Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 4th Aug 2012 04:17 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems "Quick - name the most important personal computer of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Those of you who mentioned the legendary Apple II - that's fine. I respect your decision. Forced to think objectively in 2012, I may even agree. But if you just named Radio Shack's TRS-80, you made me smile. Your choice is entirely defensible. And back in the TRS-80's heyday, I not only would have agreed with it but would have vehemently opposed any other candidate."
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Comment by Morgan
by Morgan on Sat 4th Aug 2012 04:38 UTC
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

I had a CoCo 2 around 1990, that my neighbor sold to me for $20 when his kids got tired of it. I was 13 at the time and it was the second computer I ever owned, and the first I bought for myself. I was in geek heaven, learning to program and playing Dungeons of Daggorath for hours! I played it more than the NES our parents had just been able to afford for us earlier that year.

It definitely has my vote for one of the greatest home computers of all time.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Morgan
by chrisperrault on Sat 4th Aug 2012 06:21 UTC in reply to "Comment by Morgan"
chrisperrault Member since:
2012-08-04

I still have Coco 3 sitting in my basement with some OS-9 and TRS-80 related books. I couldn't bring myself to get rid of everything.
A Coco 2 was my first machine and I too had a jones for Dungeons of Daggorath.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by Morgan
by Morgan on Sat 4th Aug 2012 06:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Morgan"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I would still have mine if the keyboard hadn't started getting stuck keys, and later the power supply got fried by the crappy wiring in our apartment. I wanted to keep it for nostalgic reasons but when we moved I was forced to trash it since it no longer worked.

By the way, if you want to relive some of the DoD glory days you might want to give this a spin:

http://mspencer.net/daggorath/dodpcp.html

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by Morgan
by chrisperrault on Sat 4th Aug 2012 06:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Morgan"
chrisperrault Member since:
2012-08-04

I hear ya. I had the same issue with many of the peripherals (disk drives,etc).
Thanks for the DOD link. I actually have it downloaded on my Linux box and still play it every so often. My stepson looks at me like I'm a relic.
He's probably right LOL.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Morgan
by zima on Sat 4th Aug 2012 07:28 UTC in reply to "Comment by Morgan"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

I had a CoCo 2 around 1990 [...] It definitely has my vote for one of the greatest home computers of all time.

Hm, but the TRS-80 and the TRS-80 Color Computer seem quite distinct (just checking out what Wiki says / the TRS-80 is largely unknown around here - though it turns out that the first local home computer, Mera-Elzab Meritum, was a clone). For one, the former is based on Z80, the latter on Motorola 6809 - very different systems, overall.

No cookie for you ;p

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Morgan
by Morgan on Sat 4th Aug 2012 07:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Morgan"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

No, you misunderstand: my TRS-80 was one of the greatest of all time.

And my coworker just brought me a peanut butter bar from the vending machine in the break room, so I don't need your stinking cookie!

:D

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by Morgan
by zima on Sat 4th Aug 2012 07:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Morgan"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

I figured you base your views on the model that you owned, what else - things is, it still kinda feels like subscribing to the guiding thought of the news article ...while the machines didn't have very much in common except for the company & name.

(also, CoCo seems to have been not that great compared to contemporary designs, sort of unbalanced http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80_Color_Computer#Competition - still no cookie, vending machine won't change that ;p )

Curious / WTH thing about the original TRS-80... ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80#Model_III )

Model I production was discontinued as it did not comply with new FCC regulations as of 1 January 1981 regarding electromagnetic interference.[10][15][18] The Model I radiated so much interference that while playing games an AM radio placed next to the computer could be used to provide sounds.[19]

Well, I guess it wasn't called Radio Shack for nothing ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by Morgan
by Morgan on Sat 4th Aug 2012 08:07 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Morgan"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Well the CoCo 2, which I owned, was hardly without flaws (see above about the flaky keyboard and the dead power supply). I realize my nostalgia is biased, but isn't that always the case? We don't fondly remember the things that brought us pain or misery. We instead bask in the memories of pleasant experiences, and being imperfect humans we almost always embellish those memories so we can feel even better about days gone by.

But philosophical and psychological meanderings aside, you're right: They weren't -- as a whole -- the most stable or reliable machines out there. But they were fun, affordable and very educational, all qualities of a new fruit-flavored kid on the block. I get the same warm fuzzies about my Raspberry Pi as I did with the TRS-80 so many years ago, and I'm really enjoying the experience!

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by Morgan
by zima on Sun 5th Aug 2012 00:24 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Morgan"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

And when we do try to see the past how it really was ...it can put us very much at odds with many people who prefer to have warm fuzzy feelings (sometimes even exposes at, well, their outright wrath for disturbing those), or who like subscribing to A Just World myth, and so on. Oh well.

BTW, what are the results of that MAME RPi experiment in the end?

