TRS-80 Model I

The TRS-80 Model I (Tandy Radio Shack) is what I recall as being the very first home computer. Today I'm not sure that this is 100% true, but it was certainly the first home computer to be mass marketed. Back in 1977 when it was first introduced, I distinctly remember that there was quite a buzz about it. Even in that day and age computers were things that were placed in rooms, not on desktops. Radio Shack was a firmly established nationwide electronics chain, and was in the perfect position to manufacture and market home computers.

Despite the lack of available software, and no specific need for home computers, it sold well and quickly became a cultural icon. These meager beginnings spawned the micro computer revolution, which in turn spawned the information revolution, which still has us reeling today.

I never owned a Model I back when they were still being manufactured. My interest in computers was cursory at best, and I had no money to spend on such an elaborate toy.

Many years later, however, I overheard a co-worker mentioned that he had a Model I taking up space in his closet, and he'd gladly give it away to anyone who wanted it. I quickly said that I'd be more than happy to take it off his hands. He didn't immediately offer it to me, but said that in principle that he was willing to give it to me. Some months later he said that he'd give me the computer if I came by one day and helped him take his recyblables to the redemption center (this was before the days of curb-side pickup in Ithaca). After an hour or two of work, the classic artifact of computing history was mine!

When I got it home and opened up all the boxes he'd sent me off with, I was delighted to find that he had assembled quite the cherry system. He had a lot of commercially marketed software on cassette tape! That was something I'd never seen before. He also had dual disk drives and other accessories. He had manuals for advanced BASIC and Assembly Language programming, but he didn't have the beginners manuals.

To this day the system still works. At least the solid-state BASIC interpreter still works. I've yet to get the disk drives working, but that's not to say that they're broken.

It remains one of my most cherished possessions, and holds a prominent role in my collection.

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