In anticipation of our upcoming book for CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy’s Underdog Computer, my co-author, Boisy Pitre, has started a new series of blog posts that will (very slowly) lift the veil on some interesting stuff that we discovered during the course of our research. He's doing it in the form of series of puzzles. You can read the first posting, or clue, to the first mystery, here. Enjoy!
For all the Tandy/Radio Shack Color Computer (CoCo) fans out there, don't forget that this coming weekend is The 22nd Annual "Last" Chicago CoCoFEST! You can get more info on the festivities here. It's been a good year for the CoCo and it's only going to get better, so this event will definitely be worth attending for those who can.
Hot off the CoCo mailing list press comes word of a new Tandy Color Computer coding contest. As the Website states, "Just about any software that runs on the Tandy Color Computer (1, 2 or 3) is an eligible entry. Whether you finally finish a project that has been simmering on the back burner for years or decide to start something entirely new, you are welcome to enter. See the rules for clarification and details.
Entries will be tested, reviewed, scored, beaten, and mutilated in time to announce the grand prize winner at the 2013 CoCoFest! in Chicago, IL, on April 27 - 28, 2013. You don't need to attend the fest to enter or win (but you'll have more fun if you do!)."
As mentioned previously, I've been going great guns in an attempt to make my overly large collection of 400+ videogame and computer systems more accessible and immediately usable. In other words, figuring out how to waste less of my precious time setting up this stuff and use more of that time actually using what I want to use. Part of that initiative is to take the most "important" computer and videogame systems and put them front and center - and ready to go - in various rooms. I'll discuss the classic videogame consoles in more detail in another post, but basically I've set up a 32" Sony Trinitron CRT to supplement the other basement TV and can now plug in various consoles in that area quickly and easily, though I've changed up where (and how) I'll be making the actual systems themselves accessible. Anyway, where last we left off, I couldn't get my Amiga 600 or 1200 to work, which left me to choose between my Amiga 500, 1000, or 2500HD (with 8088 Bridgeboard). I chose the latter.
With the above in mind, it was of course bugging me that neither the 600 or 1200 were working, so I resolved to address the issue within my limited skillset, and of course when time permitted. Long story short, the 600 is dead, but the culprit in the 1200 was a deceased 40MB hard drive, which was easy enough to remove and replace with a Compact Flash adapter and card with the OS and additional software. In the mean-time, I also got a PAL Amiga 1200, stock, with its own Compact Flash adapter and card with the OS and additional software.
In part 3, RadioShack enthusiast Boisy Pitre and RadioShack engineer of over 30 years, Jerry Heep, conclude their sit down and chat about the Color Computer at RadioShack headquarters.
In part 2, RadioShack enthusiast Boisy Pitre and RadioShack engineer of over 30 years, Jerry Heep, sit down and chat about the upcoming book on the history of the Color Computer, which I'm helping to co-author. According to RadioShack, "this book is for people who love the Color Computer and will give them a true and accurate view on how the CoCo came to be."
In this video, Boisy Pitre is joined by engineering legend, Jerry Heep, at RadioShack headquarters, where they discuss the venerable Tandy Color Computer (CoCo). This is part one of three. Boisy and I are still hard at work on what we hope will be the definitive CoCo history book, so stay tuned...
As mentioned previously, I've been re-thinking my collecting activities, including selling off the non-working and duplicate portions of my collection, which presently consists of over 430 videogame and computer systems and countless thousands of related software, accessories, and literature. Naturally, part of that reasoning was "thinning the herd" after all these years, because - even though I am thankful to have a relatively generous amount of space for these types of activities - it has long since reached the point where I well and truly have too much to handle. Why has this become an issue? There's simply too much stuff, there's no time to use it (that would need to be my full-time job), and, when I do want to use it, it takes up most of my available time just setting something up, only to have to break it down and put it back on the shelf again. It's innefficient, and frankly, no fun anymore.
With that in mind, in addition to the thinning - which will take a very, very long time of course in a collection I've been cultivating for over 30 years now - I've been plotting how I can make better use of what I have. Like I said, I am thankful to have a relatively generous amount of space. I have a large basement area, with about half unfinished, which is used for storage, and the other, finished half, consisting of an office room, hallway, workout area, and den area. The main floors of our house contain our active systems, including the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Co-Star, various computers and handhelds, etc., but they are not an option for me to make use of for classic items, other than on an occasional basis. That just leaves the basement, which is, of course, fine, but also limits my flexibility.
Anyway, even though each area of the basement is brimming with stuff and each section serves a specific purpose, either on a permanent or temporary basis, I decided that my best course of action is to pull out the truly must-have-accessible systems from the hundreds available and make them accessible at a moment's notice. This was not easy to do, as I have a genuine passion for each and every system I own, but the bottom line is is that some systems are more interesting, more "useful," or I simply have a critical mass of items for them that they can't be ignored. I decided I'd tackle that task with my classic computers first, followed by my classic videogame systems at a later date. I cleared space on my big L-shaped computer desk in the office area and proceeded to select the systems that met my criteria and would fit on the desk (I'll have some flexibility when I set up the classic videogame consoles to make a little use of the den area as well).
While I have many different models in most of the specific computer series I selected, I tried to choose the one model in my collection that would give me the most bang-for-the-buck. This in and of itself was not easy, as there's rarely a "most perfect" choice when it comes to choosing the ideal model in a series, which in this case also involved being a good fit for the available space. The systems I chose were as follows: TI-99/4a, Apple IIgs, Atari 600XL, Atari Falcon, Commodore Amiga 2000HD, and Commodore 128DCR, with a special appearance by the Radio Shack Color Computer series, which I'll explain at the end. So yeah, as hard as it was, no Sinclair Spectrum, BBC, IBM PCjr, Coleco Adam, Imagination Machine, MSX, Interact, Exidy, etc., etc., items, even though I'd love to have those out and ready to go as much as the others.
My initial goal - which I was able to accomplish - was to set up a basic system configuration for each and make sure it was working properly. I actually had a slightly different mix of specific systems, but, after testing, found some things didn't function as expected or didn't work at all. Over time, I'll add to each system I've set up (and address the other stuff that's not working) until each and every one is set up properly with their respective disk drives, flash cards, transfer cables, etc., to be fully usable with all of the stuff I have available. At the very least, with these minimum configurations, they're ready to go for most quick usage scenarios. I also decided it was important not to have any of them plugged in full-time, so everything gets hooked up and powered up on demand. This is actually simple and will not delay my usage in any way. In fact, the way I have the various monitors and TV's set up, I can hook up other systems as needed without too much fuss, which is another bonus. Anyway, here are the photos and additional explanation:
As requested, here's Chatty Cathy's (aka, Bill Loguidice's) casual, single take look at the official TRS-80 versions of Frogger and Zaxxon, shown on a 128K TRS-80 Model 4 with a black and white monitor. Of course I talked too long yet again, so yet again it won't fit on Youtube.