What it was like to actually use the TRS-80 Model 100 as a journalist on the go

1983's TRS-80 Model 100 is often hailed as the first portable computer, or at least the first laptop, and retains a cultish following, especially among the journalists who depended on it.

Wayne Lorentz was there, and still has the ancient Associated Press terminal software to prove it!

Is the TRS-80 Model 100 a good computer for a reporter to use? Today, absolutely not. But for its time, it was a revolutionary tool, and the best available for its intended uses. It is the Volkswagen Beetle of computing.

I've owned close to a dozen laptops from the GRiD Compass to the IBM PC Convertible to any number of Apple portables. I use my eight-year-old MacBook Air daily, and enjoy working on it. But there's a lot of be said for a unitasker. The Model 100 allows a writer to just write. To focus on the words and the story they're trying to tell without pop-ups, instant notifications, and the temptation to connect to the internet and get lost down a mental rabbit hole. And for that reason, when I want to write for the pure pleasure of writing, I take my Model 100 to a coffee shop, put in my earphones, and just get stuff done.

Those are his conclusions, but the historical anecdotes are most interesting.

It is a pain in the keister to get a worthwhile workflow out of one of these now. You'll end up with bulky RS-232 dongles for it and whatever you're plugging it into, and may well end up trying to wire a Pi Zero or something inside it and becoming lost to the void for weeks, not writing. Chances are, the vintage gadget you really want is a portable typewriter such as the Canon Typestar (just OCR it) or an early ultrabook-type thingy such as the NEC MobilePro 780/900 (wifi/flash cards, but too ancient to distract you with functional internet).