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by Morgan
by Morgan on Sun 5th Aug 2012 00:34 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Morgan"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I actually haven't had a chance to do any gaming on the Pi yet; I've been working more hours at the part time job to make up for time lost to a schedule rearrangement at the full time job. But from what I've been following in the forums, the experience so far is good to excellent on a lot of ROMs, fair to middling on a lot more, and a few are unplayable.

The consensus seems to be that since AdvanceMAME uses SDL, once we get a form of 2D GPU support for SDL the performance will be more inline with modern x86 hardware. As to when or if that will ever happen, I have no clue. I know it depends on what Broadcom feels like doing in regard to releasing 2D acceleration support for the GPU.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Comment by Morgan
by zima on Sun 5th Aug 2012 15:49 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by Morgan"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The consensus seems to be that since AdvanceMAME uses SDL, once we get a form of 2D GPU support for SDL the performance will be more inline with modern x86 hardware.

Kinda doubtful. Well sure, if the output display is completely unaccelerated now, VESA-style, proper drivers should somewhat help... but, ultimately, MAME is almost exclusively about the CPU.

And the RPi CPU is presumably comparable to "a 300MHz Pentium 2" ( http://www.raspberrypi.org/faqs ) - considering what MAME strives for (accuracy and code elegance more than speed; it even tends to slow down over time, with improvements in accuracy), even a bit weird that only a few are unplayable (unless there's some pre-selection going on, focusing mostly on games which are perceived to have any chance at all in the first place)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by Morgan
by righard on Sat 4th Aug 2012 12:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Morgan"
righard Member since:
2007-12-26

...peanut butter...


My skills of deduction place you in the US.

Edited 2012-08-04 12:16 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Morgan
by Jon Dough on Sun 5th Aug 2012 02:04 UTC in reply to "Comment by Morgan"
Jon Dough Member since:
2005-11-30

In 1981, a friend of mine had a TRS-80 model 1, and I thought it was just the neatest thing. I went down to Radio Shack. They didn't have any model 1's left, but they did have the original TRS-80 Color Computer. 4K RAM, 8K ROM, Color BASIC, cassette recorder for storage, a TV for a monitor. I was in heaven!

Reply Score: 2

Still have a Model 100 laptop
by rikostan on Sat 4th Aug 2012 04:52 UTC
rikostan
Member since:
2007-02-24

I still have a TRS-80 model 100 laptop in it's large plastic case with the cup modem. I think it was 3 AA batteries it took, maybe 4, but they lasted a month easy.

We got rid of the model IIIs, the CoCo, the Vic20, Commodore, etc, when we moved, but no way I am getting rid of the laptop. Got to hold on to some of your roots!

Reply Score: 2

RE: Still have a Model 100 laptop
by zima on Sat 4th Aug 2012 07:35 UTC in reply to "Still have a Model 100 laptop"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Hm, interesting... ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80_Model_100 )

The Model 100 firmware was the last Microsoft product that Bill Gates developed personally, along with Suzuki. According to Gates, "part of my nostalgia about this machine is this was the last machine where I wrote a very high percentage of the code in the product".[3] http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/comphist/gates.htm#tc35


Edited 2012-08-04 07:36 UTC

Reply Score: 3

KLU9 Member since:
2006-12-06

I was just microblogging the other day about how the Model 100 was my 1st computer, and I saw that Bill Gates coded *on* it ( http://oldcomputers.net/trs100.html ) , but fun to learn that he also coded *for* it. thx for that link.

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

But... your link says pretty much the same thing, and directs to the same source ;)

The model 100 was the last computer system of which Microsoft's Bill Gates wrote a significant amount of the code. Read more about it in the Bill Gates Interview from the Smithsonian Institute.

( http://www.kyon.pl/img/5478.html overlooking smth like that? ;p )

Reply Score: 2

Keptinkomradedrbob Member since:
2008-02-28

I to still have my Model 100. And the 3.5" floppy for it. ;)

It ran on 4 AA batteries.

Reply Score: 1

In Your Pocket
by MOS6510 on Sat 4th Aug 2012 07:12 UTC
MOS6510
Member since:
2011-05-12

I have this one:
http://oldcomputers.net/trs80pc3.html

Not sure it has anything to do with the real TRS80, but I enjoyed using it a lot.

Reply Score: 2

First Computers in my School
by cjr42 on Sat 4th Aug 2012 10:54 UTC
cjr42
Member since:
2012-08-04

I just registered because of this article.

My School here in Germany had 4 TRS-80 Model I's for the Computer Course. That was in 1980. One even had floppy disks! And we had the incredible luck of a teacher really able to teach us programming. Our small group of nerds went running to the Computer room even in the 5 minute breaks. This was fun! On the other hand ... the girls regarded us as totally crazy :-)

Christof.

