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TRS-80 : Revolution – Part of the ’77 Trinity

TRS- 80 : PC Revolution

Note: this page is currently evolving. Still in Draft form – I’m am editing and adding so check back for updates!
Also, this happened 44 years ago so I’m doing my best to report accurately –

Please comment if you have anything to add or what the TRS-80 or my artwork means to you!

Fall of 1978 – Crockett Jr High: I am sitting at a desk with a handful of other students selected to be part of a special ‘home-room’. Little did I know, we were about to be plugged into a revolution that had slowly been forming in the 70’s and had exploded the year before. We were briefed I guess then moved to a room with a Black & Gray TV & keyboard with a cassette player plugged in. Of course I had played ‘Pong’ on our Television Set at home with my sister and was familiar with a calculator, but this was something much more. You turned it on and after a few seconds was a peculiar ‘Ready >_’ prompt instead of a video. ‘Ready’ to receive a command, ‘Ready’ to just start typing in a ‘program’ of commands – ‘Ready’ to become part of the ‘Personal Computer Revolution!’

TRS-80 Photo-shoot with Example Program Running

Perspective: For those a bit younger, I grew up in a time before most people had access to or even ‘seen’ a computer, much less hold one in your hand. Sure we saw big mainframes & ‘minis’ on TV and hobbyist could order a kit and solder wires and connections together hoping to end up with a box that they could program by flipping switches and such. Calculators were prevalent and included chips but only worked with numbers – not ‘logic’..

Brief History: The Tandy Radio Shack (TRS) Z80 processor based (-80) computer was introduced in 1977 about the same time as the Commodore PET & Apple ][ – forming the ‘1977 Trinity’. These were the the first successful systems consumers could purchase, bring home & use without having the technological skills to build. Although Texas based, they did snag a Silicon Valley ‘Home-brew’ guy to design and build the first units in Fort Worth 😉 – There is a lot of fascinating (to a geek) lore out there, so I’ll just leave the history here (see references below).

The three computers whose makers Byte magazine referred to as the “1977 Trinity”

Research and Preparation: I began this Quest about 3 months ago. While I remember the introduction in Junior High, I wanted to dive deeper and gain a broader understanding of this piece of our history and create something that connected with others as well. I researched online, read stories of others and how the TRS-80 affected their careers and lives, and ultimately ended up collecting 3 TRS-80 units including one I meticulously cleaned and brought back 100% to life to program and display the working code on the screen for an intense photo shoot in a blacked-out garage with 100+ temps – remember, these units had no cooling fan 😉 Initially I planned on using a model 1006G with the split keypad, but later went with the earlier 1001 without the keypad and cooler looking NEC RAM chips. I also used the TRS logo plate from it, but switched the cool looking white ceramic chip from the first unit I got. I collected one tape recorder to shoot and one just for the DIN cables!

About the Work: So a lot of us recognize the cases of our vintage computers and while they may be presented very ‘artistically’, I am coming from it on what is inside (of the case and hopefully our hearts;). Also the vantage point of a ‘programmer’ which was my career up through 2001. After all, this is where all the magic happened in the view of this old ‘techie’ – from the mind, through the keyboard forming the software that runs as bits through the circuitry, chips and ultimately output to the screen.

Zilog Z80-CPU : Choose the Mostek White Ceramic Chip & Overlaid Zilog Logo

In this work, I have highlighted some things that stand out to me and I suspect others. Starting with the Zilog Z-80 chip* as the brain of the system and the beauty of the board layout and supporting integrated chips. Leading to the connection of the ROM board where the basic interpreter is stored – remember initially no Disk Operating System or DOS!. Of course the keyboard which provided the physical ‘touch’ to the machine whether programmer of end user. And still prominent in the background is the cassette tape recorder (original CTR-41). While this may have been interesting to us back then that this analog device was repurposed to store digital programs and data initially, now it just stands out in my mind as something unique as we soon began to think of ‘disk drives’ (and much later solid state & the cloud) as primary storage. Although not initially offered as part of the original Model 1, I did add in a subtle rendering of a small 5 1/4″ external drive 😉 And of the course the ‘DIN’ connector! Power supply, display and tape drive all connected to the back of the keyboard (which included the logic board and CPU.

