The late, great science fiction author, Issac Asimov, hawking a miracle of modern technology.

  1. 1894 says:

    Ahhhh the days when computers were actually FAST! No bloatware and programmers developed applications that did exactly what you wanted.

  2. thecommodore says:

    You could say the TRS80 Pocket Computer was the “Foundation” of portable digital computing… snort snort guffaw.

    Well, SOMEBODY was bound to say it….

  3. interglacialman says:

    The bigger question is ‘Whatever happened to mutton-chops and the comb-over?’

  4. derekaw says:

    Wow, look at those side burns!

  5. dickmnixon says:

    #4 – The mutton-chops are now the star-chops – (see TV show Community)
    and as for the comb over, the completely shaved head is the new comb-over.

  6. “1894” raises a good point. I remember when all personal computers has less, or much much less, than 1 Megabyte of RAM, and yet they did so much. Sure, you were limited to running one program at a time, but seems like a lot of the work was on a similar scale to what we do on todays computers which are thousands of times faster and have thousands of times more RAM and disk space.

    Sure, the displays are prettier, but isn’t a lot of that built into the PC/OS? Why should programs take up tens of millions of bytes or disk space OR RAM?

    Guess it’s the law of diminishing returns, again.

  7. Faxon says:

    Many kids here now don’t even remember dial telephones. I had one of these. This computer did exactly what it was supposed to do, and it never “froze” or “crashed”. It took Windows until XP to approach that level of reliability.
    It was mostly a sophisticated programmable calculator, and as such, was far ahead of the other calculators around at the time.
    Too bad Radio Shack could not sustain the computer competition. This was a great little device, and everyone who owned one enjoyed it quite a bit. It was far better than the Sinclair.

  8. Buzz says:

    New rule: anybody who has been post-life for more than a decade doesn’t have to be referred to as “the late…”

  9. Pop says:

    This ad was part of a pcworld slide show called “The Funniest Vintage Tech Ads”.

  10. stuart001uk says:

    I brought one in my first year at University. It was the greatest fun until a few years later I got myself an Apple 2C. Those were the days…

  11. Don Reese says:

    These things were used extensively by insurance agents for years under the Radio Shack and original Sharp labels.

  12. Benjamin says:

    Does it have a text editor? If so, how do you get your document off of it. How many words can you write on the text document and not fill up the device. Seems perfect if you just want to write a document and not have to deal with being tweeted at or reading e-mail or even playing solitaire instead of writing.

    Oh, can I get one on ebay?

  13. Dave T says:

    I actually had that exact same model in the picture. I used to write programs for answers to tests in classes. All of my teachers thought it was a complex calculator so I would store text answers in it and pass all of my tests.

  14. sargasso says:

    Tandy Radio Shack (TRS) pocket. Dubbed, “The Handy Tandy”. Asimov, I’m a big fan. His non-fiction books were an astonishing insight into the man’s energy and intellect. If you find a copy of “Eyes on the Universe”, keep it.

  15. Matt B says:

    This is so coincidental. I was just in my cellar yesterday and found mine. I was just going on-line to find a couple CR2032’s since it didn’t turn on when I flipped the switch. I used to love programming this little bugger.

  16. Andrew McDonald says:

    Benjamin: You wouldn’t want to use this for text entry even if you weren’t limited to 1.4K of RAM. Yes, 1424 bytes.

    It’s not designed for text entry as anything you enter will be interpreted as BASIC code. Plus the keyboard is tiny. If you are serious about a simple device for text entry look for a Tandy Model 100, 102 or 200.

  17. Andrew McDonald says:

    Benjamin: You wouldn’t want to use this for text entry even if you weren’t limited to 1.4K of RAM. Yes, 1424 bytes.

    It’s not designed for text entry as anything you enter will be interpreted as BASIC code. Plus the keyboard is tiny. If you are serious about a simple device for text entry look for a Tandy Model 100, 102 or 200.

  18. Andrew McDonald says:

    Matt B: It uses Type 675 button cell batteries. There are 4 in all. If I remember one holds the memory while changing the other three.

    Here’s an Amazon search:

  19. amodedoma says:

    I don’t know about that pocket computer, but I still have my trash 80 model 100. It’s almost 30 years old and it still works great. At the time I thought it would be a good idea to get the technical manual with schematics and such. It was never needed, but now I’m one of the few people that have the docs. Once a year or so I’ll take it out, pop in the batteries, write a couple of dozen lines in BASIC, hook it up with a null modem cable to the PC’s serial port to play around with the terminal. It was my first computer, and still is. It really is a shame they don’t make ’em like that any more.

  20. PeterR says:

    I still have one…in a box…somewhere…

  21. The Watcher says:

    Nearly bought one of those in the 80’s, but the wife was with me 😀 ….

    I have several M100’s, though, and a small HP similar to the pocket Tandy.

  22. IamAnOwner says:

    I have the improved Radio Shack PC-2 model which was essentially a re-packaged SHARP PC-1500 pocket computer. I added the 16K memory expansion bringing total memory to 18 KBytes.

    I also have the RS-232C interface, and the plotter/cassette interface.

    I acquired the manuals, etc. that covered the assembly language of the CPU, the circuit diagrams, etc. and learned to program it in assembly language… What a speedup! The display was also dot addressable, so you could make fun little scroller games. It was also possible to access a third character set, and I configured it for greek letters and math symbols… Great for a reference for physics courses.

    I don’t have the heart to throw it out, but haven’t used it for years.

  23. Micromike says:

    I used one of those to learn BASIC well enough to get a job as a programmer. I was living in a teepee on the Colorado Plateau at the time so needed battery power. It worked quite well, and I also used it to understand computer generated random numbers and dice games.

  24. Improbus says:

    When those computers came out I was still working on trying to buy a car and some beer. You got to have your priorities when you are a teen.

  25. ECA says:

    1 program at a time..Get an amiga..

  26. GF says:

    Still have a PC-3 with printer somewhere. Now were did I put that tape deck and thermal paper.

  27. Relik says:

    I had one of these in junior high school. The PC-2 was the best, although the biggest. Fully addressable pixel display (one line, I think it was 156×7 pixels). I wrote a race car game, golf, and others. I used my C64 and a joystick to draw the graphics.

    I still have a PC-1, PC-2, PC-4, and PC-6. The PC-2 also had an awesome plotter that could do some pretty amazing things at the time. It could draw 40 characters wide on 2.5 inches of paper (i think).

    I credit these pocket computers to all my later success in the business.

  28. Matt B says:

    @Andrew McDonald I just went down to the cellar to retrieve it. Mine is actually a PC-4 model and takes 2 CR2032’s. Smaller screen than the one in this picture. And doing a little Googling it looks like mine is somewhat rare as it’s a 26-2650A.

  29. Uncle Patso says:

    Matt B: you can find CR-2032s at most medium to large drug stores, grocery stores and supermarkets.

    I thought those were really cute, but too limited. What I _really_ wanted was the Model 100 or, even better, the 102, oooohhh!


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