Reply Score: 2

Nothing special
by 3rdalbum on Sat 4th Aug 2012 11:03 UTC
3rdalbum
Member since:
2008-05-26

Sorry, but even after that article I still see nothing special about the TRS-80.

I understand and appreciate that it was affordable enough and didn't need user assembly, so it was one of the first computers an ordinary geek could own - but then, a decent number of computers around at the same time could make that claim.

Technically it seems hopelessly outclassed by the Apple 2, with very little cleverness in the hardware design compared to the Apple 2.

Nostalgia is okay, but just because a particular computer is special to you for the memories you had of it, does not mean that it was a special computer compared to others of the time.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nothing special
by MOS6510 on Sat 4th Aug 2012 11:22 UTC in reply to "Nothing special"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

The computer YOU owned in the 70/80s was ALWAYS the most SPECIAL and BEST one.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Nothing special
by chiwaw on Sun 5th Aug 2012 04:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Nothing special"
chiwaw Member since:
2006-02-05

Completely true. And the proof is that the most awesome computer in the early '80s was the TRS-80 MC-10. I know it bombed and was one of the most limited computer on the marked. But it WAS THE BEST.

It also happened to be my first computer and I learned to program on it. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Nothing special
by MOS6510 on Sun 5th Aug 2012 04:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Nothing special"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Overcoming limitations with creativity, time and effort was what is was all about back then.

Unlike today when you complain to a programmer about speed he'll ask you to kill other processes, add memory of buy a new computer.

Programming now is combining libs and APIs using a programming language that has a command for every operation that had made you think in the 70/80s.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Nothing special
by moondevil on Sun 5th Aug 2012 09:17 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Nothing special"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Programming now is combining libs and APIs using a programming language that has a command for every operation that had made you think in the 70/80s.


My job is based in consultancy solutions built on top of JVM and .NET languages, every time I am allowed to use C++, I rejoice at the possibility of using a language with native code implementations, even if it is C++.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Nothing special
by MOS6510 on Sun 5th Aug 2012 09:25 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Nothing special"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

How much faster does C++ perform vs .NET you reckon?

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Nothing special
by lucas_maximus on Sun 5th Aug 2012 15:43 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Nothing special"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Depends whether it is managed C++ or not.

TBH I managed to get some pretty good performance increases in modern Java and .NET by just thinking about an if ... then ... else blocks.

With T-SQL etc you still have to think about the best way to write a query ... the optimizer will only do soo much for you.

While you can write small programs and let modern CPUs and Ram and mainly not worry ... but once there are quite a few people hitting it you really have to start thinking.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Nothing special
by MOS6510 on Sun 5th Aug 2012 18:39 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Nothing special"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

At work we use Dynamics, which uses MS SQL.

Microsoft makes the bare Dynamics and all kinds of companies can build upon it. Our Dynamics partner doesn't have any SQL experts, which seems a bit odd considering it's a lot of SQL stuff. When things don't work they have to contact Microsoft and Microsoft often doesn't know either.

When I last coded "seriously" it was early 1990's. Back then you now what happened and if unexpected things occurred you'd know where to look and where to insert debug stuff.

This annoys me with these modern coders. They rely so much on other people's code: libs, APIs, SQL, etc... when something doesn't work they need to contact other people and then the clock starts ticking. An answer in 2-3 days is considered very quick.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Nothing special
by moondevil on Sun 5th Aug 2012 16:30 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Nothing special"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

How much faster does C++ perform vs .NET you reckon?


It depends on your use case, but there is nothing like native code if you want to squeeze the performance out of the machine.

With C++ you have more control over the data structure layouts to optimize the caches usage.

Shorter startup times and easy distribution of binaries.

Plus thanks to intrinsics it is easy to exploit SIMD and GPGPU capabilities.

Now, it is possible to compile .NET applications directly to native code by making use of NGEN, but even with .NET 4.0 there are some limitations on NGEN code quality vs JIT.

Microsoft actually acknowledges this in two ways:

- NGEN is being improved in .NET 4.5;

- A few months ago they had listed on their careers web site, open positions for C# native code compilers engineers

This second point is actually what I would like to have. A C# compiler that targets native code directly for distribution, while using the CLR during development.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Nothing special
by MOS6510 on Sun 5th Aug 2012 18:43 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Nothing special"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I stopped coding in the BASIC/Assembler period. BASIC was slow, Assembler was fast. So each time anything but Assembler is used I get the feeling things aren't as effective/fast as they could be.

But I promisse I will start learning a (modern) language.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Nothing special
by chiwaw on Sun 5th Aug 2012 19:11 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Nothing special"
chiwaw Member since:
2006-02-05

Well an expert .NET programmer would probably outperform a terrible C++ programmer. Often time execution slowness is more about bad code design, unoptimized algorithms, etc.

But assuming equally expert in both languages, C++ will definitely have the edge, as it run on top of at least one less layer. As for how much faster, I'm not sure. I know .NET is getting a whole lot more efficient over time.

