Priming the Pump:
How TRS-80 Enthusiasts Helped Spark
the PC Revolution


  -- From Chapter Four:
Theresa's Story
     

Victor had worked in electronic repair and he and his wife and their son lived in a house that was once World War II “temporary” housing. Victor’s grasp of computing came from his interest in things electronic and his innate abilities at selling technical products. His “just folks” touch appealed to the hobbyists who were the primary customers. In response to the growing conflicts with his partner, Victor walked out and founded Soft Sector Marketing, with his wife working with him. Their young son, Brian, was often with them at computer club meetings and at their store; he was an extremely active kid with a talent for getting into harmless mischief.

We had been talking to Victor while he was still at Level IV, but now he asked if he could represent us through Soft Sector Marketing. Victor liked Lazy Writer and said he could sell lots of copies. We thought he could too; he was a good salesman and a hard worker. After we agreed on a deal giving Victor marketing rights, he asked if we could have Lazy Writer ready to debut at the 1979 Boston Computer Show. David said yes.

We got airline tickets and, after doing some research on where to stay, I booked the Copley Square Hotel, and we worked like crazy. The night before we were to leave, David was still fixing bugs and writing code. When morning came and it was time to leave for the airport, I discovered him still sitting at the keyboard where he had been all night. He hastily put his work into a carry-on bag and off we went. He caught a little sleep on the plane. In Boston, we went right to the exhibition hall where we found Victor’s booth, and David continued working. A workman went by vacuuming the carpet, getting ready for the opening, and David’s computer responded by rebooting (for years afterward, I would cringe when anyone operated a vacuum cleaner near my computer). The airline managed to lose a suitcase that had some Lazy Writer manuals in it, but they did finally locate it and deliver it to our hotel.

I nervously watched as real customers began entering the hall. As David anxiously recovered his program from the reboot, I worked at another TRS-80 set up as a demonstration machine which had begun to draw people who wanted to see this wonderful new word processor. David finally loaded what he had on the demo machine and I began talking and showing the gathered crowd how it worked. Some of the features were not quite solid, but we got an enthusiastic response from those who saw it and we sold about 15 “pre-release” copies with an update promised. I was hoarse from talking and tired from hours of non-stop work, but we were in business. We had customers!

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