The Model III Grafyx Solution

written by Matthew Reed

Micro-Labs advertisement for the Grafyx Solution

Micro-Labs advertisement from the January 1983 issue of 80-U.S. Journal

The Model III Grafyx Solution was a high-resolution graphics add-on for the TRS-80 Model III. Created by Ted Carter, president of Micro-Labs, the Grafyx Solution was introduced in early 1982 for a price of $299.95. There never was a Model I version of the Grafyx Solution.

The Model III Grafyx Solution used a different approach than 80-GRAFIX, an earlier Micro-Labs product for the Model I and III. While 80-GRAFIX could only simulate high-resolution graphics by redefining the character set, the Grafyx Solution provided full access to the 512 by 192 resolution of the Model III.

No soldering was required to install the Grafyx Solution. Instead, installation consisted of plugging the Grafyx Solution into the Model III and using special micro-clips to attach it to specific pins on chips already in the Model III.

The Model III Grafyx Solution wasn’t hardware compatible with the Radio Shack Model III high-resolution board (which wasn’t surprising because it predated it). The Grafyx Solution used a memory mapped approach to addressing high-resolution memory, providing access to the memory in 1K chunks that were overlaid over the normal Model III video memory. This approach allowed the Grafyx Solution to be easily manipulated directly in BASIC or assembly language.

But most people used the supplied enhanced graphics BASIC, named GBASIC. It was both smaller and more powerful than the BASICG supplied with the Radio Shack Model III high-resolution board. In addition to GBASIC, the Grafyx Solution came with utilities that could create an 80 column display using high-resolution, remap the Model III character set, load and save high-resolution images, and print those images to a supported printer. Unlike the equivalent tool for the Radio Shack Model III high-resolution board, the Micro-Labs printing utility supported printers other than just those sold by Radio Shack.

Micro-Labs sold a number of software packages that supported the Model III Grafyx Solution, including:

  • BIZGRAPH by Ted Carter, a $98.00 data entry and plotting package
  • DRAW by Ted Carter, a $39.95 graphics editor
  • MATHPLOT by Ronald Hoard, a $39.95 program to plot “science, math, and engineering equations”
  • 3DPLOT by Ronald Hoard, a $39.95 vector-based plotting package
  • SURFACE PLOT by Ronald Hoard, a $39.95 program to “create amazing three-dimensional views”

Micro-Labs continued to sell the Model III Grafyx Solution for many years, reducing the price to $199.95 in 1984 and to $99.95 by 1988.

Categories: Graphics, Hardware