After Hours

Clearly Superior (?)

Radio Shack's slogan for its Tandy line of computers in the early 80's stated that Tandy's were "Clearly Superior". Here's an ad by Bill Bixby for the Tandy 1000 from 1984. Just how superior was the Tandy 1000?

Bill Bixby was the spokesman for Radio Shack's Tandy computer line in the early 80's. This ad was for the Tandy 1000 computer, which was actually the first computer I bought. I suppose the subtle idea to the commercial was that you should buy a Tandy computer or it would make him very angry. And you wouldn't like him when he was angry.

The Tandy 1000 was a clone of the ill-fated IBM PCjr. It included the extended CGA colors found in the PCjr (a whopping 16 colors at 320x200) and the PCjr's 3 voice sound circuit. Although the PCjr crashed and burned in the marketplace, the Tandy 1000 line was very successful. In various incarnations, it wound up being a best seller at Radio Shack into the early 1990's.

I still have my old Tandy 1000 sitting on my desk in the computer room at home. When I bought it, I went all out and got the 2d half-height 5 1/4" drive for it, along with an internal 300 baud modem. (For the mere price of $175 - the 1200 was too much money and was really too fast anyway of course)

In later years I upgraded it by adding more memory, a hard drive, a color monitor, and a 286 accelerator board. This board sped it up to a whopping 8 Mhz. You removed the CPU from the motherboard and placed it on a daughter card that also had an 80286 on it. A ribbon cable connected back to the CPU slot. You could shift back and forth between CPUs.

Bill reminds us at the end of the commercial that the Tandy 1000 was "so affordable". When it was introduced, the Tandy 1000 cost $1199. That included one 5 1/4" drive, MS-DOS 2.1, Deskmate, 128 Kb of RAM and NO monitor. You could get a monochrome monitor for $150 and a color monitor for $499. Adjusted for inflation, that's over $2400 today. For the same price, you could get a MacBook Pro and still have some money left over.

Today, Radio Shack doesn't make their own computers. They sold off the Tandy computer line to AST in the mid-90's and now resell HPs. Computers, as they always do, have increased in power and decreased in price. In 2030, I'm sure today's $2400 computers will look just as quaint as the Tandy 1000 does today. It will also be interesting to see what other computer makers don't survive on their own.

14 comments
rh_77
rh_77

The Tandy 1000 TL was the first one I used when a family member purchased it. It came with DOS 3.3, Deskmate, and both a 3.5 and 5.25 drive. It also had a 40mb hard drive, 640K of RAM that was later upgraded to 768k. It also had a CGA monitor. Later on a 2400 modem that was upgraded to 14400.

manfred
manfred

Never went for the 1000 - the Model 4P portable was the clear machine of the future. Compact, fast, 2 64 meg banks of memory... wow. I had 3 of them networked using LDos and a "multiplexed" 10 gig hard drive that cost me $2000. We had to holler "Saving" to prevent collisions...

timh111
timh111

I had a Tandy 1000 TX. It came with a 5 1/4" Floppy, No hard drive (so every program had to be run from a disk) and a CGA monitor. I got it a steal (at the time) for $899.00 !!! It was introduced while the Windows OS was still in it's incubation period so by using the manuals, I was able to write some programs in BASIC which opened my horizons to the future of computers.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

After much thought I purchased the Commodore 128. Should have bought the 64. Nobody made any software for the 128. To play games on it you had to run it in 64 mode which meant you only had 64k RAM. Some Basic tutorials came with it. They were interesting. If you wrote your own game you could use all 128k RAM.

CG IT
CG IT

Gateway's one slow cow one fast cat Magazine Ad for 1995 From PC Magazine: Pentium -66 or 90: $2,745.00 System Specs: 16MB Ram, 1 GB HDD, 4X CD Rom, Diamond Stealth 64bit PCI SVGA with 2MB VRAM, 15" color monitor, MS DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.11 for Workgroups and Lotus SmartSuite. Here's one: Direct Access 5.1 by Symantec $69.95 1995 print ad in PC Magazine. Word Perfect $289.95 on the same page ad. Ah the days when computers cost a lot and people were willing to pay to get them fixed rather than just junking and buying a new one... PC Repair going the way of the TV repairmen?

nitehawk_ltd
nitehawk_ltd

My dad picked up a Mod 4P with an external 20 meg HD at a pawn shop in the late 80's. I changed the single side floppy drives with double side ones. Never realy used the HD unit much. Still have it, it's on a desk in the corner with junk stacked on it.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Funny you should mention the old 4P. Mark Kaelin just got one of those for our Cracking Open series. You should see that gallery on the site here in a few weeks.

Tig2
Tig2

A Tandy TRS-80 in full working condition in the closet. In the room I am sitting in right now there are five computers. If I go downstairs, I will find another and there are two or three in the bedroom. Nothing wrong with old tech.

nitehawk_ltd
nitehawk_ltd

Paid $400,00 (on sale) at RS. Later I got the memory card, mem chips (aftermarket) and a CM-3 monator. Used it to teach myself MSDOS & GWBASIC. Tried to get a hard disk adapter card for it but the company closed down. It was to be an upgrade from my TRS Model 4D. It's sitting on a desk in the corner under a layer of dust & DVD cases. The 4D is next to it. Maybe I'll blow the dust off & fire it up.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

The 1000 HX was an entry-level machines. There was an earlier version called the Tandy 1000 EX. They were essentially the same machines except the HX could host 2 3 1/2" drives where the EX could only fit one 5 1/4" on the side. They both had these quirky expansion cards that stacked on top of each other and you could only get them from Radio Shack. The HX was introduced in 1987 for $699. Adjusted for inflation, that's $1305 today.

JimNtz
JimNtz

There never seemed to be very much to them!

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

*chuckle* You're right, there are a few old Tandys in that photo gallery. But that's an old Tandy 1000 TX, not the same first Tandy 1000 I bought in 1984. The TX was essentially an IBM PC XT-286 clone. It had an 8 bit bus, but had an 8Mhz 80286 processor built-in. It couldnt go into protected mode like a true IBM AT, but still ran DOS programs about 6x faster than a regular PC. It's essentially what I wound up doing with my 286 accelerator. Windows 2.0 runs really nice on it. Plus you get the full colors of the Tandy graphics, so it has the same color and resolution as an EGA card with out having to have an EGA monitor. The TX was sold at the same time as the HX. It was $999 when new in 1988.