Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Time is Near

The Model I

My first access to a computer was in 1978, when my father brought home a TRS-80 Model I, 16k Level II system. I fondly remember the trip to the Radio Shack store in Kewaunee, IL. My dad and I stayed up until 2am that night, playing backgammon and blackjack. I was hooked immediately. I learned to program on the TRS-80 model I and it set in motion what would later become a career. I was 13 years old at the time. I spent most evenings through high school hammering at the keyboard, typing in programs from 80 Micro, and occasionally loading up Ball Turret Gunner, Star Fighter, or Meteor Mission. In highschool, I entered two projects in the science fair. One was a study of seeding random numbers and demonstrating how I could make the TRS-80's random number very predictable. The other was a program that solved chemical equations. It was written in basic, required the entire periodic table in memory and pushed 16k to its limits! It didn't hurt my chemistry grades either.

The Color Computer

Fast Forward to 1985. I was 21 and wanted a computer that wouldn't take up much space in my tiny apartment and wouldn't break the bank. Since I was very familiar with BASIC, my logical choice was the TRS-80 Color Computer. I quickly had Graphicom, Autoterm, Telewriter, added a disk drive and a real color monitor. I was amazed at what this little machine could do! Time was marked by each issue of The Rainbow arriving in the mail. Each month was like Christmas, flipping through the pages and drooling over the products I couldn't immediately afford.

Exiting the Tandy World

Eventually I made the jump to the Tandy Color Computer 3 and quickly embraced OS-9 as my day job was working almost exclusively with Unix operating systems. I managed to get UUCP up and operating on my CoCo 3. I could transfer files between home and office from either location. Sure it was 1200bps, but so cool to be able to network between the big metal and my humble CoCo3. The CoCo was my primary computer until 1996. With most CoCo support seemingly dried up, I purchased an Apple Mac Performa. One big reason for this was my fondness for the Motorola CPU family. Radio Shack was now only selling Intel/MS-DOS PCs. Life events would see the elimination of all of my CoCo stuff by 1998.

Rediscovering Community

In mid 2009, I began doing some web searches on the CoCo and was surprised to find quite a few hits and an active mailing list. I also discovered that there was still a CoCoFEST in the Chicago area. I had never had the opportunity to attend such events at their peak. Without question, I was going to attend. I also needed to obtain a CoCo again. Happily, through eBay and some local collections being sold, I was able to go from 0 to 60 in a very short time. My first CoCoFest was in the spring of 2010 and I've been attending ever since.

Why Tandy Assembly?

So, why the walk down memory lane? The main point is that each of us has a story and a connection to Radio Shack / Tandy computers, often more than one model. I worked at a Radio Shack store for a couple of years. Most of us have spent a long time in a Radio Shack store, trying out pocket computers, Model 100s, or Model IIIs & IVs. The younger among us had a similar experience with the Model 1000 and the line of Intel systems at Radio Shack. If you're a fan of Radio Shack / Tandy computers, you most likely grew up with its evolving forms.

While CoCoFEST is a great event every year, its focus is on only one computer. The other Radio Shack / Tandy communities seemed smaller and less active. In any case, none of the separate communities are what you would consider sizable. Tandy Assembly was meant to cast a wider net, encompassing all Radio Shack and Tandy computers in one place, giving everyone a chance to share their story, their experience, and hopefully to kindle more enjoyment in their vintage computers.

As I write this, the inaugural Tandy Assembly is just 5 weeks away! We are excited about the event and we hope that you are too. We've spent 18 months getting to this point and have learned a lot along the way. We have an amazing line up of Radio Shack/Tandy pioneer speakers that you won't want to miss!

So book a room and plan on seeing us at Tandy Assembly. See other models you never had the chance to look at and meet people that actually know about them! And of course, you can find your favorite model and bond with your kindred folk.  Its going to be a great time in Chillicothe,OH! Many lifelong friendships emerge from such events and you will certainly be happy you attended!