Articles in the "Telecommunications" Category

PT-210 Portable Data Terminal

The TRS-80 PT-210 Portable Terminal (catalog number 76-1001) was a mobile dumb terminal that provided a way for travelers to access remote computers while on the road. Introduced by Radio Shack in late 1982 for a price of $995.00, the PT-210 was promoted with the slogan “Now there’s a TRS-80 you can take with you on business trips!”"

The PT-210 weighed 15 pounds and came in a briefcase-style case. It contained a full-size 53-key keyboard, an acoustic coupler that communicated at 110 or 300 baud, and a “whisper-quiet” thermal printer. The catalog description stated:

TRS-80 VIDEOTEX

In the early 1980’s, many people thought that interactive computer services over the telephone would be the “next big thing.” TRS-80 VIDEOTEX was Radio Shack’s solution for accessing centralized information services such as CompuServe, The Source, the Dow Jones Information Service, or custom VIDEOTEX services. It was described as “two-way information retrieval system for home or office use.”

Here’s a description of TRS-80 VIDEOTEX from a 1981 Radio Shack catalog:

CompuServe Menus in 1982

In 1982, CompuServe changed their menu structure to “promote ease of use.” The new menus were grouped under six categories:

  • Newspapers
  • Home Services
  • Business and Financial Services
  • Personal Computing Services
  • User Information
  • Index

Any user could go directly to a page by using the “Go” command. For example, typing “Go HOM-1” would go to the “Home Services” menu page.

CompuServe

CompuServe was the most famous of the early online services and the one with closest ties to the TRS-80. It actually started in 1969 as a timesharing system, renting mainframe computer time to businesses over phone lines. However, what most people remember as CompuServe dates to August 1979, launched as an online service for microcomputer users named MicroNET.

MicroNET opened the CompuServe network, normally reserved for businesses, to consumers with a telephone modem. Access was only available outside of business hours, when their mainframes were normally idle. MicroNET provided more or less raw access to the CompuServe mainframes running the TOPS-10 operating system. Users could use the included programs or create and run their own programs on the system.