Newly listed items to watch:
Tandy 1000HX, complete working system. Starting bid is only 99 cents, but I suspect the reserve is a bit higher than that. You will get a good deal if you can get this PC-compatible for less than $50.
HP-1000 Series M. The seller of this early microcomputer claims it’s working, but all he really claims is that the lights come on. It appears to be a relatively complete system, and the $1300 buy-it-now price is reasonable. 29 days left at this writing.
Franklin Ace 100. Although the opening bid is on the high side at $400, you don’t see many of the original Franklin line for sale. This one appears to be in above-average working condition.
MicroBee 32K IC Series II. Popular in Australia, where this system currently resides, the MicroBee is a home system from the early 1980s. This example is in good working order with a lot of extras.
Commentary on recently ended auctions:
DEC VAX 11/780. The market is strong for DEC minicomputers. The VAX 11/780 was top of the line when new, and the $500 sale price is reasonable. I hope the buyer didn’t choose the seller’s option to part out the system.
HP 75C. Milestone models of handheld computers are rising in value. HP is one of the premiere brands in the space, and the HP 75C is one of the most sought-after models. This one sold for nearly $275–a strong price.
Hyundai Super-386STc PC. I have to admit, I’m surprised that this PC clone even sold, let a lone for $61 with no keyboard or monitor. The Hyundai brand never carried much cachet in the PC market. I could easily see an early Dell, Gateway, or AST system selling in this range. Maybe people are starting to collect off-brands of PC clones.
When the Tandy brass gave the go-ahead to market the Model I, company president Lewis Kornfeld rationalized that if they didn’t sell, the company would used them in its retail outlets. The initial run of 5,000 systems sold out quickly, and Tandy suddenly found itself in the computer business. Apple, Commodore, and Tandy fans will often argue about which company was first to mass market a personal computer, but the three were within a couple of months of each other with the edge going to Apple.
Although Tandy never formally designated its original TRS-80 system as such, “Model I” was the name by which everyone, including Tandy, called the computer. Tandy was notorious among electronics suppliers for negotiating the lowest possible prices, and that skill was no doubt a factor in the low price of the Model I. Legend has it that Tandy bought thousands of obsolete black-and-white TV components on the cheap and converted them for the Model I displays.
In the mid-1970s, Tandy was debating whether to manufacture and sell a microcomputer. One problem: The company lacked knowledge of the market. By chance, two Tandy executives walked into a computer store on the West Coast and met a young man named Steve Leininger. Leininger had a degree in electronics and a handle on the hobbyist market. Tandy eventually hired Leininger and moved him to Texas, where he designed the TRS-80 Microcomputer System. By 1979, Tandy had sold 100,000 of them. Tandy discontinued the Model I at the end of 1980.
The original TRS-80 is the most sought-after, and desirable options such as the Expansion Interface (which, among other things, allowed for up to 48K RAM), monitor, and floppy drive can push values to $300 or more. The earliest models had only a keyboard, but by 1978 Tandy was selling the Model I with a keyboard/keypad. The edge connectors on the main unit and Expansion Interface were prone to corrosion. If you find a system or peripheral that doesn’t work, clean the connectors and try again. Rubbing the connector with a pencil eraser often does the trick.
The Model III is an all-in-one system that is software compatible with the Model I. Improvements over the Model I include a built-in power supply, 1,500-baud cassette I/O mode, and a more robust BASIC in ROM. It’s more common to find Model IIIs with floppy drives than without. Check the monitor of examples you find to make sure it is secure. Sharp jolts to the system often broke the internal plastic mounts.
The most noticeable difference between the Model III and Model 4 is the switch from a silver-grey color to “fawn grey” (more off-white than grey) for the case. The new finish doesn’t wear off as easily as the silver-grey paint, but it collects dirt. Cleaning the off-white models is complicated by the textured surface. Tip: Use a mild spray-on cleaner and let it soak; then gently wipe it clean in a circular motion. Harsh chemicals and brute force will damage the surface.
The TRS-80 Model 4P was a Model 4 reconfigured as a portable. It was a durable system with a proven, stable design. The detachable cover that holds the keyboard during transport is sometimes lost on examples found today.All versions of the Model 4 could run the software of its predecessor in Model III mode.
The Model 4D was the last of the TRSDOS-based line. It was a regular Model 4 with dual floppy drives, 64K RAM, the DeskMate application suite, and an RS-232C interface as standard. By the time the 4D was introduced, the TRS-80 line was a small part of Tandy’s computer business. Tandy sold only 3,750 TRSDOS systems in the first quarter of 1986, for example.
