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Buyers Perspective: Why should I buy the Tandy RadioShack 80


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18 hours ago, Frozone212 said:

"Well, what about Graphics, I hear the PET offers more applications and business software. Can you match it?"

(gives dumb look)  "uh, the pet shop is on the lower level of the mall, but we do have these radio controlled plush animals here that bark and yip!   No cleaning out the litterbox"  (starts to panic because of encountering the 2% of the general population that actually knows something about computers in 77)

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9 minutes ago, Frozone212 said:

"what about business applications. Is the support good? I work in finance and need a decent rig. Can it display color? I can just as easily buy an Apple II you know. "

"Oh,  if you want color, then wait for our next model.   It will have a green screen which I've heard is the only color you finance guys care about anyway"  :)

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1 hour ago, pacman000 said:

First, you don't want a PET. Commodore isn't a stable company; they drop most businesses after a few years. Second, why go with an upstart like Apple? We've got over 10 years experience in the electronics business.

1: Commodore has had success with calculators. Their first machine is right up my alley. All in one, no need for a tv set. 

2: Are you sure you're not trying to rope me into a crap offer? If i DO buy tandy, i expect a quality machine and quality software.

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Commodore has had success with calculators, but they’re leaving that industry. While the PET is a good looking machine, it seems redundant to me; I already have a TV & cassette player; I don’t need another screen or tape machine. If you do, we’ve got some you can use with the TRS-80.


As far as software goes, all computers use a language called BASIC by a company named Micro-Soft. It’s easy; you want to use this computer for finance, right? All you have to do is break your financial formulas into a numbered list, with a few spots to whatever numbers you need to enter & a few other spots so the computer will display what it’s calculated. And if you want to buy software, we’ve got some for sale too; I can dig out a catalog if you’d like.

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Well sir, you seem to be doing your homework.  Have you been to your local PET store and asked these same questions?  No?  I didn't think so.  You see, in most populated areas, you can drive 5 miles in any direction and find a Radio Shack store.  Each store can provide you with technical support, software, peripherals and even repairs.  Can Commodore offer you any of that?


What are you planning on doing with your new computer?  At this moment I can offer you an inexpensive 4K RAM model with built in BASIC programming language, a data cassette recorder for loading and saving programs, 64 column text display, 128X48 graphics and a full size ALPS keyboard with spring switches and sculptured keys that rival the best electric typewriters.  This is the perfect beginners system for the hobbyist.  If you're going to be writing your own programs, I can easily bump the RAM up to 16K for a nominal cost.

Here...have a seat and give that keyboard a try.  Practically types for you, doesn't it?  And isn't that 64 columns of text especially nice for writing professional looking reports?  


If you're looking to run a business and are willing to wait a few weeks, I can order our top tier model with the expansion interface.  You'll get 48K RAM, Level II BASIC, up to four (yes four!) high speed mini disk drives that allows massive amounts of storage retrieval in the blink of an eye, a high quality printer and a telephone interface that lets you communicate with other computers anywhere in the world at a blazing 30 characters per second.


Of course you can start off with our low cost base model and upgrade at anytime with whatever options you want.  If you're technically minded, I can include the Service Manual which covers everything from theory of operation to troubleshooting and repair.  Any parts you may ever need can be ordered from any of our thousands of locations throughout the US.

And since we're such a big company, you can rest assured you'll be seeing endless amounts of software and peripherals being released for years to come.  Heck, we already have a newsletter that gets sent to current owners.


Now when you find a PET dealer, be sure to ask them if their text only 40 column system can be expanded beyond 8K.

If you inquire about mini disk drives, don't be surprised if they don't know what those are.  You see, the PET wasn't designed for them...although I hear they may have a solution several years from now.

And be sure you try out its flat membrane keyboard which isn't much larger than that pack of cigarettes in your shirt pocket.  Between you and me, I think they bought out overstock from a cash register company.


I'm sure I'll be seeing you soon.  Have a good day!


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On 10/17/2021 at 4:30 PM, Frozone212 said:

tempting tempting, but um...I read that the machine suffers from keybounce. Also, the Apple II offers multiple graphics modes. My company works with and produces stuff for color printers. 


I am willing to pay $79, no more no less

FWIW, keybounce was fixed very early on


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12 hours ago, Frozone212 said:

oh good. Anyway. What's the sale price?

It's included in the ROM upgrade from Level I to Level II BASIC if you have an early machine, or you can just run a program that was published in a magazine.
How much?  You could buy the ROM kit and install it yourself (no idea what price) or pay to have the ROMs changed for ????  No idea, I'd have to look at old ads.
If you didn't mind stealing you could burn your own ROMs using a copy of someone else's.
The first machines didn't have a numeric keypad, so you'd probably just upgrade both at the same time.

Is there an upgrade for that calculator keyboard on the first PETs?
How much is a disk system for the PET?  You know, that huge box that holds two drives and takes up as much desk space as the computer (shown with 4032 which was introduced 3 years later).
When you view a spreadsheet or word processing document, just how much can you fit on that 40 column screen?
And while I'm thinking about the screen, how much harder is it to read on that 9" screen rather than a 12"?
Does PET BASIC include single and double precision math? 
How about formatted text printing commands like PRINT USING that are good for business programs?
Does it support the ELSE statement?
What does it take to PRINT text to a specific location on the screen?  (Is there a command similar to PRINT@?)
How much memory is available to BASIC?
Are there compilers for BASIC, COBAL, PASCAL, FORTH, C, APL, and FORTRAN like the TRS-80?  (there are multiple versions of most of these on the TRS-80)
There was also a lot of business software for the TRS-80, included many ported from CP/M.
Here is a list of software we still have from various archives, not just business:
There's probably a lot more around the internet.

By the time the 4032 came out, Tandy was introducing the Model III.  It supports lowercase characters, faster CPU, built in disk drives, and it had full FCC compliance.
There was also a hi-res graphics board upgrade that supports 640x240 bitmaped graphics, and 80x24 text. 
At $370 you'd want to have a special application that required it, but it is an option. 

There were some hi-res boards for the Model I (one was even published in a book and you could build it yourself), a higher speed CPU mod, and there was a small board that plugged into the Model I/III CPU socket to let it run CP/M.
There were also less expensive Model I clones such as the Video Genie, LNW-80, Lobo Max-80, and Brazil had at least 10 different clones.
The first Video Genie required a couple small mods to make it mostly compatible.
The LNW-80 was probably the neatest machine with a 4MHz CPU, hi-res color graphics, etc...

The Apple II only has Integer BASIC until late(?) 1978, and the final version of floating point BASIC isn't available until the Apple II+ is released in 1979.
To run it on an Apple II, you need a special card ($$$).  If you get the ROM card, you can autoboot their disk system.  If you get the language system (RAM board), you have to manually start the bootup or change ROMs.

The first Apple II's don't have as many colors as later ones.  There was a change in the artifacting hardware. 
The Apple II was the most expensive machine.  You could attach it to a TV as a cheaper option, but that meant adding an RF modulator they designed but was sold by a third party so they could skirt FCC regs.
80 column cards were introduced for the II+ in the early 80s, and along with the intro of Visicalc (first) guaranteed the Apple II series would be the most successful by far.
There was a Visicalc version for the TRS-80, and it was sold through Radio Shack. 
The PET version required the disks and a ROM.  It also had a more limited workspace due to RAM limitations.
The TRS-80, Atari, and PET versions came at least a year after the Apple II versions.
The TRS-80 version is the only one that wasn't copy protected.

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