Dinosaur Sightings: Tandy Model 100
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The Tandy Model 100 was the MacBook Air of the 1980’s. Debuting in 1983, it weighed in at 3lbs and ran on 4 AA batteries. It included a word processor, BASIC, and a telecommunications program (along with a 300 baud modem) that allowed you to compute on the go.
This unit came from TechRepublic contributor Rex Baldazo.
The Model 100 still carried the TRS-80 brand. It was the last computer from Radio Shack that did so.
The Model 100 was the first truly portable computer and was labeled as such.
Like many modern laptops, there was a keypad built into the main keyboard. You just pressed the Num key for a Numlock to enable the keypad.
Right side view – here you can see the DC jack along with the On/Off switch and contrast knob.
Rear view. Here you can see the 25-pin RS-232c port. This allowed the Model 100 to communicate directly with almost any device. There’s a parallel printer port next to it that required a unique printer cable. Next to that is a DIN plug for the modem and a cassette player.
The modem was an internal 300 baud modem. This jack would allow you to connect directly to a wall outlet or using a set of acoustic couplers.
The cassette port allowed you to save programs and data to a standard cassette tape player.
Left side view – Here you can see the port for the optional bar-code reader. The two switches were for the modem.
The first determined if you were directly connecting to a phone jack (DIR) or if you were connecting to a phone using acoustic couplers (ACP).
The second switch determined if the modem was to answer the phone (ANS) or if it was calling out (ORIG).
The bottom of the unit. The plate at the bottom is where you add memory to the Model 100.
Battery door open revealing the Model 100’s Power Source – 4 standard AA batteries.
Here’s the serial number for our unit.
Our Model 100 comes from Japan, unlike most laptops today which come from China.
This switch controls the onboard backup battery. If the main AA’s lost power, the backup battery would save data for a few days until you replaced them.
Model 100 programs were built in ROM. It was instant-on. No booting and no hard drives.
January 2, 1900? Yup.
The onboard Basic is from Microsoft. Bill Gates helped write the code for this version of Basic. There’s a whopping 4789 bytes of memory available for programming.
You set the date in Basic, but as you can see the Model 100 is not Y2K compliant.
This unit has 8K of RAM, of which just over 5K is free.
Text is the onboard word processor.
Filenames are limited to 5 letters, even more restrictive than DOS.
Text in action. Nothing fancy. No formatting. As you can see, the letters are large and easy to read.
Here’s the Telcom program for dialing out using the modem. The setting is M7I1E: 10pps
M is Manual dial
7 is for 7 bits.
1 is for the stop bit.
E is for Even Parity.
10 pps stands for 10 pulses per second. Its to imitate a rotary dial telephone.
The Scheduler program. There’s not much to it.