Though it looks more like a calculator, the TRS-80 Model 100 was the first easily portable computer. Light and compact enough to be carried in a briefcase, the TRS-80 Model 100 was a favorite of scientists, journalists, and computer enthusiasts alike. Although it resembled a calculator, with the 8 row by 40 character LCD screen in the same plane as the full-sized QWERTY keyboard, it came equipped with the precursors of programs we would now expect a portable computer to have: a text editor capable of holding up to 11 pages of text, an address book, a schedule organizer, and a BASIC programming module. It also had a 300-baud internal modem, allowing users to transmit data over any telephone line. 4 AA batteries allowed the machine to run for 20 hours, with a 6V power adaptor available for static applications.
Starting in 1979, the Tandy Corporation introduced a class of computers each designated as “TRS-80” with a suffix to indicate the model. They were sold through the Tandy-owned Radio Shack stores. The popular Model 100, introduced in March 1983, was actually a computer that Tandy licensed from Kyocera in Japan, where the machine had originally been designed and manufactured. Kyocera also licensed the design to Olivetti and NEC, each of whom went on to introduce proprietary versions of that machine. The TRS-80 Model 100 was wildly successful, selling over 6,000,000 units while it was in production, due to the ubiquity of Radio Shack stores. Bill Gates wrote the BASIC programming language available on the machine; it was the last version of BASIC in which he wrote the majority of the code.
This particular unit was used by Dr. Robert Highet and Dr. James V. Silverton of NHLBI. Dr. Highet and Dr. Silverton both studied the structure and function of various chemical compounds in order to determine if they were suitable as disease treatments. Their complicated work must have been made a little easier through the use of the TRS-80 Model 100.