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Radio Shack TRS-80 Vs. Commodore 64: Battle of the Titans 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the winners-and-losers dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The one and only Jeff Cogswell is back with a new article comparing the two biggest competitors in the home-computing business: the Commodore 64 and the Radio Shack TRS-80. What does he have to say about these absolutely cutting-edge machines? The TRS-80 simply can't stand up to the awe-inspiring Commodore 64, which features the latest processor from MOS Technology, the 6510. Best of all, the C-64s graphics processor can display up to 16 colors simultaneously, and it can create a full screen made up of 320 x 200 'dots.' But the TRS-80 has some good points, as well, including a whopping 512 K of memory (not that you'll ever use that much, anyway). As Cogswell writes: 'Let's cover these two bad boys and provide a totally unbiased review unencumbered by any alleged kickbacks (including a brand new daisy wheel printer and a case of Schiltz Beer) from Commodore, the maker of the awesome machine known as the Commodore 64.'"
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Radio Shack TRS-80 Vs. Commodore 64: Battle of the Titans

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  • I've got (well, my dad's got, in the garage) a TRS-80 Model 1 with 4KiloBytes of RAM and Level 1 BASIC built in! It rocks! (truly!) It was the first machine I was allowed to play with as a kid.
    • by sheehaje (240093) on Monday April 01, 2013 @12:27PM (#43331397)

      I wanted an Atari - my father got me a CoCo 1 with 16KB of memory... I was so mad - how was I going to play missile command on this!

      Anyways, what a great starting machine for the day. It forced me to program, as I didn't have the recorder to save my work or load other peoples programs. A little later on, as I moved up in models, I was introduced to OS-9 and one of its programming languages Basic09. There was some jealousy over some of my friends with C64 - they had a way better game catalog. In the end though, the CoCo I think fostered a better learning experience, at least for myself. Plus Dungeons of Daggorath still has to be one of the best games I ever played back then... I even ran my first BBS off a CoCo. When I did finally get my first IBM compatible (another Tandy) - I was a little dismayed at the assembly language being "broken" and how hard it was to multi-task with MS-DOS (unless something like deskview was installed, and that was unstable at best)...

      I still have a CoCo 3 laying around... I should replace my wifes computer with it as an April Fool.....
       

      • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday April 01, 2013 @01:03PM (#43331611) Homepage

        I used to upset my C64 friends... The CoCo's casette deck would load a program FASTER than the C64 Floppy drive. C64 was cool, but the CoCo was the real hackers computer. I had 4 banks of ram that I could easy switch to, and with the completely exposed Address and data bus it was brain dead easy to interface the computer to things in the world. I had built a XY plotter that interfaced to the cartridge bus and even built my own eeprom cartridge that would take advantage of the paged ram I added.

        • True, the 1541 was awfully slow, even for its time. The fastest floppy I had at the time was the one hooked up to my Apple ][e. with two drives, diskmuncher would copy a floppy in 11 seconds, vs *way* longer using fasthack'em on the 64

          • by rbrander (73222)

            The 1541 was a *serial* communicator, which kind of wasted the possible data-transfer rates off a floppy disk itself.

            I recall a review of the C64 as a machine for your kid, which offered in the unkind review comment: "For both game-playing and educational software, the slow floppy disk may test the patience of most children. In fact, it would be possible for some smaller children to actually grow up while waiting for their game to start".

            • by Nimey (114278)

              The 1541's port was deliberately crippled by inserting wait states, so that it would be compatible with older-model Commodores like IIRC the PET and VIC-20.

              There was a ROM cartridge you could get that'd speed the things up where they ought to be on a C=64.

              • by adri (173121)

                There were plenty of games that installed their own loaders in order to bypass the intentionally-slow 1541 drive interface.

                They could get it up to what, ~38400 reliably? Maybe faster? I forget. It was pretty zippy for the time.

