UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Powered By Google Custom Search Vintage Radio and TV Service Data

Go Back   UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum > Specific Vintage Equipment > Vintage Computers

Notices

Vintage Computers Any vintage computer systems, calculators, video games etc., but with an emphasis on 1980s and earlier equipment.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 21st Nov 2023, 10:59 am   #1
David G4EBT
Dekatron
 
David G4EBT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Cottingham, East Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 5,689
Default 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

How times change!

From the 1980-81 Tandy Catalogue:

Quote:

*TRS-80 Model II, 'Best Buy in a Business Microcomputer!'

*You can own our top of the line for an unbelievably low price!

*Our features start where other computers finish!

"32K or 64K internal memory, built in 8" double density disk drive. Enough data handling capacity for a small business. File 416,000 characters of records and programs on interchangeable floppy discs, using the built-in 8" video monitor. Quality lower case characters".

Unquote.

32K model: £1,199: Equates to £13,250 in 2023.
64K model: £2,499: Equates to £15,000 in 2023.

(About the price of a small family car back then!).

Software at £429 each: Equates to £2,600 in 2023:

Purchase leger.
Sales leger.
Payroll.
Nominal Leger.

Contrast those prices with say a USB 3.0 Sandisk Flash Drive memory stick for £10.00 or less today.( Equates to £110 in 1980).

As to memory sticks, this caught my eye:

'The USB Memory Stick Is Facing extinction':

https://www.fastcompany.com/1816192/...s%20to%20blame

Historical UK Inflation calculator: https://iamkate.com/data/uk-inflation/

Attached pic from Tandy 1980 Catalogue.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Tandy TRS80 Desktop Computer 1980 pic2.jpg
Views:	102
Size:	96.5 KB
ID:	288486  
__________________
David.
BVWS Member.
G-QRP Club member 1339.
David G4EBT is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2023, 2:12 pm   #2
Phil__G
Octode
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: North Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 1,016
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

They said cassette tapes were obsolete. But Iron Maiden, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and many more mainstream artists seem to think otherwise!

Personally I find USB sticks to be the most convenient of any media to date.
Critics who have never in their lives ventured out of their WiFi bubble base their arguments on net-based alternatives but we real-worlders know better.
Fortunately the decision will be made by market demand, not by Kit Eaton!
/2p
Phil
Phil__G is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2023, 2:14 pm   #3
G6Tanuki
Dekatron
 
G6Tanuki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Wiltshire, UK.
Posts: 13,867
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

Quote:
Originally Posted by David G4EBT View Post
'The USB Memory Stick Is Facing extinction':

https://www.fastcompany.com/1816192/...s%20to%20blame.
That article is actually dated as from 2012!

I guess the USB memory-stick [yes I still use them] will ultimately go the way of floppy-disks and the later 'stiffie' disks, Zip-drives and such... after all, there's no way you can use a USB stick with your phone.
__________________
I'm the Operator of my Pocket Calculator. -Kraftwerk.
G6Tanuki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2023, 2:36 pm   #4
duncanlowe
Nonode
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Stafford, Staffs. UK.
Posts: 2,521
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

Quote:
Originally Posted by G6Tanuki View Post

I guess the USB memory-stick [yes I still use them] will ultimately go the way of floppy-disks and the later 'stiffie' disks, Zip-drives and such... after all, there's no way you can use a USB stick with your phone.
But there is. Many are now equipped with USB-C for that very purpose.
duncanlowe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21st Nov 2023, 3:55 pm   #5
paulsherwin
Moderator
 
paulsherwin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 27,643
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

Most Android devices can access a memory stick with a simple passive microUSB or USB-C adaptor, which you can buy for a couple of quid.

We tend to forget how expensive computers once were. When I joined ITN in 1981 they'd just spent a third of a million quid on a Vax 11/780 with 2MB of memory and two 67MB disc drives. It needed a dedicated machine room with 3 phase power and full aircon. In about 1983 I was ordering twin floppy 8086 IBM compatibles for about £3k a pop. Those were 1979/1983 £s, not inflation adjusted ones.
paulsherwin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Nov 2023, 11:55 am   #6
DrStrangelove
Banned
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Location: Neath, Port Talbot, Wales, UK.
Posts: 286
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

According to assorted inflation calculators £1k2 in 1980 equates to £4k5 (CPI) or £6k (RPI).

I recall spending £6k on a twin 8" floppy disk drive and expansion chassis for a GA16-200 computer in 1983.

A little later a HP9816 computer and floppy drive system cost £6k.

The packs of HP 3.5" diskettes were £40 for 10.

https://www.hpmuseum.net/display_ite...floppy%20drive).

My boss wondered why it was so much more expensive than an IBM XT.

