TRS-80 Model 100 Inspires Cool Cyberdeck Build, 40 Years Down The Line

The TRS-80 Model 100 was a strange beast. When it debuted in 1983, it resembled nothing that was available at the time, and filled a gap between desktop computers and the mostly-not-invented-yet laptop segment of the market. Collectors covet these machines, but they’re getting harder to find four decades later. So, if you want one, you just might have to roll your own.

Honestly, it doesn’t appear [Roberto Alsina]’s purpose here we to recreate the Model 100 per se, but rather to take inspiration from its oddball form factor and experiment with the latest components. The design elements from the original that [Roberto]’s creation most strongly echo are the screen with the extreme landscape aspect ratio and the somewhat compressed keyboard. The latter is based on the cheapest mechanical 65% keyboard available, while the former is a 1920×480 LCD display intended for automotive applications. The display seems like it put up a fight, between its need for a custom HDMI cable to connect it to the Radxa Zero SBC under the hood as well as the custom kernel needed to support it.

Along with a USB hub for IO and some 18650s for power, everything went into a 3D printed case with considerably sleeker lines than the Model 100. It’s worth pointing out that [Roberto] didn’t have much experience with design or 3D printing when he kicked off this project. We love to see people stretching their skills like that, and we think the results are great in this case. We’ve seen a lot of Model 100 retrofits and brain transplants, but this may be the first time we’ve seen a build quite like this.

19 thoughts on “TRS-80 Model 100 Inspires Cool Cyberdeck Build, 40 Years Down The Line

  1. i worked computer support at a newspaper and we bought 6-8 of these, mostly for the sportswriters to file stories back from the stadiums on friday night after the high school football games. they were very rugged and actually easy to get into and repair which was good because sportswriters threw them around like footballs.

    the weak link of course were the accoustic modems which were using really lousy and noisy phone lines at those stadiums. when the mod 200 came out we bought about 4 of those as well, but by that time ‘real’ laptops were appearing. i still love the model 100s and to this day i’ve rarely found a better keyboard to type on, laptop or desktop. /guy

  2. This is a great Tandy 100/Cambridge Z88 update. I would rounding the edges of the case a little bit to get ride of the hard edges. I was thinking of doing something like this myself. Now just run a Model 100 or Z88 emulator :) Good project. I give it three thumbs up.

    1. Considering he produced the model using a Python program (no, I still won’t call Python programs “scripts”,) so I think that rounding those edges would have been a major undertaking. Still, the time might have been better spent learning OpenSCAD or FreeCAD.

    1. He claims 3-5 hours out of a pair of 18650s. So call it 20 watt-hours over 4 hours = 5 watts.

      Four fresh alkaline AA batteries (what the Model 100 uses) can supply 5 watts for less than an hour.

      A freshly-charged new set of high-capacity NiMH might hit 2 hours.

      Considering it was approximately equal to the Apple ][ in computing power, the Model 100 was pretty darned good for battery life.

  3. > The TRS-80 Model 100 was a strange beast. When it debuted in 1983, it resembled nothing that was available at the time

    Not quite nothing; the Epson HX20 was released a year earlier, and conceived another two years before that. The Kyocera laptops were (debatably) more practical than the HX20, but there’s a definite resemblance between them.

    1. Good catch, you just beat me to it. And the HX-20 (like its cousin, the PX-8) had something that the TRS-80 lacked: a built-in microcassette deck for storing programs and data.

    1. When you insist on “mechanical” keyboards (what does that mean, anyway; every keyboard I’ve ever used had moving keys), that dominates the thickness, and also gives you lots of room in the non-keyboard part of your design.

      1. One of the most astonishing things about the last decade or so is how we’ve ended up in a situation where most of us willingly put hours a day in on keyboards with all the ergonomics of the ZX81. Only smaller.

  4. Bought the same exact 1920×480 screen way back for this same exact purpose, by the lazy boy in me just let it sit under my main monitor as a secondary screen for chats, and some text-based applications.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.