back to article 'Trash-80' escapes the dustbin of history with new TRS-80 emulator

If you get misty-eyed over the expression 20 IF N=1 GOTO 10 (or reach for the pen to correct me), there's another open source TRS-80 BASIC emulator available. This one reproduces the Sharp 80, a TRS-80 Model III 8-bit machine, and its author, Matthew Hamilton, has put in a lot of work to give the world the glory of white-on- …

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Ahhh, the good old days...

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Pint

ASAC offered "Ahhh, the good old days..."

ASAC offered, "Ahhh, the good old days..."

No.

One of the primary reasons that people bought these systems (e.g. the TRS-80 Model III, along with a nice Daisy Wheel printer) was to do word processing for home use (e.g. university courses). In the very very early 1980s, there was virtually no other option.

One of the primary word processing applications for this purpose was 'Scrips[h]it'; pretty much the default choice as there were few other options. This application had a subtle bug, wherein if the user accidentally left the '@' key down for longer than an undefined number of milliseconds, then the cursor would come to life and inexorably move backwards turning the existing prose into ASCII gibberish. The worst case was when the user had their head down transcribing a page of notes, only to look up after a minute or two to find several pages of existing work had been auto-converted to ASCII gibberish.

The only work around was to constantly save the file. Over and over and over again. Onto the 5.25-inch floppy disks, which required a good fair fraction of a minute each time.

So, no. Not the "good old days". Just no.

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good old days...

when every schoolboy (schoolgirls didn't seem to bother) could go to the computers on display an Dixons, Currys, Boots(!) and type:

10 PRINT " BOLLOCKS"

20 GOTO 10

RUN

Then run...

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Re: good old days...

10 PRINT " BOLLOCKS"

20 GOTO 10

RUN

Then run...

scroll?

D BREAK - CONT repeats, 10:1

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Re: good old days...

This schoolgirl did, although I didn't choose "BOLLOCKS" of my text of choice. :-)

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Vintage

First computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 level 1 that was about 40 years ago now :)

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Re: Vintage

Indeed. I still have a Model 1.

Expanded with one chip on the character encoder which gives LOWER CASE text. Ooooh!

Stupidly I threw away the cassettes with software years ago. Regret that.

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History

My first computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 Level 1 - that was about 40 years ago :)

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Re: History

Yup. Got my Trash-80 on xmas '79 - 37 years ago.

I remember trying to persuade my mainframe-programming mom to get the $250 upgrade from 4K to 16K

I also remember being banned from the school's Model III because I disputed Creationism. I hope my "science" "teacher" Michael Kratzer is burning in hell.

Edit: I also zapped the motherboard in mine, reaching around (heh) the back to press reset. The reset button was next to the expansion edge connector which was totally unbuffered and unprotected. A nice charge of static and your machine was done for. Fortunately, it was still in warranty, and I remember the upset Radio Shack folks.

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The first computer I bought for myself was a Video Genie 1 from Lowe Electronics in Derbyshire, which was a Chinese TRS80 Model 1 compatible device with extra expansion over the standard TRS80. I remember I had an OKI Microline 80 printer attached to it at one point.

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Video Genie

Advert for it (and Lowe) here:

http://www.classic-computers.org.nz/system-80/other%20guises_video%20genie_large.jpg

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Video Genie

Happy memories, I wrote a rudimentary PacMan on one of those :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_Genie

Ah, there just aren't enough wooden panelled computers these days!

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Same here. Mine was the slightly newer version with all the arrow keys, the sound-mod pre-installed and a pair of joysticks wired across the keyboard matrix.

PS, Hong Kong clone, not Chinese.

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Re: Video Genie

"http://www.classic-computers.org.nz/system-80/other%20guises_video%20genie_large.jpg"

Oh, I forgot they were in Matlock! I drive down Chesterfield Rd every few months or so. I wonder where they were?

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Tandy

Tandy still exists! Who knew?

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I'm (sadly) quite excited about this. First computer I ever used at school, and first bit of programming I ever did (built a Yahtzee game - so proud!)

May have to buy a new Windows machine for home use 'special research project' (to prevent Wife 1.0 downgrading Husband 1.0 to beta status).

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"May have to buy a new Windows machine for home use 'special research project' (to prevent Wife 1.0 downgrading Husband 1.0 to beta status)".

Could be worse. She could just EOL you and obtain Husband 2.0 instead.

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I had one of these machines back in the 70's, and even wrote my PhD thesis on it. It was followed by a CP/M machine. I've been running a TRS-80 emulator (xtrs) for years under X. Also have a CP/M emulator and then I can run BOTH machines at the same time in different windows.

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My recollection and the Internet says: July 1980

Mr Wheat suggested: "I had one of these machines back in the 70's..."

The TRS-80 Model III was introduced in the middle of 1980. So unless you had a prototype, it would have been the very-very early 1980s. Not 70's...