              • by operagost (62405)
                Wrong. The 1541 was slow because the hardware shift register code in the 6522 was buggy. Therefore, all I/O was done in software. This was written hastily, so it was easy for third parties to write optimized code (thus the proliferation of fastload carts).
                • by Mr Z (6791)
                  You also had to account for VIC-II fetches in the fastloader, since it could cycle steal from the 6502 and screw things up.
          • True, the 1541 was awfully slow, even for its time. The fastest floppy I had at the time was the one hooked up to my Apple ][e. with two drives, diskmuncher would copy a floppy in 11 seconds, vs *way* longer using fasthack'em on the 64

            That's why real men used DolphinDOS for their C64/1541. It could read a whole floppy disk in 4-5 seconds.

            • Sure, but then you could use other Kernal replacements. I was talking about unmodified hardware.

        • by Teckla (630646)

          I used to upset my C64 friends... The CoCo's casette deck would load a program FASTER than the C64 Floppy drive. C64 was cool, but the CoCo was the real hackers computer.

          I had both a CoCo and C64 (not at the same time) and found the C64 superior in every way, except for the CPU (the CoCo's 6809 was better than the C64's 6510).

          The C64 had superior graphics, superior sound, more interrupt options (so you could have, e.g., a graphics mode terminal emulator with reasonable performance, since the CoCo had to poll for data, while the C64 waited on an interrupt), etc.

          I would say the C64 was -- by far -- a better hacker's PC than the CoCo. It was a lot cheaper, too.

        • If you set the volume just right, and were really fast with the play/record controls you could make it save your code to a regular tape drive. Just don't get your counter values messed up!
          I always wanted one of those drives to auto start / stop but somehow Dad never found that to be a priority.
          Sheesh, back in those days gosub / return was hot stuff. Good times.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      The TRS-80 wasn't even really a competitor for the C64. It was competing more with the Commodore PET and Apple II. By the time the C64 came around, the CoCo was the relevant home computer from Radioshack. And in the later parts of the C64's lifetime the Tandy 1000.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Oh, I didn't RTFA. The TRS-80 referred to in the summary is the TRS-80 CoCo.

        • re : Oh, I didn't RTFA.
          :>(
          oops, neither did I !! I replied about our level 1 basic rom, 4KB model I TRS-80. I don't think my parents had a coco from radio-shack. My dad wasn't allowed to take the TRS-80 to college with him, but a friend had an atari 800 and another friend got a the color computer / coco when he was a senior. Perhaps I'll ask to take the trs-80 with me !
    • Timex-Sinclair baby!
      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Timex-Sinclair baby!

        Especially with the hard disk.

        • No sir. Cassette all the way.
          • He's referring to a Byte Magazine "Coming Soon" from the April issue, back when 64Kx1 DRAMs cost ~$100 apiece. The blurb was about a hard disk for your Sinclair, no operating system available as yet. There was also a knife sharpener that mounted on the side of your 128K Macintosh, so you could "Knife the Mac".
        • Meh. The original Sinclair, before the Timex merger, with mylar keyboard and an adhesieve sticker masquerading as a heat vent, came with 4k ROM and 1k RAM. Around that same time, Sagan's Cosmos was on the TV and his book reported a typical virus held 1.4K of information. So I had managed to code (in a high level langauge thanks to some very smart people) a safe-cracking game, with graphics, and very short text adventure with less memory than a virus. According to Sagan, that is. The Trash-80 (I didn't know
    • As is usually the case, both the C64 and the CoCo had their strengths and weaknesses. I was envious of my C64-owning friends' game catalog and sprite hardware, and they were envious of the my CoCo 3's cassette and disk drive speed, and its multi-tasking abilities (which far, far exceeded those of the C64 and the IBM clones of the time). OS/9 Level 2 was really the best reason for owning a CoCo.

      And the 6809 was the most pleasurable CPU I've ever programmed, especially for its addressing modes, though I thi

      • by msauve (701917)
        That sounds right, Intel always had their operands backwards.

        6800/6500: STA $add ;store the bread in the cupboard

        8000: mov ax,[bx] ;move onto the table the bread
        • by stalky14 (574130)

          Ugh. I remember taking an 8088 class after knowing 6502/68000 well.
          Multiplexed address/data bus, segmented addressing, little-endian, and backwards operands.
          I was like, "Is there anything left for them to be contrary about?!! How did this get to be the dominating platform?!"

