Tandy Model 1000; junior meets his match. (evaluation) John J. Anderson.
I couldn't have picked a better time to visit Fort Worth. It was 111[deg.] in the shade, and the Republican National Convention was in town. Sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the middle of the day, I rolled down the window and pleasantly accosted the driver in the car next to me.
"Wow! Is it always like this at this time of day?"
"Naw. The prezdint is comin'. They awl but shet down thirta-fahv. The spillover ain't heppin' things none."
My luck. Last time I was in San Francisco I couldn't get across town because of the Queen of England. Lone Star Savvy, Sociability
Ed Juge, director of market planning for Tandy, had promised the trip would be worth it. I hoped he was right. Many was the time I had not shared the enthusiasm of a marketing director for a new product. And I had come to Fort Worth with absolutely no idea what I was to see.
From Mr. Juge's office on the 17th floor of Tany Center, you can see practically to North Dakota. Ed himself is a softspoken, likable fella with the rugged, hnadsome Texas look of a Governor Connally. When he took me to lunch at a shack on the edge of town called The Pit for the best barbecue I ever tasted, I knew we would get along well.
Ed Juge is proud of Tandy, and he is proud of the contribution of Texas to the high tech industry. As well he should be. A New Yorker to the core, I faced my first visit to Texas with a bit of trepidation. What I met was a group of savvy, intelligent, and motivated people whose hospitality is genuine and comes naturally. Texas just may be where America really lives.
"Ah think you're gonna lack what we've got to show ya," Ed said, as we drive back to Tandy's twin towers.
He was right. The Tandy 1000, which should be available at your local Radio Shack as you read this, is the machine IBM was too inept, incapable, or afraid to manufacture. It is sure to put a whopping dent not only into PCjr sales, but into sales of the PC "senior" as well. To Serve Them All My Days
As owners of PCs and jrs well know, when you buy an IBM machine, you have just begun your indenture. You will soon need a graphics adapter, whether monochrome or color; a printer card of some type; and a joystick adapter too, if you care about that sort of thing. Want to run software? That's productive idea. In that case you will need to invest in DOS and maybe Basic. Assuming, of course you have already purchased a model that sports a disk drive of some kind.
Okay. End of diatribe one. Let's take a quick look at the machine I saw that sultry afternoon in the sunny South. Gunning for Big Blue
The Tandy 1000 is built around the 8088 CPU, as are both IBM micros. It comes standard with 128K RAM expandable to 640K; monchrome and color adapters; RGB and NRSC video outputs; a double sided, double denisty disk drive with 360K capacity; a parallel printer interface that supports both IBM and Tany printers; two jostick ports; three compatible expansion bus slots with a maximum board length of 10 inches; a jr-compatible light pen interface; and compatible three-voice sound with built-in speaker and external output.
In the box too you will find copies of MS-DOS, Microsoft GW Basic, and the Tandy Deskmate, an intergrated software package you will hear about right up ahead.
Think what these capabilities would cost if purchased from IBM; then ruminate on the Tandy 1000 base sticker price of $1200 for everything listed above. Table 1 is a comparison chart of the standard features of the 1000, the jr, and the PC.
The next question that needs to be asked concerns expandability. Let's begin with diatribe two. Being the fun-loving folks they are, the pinstripers at IBM also embedded a humorous side in the PCjr to contrast with the more serious PC. They gave it a funny sort of limp, which does not allow it to upgrade easily into a full-fledged PC. After all, jr should never hope to be as good as his dad--that might impinge on Dad's sales, and we wouldn't want to do that.
The following options are currently available for the Model 1000: second internal disk drive, $300; 128K onboard RAM memory expansion, $300; 300 baud direct-connect modem, $180; RS-232 serial interface, $100; graphics tablet, $60.
Future options include a hard disk interface, light pen, mouse, and networking system; these will be offered at reasonable prices as well.
Diatribe three: if you buy a jr, you will not be able to upgrade it to a full-fledged PC without recourse to radical solutions, which in their course will evacuate your wallet. On the other hand, you can buy a full-fledged PC, and still end up spending over $3000. But at least you'll able to run a full implementation of Lotus 1-2-3.
