The Tandy 1000 - The best MS-DOS computer in 1984.
RadioShack. Was a big player in the computer business starting, in the 1970s. With the trs-80, line of computers in fact, by the mid 80s RadioShack, was selling at least, a half a dozen different computers, and I don't just mean different variations, but rather completely. Different, and incompatible computer. Architectures, for. Example think we're still selling the trs-80, line of computers mostly, as Business Machines at this point and these were extremely, expensive often, selling, for thousands, of dollars and, for the home market they also had the color computer which was much cheaper starting, at, $239. In fact at even lower cost, that had the short-lived color computer MC 10 which. Was a separate, Architecture, from the regular one you, could get one of these for just over $100, they, also had the popular, model 100, portable computer and, if that was too large then, there was their line of pocket, computers in the, early 1980s, it was not uncommon for computers, to be completely. Incompatible, with one another now I would include big players from companies, like Commodore, or Atari. Or pretty, much anybody else in fact it will probably a hundred, different computer, architectures, at the time that were completely, incompatible, with each other however, in 1984. That started to change with the introduction, of ms-dos, compatible computers. And RadioShack. Also, saw an opportunity here now. They had already been selling their Tandy, mm, line of computers which claimed to be ms-dos, compatible, however. It wasn't nearly compatible, enough and more, or less only worked with text-based, ms-dos, software, it also started around. $2,750. Which wasn't, exactly cheap at the time but. It did have an 81 86 running at twice the speed of IBM's, product however, it was never a huge market success due to the lack of compatible, software, but. Tandy success with IBM compatibles, would change in November of 1984. With the introduction, of the Tandy, 1000. Radio. Shack here, it is Tandy, 1000, SL computer system IBM, pc-compatible and sale price for under $9.99, to understand the Tandy 1000, we really need to look at IBM's, own PC, jr. product which had come to market eight months earlier the. PC jr. was supposed to be IBM's way to better. Enter, the home market however. It had several problems keeping, it from succeeding, notably, it had a terrible, chiclet, style keyboard, very. Little ram compared, to the regular IBM, pc and it, wasn't a hundred percent compatible. Either what's. Worse it's sold at a price much, too high for the home market however. The PC Junior did have two things going for it for, one thing they had upgraded the CGA graphics so, that it could finally, display a full 16, colors even on an rgbi monitor which. Was the standard monitor type most people were using IBM. Also included a three voice sound chip based on the Texas Instruments SN, 76, for 96 sound generator this, same sound chip was already used in dozens of arcade, machines and in several home computers such as the ETI 1994. A and the, BBC micro and, also in several notable game consoles, such as the Sega Genesis, and the ColecoVision. When. Tandy set out to make a new IBM, compatible, system they were actually shooting to make an IBM PC Junior. Compatible, system and thus they incorporated, the graphics, and sound from, the PC jr. into their new Tandy, 1000, system however, by the time the Tandy 1000 came to market it became, clear the PC jr. wasn't doing, as well as they thought so. They kind, of dropped the PC jr. aspect, from all the marketing material and instead just said the Tandy 1000, was an ms-dos, computer. But. What Tandy ended up making was, actually, a better IBM, that IBM was making themselves the.
Tandy Had a more modern appearance than the IBM, and most other clones there. Are a few things that really set, the Tandy 1000, apart from IBM for one thing a lot of things were actually integrated, onto the motherboard such as the video the, audio a, serial, port a somewhat proprietary, printer port and even, two joystick, ports all, of these things were actually separate cards on an IBM system and even. On most clones of the time and, this helped to reduce cost in fact the concept, of having eight chipset on a motherboard started, right here with the Tandy 1000, as it was the first computer to integrate, most of the glue logic, disk, controllers, and other things into a single, chip, so. While some criticized, the original Tandy 1000, for only having three expansion, slots the, reality, is it didn't need very many because it came with everything already, on the board where, an IBM, would come with five slots and four of them would be filled up right from the start the. Keyboard was a bit unusual as, well they, tried to make the keyboard smaller but still retain a lot of keys and so everything's really crammed, together and, there are some keys that are in unusual, places such, as the locations, of ctrl + alt in fact, doing the reset of Control, Alt Delete is, very unusual on this keyboard but. I think the thing that annoys me the most is this placement, of the hold key directly above the arrow keys and, since the arrow keys are not split, off from the rest of the keyboard it's quite possible to wind up pressing other nearby keys in the heat of playing a game because you can't fill the arrow keys as being separate. But. This hold key is the most annoying thing to press because it actually pauses, the entire, computer, so if you learnt accustomed, to this you'll at first think the computer is locked up for whatever reason, but pressing, the hold key again will resume, it the. Joystick ports were non-standard. For PCs but instead, used these same joystick as was used on the Tandy, color computer already meaning. The joysticks were easily available and contained he could share at least that one peripheral, between the computers joysticks.