Tandy introduced the Model II as a more serious business system, and did a good job of providing software support for it. Taranto & Associates sold Model IIs under its own brand with its suite of business software pre-installed. The Model 12 was compatible with the Model II and could be upgraded to the Model 16B multi-user system. Tandy released a Model 16B in 1983 that was primarily a multi-user system. The Tandy 6000, a multi-user system running Xenix, eventually replaced the Model 16.
In terms of fanatical devotion, Color Computer (or CoCo, as it was commonly referred to) owners were second to none. The computer, designed by a young engineer by the name of Dale Chatham, didn’t appear that special, but it had what was arguably the most powerful 8-bit processor available at the time, a good implementation of BASIC, and much potential for expansion. With the optional Extended Color BASIC, the CoCo could display 256 x 192 graphics.
Tandy rarely released sales figures, but it is believed that the company sold several million CoCos of all types, and they are common and inexpensive today. Peripherals and software are plentiful, too, which makes the CoCo a great hobby computer today. A Multi-Pak Interface, which allows for system expansion, and the floppy drives might cost more today than the main system, but they make the CoCo much more usable. In late 1980, Tandy introduced a 16K model with Extended Color BASIC as standard.
The 64K CoCo was a short-run transition model between the original system and the Color Computer 2. It came in two forms: the old-style silver/grey color with a badge labeled “64K” on the right of the keyboard area, and with an off-white old-style case with the label above the keyboard. Few were made, and it is the rarest CoCo.
The CoCo 2 and 3 were arguably the best deal of the day in a low-cost computer. With the optional OS-9 operating system and memory expansion, their capabilities and performance rivaled that of some 16-bit systems. They even had multitasking and multi-user capabilities, but were also backward-compatible with the original CoCo. Even today, these systems are fun to use and make a great starter collectible. Availability for both the Color Computer 2 and 3 are high and prices are low. Tandy sold 36,000 CoCo 2s in the first quarter of 1986.
The CoCo 3 had a faster processor and better graphics than the CoCo 2. It also broke the 64K barrier for the CoCo with a maximum memory capacity of 512K, giving the powerful OS-9 operating system some breathing room. Tandy apparently produced more Color Computer 3s than it could easily sell, and by the late 1980s was discounting them heavily. It’s not uncommon to find little used or unused examples still in their original boxes.
The MC-10 was a belated and short-lived attempt to offer an even less-expensive Color Computer to compete with the Timex Sinclair systems. Matra Hachette sold the same system in Europe as the Alice.
Although the 2000 ran MS-DOS, it was not fully PC-compatible. Programs that were written to accommodate the PC hardware specifications would not run on the 2000 without modification. Those applications that did work on the 2000 ran faster and sometimes looked better than on the IBM PC. In October 1986, Tandy sold off its remaining 2000 inventory in a blow-out sale.
The Tandy 1200, however, was your classic PC XT-compatible. Systems sold with hard drives were labeled Tandy 1200HD, which was actually introduced before the floppy-drive-only 1200. The latter first appeared in November 1985. When Tandy announced the 3000 HL in July 1986, the 1200 models were designated SOWG (sold out when gone), Tandy’s euphemism for “discontinued.”
Much to the alarm of the TRSDOS faithful, the Tandy 1000 was a rousing success. In 1985, research firm Future Computing ranked it as the top-selling low-cost PC compatible, and Tandy put 1000 unit sales at 125,000 for that year alone. Production ended in July 1986.
Although the TRS-80 Model 2000 appeared earlier, the Tandy 1000 represented the company’s shift from its proprietary TRSDOS systems to true PC compatibility. For the first time, the TRS-80 label disappeared from a Tandy computer’s brand name. Systems sold with hard drives were labeled Tandy 1000HD. Today, the Tandy 1000 is an inexpensive collectible, although many have become separated from their monitors or keyboards. Also, the 1000 was not 100 percent hardware compatible with the PC; many PC-standard add-on boards won’t work with it. If you get a Tandy 1000 from a school, look under the cover for a possible bonus: a Diamond Trackstar Apple II emulator board.
The 1000 EX was a reconfigured 1000 SX aimed at the home and school markets. Tandy decided to go with its proprietary PLUS expansion slots in the 1000 EX, which forced users to buy add-on boards from Tandy or a limited number of third-party vendors. Both the 1000 EX and 1000 SX were supposed to ship within a week of their July 30, 1986, announcement, but Tandy ran into trouble with FCC RFI (radio frequency interference) certification. The systems didn’t ship until September.
