Color Computer FAQ v1.6
This FAQ is located on the Video Game Advantage home page. Come visit us! Michael J. Novak Jr. B/S/T systems and games from: 3DO, Atari, Video Game Advantage NEC, Nintendo, Philips, Sega, Sony, and 6861 Anthony Lane all Classic video game and cartridge Parma Hts., OH 44130 based computers, for over 4 years on the (216) 843-8815 Voice Internet! Visit us on the WWW at for FS/T & Want lists, FAQ's, Screen Shots, Manual Archive & much more... ******** ******** ******** ******** ******** ******** ******** ******** Color Computer FAQ v1.6 Tandy Color Computer Frequently Asked Questions --------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------ PREFORMATTED ------------------------------- ************************************************************************** *** *** *** Tandy Color Computer Frequently Asked Questions *** *** *** *** Questions/comments/corrections and contributions to this FAQ *** *** should be sent to: Internet: *** *** *** *** Paul W. Zibaila II *** *** *** ************************************************************************** V.1.6,6/30/95,18:14:19 First Edition: April 1 1994 <> Modified: 26 April 94 Modified: 18 June 1994 Second Edition: 19 April 1995 <> Updated 30 June 1995 <> Table of Contents ----------------- Part I - General Questions Part II - Hardware Part III - Software Part IV - Alternate Operating Systems Part V - Literature Part VI - Sources Part VII - Credits Part I - General Questions -------------------------- Q. What is a CoCo? The Tandy/Radio Shack Color Computer, known as CoCo by its owners, refers to a family of Motorola 6809-based personal computers made by Radio Shack and produced from 1980 until 1990. Each CoCo comes with Microsoft BASIC in an internal ROM. Common features on all models include I/O ports across the back of the machine, and a single expansion slot located on the right side of the computer. Ports across the back include connections for 2 analog joysticks, RS-232C port for serial I/O, cassete I/O port, and RF port for connection to a television. The CoCo 3 also had composite video, mono sound and a RGB-A port. Most CoCo users who are still active today are using CoCo 3 systems, and almost always with a floppy drive. Most of the information in this FAQ will assume that this is the minimum configuration that you have. If you need specific information, just ask. Q. What can I use the expansion slot for? A variety of pre-programmed cartridges (known as Paks) are available with software that varies from games to applications are available. Other Paks are available that allow you to connect a wide variety of peripherals such as floppy drives, hard drives, SCSI devices, additional serial ports, parallel ports. To connect more than one device to the expansion slot, a variety of devices have been produced over the years. These are described in Part II - Hardware. Q. What were the different models of CoCo and CoCo Clones? Three main models of the CoCo were made, known as the Color Computer, Color Computer 2, and Color Computer 3. The first model was sold in 1980, and came with Color Basic, 4k of memory, and an inexpensive chicklet keyboard. Expansion could be done to 64k of memory, and a second ROM containing Extended Color Basic added. The display was 32 columns by 16 lines, and could be viewed on any television. Later versions of this model came with Extended Color Basic installed, and 16, 32, or 64k of memory. Many Radio Shack and third-party hardware and software accessories became available during the life of the Coco 1. The second model came out in 1983(?), and was known as the Color Computer 2. This model was almost identical to the original model in performance, but used a smaller case and less expensive hardware to cut costs. This model came with an improved keyboard. Models all came with Extended Color Basic, and either 16 (?) or 64k of memory. The final model, the Color Computer 3, was first available in 1986, and was completely redesigned. Backwards compatability with the CoCo 1 and CoCo 2 was maintained as much as possible. An 80 x 24 display, improved graphics, and memory management hardware were the biggest improvements. The CoCo 3 came with 128k of memory, and could be expanded to 512k. Clones included the following systems: Tano Dragon - CoCo 1 clone sold primarily in Europe. TDP System 100 - CoCo 1 clone made by Tandy and sold through other stores MC-10 - "Baby CoCo" made by Radio Shack used a similar version of basic in its roms, but was not hardware compatable. Part II - Hardware ------------------ Q. How can I expand my CoCo? A. Internal memory upgrades Replace 6809 cpu 6309 cpu External Devices Disk Drives Floppy Hard Ram "Disk" Printers Serial interfaces External terminal Modems Q. What is a Multi-Pak? Are there any alternatives? A. MPI A Multi-Pak was an expansion interface produced by Radio Shack that went through several revisions during the life of the CoCo. It had provision for 4 cartridge inputs that could be selected by the use of a front panel switch or through software addressing. It plugged directly into the CoCo Expansion port on the right side of the machine and provided buffered input/output to the slots. The Multi-Paks power supply is internal to its case. No extra external devices are required to operate it. The original production runs up through the final model 26-3134 (??) logic circuits were designed to work with the CoCo I & II and conflicted with the GIME chip addressing in the CoCo III. The earlier models required the replacement of a pal chip to work properly with the CoCo III. The later model 26-3134 (??) which contained a custom LSI chip, requires a simple modification to lock out the address conflicts. Several how to articles can be found in the various on-line services also. I might mention that Zack Session (I believe) had posted a .vef format graphics file to the COCO list back in Jan or Feb (??) of 1992. The log file (COCO LOG92????) can be downloaded from Princeton's listserver. Slotpak (as excerpted from Marty Goodman's review by permission) There are now two new entries into the field of Multipak replacements: Howard Medical's "Slot Pak II" (designed by Chrisk Hawk of Hawksoft) and the Xport from Orion. Both offer three buffered slots. ..... External Appearance: The Slot Pak II (SPII) is packaged in what appears to be an old, full size, disk controller plastic case. There are three 40 pin edge card sockets sticking up on top of the case thru holes in the case. There is a jack for connection to a 12 volt wall transformer (supplied). Glued to the bottom of the pack is a U-shaped piece of plastic that supports the SPII, so that the weight of devices plugged in to it does not produce leverage that would deform the CoCo's 40 pin expansion socket. This is a nice touch, for the SPII plugs directly in to the expansion socket, and cards plug in to the three slots on the top surface of the SPII. There are no mechanical guides for ROM packs or cards... the edge card connectors are their sole support. And while the SPII uses ground tabs where it plugs in to ..... Internal Appearance: The circuit board uses gold plated lands for its edge connector, and appears to be of high quality. The expansion slots, too, have gold plating. Solder workmanship appears good. The device uses ten small scale (74 series) logic chips internally... three for buffering address and data lines and the rest for slot selection. ....... The report continues with details of the circuitry and functionality of the device and possibly might be found in one of the on-line databases XPort by Orion Technologies excerpted from a New Product Release. The XPort is Orion's answer to the latest of Tandy's casualties, the Multipak Interface. While the XPort is not a true duplication of the Multipak, it contains all of the necessary features that the common Color Computer user needs - Multiple slots, a fully buffered bus, slot switching, and a power supply external to the CoCo for the added cartridges which includes +5 and +/-12 volts. Most user problems stem from the versatility of the cartridge port and the lack of being able to utilize it for more than one thing at a time. The Multipak did that well, but since it is history, we have given you the next best thing. We offer not just two, but three slots with which to work. These slots are configured to allow hardware switching of the cartridge ROM in two of the slots, with the third slot being utilized for cartridges that have no internal software - such as the Telepak II, Tandy's Speech and Sound cartridge, a MIDI cartridge, etc. We gave the XPort something that was sadly lacking with the MPI, and that was MOBILITY. Since the XPort terminates as a cable, the working end of the cable with the peripherals installed can be moved out of sight by merely placing them where you like within 15 inches of your computer's cartridge port. The buffered bus allows a stronger signal, allowing the longer cable length than a standard "Y" cable. The XPort's internal circuitry will be powered by your Coco, drawing less than a standard