The (video game) company I work for switched from C++ to C# last year. We lost a bit of performance, but oh man is producing code C# so much more fun and comfortable and easy. And also our bug counts went down dramatically.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Nothing special
by moondevil on Sun 5th Aug 2012 21:48 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Nothing special"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Yeah, most game studios I know have moved from C++/MFC to C#/WinForms/WPF for their tooling.

There are some that moved to C++/Qt though.

Do you guys ngen your games upon installation?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nothing special
by Vanders on Sat 4th Aug 2012 16:49 UTC in reply to "Nothing special"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

Technically it seems hopelessly outclassed by the Apple 2, with very little cleverness in the hardware design compared to the Apple 2.


It was, but then the Apple ][ was far outclassed by the Commodore Vic 20. The TRS-80 was released before the Apple ][, and it cost far, far less than an Apple ][. The important thing about the TRS-80 was that it was the first time that a large, established company decided that personal computers were a thing they could sell. The TRS-80 was the point where micro computers moved from the hobbyist arena into the mainstream. That's why it's special.

Reply Score: 5

Ah, yes.
by JLF65 on Sat 4th Aug 2012 16:30 UTC
JLF65
Member since:
2005-07-06

The TRASH-80... you either swore by it, or swore at it. This was the first computer I wrote programs for. It was nothing special. I preferred the Atari 8-bit computer, which is what I ended up buying when I finally got the money to buy my own computer.

The best part of the TRASH-80? The CPU - the Z80 was a joy to program... perhaps the best of the 8-bit CPUs. However, the 6502 was clearly king of the day, being in nearly every 8-bit computer of any worth.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ah, yes.
by chiwaw on Sun 5th Aug 2012 04:46 UTC in reply to "Ah, yes."
chiwaw Member since:
2006-02-05

I learned to program in Z80 assembly in 2000 for a job. Kind of late in the game. Sometimes I wish I could go back at 8 with my current knowledge and apply that now useless Z80 skills to blow everyone's minds. (and invest my lunch money in Apple stocks).

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Ah, yes.
by JLF65 on Sun 5th Aug 2012 17:31 UTC in reply to "RE: Ah, yes."
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

You CAN blow people's minds with your new RAD skillz! Folks looking to do some Z80 programming often do their own programs for the old Sega Master System, or the MSX computer. You can find flash carts for the SMS to even run your game on the real machine.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Ah, yes.
by chiwaw on Sun 5th Aug 2012 19:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Ah, yes."
chiwaw Member since:
2006-02-05

Oh once in a while, like a werewolf under a full moon, I get infused with a Z80 rage, re-install my Colecovision devkit and start homebrewing for a little while. I never finished anything at home tho. Usually the rage goes away 3-4 days later and I think "wooaa what the fuck happened?" and then I happily go back to C#. :-P

Reply Score: 1

RE: Ah, yes.
by zima on Sun 5th Aug 2012 18:33 UTC in reply to "Ah, yes."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

the Z80 was a joy to program... perhaps the best of the 8-bit CPUs. However, the 6502 was clearly king of the day, being in nearly every 8-bit computer of any worth.

Hm, the families of MSX, Amstrad/Schneider, and Spectrum (plus numerous clones) had some worth, I think. And what about many ~business CP/M machines?
In the 6502 camp (sorting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_home_computers by CPU type) worthy are the families of Apple II, Commodore, Atari, and Acorn.
So perhaps fairly comparable proportions, especially considering that only the Apple II was extensively cloned in the latter group - but in the former you have Spectrum clones and numerous MSX & CP/M manufacturers.

And I can see some very clear geographical delineation, Z80 more used in home computers (the 8-bit micros we most remember) from outside North America, more popular outside of it (and some mostly Western European, culturally at least, countries) - perhaps that contributes to your perception?

Reply Score: 2

Trash 80 Mod II
by benali72 on Sat 4th Aug 2012 17:04 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

Trash 80 Mod II ... best computer using casette tape storage ever!

Reply Score: 2

RE: Trash 80 Mod II
by Keptinkomradedrbob on Mon 6th Aug 2012 16:30 UTC in reply to "Trash 80 Mod II"
Keptinkomradedrbob Member since:
2008-02-28

Model I had cassette, the Model II always came with an 8" floppy. It was the business system that followed the MC-10.

Reply Score: 1

I owe my career to it
by tuaris on Sat 4th Aug 2012 21:15 UTC
tuaris
Member since:
2007-08-05

It's on that little computer that I learned how to write programs at the age of 9. Ah the memories...

I still have it kept in away in a safe place, and it still works!

If it hadn't been for the TRS-80, I'd probably ended up using a computer only for idiocies like facebook, youtube, and twitter.

