Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution

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9780979346804: Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution

Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Microcomputer Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution by David Welsh and Theresa Welsh takes you back to the largely unknown origins of personal computing. Personal computers grew out of a hobbyist movement in the 1970s, as some began experimenting with the new microchips, building their own computers. Kit computers appeared, available from small mail order companies, but the computer that brought a wider audience to personal computing was the TRS-80 Model I, introduced by Tandy Corporation in August 1977. It was the first complete mass market, off-the-shelf microcomputer that anyone could buy for $599.95. And it was available at 3500 Radio Shack stores nationwide.

Introduction of the TRS-80 meant, for the first time, anyone could experiment with software and affordably use word processing, spreadsheets, accounting, database and other applications... except for one thing: there weren't any programs. So, of necessity, new computer owners became programmers, and enterprising individuals working in basements and garages created the software everyone wanted. Many of them had never done any programming before.

The authors were part of a community of entrepreneurs who sold software for the TRS-80. Besides telling their own story, they also collected stories from key innovators from that era, including some who had never been interviewed before about their contributions to computing. The technology that originated with these amazing microcomputer pioneers went on to change life in fundamental ways and their stories are the heart of this book.There were programmers who created fabulous games like Dancing Demon, Microchess, Oregon Trail and the Scott Adams Adventures; there were rivals who created five different Disk Operating Systems for the TRS-80 and one man's fight with Tandy over who owned the code; there were scam artists who offered products that were too good to be true, and brilliant visionaries who were first with software features later "invented" by big companies with more money but not more talent.

The authors relate how Don French, a computer hobbyist who worked for Radio Shack at the time, suggested to his bosses that they capitalize on the latest craze, home-built computers. Radio Shack took a chance and hired young Steve Leininger away from Silicon Valley and told him to build a machine they could sell cheap. Working alone in an old saddle factory in Fort Worth, he built the first TRS-80; its total development costs were less than $150,000.

Author David Welsh was one of those self-taught computer-buyer/programmers. He created a word processor, Lazy Writer, and, working with his wife Theresa, sold copies worldwide to enthusiastic fans who were eager to ditch their typewriters. This was before Microsoft was a household word, when software was new and exciting and everyone was learning. Software generally had only one author, and programmers were proud of their work; some became stars. David and Thesesa Welsh, who lived through it all, have captured the defining moments and excitement of this era, with the untold stories from the microcomputer pioneers whose efforts and love for their "trash-80" helped spark the PC revolution that followed.

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Review:

I highly recommend it to anyone who lived during the era of the TRS-80 or is curious about how one the linchpins of the computer revolution came about!
-- Scott Adams, inventor of the Adventure games --Scott Adams Grand Adventures website

Radio Shack released the TRS-80 in August of 1977, and in honor of our first computer's 30th birthday, David and Theresa decided to stop collecting material and get their book out. Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution (www.microcomputerpioneers.com) is a very personal computer history book.

I read this book in the same week that I was reading reports about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates reminiscing on stage about the old days. Steve and Bill have their memories, too, of course, but the nostalgia of a billionaire is probably a little less bittersweet than that of a couple from the Midwest who rode the wave of the revolution for a few years, then had to settle back into the drudgery of nine-to-five work for hire.

But I don't want to give the impression that this book is just misty watercolor maunderings. For those of us who got hooked on the software thing at an impressionable age, this is exciting stuff. And Theresa is a fine writer. The story moves along briskly when she's at the keyboard. Dense with facts, its themes expounded smoothly.
-- Michael Swaine, Swaine's Flames --Dr. Dobb's Journal, August 2007

I highly recommend it to anyone who lived during the era of the TRS-80 or is curious about how one the linchpins of the computer revolution came about!
-- Scott Adams, grandfather of PC Adventure games --Scott Adams Grand Adventures website

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Welsh, David; Welsh, Theresa
Published by The Seeker Books 2007-05-21 (2007)
ISBN 10: 0979346800 ISBN 13: 9780979346804
Used Paperback First Edition Quantity Available: 1
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Book Description The Seeker Books 2007-05-21, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: Fair. 1st. 0979346800 We guarantee all of our items - customer service and satisfaction are our top priorities. Please allow 4 - 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Bookseller Inventory # POTM-0979346800

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