Posted on August 6, 2017
It all started in 1981, with the purchase of my first home computer, the TRS-80 Color Computer, from Radio Shack, it was silver, it had 16K of RAM and Color BASIC, and I was the happiest kid on the block! I couldn’t afford too many extras, so my starter system was with only a cassette player to save and load programs, and 2 of the original “black beauty” joysticks.
My first shiny silver CoCo gave me a few great years of enjoyment, and by 1983, I was able to upgrade to the fully loaded 64K White CoCo 1, with Extended Color BASIC, and the fancy “melty” keyboard, and by that time, I already had a floppy drive, and added a multi-pack interface, had a custom modification to allow me to add a composite amber monochrome screen, and a bunch of other accessories, life was good!I spent every spare hour of every day playing games and writing programs in BASIC on this machine, it was heaven on earth for me. By 1986 I had graduated high-school, and ended up working at my local Radio Shack store that I had hung out in every day since I was like 12.
Selling CoCo’s and Tandy 1000’s was a great way to earn money while I was going to college, originally planning on being a computer programmer, since the CoCo got me interested in programming in BASIC. I quickly discovered that programming for the business world wasn’t as fun as making games and fun projects on my CoCo at home, so I switched gears and transitioned from a hopefully programmer, into sales, support, training, and ultimately, IT systems management. By 1987 I had transitioned away from the CoCo, The Tandy 1000 was my first PC, which I also got during my time as a Radio Shack employee, I had already started to learn how to program for MS-DOS systems, and became a PC person at the same time, and never really looked back at the CoCo, for almost 30 years!
In April of 2015 I started a YouTube channel, mostly because my kids wanted to play Minecraft and make videos of it. They quickly lost interest in doing YouTube, but I was hooked on creating content and engaging with people around the world. While I still enjoy playing Minecraft and other modern computer games, on a whim, I started created game play videos of my beloved childhood computer, the CoCo, and I discovered I wasn’t the only person who remembered or used this computer! In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands of people around the world that are not only still very passionate about the machine, but that continue to develop new hardware and software for it!
I learned about the Google+ Page, the Facebook Group, The CoCo Mailing List, The CoCo Crew Podcast, and ultimately, CoCoFEST! Which ended up being the first ever computer convention or festival I’ve ever attended! CoCoFEST! Has been going on for 27 years at the moment, and it picked up when Rainbow Fest ended around 1991.
So around 2015 I discovered there were these things called “Communities”, and yea, I know there are ones in the real world, but I’m talking about on-line communities where people get together to talk about the things they love. The Color Computer Community, is a small but proud part of a much bigger retro computer and vintage computing universe that exists and is thriving today.
The CoCo Crew Podcast was the first podcast I ever listened to, and is pretty much the only one I still listen to, perhaps I’m biased, but they really got me tuned into what’s going on the CoCo community and get me really interested in attending CoCoFEST! The first was the 25th Annual in 2016, I also attended the 26th in 2017.
One fringe benefit to posting Color Computer gameplay videos, was having some of the authors of the original programs leave comments on the videos, and through a series of events, we’ve been able to interview a growing number of the original Color Computer software developers as well as some of the people who are developing new software for the CoCo today! Click here for the entire retro interview playlist.
A few weeks before CoCoFEST! 26, I had the spontaneous idea to do a live stream where we could get some CoCoNUTS (that’s what we call ourselves) together for an impromptu Skype call and live stream to talk about the CoCo and talk about the things we were excited about for this year’s umpcoming FEST!
The show was a hit with the panel and the viewers and we continued weekly, without missing a beat all the way up to CoCoFEST, which was also live steamed. After returning from CoCoFEST! We had a wrap-up show as well. After that, I figured the weekly shows may lose interest over time, perhaps we’d go down to once a month and do a CoCo Crew Podcast wrap-up show, or maybe twice a month, but, as I write this today, we’ve been going for 20 weeks, and the shows get longer, better, stronger, and continue to grow in viewership!
I’m of the opinion that our community is self-sustaining. The fact that projects are going on, things take place in the mailing list, and on Facebook, and the CoCo Crew Podcast airs monthly, we have a lot to talk about. The fact we’re talking about all of these exciting things going on is actually inspiring other people to get involved and start projects of their own, which gives us more to talk about, you see where I’m going with this!
So after having a fairly successful YouTube series, what’s next? Well, we decided to test the waters of audio Pod Casting, and in the near future, look for audio versions of CoCoTALK! available at a podcast stand near you.
I continue to be amazed and inspired by the amazing machine that is the Tandy Color Computer, and even more so, by the amazing people who share the same passion and create amazing things for it even to this day.
In my journey of re-discovery I have been compiling a list of links about the CoCo which you can find at http://imacoconut.com
To quote a few people, well, mostly the CoCo Crew Podcast;
You may only be young once, but you can be retro forever!
Happy CoCo’ing and CoCo Forever!
My name is Steve Strowbridge, I’m the creator and host of CoCoTALK! The nation’s leading weekly live talk show about the Tandy Color Computer. On YouTube I go by the Name of The Original Gamer Stevie Strow, or ogStevieStrow, for short, but, truth be told, I’m a CoCoNut! I’ve been once since I saw the first CoCo in 1980, and I’ll be one until I die. I hope you’ll join us for CoCoTALK! sometime!