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Along with Commodore and Apple, Tandy/Radio Shack was one of the three companies that began the personal computer revolution when its TRS-80 computer was introduced in 1977, followed by the TRS-80 Color Computer in 1980, and the TRS-80 Model 100 portable computer in 1983.

Unfortunately, although it was a pioneer and a force in the early home computer industry, with as much as sixty percent of the market at one time, it couldn't compete with the onslaught of the IBM PC and PC-compatibles that were produced in the 1980s.

Tandy Corporation originated as a leather goods company in 1919. It purchased RadioShack, a craft retail company, in 1963. In 2000, long after the company ceased production of its computer products, it dropped the Tandy name and became the RadioShack Corporation.

Beginning in 1977, Tandy released several computer lines under the TRS-80 and Tandy brand.

Its first was the TRS-80, the first of which later became known as the TRS-80 Model 1, as it later released other models under the TRS-80 brand, some of which were unrelated and incompatible with the original Model 1 and its replacements. The TRS-80 Micro Computer System included a QWERTY keyboard, floating-point BASIC, and a monitor. The first units sold for $600 and, by 1979, the TRS-80 had the largest selection of software in the microcomputer market.

Also released in 1979, the Model II was designed for the small-business market. Despite its name, the Model II was an entirely different system from the Model I. It was succeeded by the TRS-80 Model 12, Model 16, Model 16B, and Tandy 6000. The Model II was actually preceded by the Tandy 10, the company's first design for the business market, but the Tandy 10, released in 1978, was quickly discontinued.

In 1980, Model III was released. Mostly compatible with Model I, it included a built-in lower case, a better keyboard, and the cable spaghetti was eliminated. Production of Model I was discontinued at the time of the release of Model III.

A short-lived TRS-80 model was the TRS-80 MC-10. Intended as a low-cost, entry-level alternative to its TRS-80 Color Computer released later that same year, it was discontinued a year later. In late 1980, Tandy released the TRS-80 Color Computer (Tandy Color Computer, CoCo), which was produced from 1980 to 1991, and included three models CoCo 1, CoCo 2, and CoCo3, each of which was compatible with the other.

TRS-80 Model 12 replaced the Model II in 1982, but it was itself quickly replaced by the Model 16 and 16B, which were largely upgrades to the Model II. An upgrade kit was available for Model II systems, adding a 6 MHz, 16-bit Motorola 68000 processor and memory card.

Model 4 replaced Model III in April of 1983, offering a faster CPU, a larger video display, larger keyboard, and was upgradable to 128KB of RAM. It was compatible with Model III software.

Tandy also released the TRS-80 Model 100 in 1983. One of the first notebook-style computers on the market, the Model 100 was actually produced by Kyocera and first sold in Japan as Kyotronic 85, but sold through Radio Shack stores in the US and Canada as the TRS-80 Model 100.

The Tandy 6000 was a 1985 upgrade from TRS-80 Model 16B, adding an internal hard drive and switching to an 8 MHz 68000, and the company also offered 8.4 MB, 15 MB, 35 MB, and 70 MB external hard drives, up to 768 KB RAM, and up to six serial ports. Although the Tandy 6000 was more closely related to the TRS-80, Tandy had decided to move away from the Radio Shack TRS-80 label. By this time, the IBM PC and several PC-compatibles were eating at Tandy's share of the marketplace.

The Tandy 2000 was put on the market in September of 1983 as a way of moving into the MS-DOS market. Based on the 8 MHz Intel 80186 microprocessor running MS-DOS, the Tandy 2000 ran significantly faster than the IBM-compatibles. However, while it was marketed as being compatible with the IBM XT, the Tandy 2000 differed enough that most existing PC software that was not strictly text-oriented failed to work properly. The Tandy 2000 carried both the "Tandy" and TRS-80" logos on its case, as it began the phaseout of the TRS-80 brand.

The Tandy 2000 was replaced by the Tandy 1000 in 1984. Having corrected the incompatibilities noted in the 2000 model, the Tandy 1000 was truly compatible with the IBM PC and supported the PCjr graphics standard.

The Tandy 1000 sold more units in the first month than any other Tandy product. Although marketed as a business computer, it was well-received in the home computer market. The Tandy 1000 line included the Tandy 1000/A/HD, SX, TX, SL, SL2, TL, TL/2, TL3, EX, HX, RL, RL/HD, RLX, and RSX. My second computer was a Tandy SL, my first being a Coleco Adam.

Despite an excellent product, Tandy made the decision to exit the computer business in 1993.

 

 

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