I wanted to explore the experience of the early users/developers on this machine and obtained the ‘Getting Started with TRS-80 Basic’ manual. I remember typing in and running some of the examples and identified one that did some alphanumeric or text based computing which is one important thing I feel these early PCs brought to the masses which really differentiated them from calculators. I modified the program to fit on one display screen and ran several tests to make sure it actually ran properly. It prompts for 15 text phrases and sorts them alphabetically. Not something your calculator could do 😉

Radio Shack TRS-80 Nameplate off the Original Keyboard

The nameplate got prominence rather than a subtle appearance based on the whole dynamic compared to the others in the trio: Radio Shack was already a household name (remember the CB Radio craze?) and had a ready-made distribution channel where you could at least walk in play with the computer – and at least order if you couldn’t walk out with one 😉 I loved Radio Shack! Again for you younger ones, past-tense as this was a very different place back in the 70’s & 80’s where you could actually buy transistors and stuff.

Shooting the Logic Board in My Studio

Subtle Details: Quirky things popped up while reading and I chuckled as I seem to remember them – especially with the cassette loading and saving programs. For example why did I turn the volume to 6 and bring it out from the shadows? Well, there was often some adjustment to get everything to work right and ‘6’ was the recommended ‘starting point’ 😉 And it gave me more interesting detail from the shadows..

Cassette Volume at 6

The edges including the monitor, power light, key ends etc are painted for a more abstract look and provide more visual interest and flow. Note how the code kinda morphs from the screen onto the logic board with shadow below. Whimsically the Basic manual sits atop the ribbon cable connector symbolizing this is where the ROM Basic is ‘coming from’.

Getting Started w TRS-80 Basic Manual Integrated atop ROM Cable Connector & Floating Code w Shadow

Technical editing notes: * The working board had a black plastic Zilog chip, but I liked the look of the white ceramic Mostek chip, so I shot the board with Zilog chip, pulled them, put the ceramic chip in the working board and shot again. Then I cut out the Zilog chip and overlaid the logo on the Mostek Chip. A bit of cleanup and highlighting gave a nice effect.

So here is a Whimsical Digital Collage featuring an original TRS-80 Logic Board surrounded by Flowing Basic Code, Zilog Z80 Processor, the Keyboard, Monitor, Cassette Drive, 5 1/4 Drive, Nameplate, Basic Manual, & Power Light. Foreground & Background Edges are painted transitioning into more detailed photographic rendering with hand embellishment.

Thank you for reading about my rendering of the Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 microcomputer system introduced in 1977. I hope you connect with this artwork featuring one of the first Personal Computers to be available to the average person and consider supporting this endeavor by purchasing a print, coaster or larger hand-embellished one of a kind piece. This is my second tech-themed work – see ‘Hello World’. Who knows, this might be the start of a new trilogy of works to come…

Please share with anyone you know who might be into retro or vintage computers and technology.


Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution
eBook by David & Theresa Welsh
While I came into the scene as an 8th grader, this couple discovered and embraced the TRS-80 & culture as adults and authored the popular Lazy Writer software. This was a great read to get in touch with the history and be a part of the Revolution & kept me up many nights reading on the Kindle app on my iPhone…

Ira Goldklang’s TRS-80 Revived Site
OMG, this site almost had me making cables and wanting to troubleshoot TRS-80s instead of working on my art – probably why I held-out on a ‘working’ unit

And special thanks to cyberbiff from eBay who “rescued” the system [I primarily used] from a pile (literally) of random electronics at a hamfest a number of years back intending to restore it, but never got to it. He helped me get it back running and now it’s immortalized!

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Water Works Wheel & Boiler


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Large wheel, governor and piping at the old McNeill Pumping Station in Shreveport Louisiana.

The McNeill pumping station is a turn-of-the-century (the LAST century, that is) water works that was the last known steam-powered municipal water treatment plant in operation in the United States when it’s steam engines were finally retired in 1980.

Photographic-based with extensive hand-editing. Upon visiting, you may see a ‘cleaner’ background and more of the electrical conversion equi9pment – I left one small piece 😉

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Here is the ‘stylized’ boiler including a hint of the stars shining through to recall a missing roof due to fire in the past. Note the detailed accents and ‘artistic license’ used to create a dramatic image to bring interest into a space.

