TRS-80 Model 100 won't power up -- ideas?

Today my mom and I had another session of cleaning out the Godawful mess that was my late father’s filth-encrusted 40-year collection of assorted electronics equipment. Mostly we were trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, as some of his ham (amateur radio) buddies will be coming on Saturday to see what might be worth trying to sell for my mom.

The mess is a sight to behold. I wonder how the hell he ever found anything, or whether much of it was even usable. Some of it (example: a GE carrying case full of what look like pristine tubes, still in their boxes, such as a technician might carry) might be of historical interest to someone. Or it might not – that’s why we hope the ham guys can advise us. Of course it was all treasure to my dad, including 40 years’ worth of moldy magazines and manuals, and he couldn’t bear to part with any of it.

But I digress. I’m finding a few gems here and there, and one (I thought) was a fairly pristine-looking Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 Portable Computer, still in its pleather case.

I brought it home and put new batteries in it, and flipped the power switch with bated breath. Nothing happened. :frowning:

I thought about opening the case to look for obvious loose connections, but it doesn’t even look like it’s ever been opened up. There’s what looks like an empty memory slot, but from what I read at the link above, that appears to be an optional expansion slot for extra software.

Tried flipping the other switches on it:

DIR/ACP (direct vs. AC power? I have no wall wart for it)
Reset button
Rolled the DISP (display brightness) wheel
There’s a MEMORY POWER on/off switch, but that appears to be for user data RAM per the link.
It had some corroded AA batteries in it, but when I removed them, the contacts looked clean. Maybe the corrosion fried something?

Obviously this thing is 25+ years old and perhaps it has just croaked. And obviously I am a total electronics n00b and the stuff I tried above is probably hilariously useless. But dammit, I wish this thing worked! It LOOKS like it should!

Should we just consign it to the trash heap with the rest of the broken crap? If it can’t be fixed, would someone want it for parts or to tinker with? Or is it just another obsolete paperweight?

Hmm, after a touch more Googling, perhaps I should contact these folks.

Even working ones don’t sell for that much on Ebay.

Make sure you don’t have the LCD contrast turned all the way off.

A multi/plug voltage DC power adapter could probably run it if you have one laying around. It uses 6V and around 200 miiliamps. Make sure polarity is correct.

Yeah, I know it’s not worth much . . . just seems like it would be a neat little toy. I could dust off my BASIC.

I’ll have to take it back to Mom’s with me on Saturday and ask the ham dudes about the power adapter. My mom has a box of power adapters she’s trying to match up with things; might have one in there. I’ve flipped the LCD contrast roller every which way, and nada.

I did discover that it will beep when certain keys are pressed, so it’s not completely dead! And the Low Battery light flashes briefly when I flip the power switch to OFF.

I’ve been Googling more since i posted this and found several manuals with troubleshooting charts that are over my head. I also found that these are (not surprisingly) popular with ham radio types. So maybe one of the guys might want it or know somebody who does . . . or maybe I could get them to poke at it for me.


The Model 100 contains a NiCad battery for backup. Those things seem to last forever, but they need a certain charge to allow the system to boot. Leave the batteries in for a few days then try to boot.

The Model T is a wonderful creature, with nearly endless battery life (we users laugh at Apple’s 8-hr claims because we are used to 30 or more) and, even more importantly, A PROPER KEYBOARD! I assume your mother knows how to type. Tell her I’ve been forcing myself to use my daughter’s Compaq laptop this week, but as soon as I no longer need a laptop that runs modern software, and can use one to just slog ASCII text into something that remembers it, I’m back with my Model T. She wants to hit to be with her kind. And to find ways to get that text into Word.

Okay, it’s a Model 102, but it’s similar and yellowed and I was going to go all Steampunk on it intil I found a way to reverse yellowing.

ETA: The Steampunk thing is improved by how the Model T is not Y2K compatile and shows the year as 1909.

Nope, she don’t want it. It’s my baby now! :smiley: Besides, I’m trying to pry her old Win98 box out of her hands. Need to get her moving forward, not backward. :smiley:

How do you “reverse” yellowing?

All the better! I hoped your mom would understand the gold she held, but I know that you can see it better. Anyway, to be honest, the file transfer programs you’ll find there work better with DOS-based OSs, like Win98, than with Vista. And join our list (from there). I use my real name and everything!

Hydrogen peroxide (the stronger the better–talk to your hairdresser friends and they can hook you up with the strong stuff)–plus OxyClean plus strong sunlight. You can get fancy, like this guy, or you can still think how bitchin’ a 100 would look in pleather brown with real brass trim. Maybe I should retro my Models 100 (one with an iffy motherboard, the other with an iffy screen) and give ithe result too my potentially Steampunk daughter while cleaning up the 102, which I won in a contest, for myself.

Okay, the geek in me still wants to do one in sandstone with its callouts in “real,” Egyptian hieroglyphics.

I have memories of playing Mole Mash on the F keys back in the day. Your dad sounds like my dad.

My idea is trash it and clear up some space. Don’t waste time on it.

Aw, that’s no fun.