He didn't blink at the cost of the HP4155A Semiconductor Analyser that it drove.

We did twitch a bit when we discovered the price of a 1mm to 1mm connector flex at £17 each. So we made some.

Last edited by DrStrangelove; 22nd Nov 2023 at 12:01 pm.
DrStrangelove is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Nov 2023, 1:20 pm   #7
David G4EBT
Dekatron
 
David G4EBT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Cottingham, East Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 5,689
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrStrangelove View Post
According to assorted inflation calculators £1k2 in 1980 equates to £4k5 (CPI) or £6k (RPI).
There are various UK inflation indices which produce differing results. The one I generally use was that stated in my earlier post:

https://iamkate.com/data/uk-inflation/

The basis of how it calculates inflation:

Quote:

The tables show the annual inflation rate for each year, year by year, between 1751 and 2023. The number under the Multiplier column is the cumulative inflation rate — the amount by which to multiply or divide in order to convert between prices in that year and 2023.

Data for 1949 onwards comes from the Office for National Statistics document 'RPI All Items: Percentage change over 12 months':

https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/infla...ries/czbh/mm23

Data for 1751 to 1948 comes from the 2004 paper Consumer Price Inflation Since 1750 (issn 0013-0400, Economic Trends No. 604, pp 38-46) by Jim O’Donoghue, Louise Goulding, and Grahame Allen.

End quote.

It looks a sound basis on which to calculate UK inflation rates, and the results seem realistic.

Using the calculator to give a personal comparative example, in 1968 in my late 20s, I spent a year commuting by train from Nottingham to Wellingborough - 100 miles each way, 6 days a week. For that, I received a daily allowance of £3.00 for travelling and meals, which seems like a pittance through today's eyes, but using the inflation calculator, that equates to £65.00 per day.

A monthly season ticket on the train cost me £11.00, which equates to £238.00 today.

Hence, in 12 months I received £18.00 a week expenses for 50 weeks (2 weeks holiday), total £900. I didn't buy any meals - I took sandwiches, so the only expense I incurred was 12 monthly train season tickets £11 = £132. Thus, at the end of the year, I was £768 in pocket = £16,600 today, tax free of course. That enabled me to buy my first new car - a Ford Escort, which cost me £680 = £14,690. (I also received a welcome bonus at the end of the year of £100 = £2,160). My gross annual salary was £900 - £19,500. (Less tax, N.I., pension etc).

All of those comparative figures look about right to me. (Though I don't think a small family car would be as cheap as £14,600 today, but modern cars are very much better equipped).

It wasn't easy money - up at 5am, out by 6am, home at night at 8.30pm. The only thing that kept me sane was that each time the train wheel went 'diddly dum, diddly dum', a little voice in my head said 'three pounds a day, three pounds a day'!
__________________
David.
BVWS Member.
G-QRP Club member 1339.
David G4EBT is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Nov 2023, 2:10 pm   #8
Gary5117
Triode
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: Birmingham, West Midlands, UK.
Posts: 15
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

I bought a Tandy TRS80 back in the day. My mum lent me the money. I don't remember the exact price, but I remember the reaction of the salesman in the shop. He couldn't hide his excitement. I was earning £31.00 a week at the time. The first thing I did write a program to was calculate how long it would take to pay my mum back....it was a long time.. I remember it came with a brilliant book that explained BASIC really well.
__________________
The more I find out, the more I know how much I don't know!
Gary5117 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Nov 2023, 5:45 pm   #9
Craig Sawyers
Dekatron
 
Craig Sawyers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oxford, UK.
Posts: 4,918
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

In my first job in 1981 it was my job to boot the VAX in the morning. As I hazily recall this involved toggling in a raw boot sequence. That got enough intelligence in the machine to read a punch tape with the rest of the boot process.

Then the hard disc went in - a push button opened a massive drawer. The disc was a huge thing, with a locking handle in the middle. Another button push closed the drawer, and then there was a sound like a spin dryer spooling up.

That replaced a PDP11, and before the VAX arrived I looked at the installation manual. Being an American product, the power consumption was in BThU per hour - and it was suspiciously to 7 digits. Worked it back into kW - and it was 3kW! The guy who wrote it got the power consumption in kW from the engineering team, and used his calculator to convert to BThU/h - then wrote all the digits down.

Fun times playing with a 19" rack full of stuff costing loadsa money, with the computing power and storage a tiny fraction of the machine I'm typing this on.

Craig
__________________
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night
Craig Sawyers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Nov 2023, 6:51 pm   #10
paulsherwin
Moderator
 
paulsherwin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Oxford, UK
Posts: 27,643
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

780s normally booted from an 8" floppy controlled by what was effectively a PDP, which then booted the HD. 750s booted from a TU58 tape cartridge. Our drives were top loaders - huge things we called 'washing machines'. The first Winchesters arrived in 1983, an unimaginably massive 512MB.