The 1000 SX replaced the Tandy 1000 and provided greater compatibility with PC add-on cards and better overall performance. It was a good seller for Tandy. By January 1987, backorders for the system topped 30,000. Subsequent models included the 8086-based 1000 SL, the 8088-based 1000 HX, and the 80286-based 1000 TX. The latter two were launched in 1987. An 80286-based 1000 TL appeared in 1988 and was the last of the Tandy 1000 line.
The Tandy 3000 was the company’s first IBM PC AT compatible and one of the top sellers in its class. Like many other manufacturers, it competed with IBM on price and performance, using a faster 80286 processor. Units sold with hard drives were designated Tandy 3000HD. The 3000 HL replaced the Tandy 1200.
Many people consider the Model 100 the first truly useable portable. The size of a hardcover book, it had a screen just large enough to do word processing or spreadsheet calculations. Reporters in particular grew fond and dependent on the Model 100, and many of the systems remained in use for years. In fact, part of the demand for the Model 100 today is from people looking to replace their worn-out units. Japan’s Kyocera manufactured the Model 100 for Tandy.
An uncommon but desirable Model 100 option is the DIsk/Video Interface, which provides one or two floppy drives and the option to use either a TV or a monitor for the display. Third-party ROMs containing more sophisticated software can enhance the value and usability of a Model 100. The system runs on four AA batteries. Tandy discontinued the Model 100 in June 1986. The smaller Tandy 102 replaced the Model 100, and it was functionally the same.
Tandy added a little thickness to the Model 100/102 design to accommodate a flip-up LCD in the 200. The result was a notebook computer better suited for common applications such as word processing and spreadsheets. Like the 100/102, the 200 runs off either an AC adapter or four AA batteries.
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Microcomputer System (Model I) (Aug. 1977, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $400 to $600
Base Configuration: Z80 CPU, 4K RAM (16K max), 4K ROM (12K max), integral keyboard, Level I BASIC, user manual, AC adapter
Video: 16-line x 64-column uppercase text, 128 x 48 graphics
Size/Weight: 16.5 x 8 x 3.5 inches
Important Options: TRS-80 Expansion Interface, CTR-41 cassette recorder, external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive with TRSDOS, 12-inch monochrome monitor, Level II BASIC, RS-232 interface, Modem I
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model III (1980, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $699 to $2,495
Base Configuration: 2MHz Z80 CPU, 4K RAM (48K max), 4K ROM (14K max), integral 12-inch monochrome CRT and keyboard/keypad, Model III BASIC, parallel port
Video: 16-line x 64-column text
Important Options: TRSDOS, 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, RS-232C interface, CTR-41 cassette recorder, modem
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 4/Model 4D (1983 [Model 4], desktop)
Original Retail Price: $999 to $1,999
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A CPU, 16K RAM (128K max), 14K ROM, integral 12-inch monochrome CRT and keyboard/keypad, Microsoft BASIC 5.0, parallel port, owner’s and programming manuals, system introduction, reference card
Video: 24-line x 80-column text
Size/Weight: 12.5 x 18.87 x 21.5 inches
Important Options: one or two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, TRSDOS 6.0, cassette recorder, external 5- or 15MB hard disk drive, RS-232C interface, internal modem, DeskMate software
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 4P (Sept. 1983, transportable)
Original Retail Price: $1,799
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A, TRSDOS 6.0, 64K RAM (128K max), two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, integral 9-inch monochrome CRT, keyboard/keypad, parallel port, Microsoft BASIC 5.0
Video: 24-line x 80-column text
Size/Weight: 16.5 x 13.5 x 9.75 inches, 26 lbs.
