Articles in the "Software" Category

Tiny Pascal

Tiny Pascal, also known as “Tiny” Pascal, was a popular programming language for microcomputers. It was created by Kin-Man Chung and Herbert Yuen in 1978 and first described in a three-part series of articles published in BYTE. There were at least four different versions of Tiny Pascal for the TRS-80, although the version sold by Radio Shack was the most popular.

Tiny Pascal was a subset of the programming language Pascal. It contained most of the features of Pascal but was small enough to run well on a cassette-based TRS-80. Tiny Pascal was often used to teach Pascal programming and the Radio Shack catalog described it as a “great introduction to structured programming.”

The first version of Tiny Pascal appeared in a three-part series of articles in BYTE titled “A ‘Tiny’ Pascal Compiler.”

Talking Eliza

Eliza (catalog number 26-1908), also known as Talking Eliza, was a TRS-80 Model I and Model III implementation of Dr. Joseph Weizenbaum’s famous ELIZA program. It was introduced by Radio Shack in 1979 for a price of $14.95. Eliza was written by Robert A. Arnstein and was licensed to Radio Shack through his company, Device Oriented Games. One unusual feature of the program was its ability to speak its responses using Radio Shack’s TRS-80 Voice Synthesizer, hence the name Talking Eliza.

The original ELIZA program was created by Dr. Joseph Weizenbaum. He described it in an article “ELIZA – A Computer Program For the Study of Natural Language Communication Between Man and Machine” that was published in the Communications of the ACM in January 1966:

EnhComp

EnhComp was a BASIC compiler written by Philip Oliver for the TRS-80 Model III and Model 4. (Longtime TRS-80 users probably remember Philip Oliver for his excellent game Scarfman.) Oliver wrote two versions of EnhComp: the original published by the Cornsoft Group of Indianapolis, Indiana in 1980 and the more popular second version (whose full name was the Enhanced BASIC Compiler Development System) sold by MISOSYS of Sterling, Virginia starting in 1986. Unlike most other TRS-80 BASIC compilers (such as Simutek’s ZBASIC), EnhComp wasn’t primarily focused on compatibility with interpreted BASIC but on providing a new enhanced version of BASIC.

ED-IT for the Model 4

ED-IT for the Model 4 is a very powerful text editor for the TRS-80 Model 4. It was written by Mark Reed and was first released on June 17, 1991. ED-IT cost $17.95 and was distributed by Computer News 80 of Casper, Wyoming.

There were many capable editors for the Model 4. Most Z80 assembler packages included their own editors (ALEDIT in ALDS and SAID in MRAS were notable examples). The LS-DOS 6.3 operating system even included a simple text editor named TED/CMD.

But ED-IT contains many useful features for programmers and is suitable for use with multiple programming languages or simple word processing. Despite its many features, it has one of the largest text buffers of any Model 4 editor. As Harold J. Hendriks wrote in the January 1996 issue of Computer News 80:

ED-IT is the CHAMP when it comes to editing large files. It can accept, load and edit ASCII text files up to 47K in size.

The File Cabinet

The File Cabinet was the largest collection of TRS-80 public domain and shareware software ever assembled. At its height, it was described as offering “15,000 programs for the Model I/III/4/4P/4D.” Disks from the collection were sold from 1987 to 2009.

The File Cabinet was started in 1987 by Tim Sewell, a sysop of the Tandy RoundTable on the GEnie online service. It began as Sewell’s collection of TRS-80 files submitted to GEnie and that he had downloaded from BBS’s around the country. He described the File Cabinet as a “hobby that I enjoy doing” in the November 1989 issue of Computer News 80:

The File Cabinet was created out of a love for this computer and the chance through magazines who believed in my project to get software into the hands of the people who don’t have access to or use a modem to call BBS systems.

Level II BASIC

When the TRS-80 Model I was introduced on August 3, 1977, it came with Level I BASIC, a 4K BASIC interpreter, in ROM. Level I BASIC was created by Steve Leininger, the designer of the TRS-80, who based it on the public domain “Palo Alto Tiny BASIC” that Dr. Li-Chen Wang wrote in 1976.

But Radio Shack’s plan was always to upgrade to a more advanced Model I BASIC later. The very first TRS-80 brochure said that “planned expansion includes an extended Radio Shack Level II BASIC.” It was mentioned again in the first issue of the TRS-80 Microcomputer News (then known as the Radio Shack Microcomputer Newsletter) in 1977:

A Level II BASIC is now being developed. This will be a 12K BASIC with every feature you ever imagined – PEEK and POKE, PRINT USING, transcendental functions, advanced string handling, etc. It should be available on ROM soon.

Radio Shack Games Packs

Most people considered the Big Five Software games to be the finest games ever written for the TRS-80 Model I and III. They were sold directly through Big Five Software and were resold by many other companies.

Radio Shack also sold Big Five Software games in two collections compiled by Cogito Software. Games Pack Two and Games Pack Three first appeared in the 1984 Radio Shack catalog and contained four Big Five games: Defense Command, Stellar Escort, Cosmic Fighter and Meteor Mission 2. As the packaging stated: “You can look forward to hours of fun for the family, friends, or even the gang at the office.”

Both collections were sold on cassette and self-booting disk. Only minor modifications were made to the games, the biggest being that all copyright messages were changed to “Licensed to Tandy Corporation.

PRO-WAM

PRO-WAM (also known as PRO-NTO) is a collection of pop-up tools for LS-DOS/TRSDOS 6 on the TRS-80 Model 4. It was written by Karl Hessinger and Roy Soltoff and cost $59.95 when it was introduced in December 1984.

PRO-WAM was one of the few programs to require a Model 4 expanded to a full 128K of memory. In my opinion, it was one of the best uses of the extra memory and one of my favorite Model 4 utilities.

PRO-WAM was described in advertisements as a “Window Controller and Applications Manager.” It was inspired by the Borland program Sidekick, a terminate and stay resident personal information manager that was very popular at the time on the IBM PC. (PRO-WAM was also similar to Monte’s Window, written by Jim Stutsman, which was only available for Montezuma Micro CP/M.) Like Sidekick, PRO-WAM provided a set of simple, but useful, tools that could be popped up over a running program.

AIDS-III

AIDS-III, also known as MTC AIDS-III, was a very popular database system for the TRS-80 Model I, III, and II. Its unfortunate name (in retrospect) stood for Automated Information Directory System. AIDS-III was a highly regarded program and final member of the family of AIDS products.

Robert Fiorelli, the primary author of AIDS-III, described it not as a “database management system” but as a “data-management system”:

AIDS-III is a data-management system. This is different from a data-base management system. The former is generally faster, more flexible, and is suited for selecting and ordering information in a highly dynamic fashion. By contrast, the latter has higher capacity, is slower and more cumbersome, and is suited for easily accessing individual items of data. Think of it as the difference between driving a station wagon and a bus.

Microsoft Multiplan

Microsoft Multiplan was an early spreadsheet program and the first piece of application software from Microsoft to target end users. It was introduced in 1982 with versions for CP/M, MS-DOS, and the Apple II. Versions for many other computers, including various TRS-80 models, soon followed. Multiplan was the first (and for a while the only) third-party software package available when the Apple Macintosh was introduced in 1984.

Multiplan (sometimes called the Multiplan Electronic Worksheet) was a “second generation” spreadsheet, designed to compete with VisiCalc, the original (and incredibly popular) spreadsheet program. Multiplan was written by Douglas Klunder under the direction of Charles Simonyi, the head of Microsoft’s new application software group.