TRS-80 Emulators

TRS-80 Emulators

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! In this case, there are quite a few Santa Clauses. We have them coming out of our ears, even. Not just half, but a whole gaggle of Santas. There are a LOT of TRS-80 emulators out there, although three seem to get more attention than the others. At least, that's how it seems to me. I'll try to spread the glory around a bit by mentioning every single one I can find anything at all about.

This page talks about all (most, anyway) of the TRS-80 emulators you can use to experience the joys of running a TRS-80 even though you don't have one. You can have a Macintosh, an Amiga, an Atari ST, varioys forms of Unix boxen or even a PC clone - they'll all run some form of TRS-80 emulator. Sure, all those systems are nice enough by themselves, but what makes them really worth having is the ability to play DeathMaze 5000 on them!

Model 1 Emulators

There are a number of emulators available for the TRS-80 Model 1. Even though you may not have a real Model 1, you can still enjoy the experience of running any of the various operating systems, play with the Dancing Demon, or just program in Level II BASIC. Plus, you get to do all that without having to worry about the connection between the keyboard and the expansion interface causing the machine to reboot all by itself just as you're getting ready to save that 500 line BASIC program you just typed in. (Don't laugh! It happens on the real thing!)

Model III Emulators

There are several Model III emulators you can play with, too. I have used Jeff Vavasour's and have heard good things about Matthew Reed's. I haven't purchased the registered version of his yet, so I can't say anything about the Model III mode. I'm sure it works just as well as the Model 1 mode does though. I am in the process of installing Linux on another machine, and will be able to look at Tim Mann's version of xtrs as soon as I do. There are lots of other ones (even one for the Amiga), but I'm not sure how actively they're being worked on. There are links to most of them on either Ira Goldklang's or Tim Mann's site, though.

Model 4 Emulators

You can even find Model 4 emulators. Jeff's is commercial from Computer News 80. Matt Reed's is shareware, and the one for Unix (xtrs) is freely available under the GNU Beneral Public License. There's another free one for Windows 95.

Jeff Vavasour's Model 1 Emulator

Jeff Vavasour has written a number of different emulators, including one that emulates a Model 1. It was shareware for a while, but it is now freely available. This is the first TRS-80 emulator I ever used, and it works very well. Jeff's emulator has set both standards for TRS-80 diskette images for emulators. The Model I image format used by this one is limited in that directories HAVE to be on track 17 to work properly, but that's easy enough to handle with /JCL files.

This emulator has utilities to transfer disks between a TRS-80 and the PC by using either serial or parallel ports, and several other utilities to manage the virtual disk files.

"Hardware" support includes four floppy drives, 48k of memory and lower case. I forget what else it has at the moment, because I normally run Matthew Reed's emulator now whenever I want to play with Model I stuff. Mainly because it uses the more versatile disk format used by Jeff's Model III/4 emulator.

You can find this emulator at almost any of the other sites, so I don't have a link to it specifically right here. Check the TRS-80 Revived site, I know it's there. The filename is MODEL1-E.ZIP

Jeff Vavasour's Model 3 and 4 Emulator

Jeff Vavasour also wrote a very good emulator for the Model 3 and 4, which is available from Computer News 80. It sells for about $60.00 US, and works very well. This is the one I use almost all of the time. I love having a 22.5 MHz TRS-80 on my Pentium running at 166 MHz. I can only imagine how fast it would be on something like a 300 MHz machine. (Okay, I know I could guess that it's somewhere around a 40 MHz Z80 in that case, but that doesn't mean as much until you actually SEE it).

You actually get two emulators in this package. The first is the full-featured one that acts just like a TRS-80 Model 4. In other words, it acts just like a Model 3, too. The other is a faster Model 3 only emulator. The reason it's faster is because it doesn't have to keep track of the different memory mappings that are available on the Model 4.

The Model 3 & 4 emulator includes support for four double sided floppy drives (which can even be mapped to the PC's floppy drive!), 128K of RAM, and a RS-232 comm port. In addition, on PCs with a VGA display there is support for the Radio Shack high-resolution graphics standard.