Important Options: CP/M Plus, high-resolution graphics, RS-232C port, internal modem
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model II (May 1979, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $3,450 to $3,899
Base Configuration: TRSDOS, 32K RAM (64K max), 8-inch floppy disk drive, integral 12-inch monochrome CRT, keyboard/keypad, two RS-232C and one parallel port, Level III BASIC
Video: 24-line x 80-column text
Important Options: external 8-inch floppy disk drive, Line Printer II or III
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 12 (Jan. 1983, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $2,799 to $3,499
Base Configuration: 4MHz Z80A CPU, TRSDOS 4.2, 80K RAM (144K max), 8-inch floppy disk drive, integral 12-inch monochrome CRT, keyboard/keypad, two RS-232C and one parallel port, Microsoft BASIC
Video: 24-line x 80-column text, 640 x 240 graphics
Important Options: CP/M Plus, six-slot card cage, second internal or external dual 8-inch floppy disk drives, 15MB hard disk drive
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 16 (Jan. 1982, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $4,999 to $5,798
Base Configuration: 6MHz 68000 and 4MHz Z80A CPUs; TRSDOS-16; 128K RAM (512K max); 8-inch floppy disk drive; keyboard/keypad; two RS-232C and one parallel port
Important Options: TRS-Xenix, TRSDOS 4.2, or CP/M Plus; 8.4MB or 15MB hard disk drive; second 8-inch floppy disk drive; external dual 8-inch floppy disk drives
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer (July 1980, home computer)
Original Retail Price: $399
Base Configuration: 0.894MHz 6809E CPU; ROM cartridge slot; 4K RAM (16K max); 8K ROM; TV switch box, integral Chiclet-style keyboard; RS-232C, cassette, and two game ports; TRS-80 Color BASIC; operation and Color BASIC manuals; reference card
Video: 16-line x 32-column text, 64 x 32 graphics
Important Options: Multi-Pak Interface, external floppy disk drive, CTR-80A cassette recorder, enhanced graphics, joysticks, Quick Printer II, modem, Extended Color BASIC ROM
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 64K Color Computer (1983, home computer)
Original Retail Price: $400
Base Configuration: 6809E CPU; ROM cartridge slot; 64K RAM; integral Chiclet-style keyboard; RS-232C, cassette, and two game ports; TRS-80 Extended Color BASIC
Video: 16-line x 32-column text, eight colors max, 196 x 256 maximum graphics
Important Options: Multi-Pak Interface, external floppy disk drive, cassette recorder, joysticks, Quick Printer II, modem, Extended Color BASIC ROM
Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer 2 (Sept. 1983, home computer)
Original Retail Price: $160 to $260
Base Configuration: 0.894MHz 6809E CPU; ROM cartridge slot; 16K RAM (64K max); 8K ROM (16K max); RF modulator; integral keyboard; RS-232C, cassette, and TV video ports; Color BASIC
Video: 16-line x 32-character text, 256 x 192 graphics, eight colors
Size/Weight: 3 x 10.37 x 14.75 inches
Important Options: OS-9, Multi-Pak Interface, CCR-82 or CCR-81 cassette recorder, FD-501 Color Thinline 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, mouse, Extended Color BASIC, joysticks
Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer 3 (July 1986, home computer)
Original Retail Price: $219
Base Configuration: 1.7MHz 6809 CPU; ROM cartridge slot; 128K RAM (512K max); 32K ROM; RF modulator; integral keyboard; RS-232C, cassette, TV and RGB video ports; BASIC; DeskMate 3
Video: 24-line x 80-column text, 640 x 192 graphics, 16 colors
Size/Weight: 3 x 10.37 x 14.75 inches
Important Options: OS-9 2.0, Multi-Pak Interface, FD-502 Color Thinline 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, cassette recorder, 13-inch CM-8 color monitor, mouse, joysticks
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model MC-10 (1983, home computer)
Original Retail Price: $120
Base Configuration: 4K RAM (20K max), integral Chiclet-style keyboard
Tandy TRS-80 Model 2000 (Nov. 1983, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $2,750 to $4,250
Base Configuration: 8MHz 80186 CPU; MS-DOS 2.0; four proprietary expansion slots; 128K RAM (768K max); 5.25-inch floppy disk drive; keyboard/keypad; RS-232C, parallel, and composite video ports; Microsoft BASIC
Video: 640 x 400 graphics
Size/Weight: 18.75 x 21.25 inches, 41 lbs.
Important Options: second 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 10MB hard disk drive, Disk Cartridge System, 12-inch monochrome VM-1 or 14-inch color CM-1 monitor, graphics upgrade, mouse, floor stand
Tandy 1200 (Sept. 1984, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,499 to $2,999
Base Configuration: 4.77MHz 8088 CPU, MS-DOS 2.11, seven ISA slots, 256K RAM (640K max), 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, keyboard/keypad, parallel port, Microsoft BASIC, owner’s manual
Important Options: second 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 10MB hard disk drive, 12-inch VM-3 monochrome or 13-inch CM-2 color monitor
Tandy 1000 (Nov. 1984, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,199
Base Configuration: 4.77MHz 8088 CPU; MS-DOS 2.11; three ISA slots; 128K RAM (640K max); 5.25-inch floppy disk drive; keyboard/keypad; parallel, game, and light-pen ports; DeskMate software; BASIC; three-voice sound
Video: 640 x 200 graphics, CGA
Important Options: internal or external 10MB hard disk drive, 10MB Bernoulli drive, monochrome VM-2 or color CM-2 CRT display, RS-232C interface, modem
Tandy 1000 EX (Sept. 1986, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $799
Base Configuration: 7.16MHz 8088-2; MS-DOS 2.11; PLUS slot; 256K RAM (640K max); 5.25-inch floppy disk drive; integral keyboard/keypad; parallel, RGB, composite video, and two game ports; headphone jack; Personal DeskMate software; GW-BASIC
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, CGA, eight colors
Important Options: PLUS Expansion Adapter; 12-inch monochrome VM-4, 13-inch color CM-5, or color CM-10 CRT display; mouse; RS-232C interface; modem
Tandy 1000 SX (Sept. 1986, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,199
Base Configuration: 7.16MHz 8088; MS-DOS 3.2; five ISA slots; 384K RAM (640K max); two 5.25-inch floppy disk drives; keyboard/keypad; parallel, two game, light-pen, and RGB and composite video ports; DeskMate II; GW-BASIC
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics, eight colors
Important Options: 80286 processor upgrade, 10- or 20MB hard disk drive, monochrome VM-4 or color CM-5 or CM-10 monitor, mouse, RS-232C interface, modem
Tandy 3000 (Nov. 1985, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $2,599 to $3,599
Base Configuration: 8MHz or 12MHz 80286 CPU, MS-DOS 3.1, 10 ISA slots (eight open), 512K RAM (1MB max), 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, keyboard/keypad, RS-232C and parallel ports, Professional DeskMate software, utilities disk, installation and operation manual
Video: CGA Size/Weight: 6.5 x 19 x 18 inches, 42 lbs.
