Topic: An ode to the TRS-80 Model 100
As you may know, I am a "computer hoarder". However, this doesn't just include stuff made in the last 10-15 years. In fact, the oldest computer currently in my possession is a TRS-80 Model 100. These computers were released by Radio Shack in 1983, and because they were mostly used by businesspeople and writers, there's no "nostalgia tax" involved and you can get them for relatively little money. I picked up my decent-condition M100 from eBay for around $80. Right now, the cheapest one is going for $85, Buy it Now. Why get a computer this old, though? There are several uses:
1. BASIC machine. The Model 100 has between 8 and 24K of storage for your BASIC programs, and its portability and ability to be used without a TV makes it great for a first BASIC learning machine.
2. Distraction free writing. The keyboards on these old computers feel great, and the screen is JUST small enough that you don't have to worry about what you write. You can then transfer your data to a newer computer with a 25 pin male to 9 pin female null modem cable that you plug into your computer's serial port- information on how to do that here: http://bitchin100.com/wiki/index.php?ti … erterminal This is what I did with my M100 until I decided to make it something I could use more, so I settled on using it as a...
3. Dumb terminal. This computer is one of the most easy to use as a dumb terminal. Following the directions here: http://www.planetnz.com/palmheads/tandy … =dumb#dumb gives you a usable dumb terminal at 2400 baud, except you'll want to use the second termcap file which you can find here: http://bitchin100.com/wiki/index.php?ti … _T_Termcap . I mainly keep it on as an IRC client, although you'll want to turn off listing all users in a channel on joining a channel. Here's a pic of it being used as an IRC terminal with a (Macgyvered) power supply plugged in.
The M100 needs a 6-volt power supply with the center pin negative. While my power supply had a positive center pin, I attached a bunch of alligator clips and brass fasteners which were good enough to make a temporary power supply (I have a legitimate one on order, and don't try this at home).
You can get support for these old computers at www.club100.org. I'm subscribed to their mailing list, which sends out an email full of new messages at 6:05 PM Eastern every day. They also sell some new hardware for the device, like AC adapters, carry cases, and devices that plug into the serial port and give you an SD card slot to store stuff on. If you're getting a M100, I'd recommend a Tandy 102, as it's thinner, newer, and runs the same software as the M100. I just got my M100 because it was cheaper on eBay.