The Tandy 1000 was a line of IBM PC compatible computers made during the 1980’s by the American Tandy Corporation for sale in their chain of Radio Shack electronics stores in Canada and the USA. The Tandy 1000 would be the successor to their influential TRS-80 line of computers, the Tandy 1000 would eventually replace the COCO line of 8 bit computers as well when Tandy decided to prematurely end that project in favor of the Tandy PC line of computers.
Targeted toward the home user with a modest budget, it copyied the IBM PCjr's 16-color graphics (PCjr's graphics were an extension of CGA video) and anhanced 3-voice sound, but didn't use the PCjr cartridge ports, instead the Tandy version had built-in game ports compatible with those on the TRS-80 Color Computer (COCO), as well as a port for a "light wand/pen". Most Tandy 1000 models also featured “line-level” sound and composite video RCA outputs built onto the motherboard so that a standard television could be used as a monitor, albeit with much poorer video quality. Unlike most PC clones, early Tandy 1000 computers had MS-DOS built into ROM allowing the OS to boot in a few seconds. Tandy also bundled onto floppy diskette “DeskMate”, a suite of consumer-oriented applications, with several models. Besides a composite output to TV, as mentioned earlier, Tandy 1000’s also housed a built in CGA video adaptor equal to PC standards built onto the motherboard and since the Tandy 1000 outlasted the PCjr by many years these graphics and sound standards became known as "Tandy-compatible" or "TGA," and many software packages of the era listed their adherence to Tandy standards on the package. One odd feature of the Tandy-1000, however, was a non standard edge card printer connector built onto the motherboard and protruding through the rear; an adaptor would be needed to work a standard IBM style printer.
In 1984, when the “T-1000” was in its prime, you may have paid up to $2499.00 (Canadian) for a full featured system with matching monitor.
The original line was equipped with the Intel-8088 CPU at 4.77Mhz, which was later extended to faster clock speeds up to 7.16Mhz, as well as the upgrade to 8086 and 80286 processors at 10Mhz (in the TL & TX configurations). Common models of the machine included the Tandy 1000, EX, HX, SX, TX, SL, SL/2, RL, and TL, TL/2, TL/3.
The “T-1000” was a workhorse in the IBM PC world, large numbers of units are still in active service today as it’s construction was quite robust. The T-1000 was Tandy’s last attempt in the home computer market. In the early 1990’s Tandy Corporation sold its computer manufacturing business to “AST Computers”. When that occurred, instead of selling Tandy computers, Radio Shack stores began selling computers made by other manufacturers, such as “Compaq”.
The original Tandy 1000 was similar in size to the IBM PC except it had a plastic case to reduce weight. The original Tandy 1000 featured a proprietary serial keyboard port along with 2 similar joystick ports on the FRONT of the case (a feature that would become standard in later models). The rear featured a PC standard monitor connector (compatible with CGA/EGA), a composite (TV) video-out connector, a single RCA-style monophonic line-level audio connector, a port for a light pen, and the unusual edge-card connector used to attach a parallel printer.
The original Tandy 1000 came standard with one 5.25 disk drive, with an additional bay usable for the installation of a second 5.25 disk drive (available as a kit from Radio Shack). 128k of memory was standard, with the computer accepting up to 640k of total memory with the addition of expansion cards. MS-DOS 2.11 and DeskMate 1.0 were included with the system.
The Tandy 1000 offered 256 characters: 96 standard ASCII characters, 48 block graphics characters, 64 foreign language/Greek characters, 16 special graphics characters, 32 word processing/scientific-notation characters.
Contributors: Derek McDonald (aka “Skel”)
Sources: Switchtec's Virtual PC Museum, Emperor Multimedia Electronic Archives, Wikipedia, 8-Bit Micro, Tandy 1000 PC Museum