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Bluetoothing a Trash 80

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

16 thoughts on “Bluetoothing a Trash 80

  1. twospruces says:

    hey, looks like a 5V computer attached to a 3.3v bluetooth module. I read the spec and it didn’t say that it was 5V tolerant, or did I miss something?

    Is it still working?!?!?!

  2. twospruces says:

    duh, nevermind. looking at the wrong module. this one clearly works with 5V.

  3. RussNelson says:

    I’ve thought seriously about re-creating the TRS-80 using a Nokia N800, a bluetooth keyboard, and four Ni-Mh D cells. The only problem is that the display would get washed out in the sun, whereas the TRS-80’s display didn’t.

    But maybe the use case is better addressed by the OLPC?

  4. RDAC says:

    I heard that writers used these a lot back in the day.

  5. garethb2 says:

    I sure did. I wrote the entire introduction to Secrets of a Superhacker on a Model 102, while at the beach one summer, as well as a number of my Mondo 2000 and early Wired articles.

  6. AleAle99 says:


    great job!!

    how have you got the pairing with bluesmirf ?
    With ubuntu 7.10 I can’t do…. I’m not able!!


  7. Michael Hampton says:

    This makes me think of other possible hacks, and it seems to me it should be possible to hack in an SD card reader and have it recognized as disk storage. The hardware part of this would be easy; it’s the software that would need to be written to drive such a beast that will be difficult. Anybody interested in tackling this?

    1. Lee says:

      You could just check out the NADS box on the afore mentioned club 100 web site.
      SD card project complete with a future upgrade port that is likely to include a Wi-fly chip or BT.

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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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