The Custom TRS‑80 and Other Mysteries
Neutroid was written by Nickolas Marentes in 1983 and sold through his company, Fun Division (known earlier as Supersoft Software). It was the third of seven games that he wrote for the TRS–80 Model I and Model III. Nickolas Marentes became better known for his later TRS–80 Color Computer games such as Donut Dilemma (which began with a Model I version) and Rupert Rythym.
Marentes was inspired to write Neutroid after reading an interview with Tim Skelly, the author of the 1982 Gottlieb arcade game Reactor. Although Neutroid doesn’t resemble Reactor in any way, they both share a similar abstract concept of manipulating particles within an enclosed space to prevent a nuclear disaster.
News organizations are reporting that the stock of RadioShack (formerly known as Radio Shack) will soon be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. Everyone seems to expect that bankruptcy will be the next step. Although it’s still possible that someone will step forward to keep the company going after the bankruptcy, it’s more likely that the stores and brand will soon be shut down.
This is hardly surprising, but sad nonetheless. Even though Radio Shack hasn’t sold its own computers since 1993, it was still a direct link back to the TRS‑80. Radio Shack’s demise will leave only Apple as the last remaining company responsible for the “1977 trinity” of the Radio Shack TRS‑80, Apple II, and the Commodore PET.
I was saddened to learn that Wayne Green died on September 13, 2013. Longtime TRS‑80 enthusiasts will remember Wayne Green as the founder and publisher of 80 Micro, the most famous and best remembered TRS‑80 magazine.
Wayne Green had a long history in publishing. He began his first newsletter, Amateur Radio Frontiers, in 1951, reflecting his lifelong interest in amateur radio (his callsign was W2NSD). He became editor of CQ, an amateur radio magazine, in 1955. He started his own amateur radio magazine, 73 (also called 73 Amateur Radio Today), in 1960. 73 was his longest running magazine, continuing until 2003.
Hunt the Wumpus, also known as Wumpus 1 or simply Wumpus, was an important early computer game. It was written by Gregory Yob in either 1972 or 1973. Hunt the Wumpus was one of the first games to allow the player to move around a series of interconnected rooms. Although not an adventure game itself, it influenced the text adventure games that followed.
Garry Howarth recently discovered a bug in my LS‑DOS 2012 date extension patches. He found a particular disk that would crash the DIR command after installing the date extension patches.
As it turned out, displaying a directory of a disk containing a large file with directory extents on different sectors could sometimes overwrite the patch code, leading to a crash. I needed to rearrange the DIR patch code to avoid this potential problem. This required a new version of the LS‑DOS date extension patches.
August 3, 2013 marks the 36th anniversary of the introduction of the Radio Shack TRS‑80 Microcomputer System, a significant date in the history of personal computers. The TRS‑80, later known as the TRS‑80 Model I, was one of the first mass-marketed, fully-assembled computers and it dominated the early microcomputer market.
Software piracy and copy protection were hotly debated issues during the early years of the TRS‑80 software market. Piracy was blamed (not entirely fairly) for lost sales and the decline of the TRS‑80 games market in 1982. As a result, a good percentage of TRS‑80 games were copy protected.
Classical Mosquito! was a record of “neo-Baroque” music played entirely by a TRS‑80 Model I. It was created by Robb Murray in 1983 and was one of the earliest records consisting solely of computer generated music. The Kids’ World Almanac of Records and Facts in 1985 described Classical Mosquito! as “the first commercial record made entirely by computer.”
The TRS‑80 Micro Computer Technical Reference Handbook (catalog number 26–2103), more commonly called the TRS‑80 Technical Reference Handbook (even in the Radio Shack catalog), was the official technical reference manual for the TRS‑80 Model I. The first edition, which cost $9.95, was printed in 1978. A second edition, revised to reflect later updates to the Model I, was printed in 1982 (one year after the Model I was discontinued).
One of the most popular columns in the TRS‑80 magazine 80 Microcomputing wasn’t about the TRS‑80 at all. In fact, despite appearing to be a news column, it wasn’t about real products or companies. It was “News From Kitchen Table Software, Inc.”, a very amusing humor column introduced by David Busch in the July 1981 issue.
“News From Kitchen Table Software” followed the fictional company Kitchen Table, Inc. (also known as KTI), described as “United States’ largest fictitious supplier of space-age computer products.” Kitchen Table was founded by the equally fictitious Scott Nolan Hollerith.