Reply Score: 1

TRS-80
by drcoldfoot on Sat 4th Aug 2012 22:33 UTC
drcoldfoot
Member since:
2006-08-25

Screw that! My Tandy 1000 EX was the best computer of all time!

Reply Score: 1

RE: TRS-80
by Morgan on Sun 5th Aug 2012 08:09 UTC in reply to "TRS-80"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I think my fondest geek memories are split between the TRS-80 CoCo 2 and my very first computer at five years old: A TI-99/4a. My parents knew I wanted a computer and it was what they could afford at the time (1982), and eventually I got a TI Basic programming book for it. I'd spend hours typing in, running, modifying and re-running programs and games, and I absolutely loved it!

I still don't understand why I have such a hard time with programming today, given my love for it as a child.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: TRS-80
by zima on Sun 5th Aug 2012 15:44 UTC in reply to "RE: TRS-80"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Well if you had such extensive early BASIC experience... ;p http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/ewd498.html

It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.


(glancing over Wiki TI-99/4a article, even more curious machine ...and possibly even more unbalanced in a way, 16-bit CPU)

Reply Score: 2

You mean Rat Shack?
by tuma324 on Sun 5th Aug 2012 04:54 UTC
tuma324
Member since:
2010-04-09

They tried to sell me a 8 GB SanDisk Cruzer USB stick for $80 USD.

Reply Score: 3

RE: You mean Rat Shack?
by Morgan on Sun 5th Aug 2012 08:03 UTC in reply to "You mean Rat Shack?"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

My all time favorite overpriced item, seen on a recent trip to The Shack for some board components I needed, was the $30 set of desktop PC speakers (a pair, mind you; not even a 2.1 sub system). Those same exact speakers are $2 wholesale from China, and are sold at my part time job under a generic brand for $9.95 shipped. The sound quality is terrible, barely above a cheap laptop speaker, and they are ugly besides.

Of course, having worked at a Radio Shack after high school I shouldn't be surprised even today by the outrageous price gouging.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: You mean Rat Shack?
by zima on Sun 5th Aug 2012 15:55 UTC in reply to "RE: You mean Rat Shack?"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Sometimes I think such speakers should be outright banned. I stumbled once on a pair, bought by family member (talked into them by a small-shop seller, at 1/3-1/2 the price of a decent 2.1; plus and audio card ...for a PC which never saw any audio playback), that even managed to be definitely worse than any laptop speaker I heard - hell, they were much worse in audio quality than my old clock radio (monaural, but I'd still prefer listening to it).

Frankly, they would hardly be worth the energy expenditure needed to carry them to trash container.

Reply Score: 2

Were TRS-80 clones legal?
by rklrkl on Sun 5th Aug 2012 08:47 UTC
rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

I remember going around to a friend's house in the early 80's and messing around on his Video Genie, which was the European name for a clone of the TRS-80, which could run pretty well all TRS-80 software out there at the time. It still amazes me that a clone like that could be sold (Wikipedia doesn't make it clear if the Video Genie was a licensed clone or not).

I suspect in the UK, the TRS-80's biggest claim to fame was being the development system used by a lot of Sinclair ZX Spectrum programmers to develop for the (frankly awful to code on) Spectrum. I believe they had a high-speed method involving some homebrew hardware to download the code to the Spectrum (i.e. probably something that generated the tape sounds needed for the Spectrum to get the data).

The TRS-80 was a good Z80 system, but once the world's greatest 8-bit micro of all time, the BBC Micro (which destroyed the Apple II that had come out years earlier), it was all over in the UK for the TRS-80 for "serious" 8-bit users, whom I suspect mostly ditched their TRS-80's for the BBC Micro.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Were TRS-80 clones legal?
by henderson101 on Sun 5th Aug 2012 21:20 UTC in reply to "Were TRS-80 clones legal?"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

The British market for TRS-80 was dominated by the Dragon 32 and Dragon 64, which were not exactly compatible, but TRS-80 alikes. Probably the biggest issue with the TRS-80 was the PAL standard, which broke a lot of the graphical tricks used on the TRS-80.

I suspect in the UK, the TRS-80's biggest claim to fame was being the development system used by a lot of Sinclair ZX Spectrum programmers to develop for the (frankly awful to code on) Spectrum.


A lot of that was availability. Matthew Smith developed Manic Miner on the TRS-80 because he had it to hand. I don't know of anyone else that did that, but sure there were some. Let's be honest, assembler is assembler, the computer has little to do with that.

To answer your other question, Matthew Smith loaded the TRS-80 code by writing a custom machine code tape loader on the Spectrum. The code of which is in the released version of Manic Miner and baffled a lot of hackers till it was explained!

The TRS-80 was a good Z80 system, but once the world's greatest 8-bit micro of all time, the BBC Micro (which destroyed the Apple II that had come out years earlier), it was all over in the UK for the TRS-80 for "serious" 8-bit users, whom I suspect mostly ditched their TRS-80's for the BBC Micro.


