from the fine-and-Tandy dept.
45 years ago, Radio Shack released the TRS-80 Micro Computer System, a 1977 personal computer that launched an era of low-cost PCs along with computers from Apple and Commodore. Here's what was special about it.
On August 3, 1977, Radio Shack introduced the TRS-80 Micro Computer System for $599.95—about $2,904 today adjusted for inflation. This complete system included a main unit with a built-in keyboard, a cassette recorder, and a monochrome monitor. After the introduction of the Model II later, this first model became known as the TRS-80 Model I. In 1977, the TRS-80's $599.95 price was a big deal. To compare, the Apple II sold for $1298 with 4K of RAM (that's a whopping $6284 today), and it didn't include a monitor or a storage device.
But you always get what you pay for: The original TRS-80 was a fairly primitive machine. Under the hood, the TRS-80 utilized its Z-80 CPU at 1.77 MHz and included a mere 4 kilobytes (KB) of RAM. Its video could only display 64 columns and 16 rows of monochrome text (all uppercase) with no support for true bitmapped graphics (although by using a block-shaped text character, you could create a 128×48 pixel display). It also did not include any sound hardware, but many programs used a trick to output simple sounds through the cassette port.