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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The Tandy Color Computer Model 1

Tandy Color Computer Model 1


Tandy Radio Shack (US)


Color Computer Model 1

Date Launched

July 1980


Approx. £350
A matching TRS-80 colour monitor as shown above was available, for the same price as the computer.

Microprocessor type

Motorola 6809E @ 0.894 MHz

ROM size

8 kilobytes
16 KB with Extended BASIC

Standard RAM

4 kilobytes
Later increased to 16 KB

Maximum RAM

64 kilobytes

Keyboard type

Calculator style, with a stiff action

Supplied language

Microsoft BASIC
An extended BASIC giving full access to the graphics and sound was an (almost essential) optional extra.

Text resolution

32 x 16 characters
Only uppercase letters were available.

Graphics resolution

From 64 x 32 up to 256 x 192 pixels.
Needed the 16 KB memory pack for high resolution.

Colours available

Black on green for text.
Eight colours plus black for graphics.
Number of colours on the screen at one time varied with the resolution, from 8+1 colours at lowest resolution to 2 colours at highest.

Example Screenshot

Color Computer 1 display
The text and block graphics display of the Color Computer 1.
Notice there are no lower-case letters, but the reverse-video capitals shown near the bottom would appear as lower-case on a standard printer.


Single channel through television.
'PLAY' command in extended BASIC made it easy to produce tunes.

Cassette load speed

1500 baud
CTR-80A Cassette RecorderTandy recommended the CTR-80A cassette recorder for use with the Color Computer. This was just a normal but high quality mono audio recorder so in fact most domestic cassette recorders could be used successfully.

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

369 x 344 x 94
Not known

Special features

Had ports for two analogue joysticks and ROM cartridge.
Disc drives could be added and an operating system called OS-9 from Microware was available. This was a multitasking operating system, long before Windows 3.1.

Good points

The supplied manuals were excellent for newcomers to computing.
The optional Extended BASIC had better graphics and sound commands than most other BASICs of the time.

Bad points

The lack of lowercase characters and black on green text gave the machine an old fashioned feel and made applications like word processing difficult.
It was not possible to mix text and graphics on the screen without a lot of effort.

How successful?

Very popular in the US but less so in the UK.


The Tandy Color (sic) Computer was affectionately known as the CoCo.
The Dragon 32 was almost identical to the Tandy CoCo, with more memory and a lower price.

In 1983 the Model 2 was released which was internally the same as the Model 1 but had a white case and a proper typewriter keyboard:Tandy Color Computer Model 2

Review of the Color Computer 1

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