May 18th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Personal Software, Infocom, Zork, Apple II, TRS-80, Atari 800, brother, Monty Plays Monopoly, Arcade Classics, interactive fiction, Byte, 1981
A scene from "Zork: Brick Collector"
This is it, folks: an early ad (maybe the first) for the original commercial release of Zork, the famous Infocom text adventure, published by Personal Software ca. 1980 for the TRS-80 Model I and III home computers.
(This site has some wonderful background history on this release.)
I love the artwork featured in this ad. It is excised from the full cover art for the Personal Software version, which captures a great deal of the majesty and wonder of the seminal adventure title — plus a hefty dose of out-of-place machismo.
The mere mention of Zork takes me back to the mid-1980s when my older brother delved into the Great Underground Empire with the aid of photocopied maps and worn out InvisiClues on our family's Atari 800. Warm, fuzzy memories. Of course, by then, Infocom published the title directly.
[ From Byte, February 1981, p.31]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite text adventure game of all time? (Modern ones count.)
May 11th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Radio Shack, TRS-80, MC-10, low-cost computer
SMALL ENOUGH TO FIT IN A DINOSAUR SHOE
I've owned a TRS-80 MC-10 since at least 1996 (according to this photo), so it holds a nostalgic place in my collection. It's a really neat little machine despite its limitations (chief among those problems? Tiny chiclet keyboard). But Radio Shack designed this machine as a low-cost entry-level PC for the home, so most of of those issues can easily be overlooked.
The MC-10′s price at the time of this catalog printing had slipped to just $79 (about $178 today when adjusted for inflation). For comparison, the Apple IIc (a far more sophisticated machine, but typical for a home PC at the time) retailed for $1295 upon its introduction that same year (that's a whopping $3,688 today). Price wise, that's similar to the difference between buying a low-end Windows 8 tablet and a Mac Pro. The technological difference was not nearly that dramatic, however.
Perhaps the coolest thing about the MC-10 is that you can now download software for it over the Internet in the form of audio files and load them into the MC-10 via its cassette port. Check out this site for an awesome array of homebrew MC-10 games.
[ From 1984 Radio Shack TRS-80 Catalog (RSC-11), p.59]
Discussion Topic of the Week: If you were stuck on a desert island and you could only use a TRS-80 MC-10 or a Sinclair ZX81, which would you pick?
February 23rd, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Axiom, EX-801, EX-820, Printer Card, TRS-80, PET, Apple II, BYTE, advertisement, 1979
* Feathered hair not included
Ah, the good ole days when you had to pay $535 (that's $1,744 in today's dollars) for the privilege of merely being able to hook a printer to your home computer. What can I say — it was a useful feature.
My first computer, an Apple II+, came equipped with a Grappler+ printer card (from the previous owner), although I can't recall ever using it. Instead, I printed school reports by that time from whichever family MS-DOS machines we had at the time, each of which included a built-in parallel port for printer use.
What a great day it was when I switched from a noisy dot matrix printer to the that awesome Canon Bubblejet we had. Silent printing! And the day we got our first full-color photo capable HP inkjet printer around 1996. It was pretty low resolution, but still amazing.
Today, I don't print much. I have a color laser copier in service to reproduce scanned documents (in lieu of a copy machine) in case I need a hard copy of something — usually a form or contract — to mail.
[ From BYTE Magazine - November 1979, p.162 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you regularly print anything from your computer these days? What do you print?
February 9th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Radio Shack, Tandy, TRS-80, Model 4, advertisement, Byte, 1984
Philodendron not included.
[ From BYTE - October 1984, rear cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you use a TRS-80 or Tandy computer of any kind back in the day? Tell us about it.
December 15th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Santa Claus, Christmas, TRS-80, Radio Shack, Color Computer, CoCo, magazine cover, 1982
Santa Claus enjoys some hot CoCo on Christmas Eve
[ From TRS-80 Microcomputer News, December 1982, cover]
Discussion Topic of the Week: If you could go back in time and give yourself one Christmas present, any year, what would it be?
October 14th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Sharp, PC-1500A, pocket computer, TRS-80, lost, Interface Age, advertisement, 1983
"From Sharp Minds Come Sharp Products"
It's no secret that Radio Shack licensed Sharp's pocket computer designs for its own TRS-80 Pocket Computer line of products. But here's one of the originals, circa 1983: the PC-1500A.
[ From Interface Age, November 1983, p.110 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever lost a pocket-sized gadget and regretted it badly? Tell us about it.
See Also: BASIC in your Pocket (RSOTW, 2009)
See Also: Asimov's Pocket Computer (RSOTW, 2011)
September 16th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, TRS-80, Radio Shack, Color Computer, CoCo, Slay the Nereis, Centipede, knock-off, clone, manual, 1984
A TRS-80 Color Computer Centipede clone; this artwork should be a t-shirt.
See Also: TRS-80 Dino Wars (RSOTW, 2012)
[ From Radio Shack "Slay the Nereis" Manual, rev. April 1984 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the silliest knock-off of a famous video game you can think of? (e.g. Donkey King)
November 19th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Radio Shack, TRS-80, modem, DC-2212, 1200 baud, BYTE, 1985
FINALLY, I mean, COME ON.
You too could be the proud owner of this Radio Shack TRS-80 DC-2212 1200 baud modem for the low, low price of $399.95 (about $859.81 in 2012 dollars).
…If you traveled back in time with the proper currency, that is. But I wouldn't recommend it.
I recently bought a cable modem that is the equivalent of a 150,000,000 baud modem. It cost $70 in 2012 dollars. Not bad for progress.
[ From BYTE, September 1985, rear cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What speed was you first modem?
October 1st, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, TRS-80, Radio Shack, Tandy, Coco, instruction manual, Dino Wars, dinosaurs, 1980
Dino Wars cast a long shadow in the world of manual covers.
[ From Dinowars manual Cat. No. 26-3057, September 1980, cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Off the top of your head, name the first video game you can think of that involves dinosaurs.
August 27th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, TRS-80, CoCo, Color Computer 2, Tandy, Radio Shack, instruction manual, 1983
Every instance of those 16 TRS-80 logos is trademarked, so hands off!
See also: Hot CoCo (2) for Christmas (2007)
[ From TRS-80 Color Computer 2 Operation Manual, 1983, cover]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you owned a TRS-80 Color Computer (any model)? Tell us about it.