Articles in the "Books" Category

TRSDOS Commented

There were many popular books published back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that examined the TRS-80 Model I in detail. But there were far fewer books that served the same purpose for the TRS-80 Model III.

TRSDOS Commented, published by Soft Sector Marketing with “decoding and data entry” by Rick Papo, was one of those few. The book’s cover described it as “a must for every Mod III owner.” It included a complete disassembly for the code comprising Model III TRSDOS (minus Disk BASIC) in much the same way as the IJG book TRSDOS 2.3 Decoded and Other Mysteries did for Model I TRSDOS. One notable difference was that the disassembled listings in TRSDOS 2.3 Decoded and Other Mysteries were published with full permission from Tandy Corporation. Soft Sector Marketing had no such permission and included this disclaimer at the beginning of TRSDOS Commented:

The Custom TRS-80 and Other Mysteries

The Custom TRS-80 and Other Mysteries is one of the best remembered TRS-80 books. It was written by Dennis Báthory-Kitsz and published by IJG, Inc (also known as the International Jewelry Guild). The first printing sold out in less than a month and the book ended up selling 50,000 copies around the world in three printings. The Custom TRS-80 and Other Mysteries (which was volume 3 in IJG’s TRS-80 Information Series) offers an interesting and entertaining look at the hardware and software inside the TRS-80 Model I, the custom TRS-80 of the title.

Dennis Báthory-Kitsz was well known for his TRS-80 writing, including his articles in The Alternate Source and his 80 Applications column in 80 Microcomputing. (Some of the information in The Custom TRS-80 and Other Mysteries had previously appeared in his Alternate Source articles.)

MOD III ROM Commented

There were many books written that described and in some cases disassembled the TRS-80 Model I BASIC ROM. A few of the more famous examples were Microsoft BASIC Decoded and Other Mysteries from IJG, Inc., The B00K from Insiders Software Consultants, Pathways Through the ROM from SoftSide Publications, and Level II ROMs from Tab Books. But there were far fewer books serving the same purpose for the TRS-80 Model III BASIC ROM.

One of the best sources of information about the Model III ROM was TRS‑80 ROM Routines Documented by Jack Decker, which was published in 1983. But probably the best known was MOD III ROM Commented from Soft Sector Marketing. MOD III ROM Commented was published in 1981 with two printings. It contains a very detailed disassembly of the Model III BASIC ROM. As the book cover promised: “Not a rehash of old information, but an explanation of ROMS in the latest machine from Tandy.”

The TRS-80 Applications Software Sourcebook

The TRS-80 Applications Software Sourcebook, also known as the Applications Sourcebook, was a book containing short descriptions and information about third-party application software for the TRS-80. It was published by Radio Shack with at least eight volumes from 1980 to 1987.

Any publisher could buy a listing in the TRS-80 Applications Software Sourcebook. A listing cost $10.00 and included the name of the program, the price, a short description, TRS-80 compatibility information, and ordering details. A listing could only mention one program and there were no discounts for multiple listings.

Radio Shack first announced the TRS-80 Applications Software Sourcebook in the March/April 1980 issue of the TRS-80 Microcomputer News:

BASIC Computer Games

BASIC Computer Games (ISBN 0-89480-052-3) was the first and most popular of a category of books containing games written in BASIC for typing into a computer. It was also the first computer book to sell more than a million copies. Many people took their first steps as programmers by typing in and modifying the programs in this book.

BASIC Computer Games and its sequel, More BASIC Computer Games (also known as BASIC Computer Games Volume II) were created by David Ahl, the founder and publisher of Creative Computing magazine. Both books were very popular and were translated into German (BASIC Computer Spiele and BASIC Computer Spiele: Band 2), French (Jeux D’Ordinateur en BASIC and Nouveaux Jeux D’Ordinateur en BASIC), and a three-volume Danish edition (BASIC Computerspil). Both BASIC Computer Games and More BASIC Computer Games had TRS-80 specific editions that were sold both by Radio Shack and Creative Computing Press.

TRS-80 Assembly Language Made Simple

There were many excellent books written for people who wanted to learn about TRS-80 Model I assembly language programming, such as TRS-80 Assembly Language Programming by William Barden or Programming the Z80 by Rodnay Zaks. But my favorite book was a less famous one called TRS-80 Assembly Language Made Simple by Earles L. McCaul. I think TRS-80 Assembly Language Made Simple was the best book for teaching not just the specifics of assembly language, but also the mindset for effective assembly language programming.

According to an account by Earles L. McCaul, TRS-80 Assembly Language Made Simple came about through his work as an instructor at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona. At the time, Arizona Western College offered only two microcomputer programming courses: one for BASIC and another for Intel 8080 machine language. He proposed creating an “intermediary” course that dealt with programming in assembly language for the TRS-80. His proposal was accepted by the college on the condition that he find an appropriate textbook for the course.

CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer

When most people think of the Radio Shack TRS-80, they probably think of the TRS-80 Model I, III, and 4. But Radio Shack also sold another computer line, the TRS-80 Color Computer.

CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy’s Underdog Computer by Boisy Pitre and Bill Loguidice explores the somewhat forgotten history of the Color Computer line. It tells the story of the Radio Shack Color Computer (fondly nicknamed the CoCo), starting with its development and introduction in 1980. It also contains additional information that helps to put the Color Computer within the broader context of computers at the time, including a chapter about the popular RAINBOW magazine for Color Computer users. The book doesn’t end when Radio Shack discontinued the Color Computer 3 in 1990; it continues with more stories about the companies and people who still supported the Color Computer after the “official” end.

The TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids

The TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids (later renamed The Tandy Computer Whiz Kids) was a comic book series that was created by the Radio Shack Education Comic Book Program. The series consisted of eleven issues, running from 1980 to 1992, which were distributed for free to schools. Any teacher (writing on school letterhead) could request a free packet of fifty comic books from Radio Shack.

The comic books focused on classmates Alec and Shanna and their teacher, Ms. Wilson. Alec and Shanna were the so-called TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids. Ms. Wilson, her students, and the many visitors to the classroom all made frequent use of many different Radio Shack products.

Alien Defense Commented

Alien Defense Commented is an unusual book that contains the complete source code listing for the Soft Sector Marketing game Alien Defense (which was still being sold at the time the book was published). It was written by Larry Ashmun, the author of Alien Defense, and was intended for programmers looking for “details of one approach to game writing.” As the advertisements promised:

Never Before Has Anyone Sold a Book Like This!

If you write in machine language; if you have thought of writing a machine language game; if you ever just wondered what a machine language program looked like in its uncompiled form – this is your book!

TRS-80 Micro Computer Technical Reference Handbook

The TRS-80 Micro Computer Technical Reference Handbook (catalog number 26–2103), more commonly called the TRS-80 Technical Reference Handbook (even in the Radio Shack catalog), was the official technical reference manual for the TRS-80 Model I. The first edition, which cost $9.95, was printed in 1978. A second edition, revised to reflect later updates to the Model I, was printed in 1982 (one year after the Model I was discontinued).'