Radio Shack Broadens Its Home Computer Line

By Peter J. Schuyten
The New York Times

August 1, 1980

The competition in personal computers heated up considerably yesterday as Radio Shack, the leader in the field, moved to broaden its line and extend its price range downward.

The company, which is a division of the Tandy Corporation, announced that it was adding three new models to its current product offering. They include its first color unit as well as a pocket, or hand-held, computer weighing just 6 ounces and measuring less than 7 inches long.

Radio Shack thus increased to five the number of models in its line. Prices range from $299 for the pocket computer, to $3,450 for its TRS 80 model II, announced last year and aimed at the smallbusiness man.

Broadening a Three-Way Race

Until quite recently, the competition in personal computers had been considered a three-way race between Radio Shack, Commodore International Ltd. and the Apple Computer Company, which earlier this summer introduced its Apple III computer, a machine that competes at the high end of the line with Radio Shack's TRS 80 Model II.

But in the last 12 months, the field has expanded markedly with the addition of such giants in the electronics and home-entertainment world as Texas Instruments Inc., the Hewlett-Packard Company and Warner Communication's Atari arm.

Moreover, the industry was further broadened when such consumer electronics manufacturers as Panasonic, Quasar and Lexicon added what in effect is a subset of personal computers in the form of handheld units, retailing for upward of $1,200. It was apparently this market that Radio Shack was aiming at when it introduced its pocket computer.

A History of Low-Price Leader

Radio Shack has a history of being the industry's low-price leader, a tradition it upheld with its new 1981 models.

The new TRS 80 Color Computer, which has 4,000 characters, or bytes, of main memory storage and uses plug-in software program cartridges, will retail for $399. The unit, which is expandable up to 16,000 characters of memory for an additional $150, can also be Radio Shacks two-way videotext information retrieval system.

Above that is the TRS 80 Model III, which in its most basic configuration sells for about $699, with 4,000 characters of memory, and $2,495 for 32,000 characters of internal storage and a disk drive external memory system. In addition, the Model III offers a word processing capability for $3,600, including a 50 character-per minute letter-quality printer.

Compatible With Model I Computer

Both the Color Computer and the Model III are compatible with Radio Shack's Model I computer, which begins at $499 and runs up to nearly $4,000.

Along with the new computers, Radio Shack also introduced 1981 models in its high-fidelity audio equipment and shortwave radio line, as well as new home security systems and telephones.

Radio Shack sells its own equipment in 7,700 retail stores in 40 countries.

Copyright 1980 The New York Times Company