If you pressed me to name the most important year in the history of personal technology, I might come up with 1977. That’s the year that three groundbreakingly consumery personal computers were released. There was Apple’s Apple II and Commodore’s Pet 2001. And on August 3, 1977, RadioShack (née Radio Shack) unveiled its TRS-80 during a press conference at the Warwick Hotel in New York.
I cheerfully admit to having a bias in favor of the TRS-80, which I started using when my father brought one home in 1978. Even in its heyday, it had a reputation for being clunky snd unglamorous. But it outsold the sexier (and pricier) Apple II for years and was marketed in thousands of the Shack’s retail outlets at a time when Apple products were still available primarily in weird little mom-and-pop computer stores. To me, that makes it the most mainstream of the early PCs.
I had a lot more to say about the machine for a piece I wrote to mark its 35th anniversary in 2012. And here (via RadioShackCatalogs.com) is some imagery from the cover of the first TRS-80 catalog, back when anyone selling computers had to start by explaining what they could do.