The late, great TRS-80 - hey, they wrote a book!
scheefj at netscape.net
scheefj at netscape.net
Sat Jul 7 12:43:37 CDT 2007
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'm about three quarters thru reading (my signed copy of) David and
Theresa's book. It covers a part of computer history that has gone
almost totally unreported for all these years. "Priming the Pump" is
both a history and a memoir, in that it is written by people who were
directly involved in many of the events about which they are writing.
I'll write a full review for next month's DACS.DOC. The book is written
in a "light style" similar, I suspect, to the original TRS-80
programming manual written by David Lien. (If you don't think that's
correct, don't reply here until you have read the book.) The book is
absolutely packed with information including the 6-page index. The
bibliography references many of the books I've read and consider to be
good resources (ie: the authors did original research).
The bottom line is that this is a book well worth buying, reading, and
then keeping on your shelf as a reference. Also, please do not question
the Welsh's credentials as vintage enthusiasts - there is a picture in
the book of their daughter taken at VCF in 2000, and they came to VCF
East this year (where I bought my copy of their book).
theresa at explainamation.com wrote:
> The True Story of Microcomputer Pioneers
> 2007 is the 30th Anniversary of the TRS-80!
> Only $19.95
> 348 pages, with full Index
> 121 illustrations
> Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Microcomputer Enthusiasts Helped Spark the
> PC Revolution takes you back to the largely unknown origins of personal
> We wrote this book from personal experience, since we were part of the
> community of small software entrepreneurs from those days.
> The First Off-the-Shelf Microcomputer
> We tell the story of how Steve Leininger, working alone in an old
> saddle factory in Fort Worth, built the first TRS-80; its total development
> costs were less than $150,000. He had to make a product that could be sold
> for a price Radio Shack customers could afford. Yet no one had ever sold a
> complete off-the-shelf mass market personal computer before.
> The TRS-80 took the microcomputer from an expensive device built by
> electronic hobbyists to something anyone could buy and operate. Introduced
> in August 1977, the TRS-80 Model I from Tandy Corporation was sold in Radio
> Shack's 3500 stores across the nation for the modest price of $599.95. It
> all began in the late 1970s when a computer hobbyist at Tandy Corporation,
> Don French, suggested to his bosses that they should build and sell a
> computer. The Tandy managers were dubious that anyone would buy it, but they
> paid a visit to Silicon Valley and finally hired a young engineer, Steve
> Leininger, to come to Ford Worth and build a computer. Leininger siezed an
> opportunity to do hands-on work with the new microchips that hobbyists were
> using to build their own computers. The result of his efforts was the
> revolutionary TRS-80 Model I, a product so successful that Tandy Corporation
> found itself overwhelmed with orders it was not ready to fill.
> But as eager customers finally got their hands on their very own
> computer, for the first time, they could experiment with software. Now
> anyone could affordably use word processing, spreadsheets, accounting,
> database and other kinds of software... as soon as someone wrote programs to
> perform those functions and made them available. And enterprising
> individuals working in basements and garages did create those programs. By
> the early 1980s, as the first wave of software entrepreneurs sold their
> wares through the bulging pages of 80 Micro magazine, customers had a big
> choice of software.
> The Real Story, From the People Who Lived It
> In our case, I (David Welsh) was one of those self-taught programmers.
> My word processor, Lazy Writer, was sold worldwide to enthusiastic fans who
> were eager to dump their typewriters. My wife, Theresa, created our product
> literature, dealt with dealers and customers and managed our office. These
> were extraordinary years, when software was new and everyone was learning.
> It was before Microsoft was a household word, and when software generally
> had only one author. Programmers were proud of fitting useful features into
> limited memory, and some became stars.
> Incredible Stories, All True!
> a.. John Roach, Tandy's product manager, got an agreement from
> Charles Tandy to build 3500 units after Leininger demonstrated the
> prototype; this was exactly the number of stores they had -- Roach figured
> if no one bought the computers, at least the stores could use them. Don
> French, a true believer, predicted they'd sell 50,000 the first year and
> urged the company to gear up the factory for mass production. Tandy
> managers, thinking they could never sell that many, were surprised when, in
> the weeks after the introduction, the Tandy switchboard was paralyzed with
> over 15,000 calls from people wanting to order a TRS-80. In the first year,
> over 250,000 people went on waiting lists to buy a TRS-80!
> b.. Tandy contracted with Randy Cook to create a Disk Operating
> System (TRSDOS) for its next generation TRS-80, which would come with floppy
> disk drives. The company agreed Cook would retain ownership of the code. But
> Cook, believing Tandy violated the agreement, created a rival DOS which he
> sold through his own company. Clueless Tandy managers found Cooks' name
> embedded in the TRSDOS code.
> c.. TRSDOS replacements appeared - five of them - and programmers
> made up their own homespun magazine ads touting their products great
> features and attacking their rivals' products in the pages of magazines like
> 80 Micro, the most popular of many publications devoted to the TRS-80.
> d.. Wayne Green, publisher of popular computer magazines, promised
> to "editorially break" Radio Shack because they would not carry his 80 Micro
> magazine in their stores; his vitriolic column often lambasted Radio Shack
> CEO John Roach.
> e.. Bill Schroeder, a successful businessman, bankrolled Logical
> Systems, Inc. and sold Tandy on LDOS as the company-sponsored TRSDOS
> replacement. A state-of-the-art headquarters and a pile of money followed
> the lucrative contract, but once he sensed the coming demise of the TRS-80,
> Schroeder simply shut down his company, a move he came to regret.
> f.. Scott Adams created popular Adventure games for the TRS-80 and
> other early microcomputers, became a celebrity in the magazines, but went
> broke when he produced too many game cartridges for a computer that died in
> the marketplace.
> g.. Along with microcomputers, robots were also hot. Meet the robots
> of the 1980s - and the man who said we were all going to have mechanical men
> in our homes by the year 2000. Unlike the PC revolution, the robot
> revolution fizzled.
> h.. A notorious scam artist preyed on the gullibility of
> microcomputer enthusiasts, destroying the Southern California Computer
> Society with a Ponzi scheme, then bilking TRS-80 owners out of thousands of
> dollars with magazine ads from a bogus company called World Power Systems
> showing phony products.
> Get the real story, based on interviews with microcomputer pioneers
> like Steve Leininger, Don French, Randy Cook, Mark Lautenschlauger, Bill
> Schroeder, Ed Juge and others. They tell their story for the first time,
> captured by the authors, who lived through it all.
> Visit www.microcomputerpioneers.com to read excerpts and order your
> NOTES: You can get the book from us or from amazon.com.
> We thank all the people who emailed us about the book. We really
> appreciate your interest and your comments. Please forward this note to
> anyone who might be interested in Priming the PUmp.
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