A look back at the sales training for Radio Shack's Model 100, a groundbreaking early laptop

When Radio Shack released the Model 100 in 1983, it was a breakthrough for portable computing: an AA-battery-powered laptop that you could fit in a briefcase, with a built-in modem and an instant-on Microsoft OS that contained the last production code Bill Gates ever wrote himself.

The Model 100 was so seminal that it had its own sales-training literature, including Selling the TRS-80 Model 100, an industrial training film designed to help Radio Shack clerks explain why a customer should shell out for the $800 system.

Most of this is a straightforward walk-through of the Model 100’s capabilities by a guy with a stentorian voice. Then, at the end, there are bits with scenes of a typical Model 100 owner (who also has a TRS-80 Model III) getting stuff done. He’s a he, of course, with a three-piece suit and a secretary. But he’s shown dialing up financial data from his hotel room, which would have sold the Model 100 to some people all by itself.

Here’s how RadioShack sold its breakthrough laptop circa 1983 [Harry McCracken/Fast Company]