Let’s start with three letters and two numbers

Or, why I’m not a computer programmer.

The TRS-80 Color Computer, my first computer.  I can see it now…that dull, gray, boxy complexion, replete with small, square keys in rich foggy-colored plastic with deep onyx imprinted letters and numbers.

And oh, those keys!  Those playful, independent spirits intermixed with the electronic underpinnings…why you made typing so, so…engaging!  Did you just type a “p” or a “q”?  Well, let’s say you typed a “2” and leave it at that.  Jovial!

The playfully painted TRS-80 logo fitted just so severely above the keyboard.

The lovely cassette player and its graceful if incessant whirring.  You made a game out of recording.  How much force is needed to push the button today?  Only by trying and failing, and failing again will you find out!

The Tandy Radio Shack, or TRS-80 Color Computer (source)
CCR-82 Cassette Recorder (source)

Memories, light the corners of my mind…

I guess it shouldn’t really call it “my” computer.  I think other family members used it, for what though I can’t imagine.  Adding and subtracting?  Writing?  Did the thing come with any software besides games?  We had a small collection of cassettes for it, but I’m sure there was also some Abba and Chuck Mangione in that storage tray.

It feels ok, I guess. (source)

Anyway, to me, the TRS-80 was good for only two things: playing basic games like checkers and writing BASIC programs.   The computer didn’t come with a monitor, so we had it hooked up to the TV — a color television set nonetheless!  Oh man, and did I make that screen turn colors.  Cyan, you were my favorite.

But anyway…BASIC.  I’m pretty sure we had a manual about it because I didn’t just make up the programs.  It’s a simple programming language using strings of ands, ors, nots, ifs, thens, and symbols like <, >, =, $, etc., that are presented in lines of code usually starting at 10. Here’s the program for making the screen change colors:

10  uh……hmmm…..urp~~~  *brain functions seize, LOLcat needed to restore thought processes*

Awwww. See, I told you. Cute animals. (source)

Yeah.  Did you really think I’d remember the program?  I could probably scour the internet looking for a program, but I’m just not THAT motivated.  And see, that’s why computer programming did not turn out to be my thing; the motivation wasn’t really there.  I was much more interested in the outcome rather than the process of creating the outcome.  Sure, it was fun to see changing colors and patterns, play Russian Roulette,  or watch a “ball” bounce around the screen, but I all really wanted to do was play.  And if I was going to invent new ways of playing, it was going to be in the real not the virtual world.   Now if I had figured out how to make a program that set forth immortal battles between 8-bit Barbie and He-Man, well, maybe I’d be making the video games of today and the future.  But for the sake of the world and my own sanity, it’s probably best that I stuck with virtual checkers and computerized rainbows.


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