You can put together a dual-drive Tandy system with RGB monitor for $1000 less. Table 2 will give you the idea.
Of course the most important question we must ask regards compatibility. The 1000 is, like other PC clones, not 100% compatible with its counterpart. I loaded PC Lotus 1-2-3, and it ran flawlessly. Then I booted up one of my favorites, Imagic Touchdown Football for the PCjr, and it ran, too--with a couple of anomalies.
First off, because the Tandy 1000 runs twice as fast as the PCjr, sound effects become sound affects. Touchdown actually talks, and the effect is funny--like playing an LP at 45, or having Alvin and the Chipmunks call the game for you. Also, color and presentation sometimes varies. This means that a program that uses a red background on the jr may appear as blue on a 1000 due to differences in video circuitry.
According to David Frager, the Tandy 1000 is a PC compatible with enhancements, and wherever possible, those enhancements were made jr-compatible. This guaranteed a large software base at introduction. However, there are some enhancements that are compatible with neither the PC nor the PCjr.
It should also be noted that the IBM PC monochrome monitor circuit is unique. Software written specifically to operate with that adapter will not run on the Tandy 1000--just as it will not run on the PCjr.
As is our advice with all compatibles, make sure the software you want to use runs on the machine you intend to buy. Otherwise, you could be headed for a come-upance.
The Tandy 1000 is also upwardly compatible with the Tandy 2000. Any program that is written using published IBM PC BIOS calls or written in GW Basic will function on both machines. Programs that take advantage of the unique features of the Tandy 2000, such as ultra-hi-res graphics, will not function.
The Tandy 2000 features high capacity disk drives (720K). This prevents total compatibility with PC disks, while the Tandy 1000 can use actual IBM diskettes. To move from PC or Tandy 1000 disks to the Tandy 2000, software must be copied to a 40-track, double sided format.
Let's not end our examination without a close look at the keyboard of the Model 1000, which is exactly the same keyboard that the Model 2000 sports. It seems that just as they cook the best steaks, Texans design the best keyboards as well. As evidence I present the keyboards of the Tandy 100 and 2000, and that of the TI Pro.
The Tandy 100/2000 keyboard features 90 full-stroke keys, whith 12 function keys across the top, where they belong. The SHIFT keys are also where SHIFT keys should be, not to be confused with ALTs or INSs or DELs. The ENTER key is big and hard to miss. A full numeric keypad is, of course, standard, as are LED-equipped CAPS and NUM LOCKS. The feel of the keyboard is much superior to that of the IBM PC, and it is much more comfortable to cradle on your lap. I will make no comparison whith keyboard(s) for the jr. Tandy Deskmate
I have always enoyed saving the best for last, and in this case have a real chance to savor it. I mentioned a ways back that packed into the box with MS-DOS and Basic is a disk called the Deskmate. Why is this significant? Well, simply put, once you boot this disk, you might never need another software package for your computer.
DeskMate is an integrated software package that combines word processing, spreadsheet, file management, telecommunications, calendar, and E-mail functions in a single user interface. It includes online help, a simple four-function calculator, alarms that can tie directly to day/date schedules, and a printer interface that services all functions.
As the product was still under development when I played with it, I am not going to attempt a full-blown review of it now. Suffice it to say that it is modeled after the software built into my very favorite portable: the TRS-80 Model 100 (see "Notebook Computing"). It is truly integrated and truly easy to use, and it truly allows you to get your Model 1000 up and productive the moment it is set up. It is the crowning achievement of an extremely impressive system.
Ed reminded me that Creative Computing seemed overly eager to point out that the Model 100 was an import in our initial review of that machine, and I admitted that our original signals had been crossed. We did not give Tandy enough credit for the final design of the 100, which was substantially specified by American minds in Fort Worth. With a smile, I followed up by asking him which Japanese company had manufactured the 1000 for Tandy.
I might have been surprised at his response, had I not spent the day having my consciousness raised. The Tandy 1000 was designed entirely by Tandy engineers and is manufactured entirely by Tandy in Fort Worth, TX. That is more than even IBM can say for its machines.
With the 1000, Tandy has elegantly proven an important point: it can be made better, smarter, for less money, and still be made in the U.S.A.
Products: Tandy Model 1000 (computer)