Hmmmm. This is pure fantasy. The BBC was stupidly expensive. I was 8 when the Spectrum came out. I grew up in the 8 bit era. I knew a lot of people with computers. The ZX81 was extremely popular. The Spectrum was the most popular 8-bit by a country mile. The Commodore 64 was a close second. I knew 2 people with Atari 800xl's, I knew a guy with a Commodore 16, a couple of people with Oric 1 or Atmos, and a few people with Electrons** and Amstrad CPC's. The only people I ever met with a BBC B was, #1 my uncle, who went through Dragon 64 to BBC B and was obsessed with the game Elite. Second was the boffy sons of my High School English teacher, who lived on the corner of my street. By 1989, the ST and Amiga were coming on the scene and blasting everything out of the water.

Apple just never made inroads in the UK because we already had our own strong market by the time the hardware became reasonably priced.


** The Electron was a distinct computer that had some compatibility with the BBC, but half the games didn't work and it lost all of the cooler stuff.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?
by rklrkl on Mon 6th Aug 2012 08:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Were TRS-80 clones legal?"
rklrkl Member since:
2005-07-06

You'll note that I said "serious" 8-bit users - yes, the BBC was expensive (and poorly marketed, IMHO), but did *anyone* do anything on the Spectrum, Commodore 64 etc. than play games? The lack of a decent keyboard and no disk system on the Spectrum was a disaster and the frankly abysmal OS/BASIC (not to mention its joke of a disk system) on the C64 stifled it too.

If you wanted to anything but play games, the BBC Micro was the machine of choice. The best OS, the best BASIC, the best disk system, the best ROM/sideways RAM system and the best keyboard of any 8-bit micro ever.

Reply Score: 2

henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

Errr...In the 80's, coding was far more popular than it is today. All my mates were capable of using BASIC. The C64 has a pretty terse and hard to learn BASIC, what with all the Peeks and Pokes, but it had hardware sprites... and once you understood it, it wasn't that hard to code for. The BBC did not have any decent graphics hardware, in fact BBC didn't even really have a decent colour mode (not that the spectrum was any better..) The Atari 800XL had a better basic than the C64 and the Sprites were simple to code (If I remember correctly.) The Oric had a nice BASIC that was pretty buggy. The best computer I ever owned was the Amstrad CPC 464. The BASIC on that had a lot of features missing on the BBC - crazy interrupt driven stuff. The Spectrum was okay to program for in basic.I had a microdrive too, so I didn't worry about tape.

Unfortunately you're speaking to the "original" collector of 8-bits. From 1983 to 2004 I owned a shedload (Spectrum, ZX81, Oric Atmos, Amstrad CPC 464, Atari 800XL, C64 and a Commodeore PET.) Most were bought at the time they were popular. I coded on all of them. I used to walk in to Dixons and write a small game (usually a UDG with a cursor or QAOP control system) on a semi regular basis. (usually to piss off my friends who were more the 10 Print"hello": goto 10 level.) I wrote a word processor on the PET and used it to write a paper for school.

I never owned anything Acorn till the Archimedes range (A3000 then much later an A7000.) And it really had nothing other than built in assembler and procedures that really excited me.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?
by MOS6510 on Mon 6th Aug 2012 16:33 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I'd like to second that. Even the dumbest kids could and would at least code a few lines.

Most, if not all, home computers allowed you to start coding the moment you turned it on. And they came with a manual!

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?
by zima on Mon 6th Aug 2012 19:01 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't know if at most typing-in some BASIC listings counts as coding...

And zero documentation was even possibly more often the rule. Or, at best, only a manual written in a totally unknown language - not a good start to "work out" things, that you cherish in the days gone by.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?
by MOS6510 on Mon 6th Aug 2012 20:20 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I don't know if at most typing-in some BASIC listings counts as coding...


It's still a lot more code than the average user today types!


And zero documentation was even possibly more often the rule. Or, at best, only a manual written in a totally unknown language - not a good start to "work out" things, that you cherish in the days gone by.


In The Netherlands you got a Dutch manual with your Commodore 64. Hell, even the tape recorder had one!

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?
by zima on Mon 6th Aug 2012 22:35 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

> I don't know if at most typing-in some BASIC listings counts as coding...

It's still a lot more code than the average user today types!

Still not convinced... conceptually, it's not much different from people with post-it notes glued to the monitor or desk - on which there are step-by-step instructions to the most trivial GUI tasks.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?
by zima on Mon 6th Aug 2012 18:53 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Errr...In the 80's, coding was far more popular than it is today. All my mates were capable of using BASIC.

In a way, depending how you count; it really wasn't. Many more people code now than in the 80s ...only, the numbers of non-coders (drawn in by new possibilities, expanding diverse things you can do on a personal computer) growing at even higher rates masks that a bit.