Depending on your floppy disk controller, you may even be able to boot up TRS-80 system disks directly from your PCs floppy drive. If you've upgraded your real TRS-80 to 3.5" drives, this makes moving software between the PC and the TRS-80 very easy.

If you're interested in this one, Computer News 80 can be contacted at:

    Computer News 80
    P.O. Box 50127
    Casper, WY  82605-0127

    Phone : 307-265-6483

    email :

    WWW   :

Matthew Reed's Model 1 and III Emulator

Matthew Reed has a great Model 1 and III emulator, also. This one is shareware, and worth every penny of the registration fee. The unregistered version is Model I emulation only, and supports four floppy drives (including using the PC's drive as a TRS-80 drive) and a hard disk image. The full version offers quite a few more features. Since this was the first with virtual hard disk support, I guess his is the unofficial standard. Tim Mann's extensions to xtrs offer support for the same format. Hopefully, one day I'll finish up the driver I started for Jeff's Model 3/4 emulator that uses that format, also.

Matthew's emulator can read either the original .DSK format used by Jeff V.'s Model 1 emulator, or the newer format used by his Model 3/4 emulator. This is a great feature, because it allows for transferring files between the two emulators easily.

I could never say enough good about this emulator, so you should just head over to Matthew's web page, read all about it, and while you're there, download it if you haven't already.

Matthew Reed's Model 4 Emulator

I don't know anything about this one yet, because I haven't run it. I'll just post here (for posterity or until I *do* get a chance to play with it) the text of his announcement that appeared on the TRS-80 mailing list:

I have just released a new TRS-80 Model 4 emulator for IBM-compatible computers. The emulator is shareware and will run on a PC with an 80386 or better processor, 640K of memory, MS-DOS 3.0 or higher, VGA graphics, and a hard drive. A parallel printer and Sound Blaster compatible sound card are optional. If you want to read physical TRS-80 disks using the emulator, your computer will need an appropriately-sized disk drive (usually 5 1/4") and a capable floppy disk controller.

The unregistered shareware version emulates a 64K Model 4 with four double-sided, 80-track floppy drives and a parallel printer port. All Model 4 sound can be routed through either the PC speaker or a Sound Blaster compatible sound card, and several international keyboard layouts are available.

The registered version adds support for Model 3 mode, the 128K memory upgrade, a virtual hard drive, a hardware clock, RS-232 communications, high resolution graphics (Radio Shack and Micro-Labs), snapshots, a Model 4 mouse driver, and file transfer utilities.

To download the shareware version of the emulator, or to view its documentation online, visit my web site at:

If anyone has any questions, I can be reached by e-mail at

xtrs 1.0 - the Model 1 Emulator for the X Window system

This one was written by David Gingold and Alec Wolman. xtrs emulates a TRS-80 Model 1 with 48k. Cassette operation is handled by using files for cassette tapes, and a printer is emulated by sending its output to standard output. This version does not have support for disks or a serial port. I've not had a chance to run this one yet (I just got XFree86 running decently on my monitor, so give me a break!) but here's a paragraph out of the README file:

Xtrs is an X Windows client which runs under Unix and emulates a TRS-80 Model I. Version 1.0 is our first release of this software; it provides a simple yet powerful Level II BASIC environment and cassette emulation. We expect to provide some more sophisticated functionality in future releases.

Tim Mann's version of xtrs - version 1.10 (at this writing)

If you're running the X Windows system under Unix, you should check out Tim Mann's site for his version of xtrs for the X Window system, which emulates either a Model 1, Model III or Model 4. Tim has added many enhancements to the original xtrs package, including but not limited to emulation of DSDD drives, a hard disk image driver, and lots of other stuff. I've got version 1.10 here, and will be playing with it very shortly.

I'm going to steal some of his own words off his web page to tell you what all he's added to xtrs.

My version can emulate either a Model I, Model III, or Model 4, and it includes lower case, the real time clock, crude sound support (Linux only), 5" and 8" floppy disk drives, and even hard disk drives. Unlike most Model I emulators, mine includes double sided, double density floppies, emulating both the Percom and Radio Shack Doubler. The emulated floppy and hard disk file formats are compatible with the popular MSDOS-based emulators by Jeff Vavasour and Matthew Reed. Under Linux, physical floppy disk drives are also supported.