Were Actually not that common at the time anyway, since IBM never intended, their pcs to really be used for games after all IBM, felt that marketing, their computers, as game machines would, probably, hurt the reputation in the business market and, what place this was particularly, apparent was in their choice of video cards, even. After IBM, had given up on the PC jr. they continued, to sell their pcs with standard. CGA graphics so. While games on an IBM XT, would look more or less like this, the. Same game on a Tandy would look like this and while. Games on the XT sounded, like this. Games. On the tanning machine centered, like this. And. Thus. The graphics and sound eventually, became known as Tammy graphics and Tandy, sound even though it actually originated, on the PC jr. the. Interesting thing is detaining, machines, used these same monitor, type as any IBM computer with a CGA card with use and that's because the four color limitation, of IBM's CGA, card was, actually, not a limitation, of the monitor itself rather, it was a limitation of the video card and thus you can use any CGA monitor on, your Tandy 1000, and enjoy full 16 color graphics just to clarify the graphical, capabilities regular. CGA had essentially, three modes yet a text mode with all 16, colors then he had the 320 by 200 which. Was. The most common mode used in games and then, you had a high resolution mode with only 2 colors there's, some business applications, and a few games made use of this but this, is essentially, what you got with a regular IBM PC or compatible clone, and, yes there were some other modes like composite, mode and some undocumented, tricks that could get you some extra color with various, trade-offs but. The reality, is this is what most PC users had to deal with at the time with. Tanning machines you also had a low resolution mode, with 16, colors I believe. Some of the early Sierra games like King's Quest used this you.
Also Got the 320, by 200, miles. And. This was the mode most games made use of then. There was a high, resolution, mode with 4 colors which was seldom, used and later. Model Tandy machines even added a 16, color high resolution, mode which is even more rare because software developers would be hesitant to use this and advertiser, software, works with Tandy 1000 machines because, most, customers wouldn't know if their 10 to 1,000 supported this mode or not one. Other interesting tidbit, is the way in which Tandy graphics worked, on composite, video you, see on an IBM PC the, CGA card would help put a different set of colors depending on whether you were viewing it on composite, or RGB, monitor and this, software companies would have to write special support to handle both or. Just do like most in and just support the RGB mode and forget about the composite mode since not that many users had composite, monitors but, with, the Tandy it actually outputs exactly, the same colors more or less on composite. And RGB, thus, giving Tandy users another choice for video. Let's talk about the sound chip that typically you'll hear it referred to as the Tandy, 3 voice system, and that's because the chip has three programmable, square-wave voices they, can't really produce any other sort of waveform, and they don't even have an adsr, system like the sid chip has on the commodore 64, however, each, channel does have an independent volume, control, so, it's certainly possible to use the cpu to artificially. Create an adsr envelope so that sounds like bells or flutes can be created, however, the system is actually more powerful than it would seem in fact it, has a fourth voice for a noise channel so, really. They should have called it a four voice system but, wait there's, more you, see they needed the pc speaker to be backwards compatible with other IBM, software, so that sound is mixed in with the sound output giving, you essentially, a fifth, voice if you want and to. Top it off later. Tandy models even included an 8-bit, digital to analog converter as a sixth of voice which is meant for playback of digitized sounds, however, because not all Taney machines had this a few games actually made use of it, beyond. Just the hardware a Tandy 1000, ships with a product, called Deskmate it, was a graphical, operating system but it can be controlled with a keyboard or a mouse and, included a variety of productivity, applications such, as a very minimal word processor, and, while it's not as advanced, as macwrite or other graphical, word processors, it could get the job done it, also had a pretty functional spreadsheet.
