my Tandy 1000sx with Diamond Trackstar Apple IIe compatiblity sort of

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my Tandy 1000sx with Diamond Trackstar Apple IIe compatiblity sort of

Post by redpill on Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:18 am

Sat Aug 11, 2018

growing up i manage to persuade my parents to buy a computer, on the claim that computers are the future and we don't want to be left behind. that in the future, everyone will own a computer just like cars, so since i was still a kid with a sponge like brain, now is the time to learn.

of course the real reason i wanted to own one was to play games . i got a taste of it at school, of all places with oregon trail on the apple 2e

the question then became, which computer.

one concept that i learned in school and was drummed in is the question of compatibility.

with cars, at the time, you could use gas, though in the 70s and 80s leaded gasoline was still sold, and you had to make sure if  your car needed leaded gasoline or unleaded gasoline

when i was a kid, gas stations offered both leaded and unleaded gasoline, and you had to make sure your car either used one or the other, but in school we were told that leaded gasoline will soon go the way of the dinosaur as lead is extremely toxic.

with computers, if you own one type of computer say the apple 2e, or commodore 64 or atari 500, or trs-80,
you had to make sure your software was compatible for the computer, it wouldn't otherwise work.

so if you own an ibm pc, you couldn't run apple software and vice versa.

so i wasn't sure whether to buy an ibm pc compatible or an apple 2e

i told my concerns to a radio shack employee and he told me he had the perfect solution

he of course told me to buy from radio shack the tandy 1000sx

and that radio shack offered a revolutionary new product

diamond's trackstar which offered complete apple 2e compatibility

as with the computer land sales man, where $7000 (yes you got that right) compaq with the 80386 processor and ibm ps/2 were sold

the radio shack sales man, a white male employee, actually took me seriously, even though i was a kid with kid summer clothing, he spoke to me like i was an adult and answered all my questions. he even gave me his business card for radio shack.

he said that what i need is the tandy 1000sx, their top of the line model at the time, with the diamond trackstar, and that he would personally install it free of charge. his name was allan and there was another radio shack employee to.

it would cost $400, but it would give me the ability to run both DOS ibm software via the tandy 1000 AND it would give me ability to run apple 2e software, for less than the cost of a real apple 2e.

in effect, i was getting 2 computers for the price of one, or another way to look at it, was that i was getting an apple 2e for less than a real apple 2e from apple

i told my parents what i wanted and i got the tandy 1000sx with apple 2e for total of $2000.

i could now run PC DOS and apple 2e software.

well sort of. one thing i learned and the manual points it out, is some apple 2e software wasn't 100% compatible, and that one reason is that the pc disk drive is not 100% compatible with apple disk drive

and similarly, the apple 2e often required you remove the floppy from the drive, flip it over and insert it to use the other side of the floppy disk, but tandy 1000 disk drive wasn't 100%, so some programs that used both sides of the floppy disk, the back side sometimes didn't work 100%

but it mostly worked just not 100%

so growing up i had access to microsoft dos games and some, but not all, apple 2e games
for less than the cost of a real apple 2e (!) because in those days and now, apple charged a huge premium for their hardware

the board was basically a real apple 2e with a reverse engineered clone bios.

i was able to obtain from friends apple 2 DOS, and games like bard's tale, oregon trail, conan, and several apple games i don't remember one had a mobius strip and others let you play karate martial arts
some apple games required you flip the disk over and it was a very hit or miss affair

 i also got karate ninja type games on the apple 2e

these games mostly worked. and i also got apple works which worked, and a computer program graphing

in high school i was learning calculus and there was a program where i could type y=x2 and it drew graphs

i also in some cases like bard's tale was able to get the tandy 1000 version and i discovered that the same games on both tandy 1000 and apple 2e, the tandy version was better, better graphics and sound

for example, i eventually got Microsoft works for dos and wordperfect dos and wordstar and a hard drive for my tandy 1000sx, and that was more powerful than apple works for apple 2e

the tandy 1000 versions of sierra games like black couldron was better than the apple 2e, tandy color and graphics and sound was better. if i could ever chose between the same exact game or app in apple 2e and ibm pc dos, the ibm pc dos usually was better

in college i learned of bbs and i was actually able to sell my trackstar for like $400, nearly same price i paid to some guy in new york who said his mother had an apple 2e and he bought her an ibm pc so he needed what i owned, this was years before ebay

so in effect, i got to play with the trackstar for "free" so to speak.  i paid $400 or more precisely my parents did, and i sold it for $400 years later, while experiencing a fair number of apple 2e games and apps like apple works for 2e

i guess one way to look at it is imagine you buy an playstation 4 or xbox one for $500. for some reason, someone wanted to buy your playstation 4 for $500. you then in effect got to own one for "free" and you got the experience of playing awesome games like COD and battlefront.

so in effect i got a $400 apple compatibility card, played

which i was able to get from friends for free, then sold the trackstar apple compatibility card for same price.
so i got the best of both worlds, ibm dos and apple 2e thanks to my trip to radio shack and a salesman who knew of trackstar, which he said was exclusively to tandy 1000. he said only tandy 1000 had this.

at one point i had shoe boxes full of both apple 2e games and tandy 1000 dos games on those 5 1/4 floppies. which i use to trade for even more games. by the standards of the time, life was good, in this area.

i'm not going to lie i'd rather be a kid in 2018 and play on a playstation 4 star wars battlefront but what can you do, unless there is reincarnation? i'd rather be a kid now and play world of tanks on my ps4 than conan on an apple 2e or bard's tale, but sadly that's human existence and aging. my mother now has dementia.

so i'm one of the handful of gen-x'ers who not only did i own a tandy 1000sx and played tandy 1000 games with its 16 color graphics and 3 voice sound on the superior cm-11 over cm-5 i also got the diamond trackstar and played with a fair number of apple 2e software

the one thing i was bummed over was that after 6 months i bought the tandy 1000sx, i visited radio shack  and sadly my tandy 1000sx was no longer their top of the line and their newest greatest latest computer

was the tandy 1000tx with the 80286 processor and as i played with in the store i could see with my own eyes it was considerably faster. i actually wanted to refund my 1000sx to upgrade to the 1000tx but radio shack said no they wouldn't do it.

for those wanting to try the trackstar on their vintage computer, you absolutely need that trackstar utility disk, you first insert that disk when pc boots, and then it reboots into the apple environment

and that boot disk is "copy protected" in that it had apple dos and other apple software on the disk itself, so you couldn't copy it with standard pc copy software

my trackstar worked in the 8-bit xt isa and cga rgb graphics, 9-pin

it also had a 40-pin header that connected to bracket, though i didn't get the bracket and this product is no longer supported obviously. the bracket lets you attach a real apple 2e drive, supposedly compatible with apple 2c external drive, for those apple software that required a real apple 2c external floppy drive

i had no idea then where to actually buy an apple 2e or 2c.

installing trackstar is not easy, one cable went to the disk drive, the other cable went to the rgb monitor. it was pass through so you could use your tandy 1000 normally, but when the apple 2e was activated it would take over the monitor and disk drive.

it was a full complete apple 2e on a card, but the ROM was reverse engineered, not the actual apple ROM
not every apple 2e game worked, but i could reformat those disks and install a tandy 1000 game.

the biggest issue compatibility was i think was the disk drive. ibm's drive is slightly different from apple, for one thing ibm formatted to 360 kilobites, or 180 on each side, apple 2e formatted to 120 kilobytes

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