First Impressions of the Personal Computer

First Impressions of the Personal Computer

For many the first time you laid your hands on a computer it would be in school, but to the

older generation our first excursion into the PC world was not in the classroom.  In fact,

computers did not make it into the classroom until the mid 1980’s when Apple made a

bold move and give the school systems complete classrooms in order to garnish product


The first time we saw the PC was probably sitting on the floor of the local radio shack.  The

TRS-80 Model I would be set on a flimsy walnut grained desk on the floor and a 12 year

old would be sitting behind banging away at the keyboard.  On the screen a large square

blinking curser would flash slowly below an “OK” prompt.  And, that’s what you would say

to your, “OK” “Now What!”

At the same time other 8bit systems where cropping up in department stores.  Commodore

released the PET and later the Super PET followed shortly after with the Commodore VIC

20.  Apple chimed in with the Apple II and a host of other systems.

By the time Atari explored the PC realm almost everyone was selling computers.  Small

shops cropped up peddling their wares.  But through all these later comers, Tandy kept

pushing the Zilog Based desktop units.  Model I, III, IV and then along came their 16 bit

units with additional 8 bit CPUs installed, the Model II, 12, 16 and 16b.  The ‘Biggest

Little Computer Company” had all the attention.  Clones started to crop up that looked

very much like the TRS-80.  No less than 7 companies were writing DOS systems for the

Zilog computers, and many more venders were writing software.  Sierra Software’s

beginnings took place when they wrote “Haunted House” for the TRS-80 model I and III. 

The TRS-80 for the most part had all the attention of the media, stacks of magazines were

written for these units, and more publication sprang up when Tandy introduced the CoCo

(Color Computer) Yep: Tandy owned the marketplace.  The IBM signed up with Microsoft

and it looked like Tandy was finished.

Just as IBM introduced the 4.7 MHz. PC with a single floppy drive, Tandy was acquiring

rights to IBM’s defunct PCJr.  To IBM, the Junior was a flop, they could not get software

publishers to support the 16 color graphics adaptor, so IBM opted to a Hercules Unit, with a

4 color CGA upgrade to the IBM-PC.  It looked like Tandy was about to loose the race.

But as the Rabbit slept as the TRS-80 crawled past, and Tandy introduced the Tandy

1000 Personal Computer probably the best and most reliable PC ever produced.  Based

on the IBM PCJr technology, the 8086/V20 based PC ran at a whopping 7.16 MHz,

sported superior sound, and graphics.  Tandy’s sales went through the roof.  Tandy was on

top again for an additional 4 years in the late 1980’s, but by 1991 the market dropped and

Tandy lost their grip.

What Happened? From our chair, we lost the best computers ever produced for the mass

market.  The Biggest Little Computer Company was not more.  AST bought out the

factory, and then went broke.

In these pages you will find information on our favorite systems, along with other worthy of

mention.  Many of these computers I own in my collection and some are available to

purchase from me.  Enjoy the site, and I hope you visit often.