And anyway, either you had quite unusual mates, or you give them too much credit. probably the latter: as you say further down, "my friends who were more the 10 Print"hello": goto 10 level" - do we really want to describe such as coding? (plus likely typed-in when the primary activity of games got momentarily boring, and there was not much else one could do on 8-bit micros)

My BASIC efforts weren't far above that ...but still relatively the most "advanced" among my dozen+ buddies having micros (who AFAIK didn't ever peek outside games; except for one who got customised Workbench floppies once, marvelled at the GUI for a while).
Some time later, when my school got five Pentium PCs, they were used mostly for gaming... yes, during classes (that is of course also the fault of, well, weak teacher; but still). Luckily, no gaming-occupiers on the later addition of a surplus 386 (without CD-ROM and anyway too slow for the games that were in circulation, I guess), which mostly just stood there neglected - hence available for exploring.

a small game (usually a UDG

UDG?

BTW, overall, WRT to your listing of various British micros and their fortunes - what about Enterprise 128? ;p
(also, why would anybody launch and buy SAM Coupe in 1989 - when, as you mentioned, Amiga was already all the rage...)

Reply Score: 2

henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

"Errr...In the 80's, coding was far more popular than it is today. All my mates were capable of using BASIC.

In a way, depending how you count; it really wasn't. Many more people code now than in the 80s ...only, the numbers of non-coders (drawn in by new possibilities, expanding diverse things you can do on a personal computer) growing at even higher rates masks that a bit.
"

In school, we all had computer studies up till 14. Part of that was learning basic programming. If you took a GCSE, you actually had to produce a real program.


And anyway, either you had quite unusual mates, or you give them too much credit.


Not really. As I said, a lot of them weren't much past:

10 print "enter your name"
20 input a$
30 print "your name is ";a$
40 go to 10

But that's still more coding skills than kids in the UK leave school at 16 with today.

do we really want to describe such as coding?


Yeah we do. Especially these days, when some pro coders rely heavily on the IDE and code completion to do even the simplest tasks. When I started coding professionally, late 90's, the IDE's we used had no code completion, code insight or even good syntax checking. Delphi 1 and Delphi 2 were the first two IDE's I used as a daily driver. VB 3 and 4 were about the same. Never used VB 5, but 6 didn't add as much "gunk" as there is not in Visual Studio 2010.

My BASIC efforts weren't far above that ...but still relatively the most "advanced" among my dozen+ buddies having micros


It varies. We live in different countries. At the time the UK government was pushing IT and Computer based skills hard. They'd encouraged the BBC micro and part funded the effort through the BBC (as in, broadcaster.) We all wanted to write the next big game, yes, but we all learnt a lot. People like Matthew Smith and the Darling brothers spurred us on (all young kids when they started.) The fact that BASIC was the defacto and BASIC was largely similar on all of the popular Micros really helped. Some graduated on to machine code, but it was a golden age for programming no matter how you look at it.


"a small game (usually a UDG

UDG?
"

User Defined Graphic.

Here's the 5 minute program I often typed in. It was a throw away, I didn't used to do that much work on it. Sinclair basic and untested/from memory

5 rem ** My little demo app **
10 for a = 0 to 7
20 read b
30 poke usr "A" + a, b
40 next a
50 rem ** little game starts here **
55 Let x = 10: let y = 10
60 Print at 1, 1; "A little game: Q up, A down,": print at 2, 1;" O left, P right"
61 Print at x, y; chr$ 144
65 pause 0 : rem wait for a key press - reduce flicker
66 rem ** delete what was there **
67 Print at x, y; chr$ 32
69 rem ** read the keyboard **
70 let a$ = Inkey$
75 if a$ = "q" then y = y - 1
76 if a$ = "a" then y = y + 1
77 if a$ = "o" then x = x - 1
78 if a$ = "p" then x = x + 1
79 rem ** check for out of bounds... from memory, so might be slightly wrong **
80 if x < 0 then x = 0
81 if x > 32 then x = 32
82 if y < 0 then y = 0
83 if y > 22 then y = 22
85 Rem ** next game loop iteration **
90 goto 60
100 REM ** Character data **
110 DATA BIN 000010000
120 DATA BIN 000101000
130 DATA BIN 001000100
140 DATA BIN 011000110
150 DATA BIN 001000100
160 DATA BIN 011000110
170 DATA BIN 111111111
180 DATA BIN 011001100

BTW, overall, WRT to your listing of various British micros and their fortunes - what about Enterprise 128? ;p


What about it? No one ever owned one. I'd ask you about the Mattel Aquarius too.... or the TI99/4a, which both bombed here. The Atari range was really small, despite being a giant in the arcades. The MSX didn't really make much of an impression either (but then that was mostly Japanese with Microsoft OS.)

(also, why would anybody launch and buy SAM Coupe in 1989 - when, as you mentioned, Amiga was already all the rage...)