Important Options: OS/2 or Xenix 5.0, 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, 20MB or 40MB hard disk drive, tape backup unit, 12-inch monochrome VM-1 or 14-inch color CM-1 monitor, EGA card, modem
Tandy 3000 HL (July 1986, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,699
Base Configuration: 8MHz 80286 CPU, MS-DOS 3.2, seven ISA slots, 512K RAM (640K max), 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, keyboard/keypad, RS-232C and parallel ports, GW-BASIC 3.2
Size/Weight: 6.12 x 17 x 15.5 inches, 32 lbs.
Important Options: second 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 20- or 40MB hard disk drive, monochrome VM-1 or color CM-1 monitor, modem
Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 (March 1983, notebook)
Original Retail Price: $799 to $999
Base Configuration: 2.4MHz 80C85 CPU; proprietary operating system in ROM; ROM socket; 8K RAM (32K max); 32K ROM; monochrome LCD; integral keyboard; RS-232C, parallel, cassette, and bar-code ports; BASIC; application suite in ROM; internal modem; AC adapter; slipcover
Video: 8-line x 40-column text
Size/Weight: 2 x 11.87 x 8.5 inches, 3.9 lbs.
Important Options: Disk/Video Interface, external 3.5-inch or 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, carrying case
Tandy 102 (June 1986, notebook)
Original Retail Price: $499
Base Configuration: 2.4MHz 80C85 CPU; expansion bus; ROM socket; 24K RAM (32K max); monochrome LCD; integral keyboard; RS-232C, parallel, cassette, and bar-code reader ports; BASIC and application suite in ROM; internal modem; AC adapter; slipcover
Video: 8-line x 40-column text
Size/Weight: 1.5 x 11.8 x 8.5 inches, 3 lbs.
Important Options: Disk/Video Interface, external 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, carrying case
Tandy 200 (1984, notebook)
Original Retail Price: $799
Base Configuration: 2.4MHz 80C85 CPU; 24K RAM (72K max); 72K ROM (104K max); monochrome LCD; integral keyboard; RS-232C, parallel, bar-code, and cassette ports; application suite, internal modem
Video: 16-line x 40-column text, 240 x 128 graphics
Size/Weight: 2.15 x 11.75 x 8.5 inches, 4.5 lbs.
Important Options: Disk/Video Interface, external 3.5-inch floppy disk drive
Tandy 600 (Oct. 1985, notebook)
Original Retail Price: $1,599
Base Configuration: 3.07MHz 80C88 CPU, expansion slot, 32K RAM (224K max), 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, monochrome LCD, RS-232C and parallel ports, application suite, internal modem, NiCad battery pack, AC adapter
Video: 16-line x 80-column text, 480 x 128 graphics
Size/Weight: 2.75 x 12 x 13 inches, 9.5 lbs.
Important Options: Disk/Video Interface, BASIC
Tandy 1400 LT (Aug. 1987, laptop PC)
Original Retail Price: $1,599
Base Configuration: 7.16MHz V-20 CPU, MS-DOS 3.2, 768K RAM, 16K ROM, two 3.5-inch floppy disk drives, RGB and composite video ports, keyboard, RS-232C and parallel ports, GW-BASIC, battery pack, AC adapter
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics
Size/Weight: 14.5 x 12.37 x 3.5 inches, 13.5 lbs.
Important Options: internal modem, carrying case