March29, 1983: Tandy/Radio Shack Introduces TRS-80 Model 100
Radio Shack introduces the TRS-80 Model 100. It is the first portable computer featuring a 2.4 MHz processor for $799. The portable machine weighed 3.9 lbs. The model-100 was first made and sold as the Kyotronic 85. Tandy Corporation took this small computer over, and sold through Radio Shack. Over 6,000,000 units were sold worldwide.
These are considered the world’s first laptop computers, sporting a full-size keyboard, and enough ports to satisfy everyones needs. They all come with built-in software – the model 100 has:
- Microsoft BASIC programming language
- word processing software
- telecommunications software
- built-in 300 baud modem
Small size, a good keyboard and display made the model 100 very popular, especially with people on-the-go. There is no internal storage capability other than the battery-backed RAM, and a cassette recorder or external 5 1/4-inch floppy drive must be used for permanent data storage
This portable computer had an 8-line, 40-column screen, a built-in modem, serial and parallel ports and included a text editor, telecommunications package, schedule book, address book, and Microsoft BASIC. It runs on four AA batteries.
When introduced, the portability and simplicity of the Model 100 made it attractive to journalists, who could type about 11 pages of text and then transmit it using the built-in modem and TELCOM program for electronic editing and production.
The computer is silent when it operates. The keyboard is full-size and uses a standard (QWERTY) layout. It runs for 20 hours on 4 readily available and easily replaceable AA batteries. Data is protected by a built-in rechargeable battery. There is no boot up routine; the Model 100 operates as soon as the switch is flipped and an application selected.
Software was designed, and is still available, to extend the display capabilities and to provide more advanced word-processing or calculation software than the supplied programs. To this day, hobbyists continue to design games, applications, and hardware for this device. There are several simple programs available on the Internet for transferring Model 100 files to a modern personal computer.