Vintage Computing: A Weekend Dive into Tandy Assembly 2023

Tandy who, in where?

(Assembly, and in Springfield Ohio)

A Tandy Assembly gathering you say? Of likeminded people?

While I was conversing with Ian Mavric, who as previously mentioned is “dr.ians_junque/TRS-80 Universe” and where I got a box full of goodies from, he mentioned that he was going to be in the US for “Tandy Assembly”. I was previously unaware of this and researched more information.

Tandy Assembly claims to be the “world’s largest gathering of Tandy Radio Shack computing enthusiasts.” It has a Facebook page, as well as its own website. It boasts Exhibits, Speakers, an Auction and making friends. But it does all this in Springfield Ohio. For me, that would be a 10 hour drive. But only an hour in the air…..and an hour drive. I contemplated it. Normally drive 9+ hours to North Carolina so another hour wouldn’t be terrible. Could fly, but is the hassle of TSA even as a PreCheck member worth it? And besides, if I bought all the stuff I wanted to how would I get it back? It was the following weekend (Sept 29-Oct 1, 2023. The same weekend as the Chili pepper (Type you eat, not listen to) gathering AS WELL AS a 420 conference with Cheech Marin. ) HOW WAS I TO PICK?!

Drive to Ohio it is!

I decided “what the hey”. I’ll drive down Thursday night, do some of the info sessions that started after noon (so I could catch extra sleep), do the show Saturday and then Sunday make my way back. I won’t bore you with the drive, though I did pass Goodyear’s HQ and Summit Racing HQ while in Akron, OH. Otherwise, long roads, lots of rain and constantly trying to find new radio stations. I eventually made it in the wee hours of the morning, had to be let into the hotel (Marriott Courtyard Downtown Springfield), checked in (And grabbed some food, I hadn’t eaten on the road) and crashed HARD. (At least I was in a bed, not the highway when I crashed).

The next morning I woke up pretty early, so spent some time doing ${DAYJOB} work. (Even though I had taken it PTO). When the session times came, I zipped downstairs and registered.

What you should know about Tandy Assembly 2023

The first session was “Ruud Broers – Designing and Building a 512K RAM Extension for the TRS-80 Model II“. It was interesting, but I’m a Model I diehard, but he did a great job

The next session was “Jeff Birt – Cosmetic and Physical Restoration of Vintage Computers“. This was especially interesting because that’s what I was doing. He gave some really great tips, and I was on my phone ordering from Amazon some of his suggestions!

  • DeoxIT D100L-2DB – Turned out to really be better to work with and nicer to use than the cotton buds/balls and alcohol. When I came home I went back over everything with this and got even more ICK off.
  • Megacast Fiberglass Scratch Brush Pen – I actually never ended up needing this after the DeoxIT. But still good to have on hand

The next session that followed was ” Ian Mavric & Eric Dittman – TRS-80 Accessories Which Fell Short of the Mark” . I couldn’t tell if this was a comedy routine or an informational session. Turns out, it was both. It was also nice that they gave each items their due, but they all still fell short of the mark. 🙂

We continued to “Matt Boytim & Arno Puder – TRS-IO++: One Card to Rule Them All“. I had read a little about the TRS-IO and it seemed interesting, but just wasn’t something I had much interest in. As they were talking more and more I became more interested in it. By the end, I wanted to demand they take my money. (More later).

The final session was “Tim Halloran – Using MULTIDOS: An Introduction for Today’s TRS-80 Enthusiast“. He talked about another OS that worked on the Model I that WAS STILL BEING MAINTAINED! Given I had expected to put together other systems besides RACS III, I really paid attention to this. It was all going well when I heard how he got it. Some guy named Ira is out there creating and sending disks to people. Wait, it can’t be!? Well, it was, THAT Ira that I used to hang out with in Long Island at the TRS-80 Users Group (LITRUG). I didn’t realize Ira was doing that type of stuff, I thought he just did the website. Well, I’ll be!

