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


  -- From Chapter Six:
Selling it in the Magazines
     

Wayne Green’s dislike for the Tandy decision-makers was blatantly apparent to the readers of 80 Microcomputing. In a tongue-in-cheek editorial blast at Tandy in 1982, Green wrote about the "fair" policies of Radio Shack by saying "rather than force TRS-80 owners to buy anything more than the basic unit at Radio Shack stores, Tandy has arranged it so over 90 percent of the software available for their system must be purchased from independent computer stores or mail order firms. What could be fairer than that?" He continued in like manner, castigating Tandy for not carrying magazines in their Radio Shack stores. "You want a magazine?" he asks rhetorically from the pages of 80 Microcomputing, "None whatever are available at Radio Shack…even this publication which takes up Radio Shack documentation where their own documentation leaves off, is only available outside of Radio Shack stores."

He also takes jabs at the lack of service and knowledge at Radio Shack stores by pointing out the better service at independent computer stores: "These [independent] stores are often a valuable source of information as well, since they are in the computer business 100 percent, not just carrying a small shelf of computers in amongst hi-fi, auto sound, CB and so forth like most Radio Shacks."

Wayne Green’s 80 Micro magazine provides a history of the problems, interests and concerns of TRS-80 owners. The first issue had articles on a program to eliminate the notorious keyboard bounce, several articles on overcoming problems loading files from cassette, an article explaining what’s involved in getting a disk drive, an article on how the video memory is mapped and why lower case cannot be displayed, an electronic file card system for disk drive owners, and an article on how to get use of extra variables in Level I BASIC. It was 146 pages of helpful information written by TRS-80 enthusiasts.

Most important for those of us who sold TRS-80 products were the ads. We advertised in each issue of 80 Micro and would get an early copy before the magazine hit the newsstands. We would eagerly look at the ads to see who was introducing a new product, who was making new claims or had new versions of their product. While the articles illustrated the users’ concerns, the vendor community of which we were part, was intensely interested in who was selling what and for how much. If there was anything new for the TRS-80, there would be an ad for it in 80 Micro.

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