          I blame Intel for single-handedly turning subsequent generations of programmers off from assembly language.

    • Yeah, I loved the TRS-80. It single-handedly made me want to be a programmer. Sadly I didn't own one so I would go to the Radio Shack store and code on it. They had a one hour time limit before they would kick you off and I used up that hour to the last second.

      • You exemplify what it means to love to code. Cool! My dad said he used to type programs out on my grandad's manual typewriter for two years before they ever got the trs-80. Sometimes, i write c programs long-hand along with doodles for short routines when I'm bored at school.
  • Missing Option (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Unloaded (716598) on Monday April 01, 2013 @12:23PM (#43331363)
    Once again the TI 99/4a gets left out. Anybody want a Jello Pudding Pop?
    • by antdude (79039)

      "Hey, hey, hey. It's Fat Albert! ..."

  • Hah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by operagost (62405) on Monday April 01, 2013 @12:24PM (#43331369) Homepage Journal
    And to think all my friends and family said that conversational Klingon course I took was a colossal wast of time!
  • It's incontrovertible : Isaac Asimov >> William Shatner

    Although my tribe's spokesman is Alan Alda. And I think everyone is in accord that Bill Cosby just doesn't have games.
    • Redirecting Isaac Asimov's output onto William Shatner is just rude.
    • by chromas (1085949)

      Parent is actually on-topic. Each celebrity represents a computer (ad):

      • Asimov—Radio Shat
      • Shatner—Commodore
      • Alda—Atari
      • Cosby—Ti
      • by dublin (31215)

        You forgot Alan Greenspan for Apple. No really - long before he was Fed chairman, he was a spokesman for Apple in a series of ads, both print and TV...

        At least one of these ads around this time (IIc vintage, IIRC) was memorable because Apple's ad/marketing folks had lots of fun with the "fine print" legal disclaimers - it helpfully pointed out that the weight quoted was for the computer alone, and that it would weigh more with monitor, printers, and/or several bricks(!). Can't find a link to that one, but

    • by yurtinus (1590157)
      Be fair, I used to play the *crap* out of BurgerTime on my 99/4a!
  • The program in the article will cause a nasty loop...
  • by lazycam (1007621) on Monday April 01, 2013 @12:31PM (#43331415)
    My mother and father were programmers, so they came up with many creative uses of the C64. In his free time, my father would program math-based games to teach us multiplication tables and would allow us to play chess. Mom was the only one to get copies of games for us to play. In general, I have many warm memories of sitting in front of the tv playing games on the ol' C64 with my siblings. I also remember solving boring math problems. In all, I played plenty of games and excelled in math enough to obtain a PhD. I have admit the C64 played a big part in that. I know nothing about TRS-80, but I'm sure my childhood would have played out the same way. As a professional, I understand the technical differences between the hardware, but still...
  • Okay, enough (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zedrick (764028)
    A few of the April 1st-jokes on slashdot has been kind of half-amusing. But this? What kind of audience is it written for? It is written by somebody who obviously doesn't have any interest in computers, and doesn't care about computers other than as tools. I know there are plenty of people like that out in the real world, but on slashdot?

    "Huh huh computers were so primitive in the 80's and now we have faster computars that are better so old computers are funny, huh huh"

    A joke like this would perhaps mak
    • I took it as a nostalgia piece, and actually found it to be a welcome relief from all of the other April Fools things.
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        I took it as a nostalgia piece, and actually found it to be a welcome relief from all of the other April Fools things.

        did you actually read it? I took it as such as well first and went on to read it. it degenerates to "we were bribed with free beer" joking halfway through.. just when it would need to start to get technical to have nerd nostalgia value. it's a lazy ass piece of shit turd piece of writing that's a waste of time even more than this comment.

  • If you say the two biggest home computers without naming the MSX you really have no clue what you are talking about. Either you haven't actually been part of the 80's or you well, you weren't exactly informed... For both there is no excuse since all this stuff can be googled now. There are 2 big home computers MSX and Commodore. Commodore had nicer sound out of the box. MSX had nicer, well, everything and with a fm-pac or/and scc, even better sound.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Dude.. MSX came almost 5 years later, mostly by manufacturors who realized they already missed the boat. Commodore was king - with the Vic20, the C64 and later the Amiga. Competition came from the british Sinclair, Tandy, Philips, the BBC, Acorn, Atari, and a few more.

