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30 Years of the TRS-80 Model 100 143

An anonymous reader writes with this "interview with John R Hogerhuis, one of the key players in the still suprisingly active community for the TRS-80 Model 100 portable computer. As the Model 100 approaches its 30th birthday, John talks about what has kept the machine popular for so long, current software and hardware work that is keeping it relevant, and what modern developers could learn from spending some on a computer from 1983."
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30 Years of the TRS-80 Model 100

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  • by ihaveamo ( 989662 ) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:40PM (#39759423)

    All the big-names are 30 years old just now.

    This includes the TRS80 Color computer (The computer that got me into this crazy field in the first place... OS9 for ever!)
    , Commodore VIC 20, 64, Apple II, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad They are all are / going to be in their 30's !!.

    Who feels old now??

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:00PM (#39759529) Homepage Journal

    It revolutionised journalism because it make it possible for articles to be written once and uploaded via a phone line. It must have put a lot of typists out of work.

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @09:52PM (#39759799) Homepage Journal

    The point is that the metrics you quote don't actuually help modern computers. My laptop runs at 1.6 GHz but it still has trouble performing everyday tasks. The software from the model 100 should absolutely fly on my laptop, probably to the point where you wouldn't see a difference. The problem is that programmers now operate in an abstract world where they do their little job and if you have performance issues then that can be blamed on a different layer in the system. I see this in my day job and you wouldn't believe the horrors. There was one guy using XML serialisation as a form of type cast, and building the intermediate xml documents as nested strings as the object hierarchy was traversed. It took a good part of a second to process one record, of which we get a thousand messages per second. Very elegant but the purpose of the job is to stay in business you know?

  • by rusty0101 ( 565565 ) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:15PM (#39759893) Homepage Journal

    What the Model 100 had going for it was that for the target market you could put in 4 new AA batteries at 8 in the morning, set the clock (if needed) and start working, and not need to be plugged in again until midnight. For writers, and people doing data gathering in the field, this really does mean that you can work all day. The keyboard pretty much feels comfortable, you don't have extra hardware to keep track of in the field, (where did I drop that wireless mouse again?) and so on.

    No it doesn't have an HD or Wysiwyg display. It's not going to run 3d games very well. etc. You are not going to watch TV on it, or have it read that book aloud to you. It's not the latest and greatest hardware. On the other hand what it did, and for what it was capable of doing, there really was not a lot of competition. It's not the sexy gadget of the week for endgadget or techcrunch. That's OK.

    I don't recall the specs of the model 100, but the model 200 had an Intel 80c85 processor, with 3 26k banks of memory available. Each bank was available to the user as 19k of usable memory. The 200 had a 40 column by 16 line lcd display that folded over the keyboard, and that device gave Tandy a patent on the clamshell design for laptop and pocket computers they earned royalties on for the next 17 years.

    I'm not saying that it was the sexiest device. But you would be hard pressed to find a device in the digital technology sector that has put in as many hours of work in as many fields, as the TRS-80 Model 100 (and by extension 102 and 200) portable computer.

  • Yep! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) <doug AT opengeek DOT org> on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:45PM (#39759981) Homepage Journal []

    You can see many of his early ideas in how the thing operates.

  • Re:Response time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @10:49PM (#39759997) Homepage
    Wha?? Play games? This was a *portable* computer, it was made for serious work. Typing text really hasn't changed (except for that great *cough* HTMLization) and all a serious writer ever really needs is a text editor to do real work.
  • Hey what was wrong with the Trash 80? Not everybody had Apple money back then ya know. I had both the Trash and the VIC (Remember the Shatner commercial, complete with beam in?) and frankly they were great little machines for the time. Sure they weren't that powerful but then again a $10 cell phone is more powerful than the biggest computers were back then.

    I think we would all do good to remember that the Trash, VIC, C64, BBC Micro and Sinclair changed a lot of folks lives and gave them a lifetime love of computing. Just think how different the world would be if those little guys never came out? if the only computers for sale in the 80s cost thousands of dollars? it would probably be a lot more empty place, with a lot less programs, tinkering, and DIYers out there.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine