Articles in the "Sound" Category

The Radio Shack Speaker-Amplifier

The Radio Shack Speaker-Amplifier (catalog number 277-1008) was a small 9-volt battery-powered speaker with volume control that had many different uses. In the TRS-80 world, it was the recommended way to hear sound in TRS-80 Model I/III/4 games. The Speaker-Amplifier (or Amplifier-Speaker) was sold for almost 50 years, from 1968 to 2017. It cost $6.95 in 1968 and that price increased to $11.99 by the time it was discontinued. Although it always used the same model number, there many different designs and different names over the years:

  • Realistic Micro-Sonic Speaker-Amplifier from 1968 to 1980
  • Archer Mini-Amplifier-Speaker from 1980 to 1998
  • RadioShack Mini Amplifier-Speaker from 1998 to 2017

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Classical Mosquito!

Classical Mosquito! was a record of “neo-Baroque” music played entirely by a TRS-80 Model I. It was created by Robb Murray in 1983 and was one of the earliest records consisting solely of computer generated music. The Kids' World Almanac of Records and Facts in 1985 described Classical Mosquito! as “the first commercial record made entirely by computer.”

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Like many personal computers at the time, the TRS-80 Model I had fairly primitive built-in sound capabilities. That changed in 1980 with the introduction of the Orchestra-80, a small $79.95 unit that plugged into the TRS-80 and could play music with four simultaneous voices over a six octave range. Orchestra-80 was sold by Software Affair, Ltd., a company created by Bryan Eggers and Jon Bokelman. It became one of the best remembered hardware add-ons for the TRS-80.

Orchestra-80 had predecessors in two earlier kit products for S-100 computers. In 1977, Software Technology Corporation introduced the STC Music System, which featured “Musical Arrangements by Jon Bokelman.” In 1979, after the STC Music System was no longer available, California Software Co. introduced the Software Music Synthesis System. Also created by Jon Bokelman, the Software Music Synthesis System, or SMS, maintained the same syntax as the STC Music System, even though it was a completely different product.

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TRS-Opera, written by Richard Taylor, was an early TRS-80 music program. It was distributed by Acorn Software and sold for $9.95.

TRS-Opera is a BASIC program with an embedded machine language sound routine. The sound routine plays notes through the TRS-80 cassette port very rapidly, simulating more than one note at a time. The “opera” part of the name derives from the choice of music included with the program:

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