The Tandy Sensation – A Look Back


I’m one of those folks that enjoy looking back to the past.  I think it’s great to have that walk down memory lane of things you have done or things you have owned.  This is why I am starting this section.  To take a look back at things I enjoyed growing up.  From hardware to video games, if it’s worth to remember, then it’s worth a look back.

In this part, I’m going to take a look back at the PC that really got me interested in the whole computer stuff.  I’m looking back at the Tandy Sensation!

(Now that’s a real desktop even though it’s pretty beat up and missing a floppy drive)

(USB ports?  We don’t need no stinkin’ USB ports… and a lot of other things as well)

It was ‘93 or ’94.  Our mom finally gave in to the idea of getting a PC (I’m sure we bugged her like crazy).   This really wasn’t going to be our first PC, but it was going to be the first one in a more modern time (perhaps I’ll get the very first one on here in another part).  The day had come and we went to RadioShack to look through their Tandy computers.

I believe the decision to go with Tandy was based off of our relatives who had owned a Tandy (not to mention that we used to have an old one).  None of us really knew anything about computers or which brands were good.  There was no way I could have figured out specs at that time.  I wouldn’t have been able to tell you the difference between RAM and HDD space or a 486 and a Pentium.

Anyway, I remember being up there and seeing that pretty monitor loading up.  The vibrant colors and crisp resolution just amazed me.  I remember thinking how amazing it must be to have a PC!  Then they showed off a game – A game that would completely rock me at that time, Wolfenstein 3D!   Ahh, it was so sweet to see such visuals coming from this Tandy PC.  It had to be done.  We had to have one.

I realize now, of course, that I’d never buy a computer from RadioShack (do they even sell them anymore?)  I just build my own.  But at the time, it was a magic journey – a magic journey that would give me my future PC knowledge.  I don’t recall how it all happened at the store, but I do recall we went to Electronic Boutique afterwards.

You see, for months I remember reading about all those cool PC games that I just couldn’t play.  Games such as Day of the Tentacle, The 7th Guest, Myst, Sam N’ Max Hit The Road, it was all so much for a kid like me!  But the time was finally here.  I could finally get my hands on some of these games and throw myself into these new adventures.

At that time I had no idea about system requirements or anything.  I was pretty much used to console systems.  So in my childlike head it went something like, “the game says it’s for PC so it must work”.  That’s all I knew at that point.  I don’t remember which games we purchased that day besides Sam N’ Max, which completely hooked me on LucasArts adventure games, but everything worked wonderfully… for awhile anyway.

I can’t completely remember the original specs of the machine, but I think it was something like this:

4 MB Ram

210 MB HDD

Intel 486SX 33Mhz

Cirrus Logic Video

Soundblaster 16

2x CD-ROM

Floppy Drive

Windows 3.11

2400 or 4800 bps modem

Now that is some real power!

I was content for quite awhile.  It was such a new world for me and I loved every moment of it.  Then games needed more power and I didn’t have it!  As I’ve said, this was the computer that I learned a lot from.  I also broke it many times and really made my mom mad!  But that’s just how you have to learn sometimes!  I do feel horribly bad about racking up the phone bill for internet access though.

Over time, I would learn how not to break it, and how to use it.  I would learn about upgrading and all that greatness because damn it, I couldn’t play all the games I wanted to!  Suddenly, all those system requirements made sense and wow, we really had a shit PC after a year or two.  So by trial and error (lots of error) I learned to do this stuff.  I would get all those PC magazines and read whatever I could.  I really took a liking to hardware.  Eventually the computer would have:

Intel 486DX4 100Mhz

16MB Ram

6x CD-ROM

56K Modem

Windows 95

It isn’t like it made it super great but it helped!

(Yea, look at that beast)

I believe it was around ’98 when my brother would buy a new computer.  A tower computer from Gateway (yea do you remember their whole cow theme?)  This lovely Tandy, which I have had so many memories using, was to be retired.  Besides, it was garbage at that point and we wanted power!  Yet, somehow, I could never completely part ways with it.  So I kept it around, but does it still run?  You bet!

This was the PC that had me teach myself about all that stuff.  This was the computer that I learned all about the Internet on.  Those good old days of IRC still give me that warm fuzzy feeling.  These are memories that you simply can’t replace and I’m very proud of the fact that I still have this little piece of my history around.  Those memories of mom taking us to buy it, everyone fighting for computer time, all those classic games, and how I learned so much from it are worth more than gold.  It’s the memories that make us after all.

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