Inside a Classic: The TRS-80 Model 100

June 3rd, 2008 by Benj Edwards

Inside a Classic: The TRS-80 Model 100 on PC World

Some of you might remember the Apple IIc teardown I did for PC World back in March. Now it’s June, and my workbench is back in the spotlight again. This time I dissected the venerable TRS-80 Model 100 laptop computer, which happened to turn 25 this year. Below, I’ve posted an excerpt from the slideshow. I hope you enjoy it.

Twenty-five years ago, Radio Shack released the first wildly successful laptop computer in the United States. The TRS-80 Model 100 was simple, rugged, plentiful, and reliable, selling over six million units during its eight-year life span. With ample battery life, light weight (about 3 pounds), compact size, instant-on capability, and a small suite of built-in applications, the Model 100 served as the portable computing workhorse of its day. Bill Gates’ also ranks it as one of his favorite computers of all time, in large part because he and a friend wrote the firmware it uses.

8 Responses to “Inside a Classic: The TRS-80 Model 100”

  1. Layne Says:

    Already made the front page of Slashdot (where I saw it first).


  2. Benj Edwards Says:

    Wow, that was quick. I guess people really like these things.

  3. Jeff Says:

    Yesterday people were listing their first computers in the comments; the Model 100 was my first. I put it on layaway at Radio Shack in 1986 for about $250, I think. Picked it up after a few weeks and spent months writing BASIC programs. It is still my favorite computer ever, and I just bought one on eBay to relive some fond memories.

    If anyone is interested in playing with the OS without buying a 100, there is an excellent emulator out there called VirtualT.

  4. Kitsunexus Says:

    That thing is awesome. I read somewhere that scientists at zoos still use these to keep track of gorillas because the systems are very durable.

  5. Brian Deuel Says:

    I stood in a Radio Shack and wrote a space shooter game in BASIC on one of these in about 20 minutes. The manager was so impressed, he saved it and used it as a demo for the computer until they quit selling it. Pretty cool, I think 🙂

  6. Benj Edwards Says:

    That sounds awesome, Brian. Do you still have the source code for that game?

  7. Brian Deuel Says:

    Nah. It was written in MS BASIC, and it was soooo long ago. I could probably whip it up in a matter of seconds these days, as it was mostly flags and gosubs 🙂

  8. mercatfat Says:

    i got one of these from Goodwill will recently for less than $15.

    i’ve been utterly shocked at how advanced it is for such a simple computer. the basic programming is versatile, it can be used to make music, and the on-board suite of programs is extensive.

    frankly, i’m shocked it was as inexpensive as it was.

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