[ Retro Scan of the Week ] TRS-80 Propaganda For Kids

October 5th, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Radio Shack TRS-80 Science Fair Story of Electronics Comic Book - 1983/1984TRS-80 computers are clearly changing the world.

Growing up in the 1980s, I was no stranger to free educational materials designed to promote commercial products. Here’s such an example from Radio Shack: The Science Fair Story of Electronics, a colorful comic book that spares no opportunity to introduce the Tandy/Radio Shack brand to the consumers of tomorrow. (For those who might not be familiar with it, Radio Shack is a chain of electronics retail stores in the US.)

If you click on the picture above, you’ll see a two-page spread from the comic that extols the benefits of (TRS-80) computers and briefly retells computer history from a decidedly Radio Shack perspective.

[ From ‘The Science Fair Story of Electronics,’ Spring 1984 Edition (Printed Fall 1983) ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you owned or used any Radio Shack / Tandy / TRS-80 computers? If so, which ones?

13 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] TRS-80 Propaganda For Kids”

  1. Don Akins Says:

    At the time when Radio Shack had their free battery club I would get their in-store magazones and drool over owning a TRS-80 Model III. I could not afford one so I ended up drooling over a TRS-80 Color Computer. I eventually bought one that had 16k Extended Basic at around $400 from their Tandy warehouse in Texas which saved me $100 compared to getting local. So buying mail order (online) was a savings back then too.

    It had a casette drive which I later upgraded to a dual half-height drive from TEAC. I used to get the Rainbow magazine along with the COCO magazine. I loved Rainbow’s adventure issues. It came with basic code for some kind of adventure game you typed in and then ran. Was sooooo cool!

    There was no true lowercase characters with the COCO. Instead the screen would inverse to let you know if you were in caps or lowercase. Rainbow had mod kits you could buy to enhance your COCO. I bought one to inverse the whole screen which looked sweet!

    When the TRS-80 SX computer came out (IBM compatible) I bought one of those and stopped using my COCO. About 10 years ago I bought a NOS COCO3 that is still in the box. Although I never hooked it up it has 128k and true upper and lower case and hooks upto a real monitor.

    I always loved the COCO and I am glad I owned one. Sure beats the cheap Atari computers and that horrible Commodore 64 (commode). LOL that was how the competition was back then. People had slangs for each others computers. The Trs-80 was called trash-80. lol. Good memories.

  2. SirPaul Says:

    I still have my old TRS-80 COCO, and I have been wanting to get a “real” TRS-80 one of these days. A lack of finances and room is the only reason I haven’t purchased one yet.. I wonder if I can get accessories for my COCO at the local Radio Shack still…

  3. Warren Says:

    I owned a COCO also and I had the Orchestra 90 cartrige.
    I would like to get something on that order for my Vista Laptop or my
    XP Desktop.
    I use to love programing in basic.

  4. Jeremy Says:

    Could you scan and post the rest of the comic? I love things like that. 🙂

  5. Jim Says:

    I had a CoCo II 64K and then a CoCo III 512K which I modified to work with a real Zenith monochrome monitor. The CoCo II ran OS-9 Level I and the III ran OS-9 Level II. So many good memories: my first 300 baud modem, Basic-09, learning Pascal, Rainbow Magazine, The Radio Shack catalog and of course the endless hours of browsing and dreaming in the Radio Shack stores!!

  6. Daniel Says:

    That is very cool. I had a CoCo 1 (that is, the silver one with chicklet keys) as a kid.

    And, seeing this comic reminds me of something. I had a book when I was a kid – 10-15 years old – and in that book were some predictions of the future. One of the predictions was for a handheld computer that, come to think of it, looks a lot like an iPhone. I wish I knew where that book was, but I looked for it 15 years or so ago and wasn’t able to find it.

  7. TheSaintOfPain Says:

    The very first computer that my family ever owned was an old Tandy 1000. I also played my very first video game on that thing: Hunt The Wumpus. Those were really good times. =D

  8. Moondog Says:

    In the early to mid 1990’s I recall one of the local Radio Shacks still had parts or peripherals for the TRS-80 or some other older system in stock. I was looking for a 3.5″ floppy drive to replace one that died, and I decided to give Radio Shack a try rather than ordering something through Computer Shopper. They lady behind the counter said they had some floppy drives, but when I went in the back and looked, they had some over-priced items with ancient-looking packaging.

  9. James Grahame Says:

    A TRS-80 Model I was my first computer as a teenager, followed by a CoCo. I’ve still got a TRS-80 Pocket Computer, too. I slapped together a quick filter simulation package in Basic the other day and actually used it in some PC board design work.

  10. Derek Says:

    Reminds me of this comic I once had: http://yeoldecomicblogge.blogspot.com/2006/03/superman-radio-shack-shill.html

  11. Justin Says:

    Propaganda? It would have worked on me 🙂

  12. Cody Says:

    Some choice quotes from that comics, the new “tv games”. Not video games? And pretty heartening to see their computer costs less than a bicycle or camera. I remember when I was a kid and those were the two big things to have!

  13. Geoff Hosking Says:

    G’day. I bought a Model III in 1982 and it was the first ever computer to be used in TAFE Queensland, Australia. It did course enrolments and budgets all in BASIC. In 1984, I used Profile II to collect data on colllege budgets, and had more current data than the head office people. It could print the entire college fiscal status at the touch of a key. Using it for course enrolments almost doubled the enrolments, which produced a profit that embarassed management. A small group was sent to examine what I was doing, and this started the move to computer administration in TAFE. I still have the machine and all its original books.

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