The LNW80

written by Matthew Reed

LNW Research advertisement

LNW80 advertisement from the September 1982 issue of 80-U.S. Journal

The LNW80, sometimes referred to as the LNW80 Model 1, was the first in a line of TRS-80 compatible computers sold by LNW Research Corporation (later known as LNW Computers). It was probably the most successful of the TRS-80 compatibles sold in the United States. LNW Research had already created the LNW System Expansion, a replacement for the Radio Shack Expansion Interface, so the LNW80 was in many ways a natural next step.

When the LNW80 was introduced in 1980 it was originally sold as a $89.95 “semi-kit,” with instructions and bare printed circuit board. The semi-kit price was so low because all of the electronic parts required for the kit had to be purchased separately. Careful shopping could help reduce costs, but the complete inventory of parts cost hundreds of dollars.

Despite the name, the LNW80 “semi-kit” was not a project for beginners; according to Dennis Báthory-Kitsz in his “80 Applications” column in 80 Micro there were 1,800 individual solder connections. For customers who wanted a complete computer, the LNW80 could also be purchased fully assembled, along with the LNW System Expansion, for $1450.00.

The LNW80 boasted complete hardware and software compatibility with the TRS-80 Model I and offered these enhanced features:

  • a Z80A operating at 4 MHz
  • 500 and 1000 baud cassette I/O
  • lowercase support
  • color graphics in eight colors at a resolution of 384 by 192 or 128 by 192
  • black and white graphics at 480 by 192
  • composite video output
  • reverse video
  • 80 by 24 text screen (using graphics)

Just like the Model I, the LNW80 could use the LNW System Expansion to add 32K of memory and floppy disk support. Other options included:

  • a 63-key keyboard for $84.95 or later a 74-key keyboard (with numeric keypad) for $99.95
  • a Level II ROM set for $120.00
  • the LNDoubler (a double-density add-on) for $175.00
  • a custom metal case for $84.95

According to the advertisements, the $84.95 LNW80 case was designed to house the LNW80, the System Expansion, and the power supply all within one unit.

LNW advertised the LNW80 until late 1983 when it was replaced by the LNW80 Model 2.

Categories: Computers


David Sutherland says:

Recently the first LNW-80 that I’ve ever seen on eBay came and went for $199- + $34.99 shipping. (Apr 2, 2010).

The advert mentions the graphics resolutions of that machine which seems interesting enough to re-post here:

The LNW supported four screen modes:

Mode 0 is the default TRS-80 screen with 64×16 characters, and 128×48 semi graphics.

Mode 1 is 480×192 monochrome.

Mode 2 uses high res graphics memory to colorize the mode 0 graphics. This results in 128×48 dots with 8 colors per dot. This mode could be used to ‘colorize’ the standard TRS-80 games when loaded with special software.

Mode 3 uses low res character memory to colorize the high res pixels. This results in 384×192 pixels on 128×48 color fields. Per color field a foreground and background color is selected from the basic 8 colors. The colors are white, green, yellow, red, magenta, blue, blue-green and black.