You. Know a lot of the stuff has to be compared with what was available at the time and how much all of these things would had cost had. The user bought them separately and this, came with the computer. It. Also had a very nice calendar program that would allow you to schedule appointments, and stuff it. Had a little drawing program sort of like Windows paint of the era speaking. Of that I should point out this whole suite of software runs, on the high resolution 16, color mode of Tani's graphics, chip which, no, other IBM compatible, would have had the ability to do at, least not until EGA graphics became, widespread speaking. Of that it also included, a musical. Composition application. Which took advantage of the Tandy's 3 voice sound Hardware again something. Not available on other computers. And. Last but not least it had a terminal application for, using your modem so. For the home user of the time desk mate gave functionality. Almost, equivalent to Microsoft, Windows I mean, keeping in mind that during this time windows wasn't all that much more advanced than Deskmate. The. Tandy 1000, started off selling for. 1199, dollars which was actually, quite a steal in fact, RadioShack, said it best themselves right here in their catalogue indeed. An IBM PC equipped, with 256, K of RAM and a color monitor will run you over, $3,100. The, equivalent, Tandy 1000, is only 2048. And gives you superior graphics and up to four times as many colors, the. Techne 1000 was a great sell success from day one in fact sales were higher the first month after all understand any other computer in RadioShack's, history of, course not all Tandy enthusiasts, were on board with this this, article in info world talks about Hell Tandy users are disappointed. That the firm is no longer setting standards but following, them however. History shows that Tandy, did in fact made the right move with this computer and over time they would slowly phase out all of their other computer, architectures, this, was really the start of an industry-wide, phenomenon. Up to this point nearly every computer was incompatible, with the next which meant that software, had to be designed separately for every computer but. 1984. 285 is when a lot of IBM clones or ms-dos, computers, would start to show up on the market but, none of them would have these 16-color, graphics and, three voice sound of the Tandy or the, visibility, of seeing them on the Shelf of every RadioShack, store thus, providing, the Tandy 1000, an edge for years to come of. Course in order to use Tandy graphics and, sound games had to be specially, designed to support it if it. Didn't include support, then Tandy users could still run their games in regular 4 color CGA, however. This was a huge problem since many software, companies saw, the success, of the Tandy 1000, and thus more, and more started to integrate support, for graphics and sound into their games in fact. If you look on mobygames you'll see there are 861. Games claiming to have Tandy, graphics support, that's. No small number, the. Tandy 1000, was selling so well that in 1986. It enjoyed a 9.5, percent market. Share of all computers, sold in the United States of. Course Tandy continued, to make new versions, of the Tandy 1000, but it's important to understand that not all Tandy, computers, are Tandy, 1000s, not even their ms-dos compatible computers. Take this Tandy 1400. Laptop for example you. Know it's made by Tandy, it does run ms-dos, compatible software. And it even has a name that sounds a lot like 1000. Because it's, 1400. But, it, doesn't have the special. 16, color CGA, or, the, 3 channel sound system that the Tandy 1000, does only models that are called Tandy 1000. Have. Those modes so. In order for them to keep the Tandy 1000, name they just added different letters at the end like 1000, SX or TX or TL, one. Of the next models they produced was the 1000s. X which looks almost identical. To the original except, the floppy drives are beige instead, of black, however. It did include a faster processor, and internally, it had 5 card slots instead of three like the original, a popular. Upgrade for this computer was to have a hard card which was a hard drive integrated, onto a single expansion card, now. One really popular version was an all-in-one cost reduce version called the 1000, DX which came out in 1987. It, almost looked like a big brother to RadioShack color computer 2 it had. A single floppy drive on the side similar to an apple 2 C or, an Amiga or an Atari ST of, the day also. On the side you get a volume control for the internal, Tandy sound a headphone, jack and two joystick, ports again, still using the same joystick, ports as the color computer series, and placing, this stuff on the side where it's easy to reach makes far more sense than most pcs of the era where this stuff was on the rear, speaking.
