Posts in the “Hardware” Category - page 9

The Norcom TC-III

The Model III added some nice improvements to the Model I and boasted nearly complete compatibility. But there were still some areas of incompatibility. Considering that most TRS‑80 software development moved to the Model III, it was understandable that some Model I owners felt left behind.

The Exatron Stringy Floppy

There were quite a few different storage products available back in the early days of the TRS‑80. In the long term, the floppy drive (and later the hard drive) completely beat out all of the competition. But back when floppy drives were considered too expensive by many, one of the most popular storage products for the TRS‑80 was the Exatron Stringy Floppy.

Founded in 1974 by Robert Howell, Exatron was a supplier of automated test equipment for manufacturers and OEMs.

Gold Plug 80

Over time, many Model I computers (particularly those with Expansion Interfaces) developed the annoying habit of spontaneously rebooting. The reason was simple: the Model I card edge connectors were solder-coated tin and had a tendency to oxidize over time. Oxidation interfered with the electrical connections and tended to cause reliability problems, particularly with the critical Expansion Interface cable.


Many people considered the lack of high-resolution graphics to be the biggest deficiency of the TRS‑80 Model I. The maximum resolution of the Model I was 128 by 48 by using block graphics. Many games made good use of that resolution, but it was still low compared to other computers.

The 80-GRAFIX was one of several high-resolution add-ons available for the Model I. Designed by Ted Carter, it was originally sold by Programma International for $149.


Arcnet, which stands for Attached Resource Computer NETwork, is a networking standard created by Datapoint Communications in 1976. It provided a way for multiple computers to share printers and files. One of the main advantage of Arcnet at the time was that it was substantially cheaper than its competitors, such as 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.

The Langley-St. Clair Soft-View Replacement CRT

One frequent criticism of the TRS‑80 (especially the Model I) was the quality of the screen. Many complained of eyestrain and headaches after staring at the screen for a long time. Another frequent complaint was noticeable flicker, especially under poor lighting conditions. One popular solution was the Soft-View replacement CRTs from Langley-St. Clair Instrumentation Systems, available for the Model I, Model III, Model 4, and Model 16.

The Newclock-80

The Newclock-80 was a clock/calendar add-on for the TRS‑80 released by Alpha Products in 1983. It replaced their TIMEDATE 80 clock/calendar but remained software compatible with it.

The Newclock-80 plugged into the expansion bus and required no hardware modifications. The price was $59.95 for both the Model I and Model III versions, a significant reduction from the $95 price of the TIMEDATE 80. The Model III version also worked on the Model 4.

The MicroMerlin

The MicroMerlin (referred to in some advertisements as the ĀµMerlin) was a MS-DOS compatible add-on for the TRS‑80. It was released by Micro Projects Engineering in 1982 with a starting price of $1195.

The MicroMerlin connected to the expansion bus of a computer and required no hardware modifications to the computer itself. It originally supported the Model I and Model III, but later also the Model 4 and LNW.


The March 1981 Alpha Products advertisement featured the first appearance of the DOUBLE-STICK-80. This package included two joysticks, interface, and demo game for $59.95.


The first commercial joystick for the TRS‑80, the STICK-80, was created by Alpha Products (originally Alpha Product Co.). The first advertisement I can find was in the December 1980 issue of 80 Microcomputing. The STICK-80 package included an Atari joystick and interface and originally cost $29.95.