      When MSX finally came to market, most of those hobby computer users were already making the switch to the slowly-getting-affordable IBM clone pc's. MSX was outdated at the time it was released. It was also not as standard as it suggested it wa

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        sure, and we got a 8086 two years after 386 had been introduced. funny world eh?
        msx was still hugely popular. much more so than trs-80 and competed on the from mid 80's to late 80's market directly with c64. it's not like they stopped selling c64's when they introduced amiga - back then there was huge overlap in computer generations that lasted for years.

        • by Dogtanian (588974)

          msx was still hugely popular. much more so than trs-80 and competed on the from mid 80's to late 80's market directly with c64.

          That's *very* much dependent on where you lived.

          MSX may have been a success in Japan- which is apparently where the concept was invented, and a lot of whose manufacturers were involved. And it also enjoyed success in certain European countries (but nothing like all of them) and elsewhere.

          But in the major North American market- probably a far more disproportionate percentage of the world total than it is today- it went absolutely nowhere against the established C64. Similar in the UK where the ZX Spectru

          • Did MSX even *exist* as a computer you could buy at any halfway normal retail store in the US, as opposed to importing one from Japan & paying more than you'd have spent to buy an Amiga 500?

            The only remotely interesting exotic (by US standards) computer I remember from that era was the Sinclair QL.

            • by Dogtanian (588974)

              Did MSX even *exist* as a computer you could buy at any halfway normal retail store in the US, as opposed to importing one from Japan & paying more than you'd have spent to buy an Amiga 500?

              Don't know personally, as I lived in the UK- however, I don't recall ever seeing one for sale here, and I don't know anyone who owned one.

              Must have been *some* people who did as Mastertronic (a famous UK budget games software house) apparently made quite a few games for it, but it didn't seem to get much support at all in general.

              The Sinclair QL... yeah, unlike its predecessor (the massively popular ZX Spectrum), that one didn't succeed even here, in its home market.

    • by dietdew7 (1171613)
      I've never heard of the MSX. It wasn't popular in the US.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It makes not reading the articles even more legitimate.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Fake" doesn't automatically equal "Funny".

    Am I the only one who would like to see a real review?

    I get the joke "hur dur, let's pretend we're reviewing some really old computers", but I would genuinely like to see benchmarks and stuff.

    It would also be funnier to compare the c64 to the WiiU, complete with benchmarks.

  • Nerval's Lobster writes "The one and only Jeff Cogswell is back with a new article comparing the two biggest competitors in the home-computing business: the Commodore 64 and the Radio Shack TRS-80. What does he have to say about these absolutely cutting-edge machines? The TRS-80 simply can't stand up to the awe-inspiring Commodore 64, which features the latest processor from MOS Technology, the 6510. Best of all, the C-64s graphics processor can display up to 16 colors simultaneously, and it can create a fu
  • I've got my TRS-80 on my desk. Yeah, the C64 has better graphics, but I learned BASIC on this puppy...

    http://perfectreign.com/stuff/trs80_level1_4kb-sm.jpg
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      But which TRS-80? The I, II, III, IV, 12, 16 Or Coco?

      • I have a 1 (Level II basic) and a CoCo. In all honesty, I bought the CoCo at a garage sale for $1.00 about ten years ago, so I've only used it a few times.
  • The first one was OK. The second was annoying. All the others were frustrating. Just stop! We don't need a dozen April Fool's feeds.
  • last month at a flea market someone had a Commodore 64 for sale about $25. He also had a couple Apple ][ (about $100 each). I was very tempted, something interesting for a shrine of sorts. I didn't purchase as I got enough stuff as it is. Just wondering.
    • I was very tempted, something interesting for a shrine of sorts.

      I've been collecting interesting 8-bit waste computers and historic machines for a long time. I give them a home before someone throws them out (no need to buy) and think someday it will be cool to look back at them. I actually have had a chance to bring a bunch of my dinosaurs and discuss the history of computing with my daughter's tech club at school. This included a demonstration of an ENIAC simulator too!!

