TRS-80 Computing

written by Matthew Reed

Cover of the first issue of TRS-80 Computing

The cover of the first issue of TRS-80 Computing from August 1978

TRS-80 Computing, also known as S-80 Computing, was an early newsletter for the TRS-80. It was published by Computer Information Exchange (also known as CIE) from 1978 to 1980. It cost $1.50 per issue or $15.00 for twelve issues. Although not very many issues of TRS-80 Computing were published, it was a highly regarded TRS-80 newsletter, described by Recreational Computing as “a top-rated publication.”

Computer Information Exchange

Computer Information Exchange was an educational nonprofit corporation that was based in San Luis Rey, California and founded by Bill McLaughlin. It sold a variety of low-cost TRS-80 software on cassette, mostly of an educational nature. Their most popular product was People’s Pascal, an implementation of the Tiny Pascal compiler1 that was created by Kin-Man Chung and Herbert Yuen. Computer Information Exchange sold two versions of People’s Pascal:

  • People’s Pascal I was written by John Alexander of Pipe Dream Software in Berwick, Australia. It cost $15.50 (later $19.95).
  • People’s Pascal II was a TRS-80 implementation (with enhancements) of the original Chung/Yuen Tiny Pascal. It cost $23.50.

TRS-80 Computing

Bill McLaughlin had previously published a number of computer related newsletters, including The Computer Hobbyist, Word Processing Letter, and S-100 Bus User Notes. The first issue of TRS-80 Computing2 was published in August 1978. It was popular enough to warrant a second printing. TRS-80 Computing described itself as being “published as often as monthly,” but the schedule was irregular enough so that only three issues were published in the first year.

Each issue of TRS-80 Computing ranged from 24 to 32 pages (printed with very small type) and contained no advertising. It included news, product reviews, type-in programs, letters from readers, and more. Some of the content was reprinted from other user group newsletters but most was supplied directly by readers.

Computer Information Exchange also published TRS-80 Bulletin, a newsletter related to TRS-80 Computing. TRS-80 Bulletin contained some of the same content as TRS-80 Computing, but also included advertising. It was given away for free, both by subscription and at computer stores. At its height, TRS-80 Bulletin had a subscriber base of over 50,000.

Beginning with the March 1980 issue, TRS-80 Computing was renamed S-80 Computing and TRS-80 Bulletin was renamed S-80 Bulletin. (This was a result of the S-80 versus TRS-80 controversy.)

Both S-80 Computing and S-80 Bulletin ceased publication in August 1980, citing an inability to “justify operating redundant services in competition with a host of others.” The magazine Personal Computing took over subscriptions for both S-80 Computing and S-80 Bulletin beginning with their October 1980 issue. Computer Information Exchange continued to sell educational TRS-80 software as well as publish the Word Processing Letter, a newsletter devoted to “using personal computers for writing.”

  1. Although very similar, this was not the same as the Tiny Pascal version sold by Radio Shack. ↩︎

  2. The name TRS-80 Computing was also used by two other TRS-80 publications. It was one of the names briefly used by the magazine that became best known as H&E Computronics. There was also a newsletter published for the Color Computer in 1987 that used the name. The three publications had no relationship other than the name. ↩︎

Categories: Magazines