35 years ago, this July, I bought my first computer. The Radio Shack TRS-80 PC-1 Pocket Computer. Don’t laugh. It had BASIC and I wrote my very first program of any kind on it, one which
became an integral part of the retail and wholesale agricultural fertilizer / chemical dealership that I owned at the time.
The object of the program was relatively simple, but using this, along with the print out, saved a lot of time calculating how long a tank of anhydrous ammonia (NH3) would last on an applicator of a given width and travelling at a given speed. My delivery drivers used the output to determine when the farmer would need another “drink” of NH3 and whether the desired rate was being applied.
- pounds of actual nitrogen per acre required
- total acres to apply
- applicator width
- applicator tank capacity (to 85% – same setup as with propane; tank and applicator combinations varied)
- target speed
- hours and minutes until empty from full (85%)
- hours and minutes for depletion of 5% (gauge graduation – used to check accuracy)
- number of “fills” for total acres (used for our scheduling)
The only programming training I took was right out of the PC-1 manual. This was the first time that I had ever attempted something like this. But it worked! The bulk of it was done over the course of a weekend back at the in-laws; that is always a good “excuse” to be “engrossed” in something work-related. I verified numerous tests via the old-fashioned method and yep, they jived. So much for alphas, betas and RCs; test it and go!
Here is a blurb I found online that was from the Radio Shack promo as well as a review.
The TRS-80 PC-1 is the first-ever BASIC-programmable pocket-sized computer! It’s actually the Sharp PC-1211, sold by Radio Shack in the US.
It takes deep-pockets to hold the PC-1, but not to buy one. Costing only $230, it was very portable and useful.
This new TRS-80 Computer is another “first” from the company which brought you the best-selling, world renowned TRS-80. A truly pocket-sized Computer (not a programmable calculator). Of course it is an ultra-powerful calculator too… And it “speaks” BASIC – – the most common computer language, and the easiest to learn. You’ll soon be impressed by the phenomenal computing power of this hand-held TRS-80 – – ideal for mathematics, engineering and business application. end quote
For those who prefer hardcopy, the $149.00 Printer/Cassette Interface is superb. It is a miniature dot-matrix printer (not a thermal printer) as well as a Cassette Interface for data storage/retrieval.
Built-in rechargeable Ni-Cd batteries supplies power when the external power adapter is not being utilized. Unfortunately, the printer prints 16 characters-per-line, while the PC-1 display is 24 characters wide.
Yep, 35 years ago I got my start in this crazy world of computers with this little fellow. Sure wish I would have kept it.