Articles in the "Books" Category

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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).'

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Writing BASIC Adventure Programs for the TRS-80

Adventure games were some of the earliest games written for computers and they were incredibly popular at the beginning of the microcomputer revolution. Despite this popularity, there were only a handful of books that showed how adventure games worked in detail or how to write one. In my opinion, the best book of this type was Writing BASIC Adventure Programs for the TRS-80 by Frank DaCosta. Published in 1982 by TAB Books, Writing BASIC Adventure Programs for the TRS-80 describes two different types of adventure games, with full listings that the reader could type in to the computer. (Both programs were also available through the mail from the author for $19.95 on either disk or tape.)

DaCosta devotes the main part of the book (the first ten chapters) to Basements and Beasties, a classic text adventure in the mold of William Crowther’s original Adventure. After describing how an adventure game works in general, DaCosta lays out the framework needed for a text adventure.

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TRS-80 Programs: 32 BASIC Programs for the TRS-80 (Level II) Computer

In the early days of microcomputers, books containing “type-in” BASIC programs were common. But probably the book series published for the widest range of computers was the “32 BASIC Programs” series, written by Tom Rugg and Phil Feldman and published by dilithium Press. (The name dilithium was intentionally lowercase.)

Each book contained thirty-two BASIC programs divided into six categories: applications, educational, graphics, game, mathematics, and miscellaneous. Some of the later books added seven extra programs spread across the same categories.

The text of each book was almost identical, sometimes with just the name of the computer changed. Of course, the programs themselves and the screenshots illustrating each program were necessarily different for each new computer.

The TRS-80 entry in the series was titled TRS-80 Programs: 32 BASIC Programs for the TRS-80 (Level II) Computer. Judging by the publication dates, it was the second book in the series, immediately following the Commodore PET version.

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The Creative TRS-80

Creative Computing was one of the longest running of the early microcomputer magazines, publishing from 1974 to 1985. Unlike most later microcomputer magazines, Creative Computing covered the entire range of personal computers, including the TRS-80, Atari, and Apple.

In 1983, Creative Computing Press published three books collecting computer-specific articles from the pages of Creative Computing. They targeted each book at a different computer market: The Creative Atari, The Creative Apple, and The Creative TRS-80.

The Creative TRS-80, edited by Ken Mazur with a preface by Creative Computing Associate Editor John J. Anderson, has over 100 articles and reviews from Creative Computing.

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