Matthew Reed's

The MISOSYS Hard Drive Kit

The MISOSYS Hard Drive Kit was a hard drive interface for the TRS-80 Model III, Model 4, and Lobo MAX-80. (There was no version for the TRS-80 Model I.) It was announced in the Spring/Summer 1989 issue of The MISOSYS Quarterly and began shipping in September 1989. It came in in two configurations: 20 MB and 40 MB.

Although Roy Soltoff described the MISOSYS Hard Drive Kit as a “pre-assembled kit,” it came fully assembled, tested, and ready to connect to the TRS-80. The only other item needed was the “host interface cable” which cost $20.00 extra originally but was later included in the package.

The complete unit was housed in a 5.5" high, 7" wide, and 15" deep case, which had room for two half-height drives. The case contained a 60-watt power supply and fan. The shipping weight of the entire package was 20 pounds.

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Scripsit was the product name that Radio Shack used for their word processors for TRS-80 computers. Over the lifetime of the TRS-80, Radio Shack created versions of Scripsit for practically every TRS-80 computer model sold. With only a few exceptions, the different Scripsit programs offered different features and capabilities.

Scripsit was described by 80 Micro magazine as “the overwhelming choice of TRS-80 owners.” Since the TRS-80 was the top selling computer in the early days of microcomputers, Scripsit was a very popular word processor. As late as 1984 (according to the market research firm InfoCorp), Scripsit was still the third most popular word processor across all computers (not just the TRS-80).

Both Model I/III Scripsit and Model II Scripsit won the 80 Micro Reader’s Choice Awards in 1982 and 1983. (Color Scripsit came in second both years.) Model I/III Scripsit was one of only five programs inducted into the 80 Micro Hall of Fame in 1983.

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BASIC Computer Games

BASIC Computer Games (ISBN 0-89480-052-3) was the first and most popular of a category of books containing games written in BASIC for typing into a computer. It was also the first computer book to sell more than a million copies. Many people took their first steps as programmers by typing in and modifying the programs in this book.

BASIC Computer Games and its sequel, More BASIC Computer Games (also known as BASIC Computer Games Volume II) were created by David Ahl, the founder and publisher of Creative Computing magazine. Both books were very popular and were translated into German (BASIC Computer Spiele and BASIC Computer Spiele: Band 2), French (Jeux D’Ordinateur en BASIC and Nouveaux Jeux D’Ordinateur en BASIC), and a three-volume Danish edition (BASIC Computerspil). Both BASIC Computer Games and More BASIC Computer Games had TRS-80 specific editions that were sold both by Radio Shack and Creative Computing Press.

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The 80 Micro Young Programmer's Contest

For three years starting in 1982, the TRS-80 magazine 80 Micro held a contest to encourage young people to program. It was known as the “80 Micro Young Programmer’s Contest.” Anyone under the age of 18 could submit a program for a chance at winning prizes. 80 Micro published the winning contest entries in the February issue each year.

The entries, which numbered over 200 the first two years, were judged by the 80 Micro editorial staff based on five categories: programming elegance, documentation, originality, error-trapping, and usefulness. Most of the winning entries were written for the TRS-80 Model I and III, but there were also several for the Color Computer, and even one each for the Model II, Model 4, and Model 100.

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The Holmes Sprinter

The Holmes Sprinter was a family of speed-up boards for the TRS-80 Model I and III. They were created and sold by Holmes Engineering, Inc., a company responsible for many hardware add-ons for the TRS-80, such as the Expansion Mainframe, the VID-80, and the Internal Memory. The Sprinter models were probably the most popular speed-up boards available for the Model I and III.

The Sprinter I for the TRS-80 Model I was introduced in late 1981. It cost $99.50, which was more expensive than its primary competitor, the Archbold Speedup Board. However, the Sprinter I had one big advantage over the Archbold Speedup Board: it could be installed with no soldering at all. Installation required just a few steps:

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Kilobaud Microcomputing

Kilobaud Microcomputing was a hobbyist computing magazine that began in 1977. It was created by Wayne Green, who was known for publishing the magazines 73, BYTE, and later 80 Microcomputing. Kilobaud Microcomputing was aimed more at the beginning computer hobbyist than other similar magazines. It is perhaps best known for spinning off 80 Microcomputing, the most popular TRS-80 magazine.

