The TRS-80 Color Computer (also known as the COCO) is a “deceptively” easy machine to work with. One of the great things about this machine is that you do not need to have a degree in computer engineering in order set it up. Furthermore, when the machine starts up it has everything you need to start programming right there onscreen in front of you.
There are no diskettes to load or operating systems to worry about. There are operating systems such as Disk Basic and OS9 (not to be confused with Apple’s operating system) and disks available for the color computer but you do not need to even look at these things until you are ready to.
Photo of the back of the TRS-80
There are three switches and five ports. Starting at the left, the first thing you see is the reset switch. When you press this button and the machine is turned on it will reset the machine. What this means is that it will clear memory and all of the registers, basically placing the machine into the state that the machine was in when the computer first started.
When the rest is completed you will see an OK onscreen Second from the left is the cassette port. This is where you plug your cassette player into
the color computer to use as a storage device.
Third from the left is the serial port. This port allows you to connect all manner of devices to the computer. While it can be used to drive robots or for home automation, it also allows for more practical capabilities, such as using a modem to log into bulletin board services.
Next are two joystick ports. This is where we connect our joysticks in order to play arcade video games.
Sixth over from the left is the channel selection switch. This switch allows you to choose between using channels 3 or 4 on your TV screen to view the computer’s output. The 7th
element from the left on the back of the computer is the TV connection. This is where you will plug in the cable that connects your computer to the TV.
Finally the eighth element from the left is the power switch that turns the computer on and off. Over to the far right is the built-in power cord.
The beauty of this machine is that if all you want to do is jump in and start programming,we may completely ignore five of the eight elements on the back of the machine. As you advance and your knowledge of the machine expands, you can make use of the other elements. The greatest feature of this machine is that you can easily get started using its basic features without being intimidated by its more complex elements. As your knowledge grows, you can move on and make use of more and more of the computer’s resources.
Photo of the RF switch.
This is all you need to get started programming the TRS-80
Diagram of basic TRS-80 color computer installation.
As you can see from the diagram, all that you need to get started programming is to connect the computer to your TV using an RF switch and then plugging in the machine’s power cord.
Turn on the machine by pressing the power switch and you are good to go.
Right now your screen should look like the screen shown in Figure
The TRS-80 boot screen
You are now in extended color basic (or color basic if you are following along on a COCO1). The text onscreen tells you which version of basic you are using. Also note that you may have a color computer that has been upgraded to extended basic, in which case,you will know which system you have by looking at the case. (The COCO1 has a gray case while the COCO2 has a white case.)
Color Computer Storage Devices
You have two options for storage: disk drives or cassette tapes, discussed in the following sections.
Illustration showing the installation of the cassette recorder
One end of the cable has a single connection
We will discuss cassette tapes first. Fortunately, the tape cassette is very easy to install.
Figure is an illustration of how to install the TRS-80’s CTR-80A cassette recorder.
There are other cassette recorders that may work, but the connection will be different, and there is no guarantee that they will function correctly.
Illustration showing the connection that plugs into the computer
Look at the U shaped pattern of this pin. The cassette port on the back of your TRS-80 has the same U-shaped pattern of indentations. Line the plug up next to your computer’s cassette port so that both of their U-shaped patterns line up. Plug it in.
Next, take a look at the three plugs on the other end of the cable, illustrated in Figure
Illustration of the other end of the cable
The small gray plug connects to the REM jack, the large gray plug connects to the AUX jack, and the black plug connects to the ear jack.
Finally, plug the recorder power cord into the wall’s power supply.
Setting up the floppy disk drives is just as easy. Look at the diagram in Figure
Diagram of the installation of the floppy disk drive
There are two cables coming out of the floppy disk drive. One looks like a power cord,and the other looks suspiciously like a game cartridge. This appearance is a hint as to how the floppy drive is connected. The cable that ends with an improvised cartridge case is plugged into the TRS-80’s ROM drive on the right side of the computer.
Photo of the ROM cartridge connector
Next we plug the power cord into the wall socket. After turning the power switch on the back of the floppy disk into the on position, you are ready to go. When you turn on your computer with a disk drive connected, the Disk Basic operating system will automatically be loaded which will give you the ability to interact with the disk drive.