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Back in the early seventies, when microcomputing got started, the "fraternity" consisted mainly of dedicated hackers who put their systems together from scratch. They had to - there was not very much "off the shelf" to buy then.

It grew, and companies came and' went. Eventually, computer stores came into existance. Many of them were add-on's to existing electronics parts stores or distributors. Byte Shops and Computerlands sprang up and independents opened for business. The trend was away from hackers and games to small business computing. Getting serious with your computer seemed to be the trend (although games, probably because we are still all kids at heart, are still amoung the big sellers).

You still had to put your system together from various manufacturers for the most part. A perfect place for some company to jump in and create a "complete" system, ready to go.

It seemed like Texas Instruments would have been in a good position to do that. So would the Heath Company. But the Tandy Corporation beat them to the wire, and the TRS-80 explosion resulted. Tandy admits in writing that "over 100,000 have been sold". We think it is probably more like double that number. The Heath Company and Texas Instruments have both since come in with their entries. Both look good - but it seems like too little and too late. How can you ask anyone to change systems when they already have shelled out one to four grand for what they already have? Also, what are the software writers writing for? The largest consumer base, naturally.

Since the proliferation of "Shack" computers, many of the old fraternity stores have taken a "down-the-nose" attitude, both towardthe computer and the people who own them. They apparently sell "real" computers, not to be confused with the "toy" variety.

Since Radio Shack continues to refuse to sell anything in their stores not made by or for them, other stores are missing an excellent opportunity to do what they are there for - to make money.

Not all stores are like that; some of the more enlightened have already seen the possibilities and are cashing in on it - to everyone's benefit.

But, it is still possible to enter one and ask for what is new i n TRS-80 software, only to be rudelypointedtoa rack containing a couple of copies of Microchess, while the salesperson dissappears to supposedly "more important" business.

Depressed majorities usually don't stay that way very long. I for one can't wait for this one to pass.

On another note: Did you know how easy it is to get into business? It must be easy, since the government says that about four out of five new businesses fail in their first year. Obviously, the challenge is not getting into business, but staying there once you have started.

It is a challenge, if you have never tried it before, finding out that almost nothing is as you expected it to be. And trying to hang on to all the neat ideals you went in with is something else again. Luck also plays a part.

Last year, I spoke to a gentleman from Omni Magazine. He said that before they published anything, they put over one million into advertising, much of it on television. Their first issue(and all since), havebeensuperb. It takes some kind of planning and finances to get launched like that.

We "lesser lights" have to start out with an idea and a nickel, and try to turn them into a dime. It dosen't always work.

In May 1979, Ed Thome in San Francisco, started a publication for TRS-80 users called T-PAL (The Programming Amateurs Newsletter). After two or three issues (which were very good), he found he could not continue.

After some negotiation in November and December 1979, 80-U.S. has agreed to fulfill the obligations of T-Pal with the Journal. Letters have been sent to T-Pal subscribers, giving them the option of continuing with 80-U.S. or recieving a refund. Those already taking both were given the option of an extention to their 80-U.S. subscription.

Our hat is off to Mr Ed Thorne, who could just as easily disappeared, leaving his readers hanging, but instead took the proper way out by offering refund or an alternate publication.

Which brings us back to the beginning. Getting into business is easy, staying there is not so easy, and getting out gracefully is difficult.


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