Tag Archives: retro

TRS-80 Model 3 / Model 4 repairs

Back in March 2017, I bought a TRS-80 Model 3 on eBay.

When I received it, I did some cursory testing. It would boot to the BASIC ROM (by holding down the Break key as you reset it).

But it wouldn’t boot from disk, either from the supplied TRS-80 boot disks, nor my Video Genie boot disks. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the fault was in the disks or the drive.

There was also some curious information about its identity.

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Commodore PET (CBM) 8032

When I grew up, the Commodore PET was one of my favourite ‘aspirational’ computers.

It had already been around for about 3 years by the time I got into computers in 1980, and technologically was way beyond anything else I had came across: decent keyboard, decent graphics, built-in green-screen monitor, disk interfaces, etc.

It also had an archetypal look that you associated with a monolithic computer. Indeed when the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy transitioned to TV, its Deep Thought super computer looked suspiciously like a giant Commodore PET.

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TRS-80 Model 3

After my recent purchase of a Video Genie II, I also had a little look around other vintage computers on eBay.

I’d always fancied a TRS-80, being the grown-up brother of our Video Genie, and having a superb design aesthetic (a 1970s view of the future).

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Video Genie nostalgia

My first foray into computer programming happened in 1980 when I was 11 years old. My dad borrowed a ZX80 from a colleague over the autumn half term, and I taught myself to program by reverse engineering the examples in the manual (a skill I still use in my career today).

My parents then decided to get the family a home computer, and after much research my dad decided to get an EACA Video Genie EG3003 (often known as the System 80 in other countries). This was a clone of the Tandy/Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I Level II. If I remember correctly his main criteria were: full-sized typewriter keyboard, floating point BASIC, and quality of graphics (including a decent number of characters per line for word processing). We got it as a joint family Christmas present for Christmas 1980.

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