TRS-80 Microcomputer News

written by Matthew Reed

January 1978 issue of the Radio Shack Microcomputer Newsletter

January 1978 issue of the Radio Shack Microcomputer Newsletter

The TRS-80 Microcomputer News was Radio Shack’s own official publication supporting the TRS-80, sent for free to anyone who bought a TRS-80 computer. The motto described it as “The microcomputer newsletter published for TRS-80 owners.”

Originally called the Radio Shack Microcomputer Newsletter, the first issue, published in 1977, was four pages long. It was published irregularly after that (two issues in 1978 and seven in 1979) until it changed to a monthly publication schedule with the October 1979 issue. It remained monthly from then on, with the exception of three combined issues in 1980 and 1982. The name changed to the TRS-80 Microcomputer News with the March/April 1980 issue.

Beginning with the January 1981 issue, distribution of the TRS-80 Microcomputer News changed to a subscription model. Anyone could subscribe for $12.00 a year, but any purchaser of a new TRS-80 computer (within the United States and Canada) automatically received a free one year subscription. That was later reduced to a six month free subscription for buying a “full-size TRS-80 computer” (presumably excluding the Pocket Computers). Anyone who bought multiple TRS-80’s could either choose to receive multiple subscriptions or to extend a single free subscription.

The TRS-80 Microcomputer News covered the complete range of TRS-80 computers, from the Model I to the Model 2000. It began as a way to promote new TRS-80 hardware and offer software tips and fixes to TRS-80 users. But over time, the focus changed to become more general. After becoming a subscription magazine, the Radio Shack advertising disappeared and was replaced by articles, programs, reviews, and regular columns. Notable columns included:

April 1984 issue of the TRS-80 Microcomputer News

April 1984 issue of the TRS-80 Microcomputer News

  • “View from the Seventh Floor” by Jon Shirley (Vice President of Computer Merchandising at Radio Shack)
  • “Communications Corner” by Al and Dru Simon
  • “Musical Notes” by Bryan Eggers
  • “Assembly Language Programming” by William Barden, Jr.
  • “PC-2 Assembly Language” by Bruce Elliot
  • PROFILE III+ columns by Ivan Sygoda

With the change in focus, the size also increased, from four pages in 1977 to a high of 56 pages in 1984. The number of subscribers increased as well, up to 100,000.

The TRS-80 Microcomputer News abruptly ended with the June 1984 issue. Ed Juge, director of marketing at Radio Shack, described cost as the reason for stopping publication:

It was getting too big for us to handle anymore. We were beginning to compete with other, larger magazines and didn’t want to incur that kind of expense.

The final issue of the TRS-80 Microcomputer News gave this as the official explanation:

Our reason for discontinuing publication is that there are currently eight magazines devoted exclusively to TRS-80 products and doing a very fine job of covering the line. Therefore, continuing the publication of the TRS-80 Microcomputer News became redundant.

Existing subscriptions were filled with those eight magazines mentioned. They were:

  • Advanced Computing (formerly two/sixteen magazine)
  • Color Computer Magazine
  • Computer User
  • Hot CoCo
  • 80 Micro
  • Portable 100
  • PCM
  • The Rainbow
Categories: Magazines