The magazine was originally named Kilobaud when it began in 1977. That changed to Kilobaud Microcomputing by the January 1979 issue. The word “Kilobaud” on the cover became smaller and disappeared entirely in 1982. The magazine was then called Microcomputing until it ended in 1984.

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The Omikron Mapper

The Omikron Mapper was the first (and probably most popular) CP/M hardware add-on for the TRS-80 Model I and Model III. It allowed unmodified CP/M programs to run on a TRS-80, something not normally possible. The Omikron Mapper was introduced in 1979 by Omikron Systems, a Berkeley, California company run by George Gardner.
Omikron Systems sold three versions of the Omikron Mapper from 1979 to 1984:

  • The original Omikron Mapper I was for the Model I. In 1979, it cost $169.00 for a version that could use 5 1/4" floppy drives. A version that could use 8" drives cost $199.00.
  • The Omikron Mapper II was a data separator that allowed a Model I with Expansion Interface to run CP/M using a combination of 5 1/4" and 8" drives. In 1980, it cost $99.00. Omikron originally bundled the Mapper I as part of the Mapper II, but later sold them separately. In addition to CP/M, NEWDOS/80 could also use the Mapper II to access 8" drives.
  • The Omikron Mapper III was for the TRS-80 Model III. Unlike the Mapper I, it only supported 5 1/4" drives. It cost $199.00 in 1983.

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The Apple Bill and the Tandy Bill

Almost as soon as microcomputers became widely available to consumers in 1977, there were efforts to place them in classrooms. Both Apple (with the Apple II) and Radio Shack (with the TRS-80 Model I) concentrated heavily on education and school sales. By 1982, it was unclear which company had the edge when it came to computers in schools. There was a great deal of conflicting information, some showing Apple ahead and some with Radio Shack as the leader. As late as 1985, Radio Shack claimed that there were “more TRS‑80 computers in America’s schools than any other brand.”

Either way, both companies were heavily involved in the education market. At the time, 25% of Apple’s revenue came from educational sales. Both companies had compelling reasons to get their computers in schools and build their brand awareness among schoolchildren. Beyond those reasons, people at both companies felt that computers in schools were the future. In a 1995 interview with the Smithsonian Institution, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs recalled their plan to make that happen:

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80 Remarks

“80 Remarks” was a column that ran in 80 Microcomputing from the first issue in January 1980 until September 1983. It was written by Wayne Green, the publisher and founder of 80 Microcomputing. The column name was shortened to just “Remarks” in October 1982.

Wayne Green published several magazines at the time and wrote a different column in each. His column was “Never Say Die” in 73, “Publisher’s Remarks” in Kilobaud Microcomputing, “Off Color” in Hot CoCo, “Hot Cider” in inCider, and “80 Remarks” in 80 Microcomputing.

Wayne Green set the tone for “80 Remarks” with his first column:

First, I want to make it clear that this magazine is not connected with Radio Shack or Tandy. I call ‘em as I see ‘em and don’t pull the punches. Where Radio Shack deserves credit, they’ll get it. Where I think they are screwing up, I’ll be blunt about that. I don’t ask that you like me–that’s your problem, not mine. I like you and I will be working for your best interests… and so will the magazine.

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PRO-WAM (also known as PRO-NTO) is a collection of pop-up tools for LS-DOS/TRSDOS 6 on the TRS-80 Model 4. It was written by Karl Hessinger and Roy Soltoff and cost $59.95 when it was introduced in December 1984.

PRO-WAM was one of the few programs to require a Model 4 expanded to a full 128K of memory. In my opinion, it was one of the best uses of the extra memory and one of my favorite Model 4 utilities.

PRO-WAM was described in advertisements as a “Window Controller and Applications Manager.” It was inspired by the Borland program Sidekick, a terminate and stay resident personal information manager that was very popular at the time on the IBM PC. (PRO-WAM was also similar to Monte’s Window, written by Jim Stutsman, which was only available for Montezuma Micro CP/M.) Like Sidekick, PRO-WAM provided a set of simple, but useful, tools that could be popped up over a running program.

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