disk controller, and all external peripherals will be powered by an external wall transformer (supplied) and voltage regulation circuitry that is external to the Coco's own power supply. The +/-12 volt (30 mA max. each) is provided by a DC-DC convertor in the XPort, and supplies enough power for the Burke and Burke XT interface, an older 12 volt contoller, or other devices (such as Disto's RS-232 cartridge). The XPort has been designed to allow all I/O to occur from address &HC000 (49152), the external ROM address, and up. **** None of the above items to my knowledge are in production at this time. **** Though it is not uncommon to find them for sale at flea markets, yard **** sales, in postings on the COCO list, and at the various COCO fest type **** gatherings in Chicago and Atlanta. Plus through the services of Al Dages **** or R.C. Smith. The X-Pander This product is as I understand still available from Conect contact at the address listed in vendor section Y-Cable These are still being produce and used today. Several vendors custom make and sell these. Q. What monitors will work with a CoCo? A: Stock CoCo 1 & CoCo 2's are limited to the modulated NTCS or PAL outputs. * There were marketed several "interface" upgrades to enable the use of a composite monitor during the life of the CoCo 1 & 2's The CoCo3's are more versatile than their predecessors in that they have the TV, Composite & RGB analog outputs available. The Tandy CM-8 monitor was manufactured as the companion monitor for the CoCo3. The following monitors will work with the CoCo3 RGB-A output with minimal changes required to the CoCo and or the monitor. Magnavox : 1CM135, 8CM515 Commodore: 1080, 1084, 1084s Most based upon the Magnavox designs Commodore: 1940 1942 multisync's Sony : multiscan through model 1302 Q: What is the pinout for the CM-8/Coco 3 RGB connector on the Coco? A: ____CM-8 RGB Connector____ | | | 1 3 5 7 9 | | 2 4 8 10 | |__________________________| ____CM-8 Pin Assignments____ | 1 - Ground | | 2 - Ground | | 3 - Red | | 4 - Green | | 5 - Blue | | 6 - Polarity (No Pin) | | 7 - Audio | | 8 - Sync (Horizontal) | | 9 - Sync (Vertical) | | 10 - No Connection | |____________________________| Q. How do I add a cassette recorder? " Can "regular" tape drives can be used on a CoCo if the drive has a motor control input? " A: The answer is yes if one of two conditions exist. 1) The tape uses automatic volume control for input. 2) The user takes the trouble to adjust input sensitivity to prevent either too weak a signal or a signal overload. Unless the tape unit records a decent sine wave from the CoCo, you will probably get I/O errors on playback. Cassette pinout (On the Coco itself): 1 motor relay 2 ground 3 motor relay 4 signal input 5 signal ouput Q. How do I add a floppy drive? Q. Can I add a hard drive? Q. How do I add a printer? Serial printer. Parallel printer. Q. How do I add a modem? Disk Basic OS-9 - Serial Port - Serial Pak Q. What other hardware is available? From Tandy Serial Voice Hi-Res Joystick Interface From Third Party Manufacturers Serial Voice/Music (Midi) Comm-4 Eliminator Q. How can I speed-up performance of my CoCo? Hitachi 6309 - NitrOS-9, Powerboost Clock crystal Part III - Software ------------------- Q. Can I run MSDOS software on my CoCo? Nope. The CoCo and MSDOS machines use different hardware. However... Q. Can I run CoCo software on my MSDOS machine? Yes, and no. A CoCo 1/2 emulator is available for 80286 or above Intel machines. It is posted on URL: The path is simtel/msdos/emulator The file name Included in the CoCo2 emulator package are instructions for procuring the CoCo 3 emulator is available from the author Q. How do I transfer files between OS-9 & Disk Basic? OS-9 & MSDOS? What about between Disk Basic and MSDOS? Q. What software is available for the CoCo? A wide variety of software is available, both commercially, used, and distributed on computer bulletin boards and FTP sites as either Shareware, Freeware, or placed in the Public Domain. If you are looking for a specific package, just ask. Q. Which communication programs can I get for the CoCo? There are a large variety of communications programs available. Some common, freely available ones are listed below. As you become more familiar with what is available, you may find another package that better meets your needs: Basic (Tape) - MikeyTerm Disk Basic - UltimaTerm, GETerm, VTerm, Kermit OS-9 - OSTerm, SuperComm, STerm, KBCom, Kermit Part IV - Alternate Operating Systems ------------------------------------- Q. What