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SR-71 Blackbird – Horizons

SR-71 Blackbird
SR-71 Blackbird – Horizons, Wall Hanging

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Really cool reconnaissance plane born in the 60’s about the same time as me 😉 Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird leaked fuel on the ground cause it had to ‘get up to speed’ for the metal pieces to expand and fit together – built for flight, not sitting in the hanger. Artistic license – yes I thought the air inlet needed some cool red glow – that where a lot of the magic happens here with the ultrasonic flight and this is my art, so get over it 😉 Yeh, that blackbird/raven is flying pretty high in the background too 😉

SR-71 Blackbird - Horizons
SR-71 Blackbird – Horizons, Ceramic Tile



SR-71 Bovine
Cow as Pilot of SR-71 Blackbird

I had been wanting to do something with this and while in Arizona for the Arizona Fine Art Expo (AFAE), I used it for a ‘challenge’ piece I called ‘SR-71 Bovine’ featuring a cow as pilot. So I decided to go ahead and finish out just the plane version to add to my collection. And for all you Air Force Farmers out there, both versions are available 🙂

More info on the SR71 Blackbird…

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Big Boy #4014 – Maintenance

Union Pacific Big Boy #4014 getting quick maintenance in Luling Texas

Big Boy No. 4014 touring the Union Pacific system throughout 2019 to commemorate the transcontinental railroad’s 150th anniversary.
See more at: Union Pacific Steam

See options to order ‘Big Boy #4014’ in my Online Shop..

Got this shot as a sea of people were rushing in to the marked off area after the train stopped. I do a lot of roughnecks in the oilfield, so I guess getting the guy working just came natural..

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Union Pacific Big Boy # 4014

Union Pacific Big Boy #4014

Luling, Texas, leaving for Flatonia

Big Boy No. 4014 touring the Union Pacific system throughout 2019 to commemorate the transcontinental railroad’s 150th anniversary.
See more at: Union Pacific Steam

See options to order ‘Big Boy #4014’ in my Online Shop..

With this work I wanted to:

  • Capture the massive 1.2 million lbs of beautiful, mobile machinery that comprise this, the largest steam locomotive ever made
  • Honor the journey across the United States in this 150 anniversary tour
  • Pay Tribute to the event and the joy it is bring people along the way – Thanks Union Pacific
  • Continue my tribute to the Steam Powered Era, which was way too short

Catalyst: I had several train fans recently request I catch this restored historic locomotive as it made it’s way across Texas this Fall as part of the 150 year anniversary tour. Researching I realized this shoot would be a little more ‘touristy’ than I am normally comfortable with. Well, I could bring my grandson JC and that would make it ‘Okay’. And while this was not back-packing to an obscure location to capture a scene that no one else has, it is very ‘Americana’, the train and the whole event, so we’ll go with that angle. JC wasn’t able to go so I had to capture it ‘for him’.

My Plan: Ha! – the ‘plan’.. Get familiar with the train and dynamics in Luling, try to catch a couple crossings on next leg, and get something grande in the smaller town Flatonia. I had been on the Union Pacific Steam Club Facebook page, google maps, scoping vantage points considering the sun at that time of day, hourly weather, etc. On the way down I did the preparedness thing and stopped to gas up (& empty my bladder), so I could drive from Luling to Flatonia to get back ahead of the train without worrying about that. Well, I had forgotten my wallet, found $3.50 in a ripped $1 bill and some change – so there went stop 2 🙁 ah they have a viewing Pavilion – and that says too organized anyway 😉 I’m gonna gonna have to get my shot in Luling. 😉

Touristy – Yeh, that was an understatement, upon arrival I saw people parking a ways away from the stop, so I figured I’d better just pull into the lot and walk a ways. Seemed there were thousands of people out on this Wednesday midday in this small town: school kids, families, business people, train enthusiast, and a quite a few there to ‘capture the moment’..

The Stop: Right off saw my show artist friend Steve Riley down from Dallas. They were following to Eagle Lake. We caught up while waiting for the train (which was about 30 minutes late). Even though he and I were first in from the front when the train stopped, there was no setting up and getting a tripod shot. I heard lot’s of ‘photographers’ complaining people were in the way. Really? What did you expect? – this ‘event’ is for Rail-fans of all ages and people are there enjoying the moment in what many were calling a ‘historic event’. Not the shot I was after anyway, so a few snaps and I’m down the road to capture the departure.

