I've had a lot
of fun with "The 4P Diaries" these last few months. It's a great
machine, the only real drawbacks are the lack of a battery and, at
nearly thirty pounds, the 4P is not what one could realistically call a
"portable". I suppose if either of my two vehicles were running,
I'd feel different, but if I had to lug the 4P with me on the bus every
day, it'd be a chore...
So, what to do? I thought about it for a while... I wanted a laptop or portable computer that was REALLY low-spec and would provide me with enough of a challenge so I wouldn't get bored easily.
I thought of a few things I could do with machines I have in
the Equipment Locker:
- Locate a battery for my Tandy 2800HD: Sure, they're all over the net. Loads of battery stores have 'em inexpensively. The 2800HD is a great system, I've used it a LOT since I got it, but being a 286, it's a bit too powerful to present any real challenge.
- Locate a
battery and HD for my Tandy 1500HD: Again, many battery
stores stock batteries inexpensively. Unfortunately, nobody seems
to have replacement hard drives or floppy drives for the unit, both of
which are dead on my 1500HD.
- Use "Angry Red":
My Toshiba T5200/100 laptop has the same two problems as my Model 4P:
it has no battery facility, and it's too heavy to carry around (20
pounds or so). Besides, being a 386 w/387 co-processor, it's far
too powerful to present any real challenge. Hell, I've had it
online by itself, without having to null-modem into a Unix box!
- Use one of my
lower-spec Powerbooks: This is almost an ideal
solution. Almost. I have three candidates, two PB 170s and
a PB 145B, all with functioning batteries. Again, problem is
they're all too powerful to present any challenge. Hell, I've had
each of these online by themselves as well...
So, it was off to eBay to find something suitable. There
was the usual montage of candidates: the Osbornes, the Kaypros, and the
Commodore SX64s. I was somewhat interested in the Osbornes and
Kaypros, since they're both portables and both run CP/M (which I need
to learn so I can use my SMC-70G), but again, neither has provisions
for a battery and both look pretty heavy... ditto for the SX64,
Commodore's portable "Executive" C64...
There were a LOT of truly interesting (and sometimes expensive)
possibilities on eBay, such as the Sharp 7000 and 7200 laptops, a
couple of Amstrad PPC512 laptops, and a Sun Sparcstation Voyager...
In the end, I opted to "go back to the Shack" and won a used Tandy Model 100 with 32K RAM for $50 US (after shipping). eBay rocks!
I've wanted one of these things since I was twelve! I
remember staring at the computer section of the Radio Shack catalogs,
dreaming of the day I'd own one of the non-Coco machines like the Model
4, the Model 100/102, or even one of those new Tandy 1000s.
Funny, I can stop dreaming, because now I DO OWN THEM ALL!
The Model 100 Diaries will be an ongoing chronicle of trial and
error, as I learn to use (and misuse) one of the oldest portables of
the Personal Computer Era. Unlike The 4P Diaries, I don't intend
to use the Model 100 exclusively as my "main system", but like my
Model 4P, the Model 100 WILL see near-daily use. I'll probably
use it for text editing, possibly writing actual HTML code, and may
even use it to connect remotely to my Unix box.
Once it arrives, that is...