are the operating systems available to the CoCo? Disk Basic - Though not a true operating system, the built-in roms are frequently referred to as RSDOS (Radio Shack Disk Operating System). There are also several patched versions of Disk Basic available, which may be burned into an EPROM, and substituted for the stock Disk Basic ROM. These patches may add features like improved disk stepping rates, and full-screen editing to Disk Basic. Examples include CDOS, ADOS, MYDOS and others. OS-9 - OS-9 (Operating System for the 6809) was developed by Microware Systems Corporation in 1980 to give multi-user, multi-processing capabilities to small computer systems. Briefly, it it similar to Unix in philosophy, but streamlined. An OS-9 FAQ is available. Flex SK*DOS Part V - Literature ------------------- --------------------------------------------------------------------------- MAGAZINES PUBLISHER COST ADDRESS --------------------------------------------------------------------------- The International Alan Sheltra $18.00 USA Fat Cat Ppublications OS9 OS9 Underground $23.00 Canada 4650 Cahuenga Blvd. Ste#7 (12 issues) Toluca Lake, CA 91602 (one year) (818)761-4135 (voice) (818)365-0477 (Fax) (818)769-1938 (Modem) Metamorphosis Mark Griffith $24.00 USA Dirt Cheap Computer Stuff (Previously the $32.00 Canada 1368 Old Highway 50 East NoName Mmagazine) (12 issues) Union, MO 63804 (one year) (314)583-1168 (voice) The World of 68' Farna Systems $25.00 USA Farna Systems PB Macros Micros $32.00 Canada P.O Box 321 (8 issues) Warner Robins, GA 31099- (one year) 0321 (912)328-7859 (voice) Up Time JWT $15.00 USA JWT Enterprises Enterprises $18.00 Canada 5755 Lockwood Blvd. (12 issues) Youngstown, OH 44512 (one year) (216)758-7694 (voice) Hardcopy Rick Cooper $30.00 USA Rick's Computer Enterprise $36.00 Canada P. O. Box 276 (12 issues) Liberty, KY 42539 (one year) (606)787-5783 (voice) -------------------------------------------------------------------------- DISK MAGAZINES PUBLISHER COST ADDRESS -------------------------------------------------------------------------- CoCo Friends Rick's Computer $6.00 each Rick's Computer Entrprise Disk Magazine Enterprise $30.00 for 6 P. O. Box 276 (monthly) Liberty, KY 42539 (606)787-5783 (voice) Nine Times JWT Enterprises $34.95 USA JWT Enterprises $35.95 Canada 5755 Lockwood Blvd. (6 issues) Youngstown, OH 44512 (one year) (216)758-7694 (voice) The Upgrade Mid Iowa and $19.00 USA The Upgrade Diskletter Diskletter Country CoCo $24.00 Canada Terry Simons, Editor (6-8 issues) 1328 48th Street (one year) Des Moines, IA 50311 MicroDisk Farna Systems $40.00 USA Farna Systems PB $44.00 Canada Warner Robins, GA 31099- 0321 (912)828-7859 (voice) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- NEWSLETTERS PUBLISHER COST ADDRESS ------------------------------------------------------------------------- MOTD 0S-9 Users $25.00 USA OS-9 Users Group, Inc. (Message of Users Group, and Canada. * 6158 West 63rd Street the Day) Inc. $30.00 others Suite #109 * Price includes membership fee (4 issues/yr) Chicago, IL 60638 CoCo 1-2-3 Glenside CoCo $15.00 USA Glenside CoCo Club Club (membership) RR #2, Box 67 (6 issues) Forrest, IL 61741-9629 (one year) (708)428-3576 (voice) (708)428-0436 (BBS) OS9 Newsletter Bellingham OS-9 $10.00 USA 0S-9 Newsletter Users Group (12 issues) 3404 Illinois Lane (one year) Bellingham, WA 98226- 4238 CoCo Trader James Sternatt $6.00 USA James Sternatt (6 issues) 3000 Woodland Hills Dr. (one year) Apartment 14 Ann Arbor, MI 48108 (313)677-2418 (voice) Australian Australian $18.00 in Australian National OS9 National OS9 National OS9 Australia.* Usergroup Newsletter Usergroup $25.00 USA c/- Gordon Bentzen & overseas.* 8 Odin Street *Note: Subscription cost is (11 issues) Sunnybank. Qld. 4109 in Australian dollars. (one year) Australia ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Books ----- Q. Are there any books on the CoCo? Yes, however most of them are out of print. Check you local library, or used book stores. o Tony DiStefano, 'A Full Turn of the Screw' Available from Disto. o Frank Swygert?, 'Tandy's Little Wonder' Available from Farna Systems. o Dale L. Puckett, 'The Official Basic09 Tour Guide,' Microware, 1985 ISBN 0-918035-00-7, Radio Shack cat. no. 26-3189. o Dale L. Puckett, Peter Dibble, 'The Complete Rainbow Guide to OS-9,' Falsoft, Inc., 1985, ISBN 0-932471-00-5, Radio Shack cat. no. 26-3190. o Dale L. Puckett, Peter Dibble, 'The Complete Rainbow Guide to OS-9 Level II, volume I: A Beginners Guide to Windows,' Falsoft, Inc., 