The late, great TRS-80

Brent Hilpert hilpert at
Sun Jun 24 02:16:12 CDT 2007

Alexandre Souza wrote:
> >> >      The First Off-the-Shelf Microcomputer
> >> Errrr.... wasn't that the PET 20001 ?
> > For a sutiable definition of miucrocomputer [1] I'd claim the honour goes
> > to the HP9830, about 5 years earlier.
>     Tony, was the HP9830 a computer you could enter a shop and exit with one
> on the arms?
>     I think the better definition of a "off-the-shelf" puter is a puter you
> can enter a shop, buy a system, bring it home. No special questions,
> training or instalation needed. And this should be a complete computer,
> something you would turn-on and use. Maybe the definiton of "off-the-shelf"
> is too vague
>     Greetz
>     Alexandre

The 9830 may fail on issues of affordability and (hence) availability &
popularity, but I'm with Tony on this, it was every bit as much an 'appliance
computer' as the later machines being discussed (Apple II, TRS80, PET). One
piece, plug it in, turn it on, and you have a BASIC prompt. Put in a cassette,
type LOAD <blah> and RUN (or press the LOAD key IIRC, I forget if there was a
single LOAD&RUN command/key).

One can argue over various criteria for 'firsts', but in general the 9830
seems to be an overlooked/underrepresented machine in these sorts of
assessments. Perhaps the lack of a CRT-type display results in it not being
recognised for what it is.

(The 9830 was the first machine I used/learned on (high school, mid-70s). I
asked a long-time math teacher about it at a high school open house a couple
of years ago and was told it was thrown out some where around the mid-80s. I
still have the thermal-paper printout of the game of "Animals" I wrote for it.)

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