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1980s Computers Explanation of terms

The Tandy Color Computer Model 3

Tandy Color Computer Model 3


Tandy Radio Shack (US)


Color Computer Model 3

Date Launched

July 1986


Approx. £300

Microprocessor type

Motorola 6809E @ 1.78 MHz
- twice the speed of the Model 1 Color Computer

ROM size

16 kilobytes ?

Standard RAM

128 kilobytes

Maximum RAM

512 kilobytes officially.
Up to 2 megabytes was possible.

Keyboard type

Typewriter style

Supplied language

Extended BASIC

Text resolution

Up to 80 x 28 characters

Graphics resolution

640 x 192, 320 x 192, 160 x 192 pixels in BASIC, 640 x 225 in machine code.

Colours available

4, 16 or 64 depending on resolution


Single channel through television.

Cassette load speed

1500 baud

Special features

Had a custom graphics chip called GIME which greatly improved the display compared to the Model 1 and Model 2.
Disc drives could be added and an operating system called OS-9 Level II from Microware was available. This was a multitasking operating system, well before Windows 3.1.

Good points

Was compatible with earlier models of the Tandy Color Computer.

Bad points

It was still an 8-bit computer, and by 1986 most new computers were 16-bit.

How successful?

Popular in the US. Hardly known in the UK.


Often called the CoCo 3, the Tandy Color Computer Model 3 was an updated version of their successful Model 1 and 2 and had quite an impressive specification. However it arrived a little too late, after the home computer market had peaked.

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