My new love … the Tandy TRS-80 Model I Level II from 1981 🙂
At the beginning, however, we had a somewhat bumpy start – but more on that later.
Tandy … what? Such a question you only hear in Germany. Yes, indeed, the computers of the company Tandy Radio Shack were less common in Germany and are therefore hardly known today. In contrast, every child in this country knows Apple and Commodore. However, the TRS-80 Model I belongs to the so-called “1977 Trinity”, as byte Magazine called it. At that time, three manufacturers launched the first home computer for the mass market in the USA at relatively the same time: Apple with the Apple II is certainly the most famous representative, Commodore brought out the PET 2001 and Tandy put a cheaper alternative on the market, the TRS-80 (TRS stands for Tandy Radio Shack and the number 80 points to the Z80 CPU).
The EPSON HX-20 was the first “true” laptop to hit the market in the early 1980s. With its dimensions of the size of a DIN A4 sheet and the built-in rechargeable battery, it was revolutionary at the time. It was easy to carry in any briefcase and could run for many hours without an external power supply.
The EPSON HX-20 was the world’s first real laptop in the early 80s. I have already presented this exceptionally interesting device in another article.
However, those who want to work longer or more seriously with the EPSON HX-20 will surely miss a decent screen the most. The 4 x 20 characters of the LCD quickly make you lose track when you have to deal with larger listings. In addition, the graphic capabilities of the LCD are very limited. Fortunately, Norbert Kehrer has a simple and very practical solution with his tool flashx20. It simulates an external monitor for the HX-20 on a standard PC under Windows. On top of that there is a helpful floppy emulation, with which it is possible to load HX-20 programs directly from the PC.
To bring the EPSON Laptop HX-20 back to life, we need to get software on it. One possibility is to transfer data from a PC with a serial cable. Unfortunately the HX-20 does not have a standard 9-pin RS232 connector, but only round DIN sockets for serial connections and a special pin assignment. Therefore we have to use a soldering iron and modify a standard cable. That this is not difficult at all, if you have a little soldering experience, I show here.
Jürgen, born in 1971 in Bavaria Germany. Since I first sat in front of a Commodore PET at school and typed my first lines of BASIC code, computers have fascinated me and still don’t let me go. At that time, that was in the middle of the 80’s and the Commodore C64 was already in all mouth with the kids. On the radio the New German Wave was spreading with Nena (99 Red balloons), Falco (Kommissar, Jeanny), Hubert Kah, Spider Murphy Gang and the Synth-Pop with great bands from England, like Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, Human League, or Kraftwerk from Düsseldorf.
For me, however, there was only one topic: computers! I nagged my parents until they finally gave me the long-awaited Commodore C64 for Christmas ’85. That was really an enormous purchase, because the C64 still cost about 800 DM at that time. That’s why I only got the computer as a present … without datasette or floppy drive to save programs, because that would have blown up the budget. Nevertheless I was thrilled! So I had to deal with the enclosed BASIC manual first. But every time I turned off the computer, everything was gone again, of course. And that was the case at the latest when the parents wanted to watch the evening program on TV, because of course I blocked the only TV in the house! But I had a steep learning curve and after a short time I mastered most of the BASIC commands … My entry into the digital world!