The late, great TRS-80 - hey, they wrote a book!

Allison ajp166 at
Sat Jul 7 19:05:04 CDT 2007

>Subject: Re: The late, great TRS-80 - hey, they wrote a book!
>   From: Fred Cisin <cisin at>
>   Date: Sat, 07 Jul 2007 16:05:20 -0700 (PDT)
>     To: "General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts" <cctalk at>
>On Sat, 7 Jul 2007 scheefj at wrote:
>How do you spell shill?
>Lighten up on the hard sell.
>> All,
>> I cannot believe that after two weeks and about 40 messages, no one
>> actually responded to Theresa's actual message. Instead, from the first
>> "reply" you all were off arguing inane stuff like whether English
>> measure units are better than something else. You idiots! </flame>
>> If you doubt that the TRS-80 Model 1 was, as Theresa claimed in her
>> original message, the "first off-the-shelf home computer", then I
>> respectfully suggest that you READ THE BOOK!
>I was going to buy a copy of that book to add to the circulation
>collection.  Your flame resulted in deleting it from the acquisition list.
>We were there.
>The responses were NOT about "English measure units".  They were extensive
>(and sometimes silly) disagreements about how "first", "Off-the-shelf",
>and "home computer" were defined.  It takes some very creative definitions
>to be able to assign that honor to TRS80.
>Theresa's definitions were barely defensible!
>Some of us, (Allison, etc.) were responsible for major design decisions.
>Some of us remember more detail than was found by the authors of
>"interview" books.  Such as the time when RS said that they would be
>marketing an S100 adapter.  Or the bad connections with the serial board.
>Or the multiple iterations of patches on top of kludges trying to get the
>CPU to E.I. cabling to work reliably.  Or (mostly Coco) when RS declared
>that because "RS232" stood for "Radio Shack 232", that it was thus open to
>changes at the whim of RS.
>Some of us are tired of "history" with a "light style" (no technical
>details and/or no attempt to proof technical aspects)
>Some of us are tired of undefined and ill-defined disputable "firsts".
>Grumpy Ol' Fred     		cisin at

Right on Fred.

Besides the first off the shelf is more like the CDC160 or PDP-8.
For that fact AppleII was even before the TRS80.  There were several
fully assembled machines that predate the TRS80 some were even more 

Frist what?  First home computer for under $1000? First sold through 
a major chain?  The late 60s through yesterday have been full of first 
in some area or another when we talk about computers.

As for me when I'd first seen the title I hit delete as the TRS80
was an interesing and common oddity.  It succeeded (that is it sold many)
despite design flaws, outright bugs, and production teething pains.  If 
anything I'd conclude little about the TRS80 and more about how hungry 
the market was for a computing solution that could be applied as an 
appliance or tool rather than technotoy.  The real story if one is 
to be less technical is how the market progressed from PDP-8 to the Mark8
and beyond MITS to the more finished machines that could do basic 
accounting, write and print a letter or play a decent game.  Computing 
and the machine makers tried to answer the buring question of what does 
the computer consumer want or need to be a useful tool they would buy? 
>From that perspective what MITS, APPLE or RS (and many others) did on 
their own has less significance than the combined effect of getting 
computers from behind plate glass and in front fo the guy that ways to
know how many things to stock for the next big sale weekend.

KO was right, people didn't want computers, they wanted infomation 
appliances. All the so called firsts were only steps to that end.
The end remarkably is the same as when the Gutenberg Bible was 
first printed, rapid ready access to information, with information 
being THE commodity.  

Just my two cents, but hey what do I know.


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