krpalmer: (Default)
[personal profile] krpalmer
After having made a small point of mentioning the thirty-fifth anniversary of the introduction of the Apple II, it does seem it would be remiss for me to not also mention we've made it to the thirty-fifth anniversary of the introduction of the TRS-80: after all, my family actually had one of those computers long years before I saw an Apple II at school.

It's been pointed out more than a few times in recent years how Radio Shack's silver and black plastic-cased computer (designed to match the black and white surplus RCA television adapted into its monitor) outsold every other computer in the late 1970s, be they cased in beige-to-tan plastic (designed from scratch) or sturdy metal. Just linking this to the all the Radio Shack stores doesn't seem enough to be a lesson for our times; instead, I've seen it linked to how the basic TRS-80 was less than half the price of the cheapest Apple II (although I've looked at enough old catalogues to have the impression adding the improved BASIC and more memory and the external box needed to hook up to the disk drives brought the prices closer to level). We never went quite that far ourselves, and given things I've heard over the years we may have escaped hassles by just adding on a third-party tape-cartridge drive. (It also damped out the "keybounce"...) The second part of the morality play seems to be commenting on how Radio Shack, in selling only software it could put its own logo on in its own stores, let that first sales advantage slip from its hands. Introducing incompatible systems one after another might not have helped, though, although I've been a little struck by how not that many years separated Tandy Corporation dropping the last "proprietary operating system" computers from its catalogues and it no longer making PCs with its own name on them. After that, there seemed nothing left but the memories.
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