A Tribute to the Dick Smith System 80
(aka Video Genie and PMC-80/81)

Favourite System 80 (and TRS-80 Model 1) Magazines

1. Micro-80
2. 80-Micro
3. 80-US

Every few days I would call into the local computer store to see if any of the above three magazines had arrived.  If the System 80 was only limited by imagination, then it was these magazines that helped imagination to grow.   Articles, editorials, reviews and tutorials....they had everything.  And free programmes of course!  Games, utilities, business applications.  All in Level 2 BASIC, Assembler, or machine language code.  Hard to believe now, that I had the patience (and the time) to type those programs in.

1.0 Micro-80

The first rough-and-ready Micro-80. Right-click to download

Micro-80 was first published out of Adelaide, Australia in December, 1979 selling for the reasonable price of $2.50 Australian dollars (about $2.00 US).   At 31 pages, there were two sections, a software section offering a number of Level 1 and Level 2 programs (Super Mastermind, Digital Clock, Snake, Merge, Loader and WordProc) and a hardware section showing how to improve your CTR-41 cassette recorder.  The first editorial encouraged programmers to submit programs which would be published (and Micro-80 would pay for), and advertisers were encouraged to submit adverts (which the advertisers would pay for).

By issue three, Micro-80 had grown to 56 pages, twice the size of issue one, demonstrating the popularity of this homegrown "down under" magazine.  It was written in a very personal, folksy style more like a club magazine than a commercial periodical.  It was packed with great, easily digestible information.  There were never many advertisements to wade through (unlike the U.S.-based '80 mags.) apart from their own Micro-80 products, a commercial offspring of the magazine specialising in TRS-80 (and later System 80) add-on hardware.  They kept all these ads in the middle pages of the magazine leaving the articles and programs free of clutter.  Micro-80 also came out in a cassette edition, for those who could afford it and who didn't want to spend the late nights typing the programs in.

Micro-80 Second cover style

A review of the System 80 appeared in issue 7 (June 1980) and from that time on the journal was a strong supporter of this Dick Smith offering.   Indeed, I would hazard a guess that eventually readers with System 80s eventually outnumbered those with TRS-80 machines.

The first Micro-80 I ever read was issue 16, dated March 1981.  That's the one with the pink cover seen here.  I probably bought it later than that because Micro-80 had a history of getting further and further behind in their publishing deadlines.  At one point, the month on the cover was 1/2 a year out of sync with the actual release date.

Anyway, I LOVED it.  I immediately got some back copies and read them all from cover to cover.  There was so much to soak in.  I fast came to the realisation that the machine I'd just spent big bucks on in a fit of impulse buying wasn't just a computer. It was a phenomena!!

Issue 18 saw the introduction of a column by a U.K. correspondent, who reported on things going on in the TRS-80/Video Genie world there and in the December 1981 issue, Micro-80 broadened its support to include the TRS-80 colour computer and a similar machine called the Hitachi Peach.  The latter sold quite poorly, and support for the Peach was quietly dropped in the January 1984 issue (replaced by the even more ill-fated Dick Smith VZ 200).

Micro-80 - Last issue

By 1984, having been a source of information and fun for a host of "down-under" '80's users during the early 1980s, Micro-80 was losing it's focus.  The original '80s machines and their owners, the grassroots from whence it had sprung, were gone or going, lured by the more sophisticated hardware (but not necessarily operating software) of C64's or IBM-PC's. What could be done with the '80s machine (now invariably disk-based) had already been done, and little that was new or novel was appearing.

The last issue I have of Micro-80 is volume 4, number 8 (1984) seen opposite.  I'd be interested to know what became of the magazine.  If you know, please , so I can complete this section.

These magazines are available in PDF fromat from the Micro-80 Archive.

2. 80-Micro

80 Micro Anniversary Issue - 1983This American magazine, published by Wayne Green, will be known to all TRS-80 stalwarts.  This was another staple in the diet of TRS-80ism that was so much a part of my early 20's.  I'm not going to say too much about this one.   Great articles and programs but very expensive here in New Zealand (3 x the price of Micro-80).  Too many advertisements for my liking to, but it was interesting to see all the hardware, software and add-ons available.

The picture shows the Special Anniversary Issue (issue 13) brought out in 1983.  Here, the magazine was at its zenith.  I enjoyed a program published in this release called NODOS 80 which gave cassette users some DOS commands.   I was using the Exatron Stringy floppy at the time and this is just what I needed!

80-Micro continued until 1988, publishing its last issue (#101) in June of that year.  I stopped buying them in 1984 because of the price, and the fact that most articles (quite naturally) were focused on the TRS-80 Model 3 and Model 4. 

3. 80-US

This was an occasional purchase, although copies of this U.S. based magazine were not as readily attainable in New Zealand as the two above.  I can remember little of it, and I don't own any copies anymore. 

It was much thinner that 80-Micro but much the same price.  However, I do remember enjoying the articles.