I don't remember any Vaxes which needed instruction toggling to boot, but there were lots of variants.

We had great fun on arriving for work the day after the local substation blew up. TV studios normally have emergency power from a backup generator, but this only powers the 'maintained power' circuits. When the 780 was installed, the sparkies dutifully connected it to maintained power, but nobody told them that the aircon needed to keep running as well. You can guess the rest...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VAX-11
paulsherwin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Nov 2023, 8:48 pm   #11
David G4EBT
Dekatron
 
David G4EBT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Cottingham, East Yorkshire, UK.
Posts: 5,689
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

What I find so mind boggling, is the exponential rate of progress of computing over the last 50 years. A smartphone today is millions of times more powerful than the Apollo 11 guidance computers. Not only has the computing power expanded exponentially, the costs have fallen off a cliff. Whereas the Apollo guidance computer was the size of a car, a USB stick fits in the palm of the hand and cost about the same as a cup of coffee.

Here's a snippet from the link below:

Quote:

In 1969, humans set foot on the moon for the very first time. Though NASA computers were pitiful by today’s standards, they were fast enough to guide humans across 356,000 km of space from the Earth to the Moon and return them safely. In fact, during the first Apollo missions, critical safety and propulsion mechanisms in spacecraft were controlled by software for the first time. These developments formed the basis for modern computing. The' Advance Guidance System' for Apollo 13 & 14 had just 64Kbyte of memory and operating at 0.043MHz.

Today, a simple USB stick or WiFi router is more powerful than these mainframes, let alone an iPhone. The iPhone 6 uses an Apple-designed 64 bit Cortex A8 ARM architecture composed of approximately 1.6 billion transistors. It operates at 1.4 GHZ and can process instructions at a rate of approximately 1.2 instructions every cycle in each of its 2 cores. That’s 3.36 billion instructions per second. Put simply, the iPhone 6’s clock is 32,600 times faster than the best Apollo era computers and could perform instructions 120,000,000 times faster. Even USB-C chargers are faster than Apollo computers. The Anker PowerPort Atom PD 2 runs at ~48 times the clock speed of the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer with 1.8x the program space.

End quote.

Source: https://www.zmescience.com/feature-p...even%20farther

What the next 50 years may bring is unimaginable.
__________________
David.
BVWS Member.
G-QRP Club member 1339.
David G4EBT is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Nov 2023, 10:07 pm   #12
Mark1960
Octode
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 1,241
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

It's not just the hardware but also the software tools on that hardware that have advanced. A low spec laptop with CAD tools could probably be used to design the lunar lander, which probably took a full company of designers and draftsmen.

Moore’s law may be slowing down, but each generation of software tools is used to improve and speed development of the next generation of hardware and software tools.
Mark1960 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd Nov 2023, 11:42 pm   #13
Tim
Dekatron
 
Tim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK.
Posts: 3,301
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

I remember the TRS 80. It "spoke" Tandy BASIC which was nearly, but not quite Standard BASIC. I was one of those teenage miscreants who used to sidle up to the demo model in Tandy( and possibly W.H.Smiths) and type something like:

10 PRINT "Hello "
20 GOTO 10
[RETURN]

and leave the screen to full up with Hellos. Never anything rude.

Our school had one computer in the mid eighties. One. An RML380z a big box about half the size of a filing cabinet that probably had about 512k of memory and TWO(!) 7.5" floppy drives. I was a card carrying member of the school computer club, and an extremely useful card it was too, as one was entitled to skip the queue for the dinner hall, and get off games(Which I hated, as I always got picked last and never understood the off side rule. In fact I still don't)

Recently my daughter bought a micro sd card, 256GB. That's 4 times bigger than the hard drive of the laptop I'm writing this on. Its crazy!
__________________
"Nothing is as dangerous as being too modern;one is apt to grow old fashioned quite suddenly."

Last edited by Tim; 22nd Nov 2023 at 11:51 pm.
Tim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd Nov 2023, 12:59 am   #14
Craig Sawyers
Dekatron
 
Craig Sawyers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oxford, UK.
Posts: 4,918
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

Here is a bunch of guys starting on the restoration of the Apollo guidance computer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KSahAoOLdU

There is a whole sequence of videos by this team as the progressively get this machine working again. It is not quite as huge as you might imagine, but primitive non the less.

ROM was something called Rope Memory, with this period video showing the process of construction

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BlivdwXRZU

Craig
__________________
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night
Craig Sawyers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd Nov 2023, 10:57 am   #15
TonyDuell
Dekatron
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Biggin Hill, London, UK.
Posts: 5,132
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
780s normally booted from an 8" floppy controlled by what was effectively a PDP, which then booted the HD. 750s booted from a TU58 tape cartridge. Our drives were top loaders - huge things we called 'washing machines'. The first Winchesters arrived in 1983, an unimaginably massive 512MB.