      Many of these machines are in original boxes. As I was a Commodore guy in the past I have C64, C

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Yeah $25 for a C64 is about right. I generally say $20 for the C64, and $10 per 1541. So two drives and a computer for $40. Then go and spend $60 on a uIEC (flash drive) and you're all set up for $100.

      Apple II computers can bring a high price, or they can sit with that high price for a long time. Pricing them is kind of tricky, as the most capable platform is the most common which makes demand hard to figure. An Apple II Plus can't do much, but it's a better collectors item than a IIe. $100 is about f

  • Got a Commodore 64 in 1985 and it still works. Amazing how things made back then were made to last
    • by jdigriz (676802)

      Heh, lucky you. I bought a c64 a couple years earlier and only the third one lasted more than a couple of weeks. The other 2 had to be returned for a blown power supply and a defective keyboard.

      Now admittedly that last one lasted at least 12 years or so. For all I know it may still work, but I had to get rid of it.

    • You should read up on Survivor Bias [wikipedia.org].

  • by Enry (630)

    The C64 has the edge. I seem to remember a certain former /. contributor who told the story of Afghanis getting their C64s out of hiding after the US invasion, connecting them to the Internet, and watching movies.

    Couldn't do that with a Trash-80.

  • Next lest squabble about whether Hollerith is better than ebcdic.
    .

    • Next lest squabble about whether Hollerith is better than ebcdic. .

      I don't get that. Hollerith is the coding on the punch card, EBCDIC is the coding in the /360. They don't compete.

      Paper tape vs. punch cards, now there's an interesting culture clash. Or Williams Tubes vs. delay lines.

      • In the mid 70's someone gave me a stack of punched cards that were a fortran version of the text based Startrek game. I loaded it onto the what ever I had an account on, probably a 360/370 system, and got something less intellegable than ROT13. The swami of the department told me I needed a Hollerith to EBCDIC converter. Somehow I got a hard copy listing of the thing.

        The math department had a "calculator" made by HP that had a 32 char led dot matrix display, a casette storage and 8k ram that had been hop

  • Lrg gurer'f ab zragvba bs gur pbzchgre V phg zl grrgu jvgu: Gur Nccyr ][ naq
    pybarf.

    V unir sbaq zrzbevrf bs sylvat zl svefg syvtug fvzhyngbe, cynlvat Jbysrafgrva sbe gur svefg gvzr, naq yrneavat gb cebtenz -- nyy ba na Nccyr ][ Pybar.

    Va snpg, V cynlrq frireny syvtug fvzhyngbef ba zl Nccyr ][ pybar - sebz Zvpebfbsg Syvtug Fvzhyngbe gb Puhpx Lrntre'f Nqinaprq Syvtug Genvare.

    Nalbar erzrzore Oebqreohaq'f "Gur Cevag Fubc" jurer lbh pbhyq cevag pneqf, onaaref, naq cbfgref sbe gur svefg gvzr? Ubzrpbzvatf unir arire

  • ... (I owned a C=64, worked on a TRS-80 Model III in High School), I have to say that the C=64 blows doors off the TRS-80 Model III. Sorry, but the music chip, color graphics, and all the other misc hacks that were produced for it (ICEPIC, scanning audio files through the tape drive, etc) were fantastic.

    I do, however, have a place in my heart for the Model III,. My High School computer lab partner and I wrote a Monopoly game for it, complete with kiosk "graphics" (wrote out "Monopoly" in cursive, plus so

  • SEARCHING FOR *
    LOADING
  • The Z80 processor had no memory management unit, so there was no virtualizing the 16 address lines to anything more than 65536 bytes. The bottom 8k or so were reserved to the operating system and basic interpreter in ROM. I don't know where that 512 K number came from. Was that the max storage on the 5 1/4 " floppy?
  • whats the rot13 deal again? I use theoldreader.com instead of google reader. Can I use a reader with slashdot? Do I have to be logged in? Can I pay $10? What do I do????? Thanks for any leads...

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