80-U.S. Journal

written by Matthew Reed

80-U.S. Journal was the best remembered name for a TRS-80 magazine that was published by 80-Northwest Publishing from 1978 to 1984. It was also published under the names 80-Northwest Journal and Basic Computing. Until 1982, it was published bimonthly (six issues a year) but it increased to monthly (twelve issues a year) after that.

September/October 1978 issue of 80-Northwest Journal

September/October 1978 issue 80-Northwest Journal

80-Northwest Journal

80-Northwest Journal (sometimes called 80-NW Journal) was first published in 1978 with the September/October issue. The founder of the magazine, Irvin “Mike” Schmidt, described the reason behind the new publication in the first issue:

What, another computer magazine?

Why not? We feel there is a real need for a vehicle to exchange TRS-80 information, one that is dedicated exclusively to the TRS-80.

The first issue was 16 pages long and was formatted and printed on a TRS-80 Model I with 48K of memory, two disk drives, and a line printer.

The Northwest in the title referred to the location of the publisher (Tacoma, Washington). But that soon changed, as stated in the November/December 1978 issue:

Those of you from other than the Northwest need no be intimidated by our “regional” heading. Since we have spread to almost all of the fifty states, there is already a new logo on the drawing board (actually, it’s on a mini disk), with a “US” replacing the “NW”.

November/December 1979 issue of 80-U.S. Journal

November/December 1979 issue of 80-U.S. Journal

80-U.S. Journal

January/February 1979 was the first issue of the retitled 80-U.S. Journal (or 80-U.S.). The magazine remained at six issues a year but it kept expanding in size and scope. By the end of 1981, it had reached 172 pages with over 100 advertisers.

One of the more distinctive features of 80-U.S. Journal were the articles and drawings of Leo Christopherson. In fact, Android Nim, Leo Christopherson’s most famous TRS-80 game, originally appeared in the second issue of the magazine. His drawing were frequently featured in 80-U.S. Journal and a Christopherson android was used as a magazine mascot for several years. For a while, 80-NW Publishing (later 80-U.S. Software) sold a number of programs, most notably the Leo Christopherson games.

The articles in 80-U.S. Journal covered a wide range of topics. There were also several continuing columns, including:

  • “Captain 80” by Bob Liddil
  • “Tandy Topics” by Ed Juge
  • “@News” by Jim Perry and later Spencer Hall
  • “BASIC bits” by Thomas L. Quindry
  • “System/Command” by Phil Pilgrim and others

In 1982, 80-U.S Journal increased their publishing schedule to every month. Unlike 80 Micro, its primary competitor, 80-U.S Journal never restricted coverage in the magazine to specific TRS-80 models. To the final issue, they covered all TRS-80 models, including the Color Computers, the Model 100, and the Model II/12/16. This was frequently given as the magazine’s focus:

We are a monthly magazine covering all models and aspects of the TRS-80 microcomputers. Each issue contains a mix of articles and programs for every level of expertise in the computing field.

We have regular columns and departments to help both the beginning Color Computerist and the advanced Model III assembly language programmer. We make a special effort to make our publication understandable to beginners and advanced computerists alike.

September 1983 issue of Basic Computing

September 1983 issue of Basic Computing

Basic Computing

The name of the magazine changed again to Basic Computing with the July 1983 issue. The new name didn’t indicate a move away from the TRS-80; the motto remained the “TRS-80 User Journal.” The change away from 80-U.S Journal was made because the old name often led to it being mistaken for a travel magazine!

Basic Computing was printed on glossy paper and seemed to be actively targeting both new subscribers and newsstand distribution. In this period, Basic Computing absorbed several other TRS-80 magazines, including H&E Computronics and the LSI Journal. The added exposure led to a doubling in circulation in just one year. Despite that success (or perhaps because of it), Basic Computing abruptly ended with the March 1984 issue.

In many ways, 80-U.S. Journal reflected a different segment of the TRS-80 world than other magazines and I was sad to see it end. Although it never matched 80 Micro in terms of subscribers or advertisers, it certainly matched it in the enthusiasm of its readers and authors.

Categories: Magazines