Radio Shack’s TRS-80 Turns 35

Do you remember your first computer?

Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I

This month marks the 35th anniversary of the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I computer, which made it’s debut on August 3, 1977 a few months after the release of the movie Star Wars.  Harry McCracken has written a fantastic piece about it for Time Magazine.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the PC many derisively called the “Trash 80”.  I taught myself to program in BASIC on a  TRS-80 while my mom shopped in our neighborhood mall.  A few years later, my elementary school purchased a single TRS-80 color computer, a shocking contrast to my daughters’ schools which are filled with Apple iMacs.

I wouldn’t have my own personal computer until my parents bought me a Commodore 64.  I was an aspiring musician, so the Commodore’s 3-voice music synthesizer chip was a big deal to me.  Our high school was proud of the two Apple IIe computers in the library, although Radio Shack continued to have a presence in the math department.

Owning a light saber or an X-Wing fighter seemed far fetched, even for a nine year old.  But a personal computer?  That was science fiction within reach.  But now its just a memory from a long time ago, in a Radio Shack far, far away.

But a good memory.

What was the first computer you remember using?

Author: Dallas Marks

I am a business intelligence architect, author, and trainer. I help organizations harness the power of analytics, primarily with SAP BusinessObjects products. An active blogger, SAP Mentor and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting about business intelligence.

9 thoughts on “Radio Shack’s TRS-80 Turns 35”

  1. My first computer was a Zenith Z-100. It had a dual CPU (8085 and 8088) so it could boot either CP/M or Z-DOS, the Zenith version of an early MS/DOS variant. It also came with (gasp) 768K of RAM! No hard drive though, that came later when I purchased a Z-386 for more than I paid for my first used truck. That computer, however, allowed me to experiment with database and application design, which got my my first job that didn’t involve lawn equipment or working in a grocery store.

  2. Great post, Dallas.

    Dave, looks like you had the “good stuff”. 768K? I wouldn’t have known what to do with that much RAM. We had the silvery-gray TRS-80. I used to tape-record my BASIC programs using the family “Boom box” that had a REC line-in, time-sharing space on my sisters’ Casey Kasem Top 40 radio show cassette tapes. And the frequent trips to the back-then Radio Shack? Forget about it – it was like the closet to Narnia for me.

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