Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A blast from my computer past

Back in 1980, after much deliberation and research, I went to the Radio Shack flagship store on the ground floor of the now largely defunct "Tandy Towers" in downtown Ft Worth and bought my first computer, the Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer (CoCo).

TechRepublic got me thinking about his bit of my past with their article Cracking open the Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer (CoCo).

Like many Radio Shack products it was a curious mix of clever engineering and low-rent execution. The first generation of these beasts were an ugly silver gray (same as their big brother, the Model I) and had a god-awful "chiclet" keyboard. It was relatively cheap (compared to Apple) and the fact that it was locally designed and engineered appealed to my sense of civic pride.

I had a lot of fun with this ugly duckling and spend what seems in hindsight to be stupid amounts of money on it (I badgered a salesman that same flagship store into selling me their demo single density 5.25 inch floppy (!) drive. It only cost me $500). Eventually I gave up the relatively toy-like CoCo, and took up with a second hand Hyundai PC clone.

The CoCo still has a fairly loyal fan base out there, and they have done some pretty amazing things with them. For those who are interested, people have written several different emulators, though a lot of charm with old hardware like this is, well, the old hardware.

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