008/365 | Old Tech: TRS-80 Model 100 (Not Y2K+10 Compatible) | Project 365/2010

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    Another one of my collecting interests is old computers. Actually, I am more of a "keeper" of old tech than I am a collector. Most of the computers I've owned over the past 30 years are still with me, and just about every one of them remains in good working order. I know I should send them off for recycling, but I just can't do it. I have too many memories of all the good times we had together.

    The owner of a local computer shop that's been in business since the early days of PCs has a similar stash of old tech, and we've talked about putting together a small museum dedicated to the early history of microcomputers. That may or may not happen, but it would be nice to have a place where folks who share our fondness for old tech could get together and reminisce about the "good ole days."

    Today's contribution to my photo-a-day journey is a picture of my 1983 vintage TRS-80 Model 100. This 3.1 pound computer was one of the first of what would become known as notebook computers, and proved to be quite popular, selling more than six million units worldwide. Lots of tech-savvy reporters wrote and filed their stories with these units. Quite a few business people did, too.

    The model you are looking at was "loaded" with 24K (that's kilobytes) of RAM and cost about $1,400. An 8K RAM version sold for $300 less (the unit could accomodate a total of 32K RAM.)

    So what did $1,400 in 1983 dollars get you? The first thing to notice is the full-size QWERTY keyboard (a really nice one, actually). The unit also had a "generous" eight-line x 40 character (240 x 64 pixel for those counting), non-back-lit LED display. The Model 100 could run off a set of four AA batteries (which lasted for 20 days assuming one-hour a day use), or could be directly plugged in to an outlet with the included adapter. A built-in Ni-Cad battery kept your data in memory without recharging for 8 to 30 days (depending on the amount of RAM installed). If you required longer lasting storage, or simply needed more storage than what was provided by the meager RAM, a matched cassette recorder could be purchased at your local Radio Shack.

    Built-in software included Microsoft BASIC, along with an Address Book, To-Do List, and Text editing software. A terminal program also was provided for going on-line (usually to CompuServe, and usually by tearing apart a nearby telephone and making the physical connection to the phone line through the use of alligator clips.)

    Earlier today I fired this baby up and decided to perform the simple task of setting the date and time. After a minute of pressing keys, I realized I needed the manual. I found an entire chapter devoted to this important topic. I was first instructed to load the BASIC interpreter. Next, in order to set the time, I was told to enter: TIME$ = H:M:S. Entering the date was as "straightforward": DATE$ = M/D/Y with each element being a two-digit number. The result can be seen above (click in on the upper left portion of the image). The date reads: January 8, 1910. Since the year could only be input as a two-digit number, there was no way to tell the computer it had survived into the 21st century. And I guess nobody at Microsoft had given much thought to the problem either.

    So to everyone who thought Y2K was a bust, here is living proof that the problem was real! BTW - My 1987 vintage Mac II had no problem dealing with Y2K. For that reason alone, it will probably be graced with a photo in this set later this year.

    Scooter Vagabond, jhudo, and 11 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. khavrinen237 52 months ago | reply

      Boy, that brings back memories. I used one of those at work for almost ten years, from 1990 til 1999, when I quit that job. Sounds like I made it out just in time, although I don't suppose having it claim it was 1900 would have made all that much difference for counting video arcade quarters. Ours all looked a helluva lot more worn than that one -- it looks practically brand new by comparison.

    2. myoldpostcards 52 months ago | reply

      It is in fine condition. While it went on the road with me regularly, it never was exposed to rough use and left its productive life with barely so much as a scratch. I still have the manuals and original carrying case. It really was a great little computer for its time, and still works fine ... with the exception of the date being off by a century. I think there is a work-a-round to the problem, but I haven't been motivated to find and test it.

    3. pesotum74 52 months ago | reply

      Glad to see that you are preserving some of the old technology. It is kinda amazing what those old machines could do considering how little memory and processing power that they had.

    4. myoldpostcards 42 months ago | reply

      Thanks for the link to the Radio Shack site...some neat old catalogs are to be found there.

    5. cbl302 30 months ago | reply

      And can you imagine the computing power they had on the first trip to the Moon(1969)

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