Archie Comics / Tandy Corporation
March, August, October, 1984
My local comic book store got in a large pile of old, 1980s comics, and lying within the pile was this giveaway book, published by Archie Comics in 1984. It was a part of the Tandy Corporation's efforts to promote the TRS-80 personal computer, sold by Radio Shack.
Whenever I look around today and see junior high and high school kids sitting with their smartphones, I feel like tossing them a copy of 'Whiz Kids' to let them know how it was, 30 years ago.....
The TRS-80 was first introduced in 1977, and by 1984, had been upgraded to the Model 4:
One of the more surreal aspects to the 'Whiz Kids' comic is that the artists, Dick Ayers and Chic Stone, were regular contributors to the super schlocky, deranged Eerie Publications black and white comic magazines...... !
I won't belabor the plot of 'Whiz Kids', which deals with an effort by a criminal gang to hold an entire museum hostage. Schoolchildren Shanna and Alec use their knowledge of computers - and Tandy products - to foil the gang.
What is interesting is the promotional blurbs for the TRS-80 that occupy much of the narrative.
In these pages, Shanna demonstrates how to boot up the TRS-80's word processing program, 'Scripsit' :
The demonstration is interrupted by the arrival of ace reporter Judy Baker, who shows off her 'portable' PC, the TRS-80 Model 100 (the machines we know as laptops really didn't exist back in 1984).
Judy also demonstrates a primitive modem - the 'acoustic coupler' !
That's how it was in those ancient days......nowadays, a single smartphone has more computing power than the TRS-80. Who knows what the next 30 years will bring ?