My First Computer: Tandy Radio Shack 1000 SL/2

Here is my first computer in all it’s glory.

Tandy 1000 SL/2

OLD-COMPUTERS.COM Museum ~ Tandy Radio Shack 1000 SL & SL/2.

I had never imagined it was an 8086 – but it makes sense because I remember getting parts for a 286, building it, and slowly through garage sales and such building it out to a 386 with

better hard drives, updated video cards, 8 bit soundblaster, moving from monochrome to 16 color EGA to 256 shades of gray VGA and finally a color monitor.

I remember the Deskmate front end, at the time it was a scarlet letter. Because I had this menu thing, not real DOS, and only 592k of RAM I was SOL for any games that required the full 640k. I did not know the Deskmate was actually in ROM, so the missing RAM was probably a RAM drive of sorts.

It didn’t exactly impress, bit I would use it for hours. It believe it came with a rudimentary drawing app, and it did have a mouse so there was 16 colors of stunted corners and blobs. The big thing I remember was the sound card. 4 bits, Tandy specific, it did up to 4 sounds at a time (midi) and a music app where you could place various notes on the staff and play it back. I spent a lot of time pretending I could compose. I also rigged a mic and was able to record sound clips (rather short, 30s? 15s?) reverse them amplify, etc. I learned to edit sound waves with that machine and I never went wiout a sound card in any of my machines thereafter until ISA became expanded (16 bit OSA – which required a 386 I believe).

In fact, one of my first major purchases was an order from an office catalog. It was unusual for them to have anything so decidedly “non-business” but it was an 8 bit sound blaster with Railroad Tycoon and Chuck Yeager’s Air Combat. I was unable to play either for quite some time because they came on HD disks (1.44mb) and I only had a 720k 3.5″ drive.

…that led to me finding one for my room – a TI, 80? I need to look it up but it had a joystick and 2 games, missile command and space invaders, though I am sure neither was the actual game… And the Crem de la Crem GW basic on a cartridge. It could do tape but I had no idea how it all worked, tried saving to a tape recorder a couple times with no results so effectively no storage. Once I started programming my own applications (the more simple ones from Digital World) I would leave it on for days to keep my work. I also couldn’t play games once I was in the middle of a program so GW ruled my 13″ UHF B&W TV I used as a monitor.

Once I read Jurassic Park, I had to recreate the computer system in the book. I fashioned the menus in ASCII and eventually simulation turned to game. You had to bring the park back online (it would deactivate after a random (1 to 10) interval of viewing menus) once it was brought down. You had to repair the fences, and then get to the tunnels and make the right connections to get the generators working before you could turn on fences and transportation. If you didn’t turn on the fences first, they’d get you on the way to the ship.

I eventually ran out of memory, I had the machine running for months, started editing to save some lines and finally started copying each line by hand into a notebook. I never had enough space to finish, and didn’t write it all down either, but I have come across it. I really want to find that notebook now.

So that’s what started all this. Now I am up till 2 making coding changes to my own enterprise TCP application, tweaking and coding… Not unlike I did back then.

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