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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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 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

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 Parent 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 Parent Score: 2