2nd Life - A Model 3 Emulator for the Atari

Also, Sander Berents has written an emulator for the TRS-80 Model 3 that runs on Atari computers. Check out the link below if you would like more information. Here's what his email to me said about it:

Did you know that the 2nd Life (Model III emulator for Atari ST series) site has moved? The new address is

The current version of 2nd life is 1.0. The most important difference is the better support for importing/exporting files. Can you please update your site?

I went to his site and couldn't say what it supports as well as he can, so I'll just cut and paste the description here:

2nd Life is an emulator which allows an Atari ST, STE, TT, Falcon or compatible to run as a TRS 80 Model III. Using it, you can run almost all Model I and III programs because it emulates the Z-80 microprocessor, video, keyboard, cassette, printerport, internal clock, floppy disk controller and four 80-track single sided disk drives.

Since the emulation is written completely in assembler, the emulated computer runs on a 16 MHz 68000 (STE)as fast as the original machine. The GEM shell is written in C and includes a font editor, keyboard layout editor, disassembler, debugger, memory dump and virtual diskdrives as icons in a window.

One day I may grab TOSBOX, which is the Atari emulator for the PC and try running Sander's emulator inside that emulator. The question is in his FAQ, so it must be a workable way to see it. <grin> Before the flames start hitting, I know that it would probably be slow as molasses in January at the north pole, but I just would like to see it.


WinTRS80 - Wade's Model 1, 3 and 4 emulator for Windows 95

This is the newcomer to the TRS-80 emulator scene, and it does a pretty good job. In Model 1 mode, it supports 48k, cassette, printer, as well as the standard floppy and hard disk images. It's a little slower than the others, but it does run under Windows 95.

Here's a link to Wade's web page for it.

Yves Lempereur's Model 1 Emulator for the Macintosh

At one time, Yves worked for Funsoft, writing games for the TRS-80 Models 1 and III. He eventually moved to the Macintosh, and wound up writing a TRS-80 emulator for it.

His TRS-80 emulator acts like a Model 1 with an Expansion Interface, two 5 1/4" floppy drives and 48K of RAM. The Z80 and hardware emulations are written in 68020 assembly language, the application interface is written using C.

Here's a link to his web page, so you can go check it out for yourself.

Michael Riley's TRS-80 Emulator

I haven't run this one more than twice, so I can't say much for or against it. Here's some information taken out of the documentation in the .ZIP file which you can find on Ira's site. Michael Riley asks for a shareware donation in the docs, so I guess this one is shareware, also.

Currently emulated hardware:

  • 48K of memory.
  • Model I disk controller (single density, 96 tracks).
  • 4 Virtual disk drives.
  • Printer port (Can be routed to LPT 1, 2, or 3)
  • Serial port (Can be routed to Com 1, 2, 3, or 4)
  • Speaker Output.

Unlike other emulators, this program does not require the use of virtual disks for storage of files. This emulator contains a gateway to standard MSdos disks. Three file formats are supported: .CMD or command files, .BAS or packed BASIC files, and .IMG which are snapshots of the state of the emulator.

Ron Fries' TRSF80 Emulator

Ron Fries wrote this TRS-80 Model 1 emulator. This is another that I haven't used very much. It's available on Ira's site as well, though, so you can check it out for yourself to see how well you like it.

I have quoted some of the specs out of the documentation:

Hardware emulation:

  • 48K CPU with Z-80 microprocessor
  • Expansion Interface (currently only floppy drive emulation)
  • 4 80-track single-sided disk drives
  • Lowercase and numeric keypad upgrade
  • Audio support of TRS-80 cassette audio output through Sound Blaster

User options:

  • A Disk Menu which allows disks to be mounted on-line
  • A variety of screen colors
  • A configurable volume for sound output
  • A choice of keyboard layouts
  • An integrated debugger
  • An adjustable processor speed



As you can see, there are definitely a lot of emulators out there. Pick one you like and have fun with it. I sure do.



The TRS-80 Home Page created and maintained by Pete Cervasio

Copyright © 1998 Pete Cervasio