• Tag Archives 1984
  • American People/Link

    American People/Link


    It’s seems the world has forgotten about life before the Internet. Most of the things that are done online via the Internet today were done via centralized online services for at least 10-15 years before the Internet became widely available to the public. Or even local BBSes for that matter. Online dating? Yep. Games? Sure. File download? You bet. Of course, it was only a relatively small percentage of the world that used such services.

    This ad is for a service called American People/Link. It was not one of the more popular services like CompuServe for example but it was around for awhile, offered many of the same service and had a solid user base. In this case, the services mostly consisted of online chat, e-mail and basic games (like card games). I’m not sure this ad was particularly helpful in getting new customers. The guy on the bottom looks like he is having a seizure or something. At $2.95/hour the price was pretty low for that time period though.

    While American People/Link may not be the best example of an online service from the mid 1980s, there were plenty of more well known services like CompuServe, Prodigy, Quantum Link (later AOL) and Delphi among others.

  • CompuServe (1984)


    Source: Compute! – Issue Number 52 – September 1984

    It seems like there has been online dating for as long as there has been an online world. This ad from 1984 is for CompuServe, one of the centralized online services that were available before the internet came along or was easily accessed directly anyway. The marriage motif seems to be suggesting that you could find your future spouse on CompuServe and I’m sure that happened many times through the years.

    This particular ad is emphasizing one of CompuServe’s services called “CB Simulator”. Essentially this was a chat area with many channels and operated more or less like IRC or group text messaging. I guess they needed something from the physical world that people could relate to for the name since there were no cell phones or text messaging to speak of and chatting online was still a novelty. CompuServe wasn’t cheap though. I’m not sure exactly what the cost was in 1984 but as I recall later in the 1980s it was something a little less than $20 per month but then you paid by the minute for your online time as well. There were non-prime hours at night where certain services could be accessed without the extra per-minute cost though.

    This ad is from the September 1984 issue of Compute!. In 1984, CompuServe was accessible by pretty much any computer of the day that you could attach a modem to since it was purely text based. All you needed was a computer, a modem, a phone line and some terminal software. I can’t quite tell if that’s a VIC-20 or a Commodore 64 in the ad.

  • TRS-80 Model 4 (1984)

    Detail from 1984 Advertisement for the TRS-80 Model 4 Computer


    Radio Shack released the TRS-80 Model 4 as a follow-up to the Model III three years later in 1983. It looked essentially the same as the Model III except that it was an off-white color instead of grey/silver. Internally, there were some fairly significant upgrades, including:

    • CPU: Z80A @ 4 MHz (compared to the ~2 MHz model III)
    • Display: 80×24 (compared to the 64 columns of the Model III)
    • Available 64KB model (Upgradeable to 128KB of RAM)
    • Full support for CP/M without modification

    It also included an expanded keyboard and TRSDOS 6. For this version of TRSDOS, Radio Shack contracted with the maker of LS-DOS/LDOS, a popular and generally more capable 3rd party DOS produced for the TRS-80 line. They continued to market LS-DOS separately but it and TRSDOS were now essentially the same. The Model 4 was also 100% compatible with the Model III whereas the III had some incompatibilities with the original TRS-80.

    The following configurations were available:

    • A diskless version with 16KB RAM (cassette only): $999
    • A single disk version (180K single sided, double density) with 64KB RAM: $1699
    • A dual disk version with 64KB RAM: $1999

    There was also an upgrade available for Model IIIs that essentially turned it into a Model 4. It included a new motherboard and keyboard and cost $799.

    The Model 4 was the last major revision the the TRS-80 line though there would be a somewhat enhanced Model 4D released in 1985 that would be sold through at least 1991.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, my high school still had TRS-80 Model IIs and 4s in 1989-1990 that were used for programming (BASIC) classes. I’m not sure how much longer they were there though I think they were being used at least one more year after that and possibly longer.