Saturday, April 21, 2007

Enter the TRS-80

I remember when Radio Shack started to advertise the TRS-80 computer on television. I don't think I had ever seen an ad for a computer on TV before this. It was $599 for the computer which seemed pretty amazing.

When these machines arrived at the local Radio Shack store my brother and I went to have a look. The only interesting thing you could do with the machine was program it. They may have had a couple of applications on tape in the store but we ignored them. The programming manual was very friendly, with a cartoon character that looked like a TRS-80 spouting explanations.

As I understand it the Level I BASIC that came with the machine was a custom version of Tiny BASIC. It had single letter variable names, only one string variable (I think), and it had only three error messages for the programmer:

  • What? - Syntax error
  • How? - Divide by zero, etc.
  • Sorry. - Out of memory

Level I BASIC also had SET and RESET commands so you could draw graphics on a 128x48 grid.

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