During the Easter long weekend, I started looking through one of my family's old encyclopedia yearbooks. (I always had the impression, though, that Grolier more stopped sending them to us than we stopped ordering them...) I was looking at the events of 1983 with one particular anniversary in mind, but in a serendipitous discovery, I realised that 1983 also marked the introduction of the TRS-80 Model 100 Portable Computer
... which makes it twenty-five years old this year. (March may even be its anniversary month...)
Growing up, I suppose, I was part of a "Radio Shack" family... I barely knew you could get computers anywhere else until "plain" PCs started showing up in the homes of friends around the "EGA" era or so. When Radio Shack introduced a portable computer, my dad got one to take to work, and a while later it became about as close as I've ever got to a "portable of my own..." As some still take pleasure in pointing out, as a one-hundred percent solid-state device, it was fast to switch on and ran for a good long time on ordinary AA batteries. Still, with a screen that only displayed eight lines of forty characters each (the title of this post won't quite fit on one of those lines), it could get kind of hard to follow the flow of a large document. As hard as it may be to believe, I could start feeling lost in thirty-two kilo
bytes of onboard memory... To go beyond that, though, over the years we found a variety of solutions to interface it with desktop systems to store files and then move them into different programs... and all of those desktop systems themselves are more or less obsolete these days.
On realising the anniversary, I found my family's Model 100... the internal battery had at last gone dead after long years in storage and the memory had blanked, but once plugged in it still worked. I remembered how noisy the keyboard got and how I had once tried to use it to take notes in the university library at least as much for that "retro" feel as anything, only to get everyone around me upset. One thing that did strike me, though, was how thick
it seemed (5 cm thick according to this reference
)... when a principal selling point of modern portable systems like the MacBook Air
is how thin they are (1.94 cm thick at its thickest), it may have carried some extra significance for me. I also did some nostalgic searching and discovered that there's an emulator program
... and wrote a draft of this post in it, just for the strangeness of getting used to that eight by forty screen again.