We had one as well. IIRC, bought shortly after introduction when it went on 'Sale' (slight discount) for the first time.

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Re: My recollection and the Internet says: July 1980

"The TRS-80 Model III was introduced in the middle of 1980. So unless you had a prototype, it would have been the very-very early 1980s. Not 70's..."

He might have had the Model I any time after 1977. There wasn't that much difference between a Model I and a bare bones Model II. The main thing was the all in one case/screen/keyboard and inboard expansion/FDD bays instead of the external expansion unit.

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Re: My recollection and the Internet says: July 1980

Model II had an expansion port in it's own large box. Model III was all-in-one.

In top-of-the-line form, the Model II allowed a massive 64k of RAM, half of it in that expandion box, which was too big to pick up in one hand. The expansion port wiring and/or connector was horribly unreliable, so the machine would just reset randomly from time to time. When the only way to get a program into the computer was to type it in with two fingers, this was a hardship.

We always had a lot of trouble with cassette storage (possibly, having spent quite a few thousand on the computer and the big 64k expansion, we should have spent a few hundred on a better tape machine!) and never did get one of those very expensive newfangled floppy drive things.

Yes, this was the 1970s. Like Mr Wheat, I am often perfectly well aware of what decade it is. Sometimes I even remember what day it is.

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Re: My recollection and the Internet says: July 1980

Column seems to be specifically "Model III" (explicitly mentioned at several points), so I made an assumption that "one of these" was specifically the Model III.

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Re: My recollection and the Internet says: July 1980

The Model II was an expensive ($3.5k) business machine with 8-inch floppy drive BUILT IN. Still Z80, but several times the cost of a Model I, III or 4, all of which were affordable ($1k +/-) and more suitable for home use.

So if someone recalls having a Model II *at home*, then either they were extraordinarily keen at the time, or (more likely) their recollection is a bit off.

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Re: My recollection and the Internet says: July 1980

JB stated "There wasn't that much difference between a Model I and a bare bones Model II."

When you wrote "Model II" I suspect you mean Model III. If so, then your comparison is not unreasonable.

Tannin stated "Model II had an expansion port in it's own large box. ... a lot of trouble with cassette storage....never did get one of those very expensive newfangled floppy drive things. Yes, this was the 1970s."

When you wrote "Model II" I suspect you mean Model I. Your description (quoted) doesn't match the Model II.

The Model II was a big (ugly) business machine with 8-inch floppy. They were (essentially) never for home users.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80_Model_II

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Re: My recollection and the Internet says: July 1980

It cost a lot more than 3.5k, and that was second-hand. A mate and I went halves in it. (Why? I have no idea. We were both in our late teens, earning adult wages with overtime, no mortgage, no kids, not gamblers or big drinkers, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.)

But after currency conversion and taxes, yep, $US 3.5k would be about right. But no built-in disc drive. That I guarantee. We dreamed about a disc drive.

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Re: My recollection and the Internet says: July 1980

Sorry, had a model I, not a model III.

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Re: My recollection and the Internet says: July 1980

Nothing to apologize for. My quite reasonable assumption just happens to have been incorrect.

I should apologize, as you're *Dr* Wheat (not Mr Wheat). :-)

Cheers.

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Re: My recollection and the Internet says: July 1980

Tannin confirmed "...no built-in disc drive. That I guarantee."

The Model II came with a BUILT IN 8-inch floppy drive.

Your claim to have owned a Model II appears to be a muddled memory. Or you paid far too much for part of a Model II with a gaping hole to the right of the screen. The former is more likely than the latter.

Here's a webpage with a picture of the Model II.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80_Model_II

Please refer to that, and consider the possibility that your recollection that you owned a Model II without a floppy drive is perhaps a bit off.

Was it a Model I Level II ?

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kbeepfix anybody? :-)

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Z-80

I spent a year writing assembler code for the Z-80, then I moved on to the 6502 ..... ahhhh, memories (and registers).

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Re: Z-80

Hehehe - I went the other way around; 6502 (Commodore PET 3032 and BBC Micro Model B) to Z-80 (TRS-80 Model II). The 6502 (and 6510) were significantly simpler instruction sets and register sets than the Z-80 and therefore significantly more work to program for. The Z-80 was a positive JOY to work with after the 6502 although I will always be very nostalgic about the earlier chip.

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Re: Z-80

I used to design and build prototype industrial controllers and display equipment. The 6502 had 2kB of on-board RAM so it was easier and cheaper to lash up a prototype and cheaper to produce the final product. The Z-80 did have a very nice instruction set, as you say.

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Will it run Dancing Demon?

If not, useless.

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DirectX

Great, but why does it need DirectX?????!

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"one line" games?

Didn't know TRS-80 had APL.

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Re: "one line" games?

