Radio Shacks and most of them had computers.

 

There was one Radio Shack at the mall I would head over to just to play on their TRS-80s when I ran out of quarters at the arcade.. ;-) 

 

That said, I don't recall seeing any TRS-80s out in the wild tho...

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2 hours ago, Keatah said:

I first saw a PET at Olson Electronics in the Mid-West area. Right when the machines came out, with the punk-ass calculator keyboard.

 

 

Here in North East Ohio we used to have Olson Electronics till the late 80s - I used to LOVE those stores!

They used to sell random boxes of junk, er, parts, in various sizes.  The one I used to frequent also sold PET Computers - that was the only time I ever saw one.

 

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I made a date with one of the saleswomen at Radio Shack BITD.  I typed in a simple four question and answer program that would ask a different questions depending on the answer given.  I ended up dating her off and on for three years.

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Elementary School only had Apple IIs - my first time touching a computer was a II (maybe a II+?) in second grade (1982-83). In third grade learned to program in Logo, and the school kept investing in Apple, eventually getting a IIc in every classroom by 85-86.

 

Christmas 86 I got my first computer: a 64kB CoCo 2, complete with CCR-82 tape deck, DMP-130 dot matrix printer, and Color ScripsIt cartridge. It was my first exposure to BASIC, and I taught myself to program with the manuals and example listing provided with the system. Eventually acquired a floppy drive and a bunch of games, and even OS-9 that was a mystifying, strange thing that my father somehow agreed to buy for me.

 

Starting Middle School the next year, the computer lab there had TRS-80 IIIs with the integrated monochrome monitors and floppy drives, which is where I first encountered BASIC in school, and by then I was a "seasoned expert". We also played Oregon Trail on those, never on Apple II, like most folks in the US apparently did.

 

By high school, I got my first PC clone at home (a Tandy 1000 HX, because where else would you get a computer than Radio Shack?) and at school they had Apple IIgs's (connected to a handful of Macs) and IBM PS/2s, but no more TRS-80s to be found. I gave away my CoCo 2, and haven't touched any TRS-80 since outside of emulation.

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I've never seen out in the flesh. My first encounter was about a decade ago with an emulator and I was pleasantly surprised. At the time they were out, I had gone with a TI-99/4a then an Atari 800.

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I missed my TRS-80 so much, that I replaced it with a dedicated RPi-3 that only runs an emulator.  I would have loved to have a real TRS-80, but I am neither rich or flush with extra space.  So, this is the best I can do to relive my nostalgic experiences...

 

TRS-Pi.thumb.jpg.aca1eb9465974bc0a8caadf9d1d3de66.jpg  TRS-Pi803

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Seriously, am I the only one that had this book?

 

s-l400.jpg

 

I had a different version which was a landscape orientation but I used this to write programs in Basic for fun.

 

I loved the computer cartoon mascot!

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First time was in 1983 when my father brought it home. He was a school principal and he had ordered 20 student computers, network 3 and a Model III to control it all. I spend a lot of that summer of 83 at the school working with my father to configure this system for the next year elementary kids could enjoy.

 

A great experience, and 2 years later I was Graduating as a Computer Network Administrator  (CNA) and been in the industry ever since. 

 

I stopped owning TRS-80 model 3 an 4's in 1997, then returned to my roots in 2018 when My wife suggested I got a "hobby", got to love a Geeky woman that understands...

 

Edited by Texas Tandy restorations
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My dad had two TSR-80’s here in Finland in the very early eighties. I was living with my mum but whenever I visited my dad, I remember playing a lot of the games he had - Robot Attack, Defense Command and a space invaders type game - I don’t remember the name. I guess he still has the machines but they’re not functioning anymore. He also had an early Tandy laptop with a narrow monochrome LCD display. 

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Doing some googlin & digging deeper into my memory, the game was Galaxy Invasion. There was Stellar Escort as well. 
 

i’m pretty sure my dad’s machines were a model III and a model 4. 

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Winter '84.  My Uncle gave me his TRS-80 model 1, with "Realistic" cassette recorder, Aculab Floppy-Tape drive, and monitor.  It was a Level 2 16K machine with the numeric keypad.  I had various games on cassette and Stringy Floppy , one such floppy game was Robot Attack from Big Five.  Another was an obscure adventure called Gauntlet of Death.  I remember we had this little transistor radio that we'd somehow get sound output from.  I wish I'd kept it all now.  It got packed away in a box when I got my next computer, a Texas Home Computer.   

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The first one I saw was a Model I at a county fair in the commercial building.
It must have been 1977,  so it would have just been released.
I just remember it was rolling dice to see if you won a battery.
It just printed the numbers you rolled, but I was fascinated by it.
The guy said you could write your own software, and then he listed the program.
 

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