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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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

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 Parent Score: 2

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 Parent Score: 2