Staking My Space: Walking towards the outskirts of town, saw my neighbor RJ setting up a GoPro on the side of the tracks. Setting up on the ‘dark side’ I asked. ‘Oh yeh I guess it might be better on the other [South] side’ he replied. Don’t get my wrong, despite being a hobbyist with a full-time job, I suspect he has as much or more photography knowledge than I do. 😉 We kept moving down the tracks, but there were people everywhere and he said the trestle up the road had several people shooting so I guess there were going to be ‘others’ the whole way. So I left RJ and headed up a little more, just short of a curve to avoid massive power-lines above it.

Ready: Found my spot, got down low to one knee.. – Okay so I was sitting on my butt, hey, I was waiting and I had on jeans so I can swivel fine. Switch to my zoom lens to be safe and watch. Finally, she – or I guess ‘he’ (named Big ‘Boy’ after all), started moving. A little light on the steam which I thought good, time “it’s” here could be steaming good. Well not so much, but I am a pretty good digital artist, so no worries.

The Shot: I know the shot(s) I want but begin to snap early just in case, 3 or 4 frames then here it comes – what I visualized. But I’m too tight so I grab the lens and crank hard (a wee bit damaged it is) to get past that threshold to 24mm. I get it framed (yes we’re talking about less than a second for all this, cause it’s ‘moving’ pretty good now. Bam, I got it and a couple extra, with the side steam going by.

Fly in the Gravy: I swivel to get the nice shot I set up of the locomotive and cars rounding the bend and ‘son of a..’ get this Norman Rockwell of saggy-ass britches from behind standing there in pure bliss watching the scene. I chuckle, get up and and shuffle to get the train rounding the bend with more people gathered around. I got my shot – I’m good 😉

We’re Done Here: I walk back to check on RJ picking up his collection of smashed pennies & nickels (he didn’t want to risk loosing a quarter). Said his GoPro got ‘steamed’ inside. He was gonna walk around the town and check it out.

When I got back to the truck, searched again for some more stray money, but I was ready to get back and start working on this anyway 😉 Turns out I could’ve made it the extra 60 some miles detouring around to Flatonia, but another day. This part of my job was done, and did witness a little History… – and a whole lot of happy people 🙂

Oh, BTW, here is the original source photo…

Original RAW image: ISO 64, 24 mm, Nikon D810
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Galaxie Sunliner

Galaxie Sunliner


Galaxy Sunliner

Ford Galaxy Sunliner – Convertible version of the 1960s car named in response to the Space Race.
Depicted ‘cruising by a sun through outer space’.
Photographed in Odessa, Texas in Fall of 2014 – across the street from Ector Colosseum.
Have had this in my head for quite a while and finally fished it! 🙂
To purchase:

Galaxie Sunliner – Original Image

Sunliner Emblem – Original Image


The Sunliner emblem was on the side – I moved it to the rear license plate.


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B-29 – ‘Little Boy’

Where does the B-29 fit in History?…


If you haven’t fully appreciated my new work (by clicking above and following the links to a higher resolution image), you might want to do that now before reading on – cause I’m about to clue you in on some things going on here like I rarely do. 😉


View the image – What do you see? Keep looking and ponder where it’s taking you. Although the plane was initially photographed on the ground at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, I have placed it flying above the white sands near the missile range in New Mexico. The reason is beyond aesthetics.Note the custom nose art featuring my grandson JC as the ‘Little Boy’. His more ornery than angry look down as he shakes a stick below – ‘take that!’, fits the narrative well and is also a commentary on the sad removal of the nose art on many of our historic aircraft.


If you follow, ‘Fat Man’ is also there although more subtle. WW2 buffs – See where we are going? By now you’ve noticed ‘The Gadget’ in the ‘Trinity’ area of the piece. This tower and the shock-wave were initially intended to be much more subtle, but had their way when I officially released the piece on July 16 of this year 😉


There are lighting and textural effects I’ve created here to help set the mood, and of course I’ve painted in the propeller blur, changed some things, and a lot more touch-up to finish out the piece.


I’d really love to hear your overall impression of this newest aeronautical work, your thoughts on  execution of the details, and especially ‘what it means to you’?

You can purchase this Artwork along with other vintage aircraft & more in my Online Shop.

Jamie Rood, Photographic Artist