The CR-510 Card Reader

written by Matthew Reed

CR-510 Card Reader

The CR-510 Card Reader from a 1984 Radio Shack catalog

The Radio Shack CR-510 Card Reader was introduced in 1984 at a cost of $1595.00. Aimed primarily at schools, it appeared in the Radio Shack catalog under the headline “Automate Time-Consuming Tasks with a TRS-80 Computer Card Reader.”

Administrators, teachers, and students can benefit from this new TRS-80 input device. Automate data compilation, evaluate surveys and polls, or correct multiple choice tests. The CR-510 provides single, demand, or continuous feed operation and is controlled through manual switches or software. Cards must be at least 6 inches in length and can be either marked or punched (with standard keypunch).

The CR-510 communicated through the RS-232 port, so it could connect to any TRS-80 computer. It came with 200 cards and a disk with sample drivers written in BASIC and COBOL. Those sample drivers must have been important when you consider that there was no software available for the CR-510!

That situation had changed by the next year’s catalog. At that time, Radio Shack began selling the “School Administrative Software Product Series.” Described as an “interactive system to help schools collect, store, retrieve, and print basic student information, attendance data, student grades, and scheduling information,” the programs in the series were designed to interface with the CR-510. In addition to the CR-510, the programs required a Model II with hard disk drive or a Model 16 or Model 12 with floppy drives.

There were several packages available as part of the series:

  • Student Information System (catalog number 26-2729), which cost $249.00
  • Attendance System (catalog number 26-2730), which cost $330.00
  • Individual Scheduling System (catalog number 26-2732), which cost $290.00
  • Grade Reporting System (catalog number 26-2731), which cost $380.00

Radio Shack also offered consumables for the CR-510:

  • General Purpose Standard Cards (catalog number 26-1241) in a package of 500 for $9.95
  • Attendance Cards (catalog number 26-2741) in a package of 500 for $24.95
  • Course Request Cards (catalog number 26-2743) in a package of 500 for $24.95
  • Grade Cards (catalog number 26-2742) in a package of 500 for $12.95

The CR-510 Card Reader remained in the Radio Shack catalog until 1986.

Categories: Hardware