The VERY next day at Tandy Assembly

The next day it started at 9am with a light breakfast. I figured there’d be nothing appropriate for me (As I’ve mentioned I’m ovo-lacto veggie, but I also have a wheat allergy. That means muffins, danishes, croissants, etc are not good for me.) so I waited until the first presentation

It was Lawrence Kesteloot talking about his project which was a “Suite of TRS-80 libraries, tools, and web apps“….wait for it…… wait…. IN TYPESCRIPT! (Available on Youtube) It was amazing what was being done and in THAT language. 🙂 (You’ll have to excuse me, I’m also using Typescript in ${DAYJOB} and didn’t think it could do the things that were being done by Lawrence.) I’ve really used it a bunch already!


FINALLY, my first chance to really see the exhibitors and do what I came to do besides learning, spend my money! There was one place I had expected to drop a few hundred for something, I knew the TRS-IO++ probably was going to be a chunk of change, and there were other things I expected would tickle me my fancy so I brought a decent bankroll (And had a reason to justify driving and needing the room on the way back.)

It turns out, though, I was highly disappointed –

  • The big ticket item I planned to buy wasn’t available at the show
  • The TRS-IO++ wasn’t being sold yet
  • Ian did have something I wanted, but not with him. I’d need to work with him to have it sent when he got home
  • Model I’s seem to be a minority, represented, but a minority. Model III’s and Coco’s (Affectionate name for the Color Computer) seemed to be the prevalent systems

I softened some of that disappointment by going back to the next speakers session. It was Frank Palazzolo talking about the origin of graphics and the TRS-80’s. (Youtube) Quite interesting!

Going once, going Tandy Assembly twice, SOLD to the man from RACS III (Thanks Ian!)

Next up was the auction, also led by Ian Mavric. Because the entry fee for the event is only $10 a day, they ask you to bring one or more items to donate to the auction pile and the proceeds go to help putting together the show. I had sauntered by the table a dozen times, and there was only 2 things I saw that seemed to be what I was interested in

  1. Brand New, in the foam, Shugart SA-400 drive. As you may have seen, I was a bit concerned my drives were going to be woefully out of alignment and bad drive band/stepper motor. I was actually hoping to find used ones that someone would say worked perfectly, but this looked pristine and unused so it couldn’t be THAT out of alignment (and maybe the band was still in decent shape)
  2. Ok, well, it was a 2nd one. 🙂 I was a bit bummed that neither of them had a power supply, but mine seemed to check out ok so hoped it’d last.

I’ll spare the suspense, and let you know I ended up with 4 lots.

  • The first new drive for $50
  • The second new drive for $65
  • An ugly looking disk drive and case. I saw it previously, but it looked a bit beat up. I wasn’t going to bid on it, and neither did anyone else…. UNTIL…. Ian mentioned that if nothing else the power supply would be usable. That got me, and I bid $10 and won
  • A trio of wifi routers. I decided I could use them for my internal lab to simulate some things, probably load OpenWrt on them (I’ve sworn off DD-WRT) so I made the one and only bid. $5

I ended up with a few things, for only $130. Not bad, and helped justify in my mind the drive. It took 2 trips to take everything out to the car before I paid. And they took Venmo, which was nice. After that, I retreated back to my room to catch up on ${DAYJOB} and think of what I’d do with my haul.

Sunday is FUNday

Sunday started with a light breakfast at 9, so that meant I was again on my own. 😉 At 10 Stephen Fry from Dayton Microcomputer Association, Inc. talked about the DMA. They’re really trying to get a proper museum going so I donated something while he was presenting. I took one more spin around the exhibit tables to see if anything new/interesting/exciting happened to pop up for me, but alas it didn’t. I told Ian I’d be in touch, checked out of the hotel, and started the L-O-N-G trip home.

So even though I spent more on the Tandy Assembly trip than I did on hardware, it was still a great experience. I definitely will be going again, even if its still in Springfield, Ohio.

But now back to getting my system online.

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About Tuc .

Tuc, owner and Sysop of RACS III started his computing adventures on an IBM 5110 with a 4 inch screen, 16K Basic, 2 8" floppy drives and a 132 column dot matrix printer in 1978. After retiring for a bit to Tucs Beachin OBX House in NC, he came back and is now the Senior Site Reliability Engineering Manager for a global SAAS company.
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