I don't remember any Vaxes which needed instruction toggling to boot, but there were lots of variants.
As far as I know there never was a VAX that had a hardware front panel to toggle in a bootstrap loader. And there never was a VAX that booted from paper tape. Plenty of PDP8 and PDP11 models could have been booted that way though.

The 11/780 had an LSI-11 with RX01 8" drives to boot it. The 11/730 certainly has an 8085 microprocessor to handle the console/boot and loads the processor microcode from a TU58 tape cartridge (I happen to own one...)
TonyDuell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd Nov 2023, 11:46 am   #16
Craig Sawyers
Dekatron
 
Craig Sawyers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oxford, UK.
Posts: 4,918
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

Maybe I'm remembering the PDP11 that we had before the VAX. It is after all 45 years ago so my recollection might be a little "foggy".

Craig
__________________
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night
Craig Sawyers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd Nov 2023, 2:17 pm   #17
DrStrangelove
Banned
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Location: Neath, Port Talbot, Wales, UK.
Posts: 286
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

Toggling bootstraps, oh wot joy.

I forget how many instructions were required for the GA SPC-16 card reader bootstrap, but it seemed like a lot.

http://www.dvq.com/oldcomp/ga/large/spc16-1.jpg
DrStrangelove is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd Nov 2023, 2:38 pm   #18
G6Tanuki
Dekatron
 
G6Tanuki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Wiltshire, UK.
Posts: 13,867
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

Don't remember the TRS80 Model II but one of my first clients was a building-supplies merchants had an "Ohio Scientific" which was sort-of half way between a microcomputer and a minicomputer. Floor-standing-rack-mounted [the case had that nasty Fablon-type stick-on wood popular on US stuff of the era which made it look like a dwarf vending machine], with a pair of big floppy drives and a pair 30Mb hard-drives in the bottom of the case, and supporting three separate serial-port-connected ASCII terminals.

There's a picture of one here: https://www.1000bit.it/lista/o/ohio/ohioc3b.jpg though the one I remember had the wood-effect on the front panels too.

I worked out how to connect a TRS-80 Model 100 "portable" computer to the Ohio Scientific via their serial-ports and how to exchange files, which was handy for their field-sales people who could easily upload the latest price and stock lists when they were in the office.

Alas the Model-100 portables were rather fragile, not too good when you're taking them out on building-sites and suchlike all the time.
__________________
I'm the Operator of my Pocket Calculator. -Kraftwerk.
G6Tanuki is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd Nov 2023, 5:16 pm   #19
PaulR
Dekatron
 
PaulR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Southport Lancashire, UK.
Posts: 3,195
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim View Post
I was one of those teenage miscreants who used to sidle up to the demo model in Tandy( and possibly W.H.Smiths) and type something like:

10 PRINT "Hello "
20 GOTO 10
[RETURN]

and leave the screen to full up with Hellos. Never anything rude.

Oh dear - me too! I think it was in Boots for me though
__________________
Paul
PaulR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14th Dec 2023, 1:26 pm   #20
Gulliver
Hexode
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Luton, Bedfordshire, UK.
Posts: 467
Default Re: 1980 -81 Tandy 'TRS80 Model II' Strewth!

I used to drool over the TRS-80 in our local Tandy. However much fun my ZX81 and later Spectrum were (and still are)....the TRS-80 was something I could only aspire to.

Around the same time, the father of one of my friends worked for ICL and had an ICL PC at his home which we kids were permitted to use after a bit of training. It ran CP/M and had a 5 or 10Mb hard drive which did not feature autoparking heads. You had to type a command ("park" I think) to park the heads before shutting down else damage could be done.

Prices of computer memory were just so high back then, we couldn't have really foreseen what the future would bring. In the very early 80s, the idea of a computer with more than 96K RAM seemed ludicrous.

I recall in the late 80s, one computer magazine confidently predicting that the 1Gb hard drive that Quantum were rumoured to be working on was "impossible"....then they released the 1.2Gb Bigfoot. Now we talk in terms of terabytes.

My first USB stick was 64Mb I think, My first CD card 16Mb. In recent years I have used that card on my ZX81 with the ZXPand interface and pretty much every piece of software ever written for the machine can fit onto that 16Mb.

16Mb to a modern PC or even phone is useless.
Gulliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 11:59 pm.


All information and advice on this forum is subject to the WARNING AND DISCLAIMER located at https://www.vintage-radio.net/rules.html.
Failure to heed this warning may result in death or serious injury to yourself and/or others.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2002 - 2023, Paul Stenning.