1987, ISBN 0-932471-09-9, Radio Shack cat. no. 26-3188. o William Barden, Jr., 'Assembly Language on the Color Computer III' Excellent book for learning assembly, period, and it just so happens to use EDTASM and the Coco. It gives many detailed examples using EDTASM. o William Barden, Jr., 'Color Computer Graphics,' Radio Shack, 1982, ISBN unknown, Radio Shack cat. no. 62-2076. Part VI - Sources ----------------- Q. Where can I get support for my CoCo? Your best bet is to join a Club or a users group located near you. Write to the vendors. Most of them would be more than happy to provide you with a catalogue describing what they have available. Clubs and Users Groups ---------------------- Atlanta Computer Society, Inc. Glenside Color Computer Club, Inc. RR #2, Box 67, Forrest, IL 61741-9629 OS-9 Users Group, Inc. 6158 West 63rd Street, Suite 109 Chicago, IL 60638 OS-9 Community Network Volunteer organization active on Fidonet Commercial Vendors ------------------ Bob van der Poel Software Disk Basic, OS-9 Level II and OS-9 68000 Software USA: PO Box 355, Porthill, ID, USA, 83853 604-866-5772 Canada: PO Box 57, Wynndel, BC, Canada, V0B 2N0 Gale Force Enterprises, OS-9 Level II Software PO Box 631, Surrey Main, Surrey, BC, Canada, V3T 5L9 604-589-1660 Sub-Etha, Disk Basic, OS-9 Level II and OS-9 68000 Software PO Box 152442, Lufkin, TX, USA, 75915 Northern Xposure, Disk Basic, OS-9/OS-9 68K Software 7 Greenboro Cres, Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1T 1W6 (613)736-0329 CoNect, Hardware and hardware repairs 449 South 90th Street, Milwaukee, WI, 53214 (414)258-2989 Disto, Hardware 1710 DePatie, St. Laurent, QC, Canada, H4L 4A8, (514)747-4851 Farna Systems, PO Box 321, Warner Robins, GA, USA, 31099-0321 SpectroSystems 11111 N. Kendall Drive, Suite A108, Miami, Florida 33176 Small Grafx Ect. Terry Laraway 41 NW Doncee Dr. Bremerton, WA, USA, 98310 (206) 692-5374 Plus many, many more. FTP Sites --------- (ftp site for Tandy PC files) pub/trs/coco is the directory dedicated to the CoCo. Email and BBS Sites ------------------- Q. What is the Princeton CoCo List? The List is an email site that anyone on the Internet can subscribe to. Any mail sent to the list is echoed to all of the subscribers on the list. To subscribe to the Princeton CoCo List, send an email message to: ''. Leave the subject blank. In the body of the message, put the line 'subscribe coco yourfirstname yourlastname'. Do not include the quotation marks. You will be sent a message by the list server acknowledging your subscription, and telling you how to get additional assistance regarding the list server commands. Help may be obtained by sending a message to the list server with the word 'help' in the body of the message on a line by itself. To post messages to the CoCo List, send the message to ''. Messages are sent to the list just like any other email message. The list server will then mail copies of the message to all other subscribers to the list. To unsubscribe from the List, send an email message to the list server, with the line 'unsubscribe coco' in the body. Q. Other email sites and and services. ????????? Bulletin Boards --------------- Q. What bulletin boards support the CoCo? Sysop Phone Number Location Baud ---------------- ------------- ------------------- --------- 904-377-1200 Mike Guzzi 717-586-2771 2400? Steve Rottinger 201-967-1061 V32b Warren Hrach 619-224-4878 Ocean Beach, CA V32b,ZYX Dave Spicer 205-598-2100 FT. Rucker, AL. V32b Mark Johnson 206-425-5804 Long View, WA. 2400 Newton White 404-636-2991 Decator, GA. V32b,HST Chas Stokes 412-264-9787 Coraopolis, PA. V32b Brian Steward 413-593-3944 Chicopee, MA. V32b,ZYX Kerry Kowalski 414-694-4115 Whitelaw, WI. 2400 Ken Patience 416-469-0611 Toronto, ON. V32b Harold Kistner 417-887-6048 Springfield, MO. V32b,H14 Dennis Mott 509-325-6787 Spokane, WA. 2400 Tim Jones 512-280-6578 Austin, TX. V32b Ken Flanagan 604-564-8869 Prince George, BC. V32 Jim Sartain 612-869-7795 Minneapolis, MN. 2400 John Reece 619-272-3643 San Diego, CA. 2400 Terry Goode 713-941-1542 Huston, TX. 2400 Doug James 804-744-9260 Midlothian, VA. 2400 John Wight 808-735-3776 Honolulu, HI. V32 Part VII - Credits ------------------ There are too many contributors to this FAQ to credit all of them individually. Thanks to all of you for your contributions, whether you contributed with or without your knowledge. PWZ II *********************************************************************** All comments, corrections and updates should be sent to: Paul W. Zibaila II --EOF--