The "One-Liners" were typically written in BASIC, concatenating the expressions up to the character limit per line of about 244 [?] characters. My recollection is that this was more popular on the TRS-80 Color Computer, and the results published in The Rainbow magazine under the heading "Men [sexist] of Few Words" or the 'One-Liners" heading.

I personally wrote an Adventure Game *ENGINE* in one line of BASIC, followed by as many additional lines of DATA statements as required for each "You've entered a dungeon. To your left is a window, and on the floor is a trap door." as you like. Worked perfectly.

I also wrote a One-Liner "video game", which was a spinning circle (with a gap) and a joystick controlled line segment. Using the joystick, get the line into the spinning circle through the gap without touching. Not very exciting, except as a demo.

My recollection includes that there was an exotic PEEK/POKE technique to pack in a few extra characters, several more than could be entered by hand. This observation then led me to the technique of packing in ^h (backspace) characters, wherein placeholder characters could be replaced with backspaces. Thus one could control what the code looked like when listed, as opposed to the actual code hidden under the backspaces. It was thus possible to write a BASIC program that looked like 10 PRINT "No!" when listed, but output "Yes!" when run. Anything became possible with this trick.

Cheers.

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Re: "one line" games?

"The "One-Liners" were typically written in BASIC, concatenating the expressions up to the character limit per line of about 244 [?] "

Try that on a Beeb and you'd encouter a 'musical' buffer overrun

10 G.20:G.20:G.20.... until the line's full.

the numbers didn't matter, but when you hit Return the line expanded thus:

10 GOTO 20:GOTO 20... and overran into the area allocated for sound!

I've a TRS80 sitting beside the daisy wheel printer and a handful of BBC Micros .. I doubt I'll ever power them on again, but can't bear to throw them out.

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Re: "one line" games?

"Try that on a Beeb and you'd encouter a 'musical' buffer overrun

10 G.20:G.20:G.20.... until the line's full.

the numbers didn't matter, but when you hit Return the line expanded thus:

10 GOTO 20:GOTO 20... and overran into the area allocated for sound!"

LOL, yes, but the TRS-80 was the opposite. Enter as much as you can, numbering your line as 0 (zero) because GOTO on its own would GOTO 0, saving a byte or two per GOTO, but then you press ENTER and EDIT 0. At the point you pressed ENTER, the line interpreter tokenised the BASIC commands in single byte tokens, allowing you to add more instructions to the now "shorter" line.

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Dragon 32

Wasn't this the Dragon 32 a kinda rebadged TRS80 made in Wales?

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Re: Dragon 32

Yes a clone of the later Tandy Color (sic) computer ... 6809 cpu IIRC.

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Re: Dragon 32

I will be firing up my Dragon 32 in June I still have the DASM cartridge :-)

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Re: Dragon 32

"6809 cpu IIRC"

You do, indeed, RC. In a sad, wistful sort of way, I sometimes miss my CoCo. Megabug FTW!(1)

(1) One of many contemporaneous PacMan "clones", way better than the Atari 2600 version. Featured a "synthesised" Japanese-sounding voice that screamed "Weeeeeee Gotcha!" when the aforementioned bugs caught the player, and a moving magnifier around you so it could have huge maps. And incidental music playing "La Cucaracha" (?sp) in between games.

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Re: Dragon 32

StC " I sometimes miss my CoCo."

I still have about four or five CoCos (including a CoCo 3) stored away, plus many of the accessories.

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Re: Dragon 32

I was impressed with the durability of the CoCos, as I saw them in use far beyond (by over a decade) what I thought would be their end-of-life. And the software that their owners would run was impressive. A grand leap over the ancestral TRS-80.

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Re: Dragon 32

Yes a clone of the later Tandy Color (sic) computer ... 6809 cpu IIRC.

Best of all (just IMHO of course) you could get OS-9 for it.

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Re: Dragon 32

"...you could get OS-9 for it."

We should clarify this, lest the Mac owners become confused.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OS-9

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Re: Dragon 32

OS-9 FTW, man. The C compiler for OS-9 was my first experience of C. I even patched the module loader to not check the CRC-24 when loading modules from files, because for one phase of the C compiler, it took so long that the stop-motor timer for the floppy drive expired.

And I have memories of having a problem with DP Johnson's SDisk, and phoning the man himself for tech support, and getting an updated copy of the module in the mail.

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20 IF N=1 GOTO 10

Missing 'THEN'?

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Re: 20 IF N=1 GOTO 10

"Missing 'THEN'?"

Many BASIC dialects (including the ones in the TRS-80 machines of all stripes) allowed IF ... GOTO without the "THEN".

Weirdly, the "standard" BASIC in the TRS-80 Color Computer didn't allow "LET". At the same time, the technical oddities of the Sinclair ZX-80 and -81 program entry system meant that "LET" was mandatory. That was confusing.

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