Of The rear they were still sticking with their proprietary printer. Port and, this export is a proprietary, port for an external floppy drive like this one this, way you could have two floppy drives just like most desktop style pcs also, you get composite, video RGB. Video and three expansion, slots you could put whatever you wanted to in the, e.x model came with a faster processor, clocking in at 7.16. Megahertz and, one interesting thing probably, done in the name of, Magnus was that had non-standard. Expansion, slots so, the top cover comes off like this and then inside you will see three expansion, slots this. Model already has a modem, here on top along, with one free slot if we, remove the modem you'll see a memory upgrade card in here that brings the memory up to 640, K then. As you can see it has a pass-through for two more cards to sit on top these. Slots are proprietary however. It is possible to use an adapter such as this one and it will give you a standard, - a slot so, assuming the card is small enough such as this xt ide card you can use standard is a cards in there also. An external drive was available if you wanted to have two floppy drives which was a common setup for most pcs of the era. One. Awkward issue with this computer however was always monitor, placement I mean it looks like maybe you could set a monitor, on top but, you can't ideally. You'd want a computer desk with a monitor, shelf or you could use the shelf that they advertised, along with the computer the. HX model sold for seven hundred ninety nine dollars which was actually a really good deal at the time for an IBM compatible, computer of any sort much less one with superior graphics and sound plus a faster, CPU and. This computer was very popular, however. Five and a quarter inch floppy disks were starting to go out of style in the late 1980s, so the very next year in 1988. They. Replaced the e X with the HX model and the HX move the floppy drive to the front along with a second drive bay where you can mount either an additional floppy drive or even a hard drive however, one, neat feature of the HX model is that it can boot from wrong so. If you have no disc in the drive and presumably, no hard drive it'll, boot ms-dos, 2.11, from, ROM that's, really handy because that means if you wanted to play a game from disk for, example you don't have to boot a DOS disc first the. HX, model was better but sold, for only six hundred ninety-nine dollars which, was $100 cheaper than the previous model this, was one of the best selling Tandy 1000, machines ever made an. Interesting comparison to make would be with the Amiga 500 which, was also selling for six hundred ninety nine dollars at the time there's, no question the Amiga was better in terms of graphics and sound but the Tandy certainly had an advantage of a much larger software, library of course, by the 1990s. The Tandy 1000, was starting to lose its competitive, edge and the competition, was coming on multiple, different fronts. For one thing Tandi 16-color, graphics and, 3 voice sound was no longer at the head of its game computers. With 256, color vga cards, had become somewhat, common, and seemed to be the new emerging standard, and, by this time sound, cars like the ad-lib and sound blaster were starting to become standardized, as well, what's, worse Microsoft. Had continued, to improve Windows and thus Deskmate had fallen drastically behind, in fact. By 1991. Even RadioShack's own catalog, actually recommended, that customers, run Microsoft Windows, on most of their high-end computers, relegating. Desk mate - they're less expensive computers. The, all-in-one computers like the e x HX, had disappeared, from their catalogs although. It can still be seen as a prop for advertising, their monitor stand, later.
Models Like the 1000, RLX actually, removed the 16-color, graphics system, that made the attaining machine so successful, and instead, included, 256. Color vga graphics much, like the rest of the market however it did still retain the 3 voice sound chip which, wasn't necessarily a bad thing after all most pcs of the era still didn't ship with a sound card from the factory it, was typically something the user would buy and install themselves. So. A Tandy system still sounded, better than a regular PC, by. 1993, Tandy, was no longer competitive in the PC market and so they sold all of their facilities in Fort Worth Texas to ast, computer, which. Is interesting because I ended up working for AST starting, in 1996. In their tech support department and so, I actually ended up taking calls and right now and then for Tandy machines because, ast had, agreed to handle all the remaining support, for those machines while. The Tandy 1000, hasn't appeared in many movies or TV shows it is featured prominently in the current hit series young Sheldon, in many episodes shacks. Tandy, 1000, SL was my drug of choice and. So that about wraps up this documentary, on the Tandy, 1000, I hope, I was able to shed a little bit of light on what made the 1000. A special, computer at the time it was far, more than just an ms-dos compatible computer. In fact I think that at one time in, history it was the best ms-dos, compatible computer. That, you could buy obviously. That didn't last long but, nevertheless, I think it's very. Historically, important, to put this computer in its place and tell. The real story about what it was so anyway, that's. About it so uh thank you guys for watching.