Tandy is no longer with us, but some of their computers are. The Tandy 200 is also sometimes referred to as the TRS-80 Model 200 even though Tandy had dropped the TRS prefix by that time. This was a computer designed with a little better specifications than its predecessor, the Tandy Model 100. The improvements somehow did not make it a better seller than the Model 100. It came out in 1984 and had the look of some modern laptops today.
Tandy was one of the makers of computers that looked like a laptop with an Amazon Kindle screen. The popular color of the day for computers, beige, was the color chosen for the Tandy Model 200. It had a fold open top and was sized at 11.8 inches by 8.5 inches by 2.2 inches thick. It weighed in at four and a half pounds. The screen was a liquid crystal design ( LCD ) that sported a contrast adjustment and a no-glare coating. The LCD screen was surprisingly easy to read and could handle 40 columns of text. Graphics could also be displayed in a 240 by 128 pixel matrix on the screen. The rear connections of the computer consisted of the bus, printer, cassette, phone and a RS-232C connector.
It came with an improved LCD display, a better keyboard, more random access memory ( RAM ) and more internal software than the previous Model 100. The larger screen was a huge improvement but fell short of providing what other screens of the day had, which was 80 columns of data. When the display was closed, it protected the 56 key keyboard. The keyboard for the Tandy Model 200 included four cursor keys to guide the focus on the screen. No mouse was available yet. The serial port could be used to hook up directly to any other computer that had a serial port. A Tandy Model 200 could be powered by an AC adapter or by four double “A” batteries. If they were alkaline batteries they would last for ten to 16 hours. Tandy planned ahead with the batteries, because the computer would shut off automatically if the keyboard had not been used for a predetermined time. The reset button resided on the back panel.
The processor running the Tandy Model 200 was an 80C85 although some say it was running a NEC V20. The RAM could be upgraded to 72 kilobytes total. The memory banks were arranged in three with 24 kilobytes in each bank. An internal 300 baud modem was included in the 200 but a faster 1200 baud modem could be hooked up for those who wanted to get some data flowing. All the Model 100 software was compatible with the Model 200. This particular computer was popular for being a text editor because of the software included in the ROM memory.
The operating system for the Tandy Model 200 was the BASIC platform. Three user manuals were included with the computer. They covered BASIC references, the Tandy 200 multiplan and Telcom references. The Model 200 was priced at just under $1000 dollars.
The Tandy 200 is popular collectible portable computer but doesn’t really fetch very high prices. The last one I saw sold for $70.00. It was in good working condition and included the power supply and carrying case as well. I saw another sell for $134.00 that was sold “as-is” and had a cracked cover. Nonetheless they aren’t that expensive so if you want one you should be able to pick one up fairly cheaply if you’re patient.
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