Matthew Reed's

The Radio Shack Speaker-Amplifier

The Radio Shack Speaker-Amplifier (catalog number 277-1008) was a small 9-volt battery-powered speaker with volume control that had many different uses. In the TRS-80 world, it was the recommended way to hear sound in TRS-80 Model I/III/4 games. The Speaker-Amplifier (or Amplifier-Speaker) was sold for almost 50 years, from 1968 to 2017. It cost $6.95 in 1968 and that price increased to $11.99 by the time it was discontinued. Although it always used the same model number, there many different designs and different names over the years:

  • Realistic Micro-Sonic Speaker-Amplifier from 1968 to 1980
  • Archer Mini-Amplifier-Speaker from 1980 to 1998
  • RadioShack Mini Amplifier-Speaker from 1998 to 2017

Blackjack / Backgammon

By 1979, the TRS-80 Model I was regarded as having the largest software library of any microcomputer on the market. But when the Model I was introduced in 1977, it had only five pieces of software available. Only one of those was bundled with the computer: Blackjack/Backgammon, also known as Game Package.

Radio Shack’s original August 1977 press release for the TRS-80 mentioned that “a variety of game programs will be available, including blackjack and backgammon.”


The TRS-80 Editor/Assembler (catalog number 26-2002), better known as EDTASM, was an assembly language programming tool for the cassette TRS-80 Model I. It was introduced in 1978 and cost $29.95. EDTASM was such a common tool that its name (and associated file format) became a kind of shorthand for TRS-80 assembler.

EDTASM was written by Mark Chamberlin of Microsoft and licensed to Radio Shack. A Radio Shack catalog stated:

Microsoft, an industry leader in systems software, has developed this program … so you can expect the ultimate in editing features.

Monty Plays Monopoly

Monty Plays Monopoly was a “computer opponent program” that allowed a TRS-80 owner to play the popular Monopoly board game. There were two TRS-80 versions of Monty Plays Monopoly:

  • The original 1980 version by Ritam Corporation of Fairfield, Iowa, which was available for the 16K cassette and 32K disk Model I. This version was distributed by Personal Software. (Personal Software, later renamed VisiCorp, was better known for their VisiCalc spreadsheet.) Ritam also sold a version for the Apple II for both cassette and disk.
  • Ritam Corporation also licensed Monty Plays Monopoly to Tandy Corporation. This version (catalog number 26-1952) cost $34.95 and seems to have been released in 1982. It was only available for the 32K disk Model III. This is the most common TRS-80 version.

Unlike later Monopoly programs, Monty Plays Monopoly wasn’t designed to replace the board game but to supplement it. In fact, it requires “the board and all the equipment that comes with the game”, according to the manual.

Introduction to TRS-80 Graphics

Introduction to TRS-80 Graphics (catalog number 62-2063), also known as TRS-80 Graphics, was a book describing how to make best use of the block graphics of the TRS-80 Model I. It was written by Don Inman and cost $5.95 from Radio Shack. Like many of the books sold by Radio Shack, there were two editions of the book with two different covers: one was sold by Radio Shack and the other was sold by dilithium Press. (The name dilithium was intentionally lowercase.) Other than the covers, the books were identical.

The focus of Introduction to TRS-80 Graphics was entirely on “understanding the graphics capabilities of the TRS-80 computer using Level I BASIC.” As the book stated: “No attempt is made to teach programming in BASIC.” A dilithium Press advertisement described it this way:

For those who want to do more with graphics, this excellent self-instruction text provides a complete introduction to the basics of graphics programming using dozens of examples.


T-BUG (catalog number 26-2001), also known as TBUG, was a machine language monitor and debugger for the TRS-80 Model I. It cost $14.95 and came on a cassette with separate versions for Level I and Level II BASIC. (The T-BUG debugger shouldn’t be confused with the Tandy Business Users Group, which was also known as T-BUG.)

Described by some as the “standard” TRS-80 debugger, T-BUG provided an inexpensive way for TRS-80 owners to learn about and experiment with assembly language. Most books about TRS-80 assembly language, such as Earles L. McCaul’s TRS-80 Assembly Language Made Simple and William Barden’s TRS-80 Assembly Language Programming, assumed that the reader owned T-BUG.

TRS-80 Mailgram

TRS-80 Mailgram (catalog number 26-1564) was a software package that allowed sending Western Union Mailgram messages directly from a TRS-80 Model I or Model III. It was introduced in late 1979 and cost $39.95, not including a Western Union account (which cost an additional $50.00) and per message fees.

The Mailgram service was introduced by Western Union in 1970. Mailgram worked by transferring digital messages to a location closer to the recipient, printing them out, and then mailing them using the postal mail. The process was described this way in a Western Union advertisement from a 1972 Life magazine:

Just call a number shown below (toll-free from most phones). Western Union will transmit your message electronically to a post office near your addressee. And the next business day your Mailgram will be delivered by regular letter carrier.

80 Micro's Review Guide

80 Micro (originally 80 Microcomputing) was the most popular of the TRS-80 magazines. The book 80 Micro’s Review Guide collected over 500 reviews that were published in 80 Micro during its first three years (1980 to 1983). The reviews (which were abridged) were divided into three broad categories: software, hardware, and books. They were further divided into 27 finer categories, such as word processor, disk drives, and modems.

The back cover stated:

The reviews are taken from the pages of 80 Micro magazine, the leading source of information in the TRS-80 world. Authors include some of the most knowledgeable people in microcomputing, including William Barden, Dan Robinson, Dennis Báthory-Kitsz, Terry Kepner, and Jake Commander.