Recently on LinkedIn, I saw a post by Rogelio Perea about his Tandy Model 102 portable computer. Although I never owned one, I remember this machine well. I always wanted one. Having a “portable” computer really wasn’t a thing back in those days, and this one even had a modem built in!
I recalled how, when I worked for Radio Shack, I wrote a program on our display Model 102 that we used to track our customer repairs. We had to have everything on paper in those days, but would type things in to the computer so we could find them quicker when a customer inquired about their repair status. I wish I had a copy, but I think the only place it ever existed was the memory of that specific computer.
I do, however, have the program it was based on. It started out as a PEN-PAL program for the Radio Shack Color Computer:
This program, in turn, was based on work I had done for my *ALL RAM* cassette-based BBS program.
*ALLRAM* used BASIC arrays to store the userlog and message base in memory, and would load/save them to tape. My Pen-Pal program did the same thing, but was updated to load from either Tape or Disk.
That Pen-Pal program was also the basis for a custom program I wrote for a lady who ran a large newspaper route where I lived at the time. Her name was Laverne Ricks, and I remember this because I put it on the title screen of the program I wrote for her:
According to comments in the source code, I wrote this on 7/8/1987. This was the summer after I graduated high school, and I had just moved to Lufkin, Texas. Since this was before I got a job at Radio Shack, I am not sure how she and I got connected (possibly through the Lufkin Area CoCo Club or someone at Radio Shack).
The initial version of the program has a menu very similar to the Pen-Pal program:
You can see I had made it look a bit nicer by using graphical black block characters instead of rows of equal signs ;-)
I also found a second version, where I added built-in help:
THIS must be why I wrote the BASIC windowing routine I have written about before. It offered several screens of help:
The program has ways to Add a new record:
Ah, the days before spell checkers. You should see the misspellings in my furniture store inventory program I did a year or so later… But I digress.
And you could use arrow keys to flip through them:
You could Delete entries, Edit them, and Insert new ones (at the location you were currently viewing, which was important since a Paper Route was organized by delivery location rather than alphabetical or whatever). There was a way to Jump to a specific entry as well.
And, of course, you could Search by field:
Looking at it 35 years later, I’m pretty impressed with the features it offered. I have no idea what I based all of this on since I’d only owned a VIC-20 and a CoCo at that point and certainly had never worked with any kind of database software that I can recall.
Side note: A short while later, I would do something like this again for someone who ran a garbage collection route, though I think it was for a Tandy 1000 and was using a Deskmate Database.
This is what let me to search out Laverne Ricks and see where she was these days. Sadly, she passed away in 2011.
Rest in peace, Laverne Ricks. A tiny bit of your legacy will be remembered here, always.
Until next time…