Articles in the "General" Category

The 80 Micro Young Programmer's Contest

For three years starting in 1982, the TRS-80 magazine 80 Micro held a contest to encourage young people to program. It was known as the “80 Micro Young Programmer’s Contest.” Anyone under the age of 18 could submit a program for a chance at winning prizes. 80 Micro published the winning contest entries in the February issue each year.

The entries, which numbered over 200 the first two years, were judged by the 80 Micro editorial staff based on five categories: programming elegance, documentation, originality, error-trapping, and usefulness. Most of the winning entries were written for the TRS-80 Model I and III, but there were also several for the Color Computer, and even one each for the Model II, Model 4, and Model 100.

80 Remarks

“80 Remarks” was a column that ran in 80 Microcomputing from the first issue in January 1980 until September 1983. It was written by Wayne Green, the publisher and founder of 80 Microcomputing. The column name was shortened to just “Remarks” in October 1982.

Wayne Green published several magazines at the time and wrote a different column in each. His column was “Never Say Die” in 73, “Publisher’s Remarks” in Kilobaud Microcomputing, “Off Color” in Hot CoCo, “Hot Cider” in inCider, and “80 Remarks” in 80 Microcomputing.

Wayne Green set the tone for “80 Remarks” with his first column:

First, I want to make it clear that this magazine is not connected with Radio Shack or Tandy. I call ‘em as I see ‘em and don’t pull the punches. Where Radio Shack deserves credit, they’ll get it. Where I think they are screwing up, I’ll be blunt about that. I don’t ask that you like me–that’s your problem, not mine. I like you and I will be working for your best interests… and so will the magazine.

Model I Keybounce

After the introduction of Level II BASIC in 1978, many TRS-80 Model I users began noticing a curious behavior. Pressing a key on the keyboard would sometimes generate multiple identical characters on the screen, as if the key had been pressed more than once. At first, only one key would be affected, but later the problem would spread to more keys. The problem, known as keybounce, made typing very difficult and became known as the Model I’s biggest flaw.

Radio Shack wrote about the problem in the November 1978 issue of the Radio Shack Microcomputer Newsletter (later known as the TRS-80 Microcomputer News):

Many of you have experienced what we call “Keybounce” – multiple letters from one keystroke. In almost every case it is traceable to contaminated key contacts. It can be dust, dirt, cigarette smoke, or almost any kind of residue. Usually, this doesn’t occur except in Level II computers, and after some use.

Ask Tandy

“Ask Tandy” was a column that appeared in 80 Micro from the November 1984 to the September 1985 issues. It was described as “a column in which the Tandy people in Ft. Worth answer your questions about their products and services.” “Ask Tandy” was an official source of TRS-80 information from the notoriously secretive Radio Shack.

Because 80 Micro was the most popular magazine (by far) for Radio Shack TRS-80 users, cooperation from Radio Shack might have seemed like an obvious idea. But the relationship between Radio Shack and 80 Micro had always been strained, particularly while Wayne Green was still publisher.

80 Applications

“80 Applications” was a popular column that first appeared in the January 1980 premiere issue of 80 Microcomputing. Written by Dennis Báthory-Kitsz, “80 Applications” covered a wide range of TRS-80 related hardware projects and ideas.

The first “80 Applications” column was only one page but it soon grew to become one of the most detailed columns in 80 Microcomputing. As that initial column promised:

In the coming months, this column will present unusual applications of the TRS-80 in everyday and not-so-everyday life. Hardware and software extensions and fixes will be described, and some of the fascinating inner workings of this first computer-for-the-people will be revealed.

Fun House

“Fun House” was one of the best remembered columns that ran in 80 Micro magazine. It was written by Richard Ramella, author of the 1982 book Computer Carnival: Sixty Programs for Starters". “Fun House” first appeared in the September 1982 issue of 80 Micro and ran until April 1984, with one gap for the February 1984 issue.

Computers were still a scary unknown for many at the time and “Fun House” encouraged people to have fun with computers. Ramella used his gentle style to focus on a different theme each month:

Is This the End of Radio Shack?

News organizations are reporting that the stock of RadioShack (formerly known as Radio Shack) will soon be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. Everyone seems to expect that bankruptcy will be the next step. Although it’s still possible that someone will step forward to keep the company going after the bankruptcy, it’s more likely that the stores and brand will soon be shut down.

This is hardly surprising, but sad nonetheless. Even though Radio Shack hasn’t sold its own computers since 1993, it was still a direct link back to the TRS-80. Radio Shack’s demise will leave only Apple as the last remaining company responsible for the “1977 trinity” of the Radio Shack TRS-80, Apple II, and the Commodore PET.

Wayne Green (1922-2013)

I was saddened to learn that Wayne Green died on September 13, 2013. Longtime TRS-80 enthusiasts will remember Wayne Green as the founder and publisher of 80 Micro, the most famous and best remembered TRS-80 magazine.

Wayne Green had a long history in publishing. He began his first newsletter, Amateur Radio Frontiers, in 1951, reflecting his lifelong interest in amateur radio (his callsign was W2NSD). He became editor of CQ, an amateur radio magazine, in 1955. He started his own amateur radio magazine, 73 (also called 73 Amateur Radio Today), in 1960. 73 was his longest running magazine, continuing until 2003.

LDOS and LS-DOS: 2012 and Beyond – Updated Patch Files

Garry Howarth recently discovered a bug in my LS-DOS 2012 date extension patches. He found a particular disk that would crash the DIR command after installing the date extension patches.

As it turned out, displaying a directory of a disk containing a large file with directory extents on different sectors could sometimes overwrite the patch code, leading to a crash. I needed to rearrange the DIR patch code to avoid this potential problem. This required a new version of the LS-DOS date extension patches.

News From Kitchen Table Software, Inc.

One of the most popular columns in the TRS-80 magazine 80 Microcomputing wasn’t about the TRS-80 at all. In fact, despite appearing to be a news column, it wasn’t about real products or companies. It was “News From Kitchen Table Software, Inc.”, a very amusing humor column introduced by David Busch in the July 1981 issue.

“News From Kitchen Table Software” followed the fictional company Kitchen Table, Inc. (also known as KTI), described as “United States' largest fictitious supplier of space-age computer products.” Kitchen Table was founded by the equally fictitious Scott Nolan Hollerith.