You really have to understand how amazingly popular the Spectrum was in the UK. Super Spectrum? Hell yeah. We'd buy that. Then the Amiga 500 became more reasonably priced, along with the Atari 520STFM, and well - didn't seem to interesting any more.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?
by zima on Sat 11th Aug 2012 23:39 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Were TRS-80 clones legal?"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Hm, now you basically add that most people were simply forced to pick up some BASIC - and certainly quickly forgot it. Like it was the case with all the people from my highschool, which at ~16 taught everybody... LOGO.

I wouldn't call it "coding was far more popular" - and I still have some doubts about calling it "coding" at all: as I write nearby, this type of computer activity, & the level of "insight" most of those folks had, doesn't seem too far removed from people who have step-by-step instructions, written for them on paper, how to do the most straightforward (it would seem to us) Windows GUI operations ...because they were suddenly forced to do it, usually by their workplace replacing typewriters and paper spreadsheets with computers and such
(people who can't create new email, can only reply; and send their email address to somebody basically right by, using... fax; who absolutely can't use search functions of computers; who must be periodically reminded that mouse pointer follows movements of their hand in two dimensions even in Start Menu ...I'll better stop recalling now)

And I wouldn't call those able to use GUI software - they are trained (not educated, more like you train an animal) to do some resemblance of it, they give an impression that they have any real grasp.


Generally, we still have many more coders around now (I strongly suspect also UK-wide; but certainly overall) ...just, those who choose that more actively.

BTW, I stumbled on a nice http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_home_computers sortable by country of origin. Jupiter Ace seems curious (if not for... yoghurt case - seriously, WTH was it with British computers and their cases & keyboards?! ;) ). Or Memotech MTX - apparently with some pre-Hypercard, hm (and its weird history with the Soviets - best of all, a version with red case)

Reply Score: 2

henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

If you wanted to anything but play games, the BBC Micro was the machine of choice. The best OS, the best BASIC, the best disk system, the best ROM/sideways RAM system and the best keyboard of any 8-bit micro ever.


I don't think so. All of that is wonderful, and I remember using some of it in school. Unfortunately, it doesn't alter the fact that the BBC was unloved and really only ever used inside schools. It's not like the Apple 2 at all. The Apple 2 is pretty much adored in the US - if you are of a certain age, even if you now hate Apple, you have sweet memories of the Apple 2 (or so it seems..) But the BBC just reminds me of sitting in Computer Studies and being bored. Or the disappointment that was the Doomsday project. Or some really crap educational software. Very few average kids outside of affluent areas owned a BBC. Most owned a Speccy. I think enough of the old school innovators made a tonne of cash back in the day writing Spectrum software to disprove what you're saying.. or are you claiming they didn't write "serious" software? Unfortunately, the BBC was a niche throughout the entire run, and the Arc was much the same. The fact the A3010 failed so hard is a testament to that. The problem is really that old school BBC users have a superiority complex. ;)

Reply Score: 2

Fond memories....
by rdean400 on Sun 5th Aug 2012 10:00 UTC
rdean400
Member since:
2006-10-18

My grandfather got a TRS-80 a few months after release. Over time, the unit was upgraded, replaced with a model 3, and upgraded to a model 4 with graphics. He also had a model 4p. He bought my family our first computer - a CoCo. We later bought a CoCo 2 and then a CoCo 3 to go along with it. It was fun to hack on those machines.

Reply Score: 1

Home Computer Day at NASA
by ricegf on Sun 5th Aug 2012 12:54 UTC
ricegf
Member since:
2007-04-25

I worked for NASA Langley in the early 80's, programming flight display software for their Atari 800s in assembly (SynAssembler, to be specific).

We held a "bring your home computer to work" day, and the variety was amazing - from Sinclair (a tiny Z80 with membrane keyboard and no sound) to Commodore Vic 20s and 64s to Apple ][ to TRS-80 regular and CoCo flavors to Atari 400s and 800s to homebrews. I still remember that single event as the pinnacle of the golden age of home computing.

I'm afraid we weren't in general impressed by the classic TRS-80's monochrome text-only display (though in fairness, it did 64-character widths with ease compared to the others' artifact-fringed 40-character or the Vic-20's 22(!)-character version). In retrospect, it had other nice features, too such as a real Z-80, the Cadillac of 8-bits. Computers had actual hardware innovation in those heady halcyon days.

Fond, fond memories...

Reply Score: 2

I have one
by Drunkula on Mon 6th Aug 2012 13:31 UTC
Drunkula
Member since:
2009-09-03

I bought a TRS-80 (sort of) at a garage sale for $5. It's the Pocket PC one that looked like a large calculator. I have it to this day complete with the plotter/printer casette interface. It works, too, but the ink has dried out. Not likely to find replacements for that.

I may have to fire it up for old time sake.

Reply Score: 1