Articles in the "Networking" Category

The Network 4

The Network 4 was a classroom networking system sold by Radio Shack that was popular in computer labs in the mid-1980’s. It allowed one computer used by a teacher to be connected to up to 63 student computers. The Network 4 was based around the TRS-80 Model 4, well after MS-DOS computers became more common. It was probably one of the biggest reasons the TRS-80 Model 4D remained in the Radio Shack catalog until 1990.

In the early days of microcomputers, schools were viewed as a major market for computers. The Radio Shack Education Division, formed in 1980, aggressively promoted the use of computers in schools. In 1985, they stated that “Radio Shack is the leading marketer of microcomputers to schools, with more TRS-80 computers in America’s schools than any other brand.”

Radio Shack had been pushing the idea of connecting computers in schools since 1980 under the name “TRS‑80 Network”:

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The Network 3 Controller

The Radio Shack Network 3 Controller (catalog number 26-1212) was a networking system designed for use in classrooms. First appearing in the 1983 catalog, the Network 3 Controller cost $599.00. Unlike the earlier Network I> and Network 2 Controllers, which worked with more than one type of TRS-80 computer, the Network 3 Controller only supported the Model III or Model 4 in Model III mode.

From the description in a 1983 Radio Shack catalog:

The Network 3 Controller enables up to 16 Model III student stations to choose from lessons stored on a teacher’s “host” system. This frees the instructor from repeatedly loading programs into individual stations. And scores are automatically stored on the host disk for later review as lessons that generate student record keeping are completed. The Network 3 also allows computer science students to learn Disk BASIC on a non-disk Model III. That means you get the features of a disk-equipped computer, but at about half the price!

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The Network I Controller

The Radio Shack Network I Controller (catalog number 26-1210) was an early networking system for the TRS-80. Introduced on March 1, 1980, the Network I Controller (originally called the TRS-80 Model I Network I) cost $499.00 and was primarily designed for classroom use.

The Network I concept, described as “teacher-centric,” was based around a disk-based Model I (used by a teacher) connected through a Network I Controller and cassette cables to cassette-based Model I’s (used by students). Up to sixteen student computers could be connected over a distance of up to thirty feet. From the announcement in the TRS-80 Microcomputer News:

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ARCNET, which stands for Attached Resource Computer NETwork, is a networking standard that was created by Datapoint Communications in 1976. It was one of the first networking systems used by personal computers and provided a way for multiple computers to share printers and files. One of the primary advantage of ARCNET at the time was that it was substantially cheaper than its competitors, including Ethernet.

Radio Shack sold Arcnet cards and hardware for the Model II/12/16/6000 series starting in 1982. Arcnet cards were planned for the Model III and 4 but were never released. Two remnants of that planned support are the four functions labeled “Reserved for Arcnet” in the Programmer’s Guide to TRSDOS 6 and an Arcnet boot error message in the Model 4P ROM.

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