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MHaensel

Nice features of the TRS-80 Model II

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As part of my ongoing experimentation with an emulated TRS-80 model II, I've found some nice features.

 

The floppy disk expansion system was very well-integrated. You got 2 megabytes of data storage several years before that was easy. And there was a whole series of business-oriented programs written specifically to use all those drives.

The following work with no effort, no matter which disk the file is on:
* Run a program from TRSDOS
* LOAD "PROGNAME/BAS" from BASIC
* The business graphics analysis pack has setup programs to configure it for different printers. Those programs find the TRSCHART program on any disk.

 

The included hex debugger is a blast! It's nice to be able to access any area of memory and easily change it. You can also dump areas of memory to a file and load them back. After being limited to PEEKs and POKEs on my Commodore, this level of access is wonderful.

 

Y2K compliance before it was a thing! The following all support a 4-digit year:
* TRSDOS 2.0
* TRSDOS II
* SCRIPSIT 2.1
I'm sure there are others I'm missing.

 

According to the Radio Shack computer catalogs, several of the business programs could share related data:
* Profile + SCRIPSIT = form letters
* Order entry + accounts receivable = automated billing
* Order enter/Inventory control + sales analysis = sales figures based on actual order/stock levels

 

Overall, this is a really nice system. $1250 in software would set you up for general use:
Visicalc
SCRIPSIT
Business Graphics Analysis Pack
Profile

In terms of business software, you'd spend much of your time looking over at IBM compatibles and saying, "I already DO that!"

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Unfortunately, I found one big anti-feature! "DOS woes erode Tandy's lead" (80 Micro, September 1982) talks about the problems TRS had moving to the 12/16/6000. I'm a little bummed because I like to imagine the 12/16/6000 as underdog super-machines for 1983. However . . .

 

Those nifty 1.25MB floppy drives? TRSDOS 2.0b doesn't see them. As far as it's concerned, you've got the same 500KB disks you could buy in 1979.

 

TRSDOS II 4.x supports 1.25MB disks - very, very slowly. The article says it's 3.5x slower than TRSDOS 2.0 for floppies. Directory listings suggest that's about right. So does formatting a disk.

 

============================
Time to format a floppy disk
============================
Size    OS Version      Time
============================
500KB   TRSDOS 2.0a     2:50
500KB   TRSDOS 2.0b     2:50
1.25MB  TRSDOS II 4.4   7:25
1.25MB  TRSDOS II-16   10:35
============================

 

Tests were run on an emulated Model 12 in GPT. Results are probably different than you'd get on real hardware, but the *relative* performance matches what people described at the time.

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I left a few important rows out of that table . . .

 

============================
Time to format a floppy disk
============================
Size    OS Version      Time
============================
500KB   TRSDOS 2.0a     2:50
500KB   TRSDOS 2.0b     2:50

500KB   TRSDOS II 4.4   4:38

500KB   TRSDOS II-16    6:00


1.25MB  TRSDOS II 4.4   7:25
1.25MB  TRSDOS II-16   10:35
============================

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