An Interview with Jack Crenshaw
Deathmaze 5000 was the first of the “Continuum Series,” a set of 3-D adventures sold by Med Systems Software. The other games in the series were Labyrinth, Asylum, and Asylum II. In addition to the TRS‑80 version of Deathmaze 5000, Med Systems also sold both tape and disk versions for the Apple II.
Deathmaze 5000 has many similarities to Rat’s Revenge, an earlier Med Systems Software game also written by Frank Corr. Both games feature a 3-D view with the player using arrow keys to move through a maze. Unlike Rat’s Revenge, which focuses on finding the cheese within a maze, Deathmaze 5000 falls somewhere between an adventure game and puzzle.
Back in 1981, the TRS‑80 was the best selling computer and 80 Microcomputing magazine was bursting at the seams. The publisher of 80 Microcomputing, Wayne Green, envisioned a new set of books: the Encyclopedia for the TRS‑80. As the first advertisement for the Encyclopedia stated:
TRSDOS 2.0 was the first version of Model I TRSDOS to be released to the public. All earlier versions had been used for testing within Radio Shack only. It came with a preliminary instruction manual, with a final manual promised for the near future. Not many people used TRSDOS 2.0 because it was replaced by TRSDOS 2.1 after only a short time.
Model I TRSDOS Disk BASIC contained a number of extra commands and enhancements to Level II BASIC, not all related to disk. The commands were documented in the TRSDOS 2.3 Reference Manual. All other TRS‑80 operating systems with a Disk BASIC supported these commands, although often CMD and NAME used different syntax.
The Model I TRSDOS command shell supported a number of internal commands, as documented by the TRSDOS 2.3 Reference Manual. Most of the commands were also supported by other TRS‑80 operating systems, although they usually added extra features beyond the TRSDOS versions.
TRSDOS, referred to as DOS in some early references, was Radio Shack’s official disk operating system for the Model I. The name stood for Tandy Radio Shack Disk Operating System. It was bundled with Radio Shack’s floppy disk upgrade, but it could also be purchased separately.
Some have claimed that Radio Shack offered the Model I as a kit before selling it as a fully-assembled computer. That is not true. From the very beginning, the TRS‑80 was sold only fully assembled and there was never a TRS‑80 kit option in any Radio Shack catalog.
Model III was the official name, although 3 and III were and are used interchangeably by many people.
The Model I, II, and III were the only three TRS‑80 computers to be identified with Roman numerals in the Radio Shack catalogs. Although some pre-release information identified the “Model IV,” the Radio Shack catalogs always used “Model 4.” All future computer models used ordinary numbers.
Although rare, the Level I Model III did exist. The 1981 Radio Shack catalog which introduced the Model III listed three versions:
It seems that whenever any article today mentions the TRS‑80, it always includes a statement that the TRS‑80 was “affectionately known as the Trash-80.” Although this idea is often repeated, it is simply not true.
“Trash-80” was a common corruption of the TRS‑80 name. It was intended to suggest that the TRS‑80 hardware and software were of poor quality and little better than trash.
Some have embraced the name in recent years and that has caused “Trash-80” to lose some of the original negative connotation. But that is a fairly recent development and was definitely not the case back when Radio Shack was still selling the TRS‑80.