Bluetoothing a Trash 80

Remember ye ol’ Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100? I used one long after their heyday (when laptop really still meant luggable and battery life was a joke). This thing had wordpro, calendar, a term program, built-in modem, and it ran FOREVER on 4 AA batteries. Eric Gradman recently played a great prank on a new hire at work. He writes on Flickr:

The TRS-80 can run on batteries (this was a major selling point when it was released), but its designers forgot to add wireless capabilities.

I have corrected this shocking oversight by soldering a BlueSMIRF module available from Sparkfun Electronics directly to the HD-6502 UART on the motherboard.

My MacBook pairs with the Bluetooth module and exposes its remote TTL level UART as a device file. I use screen to open this device file, and exec “telnet” to my host of choice.

When Sam walked in this morning, I handed him his TRS-80 laptop with a working login screen to the Linux box… but the TRS-80 was completely untethered!

BTW: The Model 100 still has an active user community, such as the Club 100 user’s group.

TRS-80 Bluetooth photoset – Link


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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