TRS-80 Model I

Al Hartman alhartman at
Thu Feb 1 08:37:45 CST 2007

I have a HUGE softspot in my heart for the TRS-80 Model I, having purchased a 16k, Level I unit in December of 1978. A unit, I still own today,

I hated the keyboard too, even though I wasn't a typist, mostly because it bounced and I had to load a special keyboard de-bounce program to stop it from bouncing and getting duplicate keystrokes.

As I upgraded the unit over the years into a 48k Level II unit with several disk drives and a Percom (and later LNW) Doubler, I also upgraded the keyboard.

I was able to purchase through Tandy National Parts, the Model III style keyboard that came out on the Model I towards the end of it's run. This also had the added benefit of adding a keypad to the unit.

As to the plastic of the case, I guess in retrospect it was cheesy. But, being a kid at the time... It never bothered me. It was certainly no less cheesy than an Apple II or a VIC 20 or an Atari 400/800.

Some of the TRS-80 clones got it right I think... The LNW-80 (of which I'm a proud recent owner) and the Lobo Max-80 did a good job of making the computer less toy-like and more business like.

The PMC-80 from Dick Smith seemed even more fragile and toy-like, however.

As to the hardware design being none too exciting. I wouldn't know, not being a hardware guy at that level. Though, we had used the Dennis Bathory Kitsz book to hop up my Model I with LowerCase, Internal Speaker, Internal Alpha-Compatible Joystick Interface, High Speed (turbo) mod with tri-color LED to indicate Low, High, and Auto (High on most things, low on Cassette and Floppy access). Also, external reset button and composite video for an amber monitor.

Computers were fun in those days. I remember applying the zaps from 80-Microcomputing to a copy of Newdos 2.1 to speed up the disk stepping and amazing the salesman at my local Radio Shack at how much faster I could make their Model I boot up.

Those were the days...

Phila, PA

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