Priming the Pump: 

          How TRS-80 Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution

   Available Now!!


Yes, this book was in the works FOR YEARS. But now (August 2009) it's in its second printing, a steady seller on

Here is the true story of microcomputer pioneers. If you were part of it, relive those good old days of discovering programming, arguing about which DOS is best, and reading 80 Micro. If you just wonder wht it was like, here's the inside story. It's all here, including over 100 illustrations.


check out the excerpts and reviews !!

Available at Only $22.95

Remember the Model I Manual? 
A nice piece of technical writing!!

picture from a 1977 ad for the TRS-80 Model I from ROM magazine

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Our Model I in the basement of our house in Detroit, where we started our business in 1979.

1982   Here's me --Theresa Welsh -- looking happy despite the hectic pace of those days



Bob Johnson, a lawyer and Lazy Writer enthusiast, posed for pictures we used in our ads; David took this picture at Bob's office, showing the Lazy Writer manual.

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My wonderful Model 4P, the last and best of the TRS-80s, with my beautiful baby daughter Amy at the AlphaBit Communication  office in Dearborn Michigan, 1985

Scott Adams looking debonaire in a 1980 ad endorsing Wayne Green's Instant Software


The world of computing is characterized by a dreary sameness in which most business offices have similar computers and the same software packages. Giants like Microsoft pull the strings and users dance.

But it was not always so. We were privileged to be part of a nearly-forgotten era when there were more than 30 word processors, when businesses bought custom-programmed software written by kids still in high school, and thousands of little companies created and sold the software that was the first wave of the small computer revolution. One of those early word processors was created by David Welsh. David wrote all the code in Z80 assembly language for Lazy Writer, a fine word processor for the Radio Shack TRS-80 computers. Theresa wrote the user manual for Lazy Writer and also managed the business that we founded (AlphaBit Communications).


A 1981 ad for Lazy Writer, a word processor for the TRS-80 Model I and Model 3 (and later, for the Model 4). 

Soft Sector Marketing, operated by Victor Andrews, was the distributor. Later, we sold the program ourselves, first under the company name ABC Sales and later as AlphaBit Communications.

We Buy a TRS-80
We bought a TRS-80 Model I in 1978 and it changed our lives. Our original intention had been to do custom software for small business, but David began working on the word processor and it was to consume the next five years of our lives.

We Go into the Software Business
One day at our kitchen table, we kicked around names for our word processor. We liked “Easy Writer,” but someone else had that name, so we decided on “Lazy Writer.” That was the beginning of our odyssey into the world of commercial software. We made an agreement with Victor Andrews, a local Detroit-area entrepreneur, to have his company, Soft Sector Marketing, market Lazy Writer. When we first met Victor, he was hanging out at the local computer club, selling memory upgrades out of the trunk of his car. He had taken a booth at the 1979 Boston Computer Show and asked if we could have Lazy Writer ready to debut at the show. David said yes.

We Introduce Lazy Writer in Boston in 1979
by Theresa Welsh
We got airline tickets and I booked a hotel in Boston and we worked like crazy to get the program done on time. The night before we were to leave, David was still fixing bugs and writing code. When morning came and it was time to leave for the airport, I discovered him still sitting at the keyboard where he had been all night. He hastily put his work into a carry-on bag and off we went. He grabbed his only sleep on the plane.

In Boston, we went right to the exhibition hall where we found Victor’s booth and David continued working. A workman went by vacuuming the carpet, getting ready for the opening, and David’s computer responded by rebooting (for years afterward, I would cringe when anyone operated a vacuum cleaner near my computer).  I nervously watched as real customers began entering the hall. As David anxiously recovered his program from the reboot, I worked at another TRS-80 set up as a demonstration machine. People had begun to gather in front of us, asking to see this wonderful new word processor. 

David finally loaded what he had on the demo machine and I began talking and showing the gathered crowd how it worked. Some of the features were not quite solid, but we got an enthusiastic response from those who saw it and we sold about 15 “pre-release” copies with an update promised. At the end of that memorable day, I was hoarse from talking, but we were in business. We had customers!

During the early 1980s, we worked out of an office in Dearborn, Michigan, and had some wonderful people working for us.

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This photo was taken after our staff Christmas lunch, 1982. From left, David Welsh, Debby Turchan, Valerie Pugh, and Don Elmore

Don Elmore, age 17, with the LazyFont program he wrote.

Don was still in high school when he worked in our office. 

Don, where are you today?

That handsome guy at the front of the room is Vernon Hester, author of Multidos; he was a featured speaker at our 1983 seminar.
Here's David at the same seminar; we had a full house of people to see demos and hear speakers talk about state-of-the-art TRS-80 technology.

This early era, which contributed so much to computing, is nearly forgotten because it was not as glamorous as the Silicon Valley stories and its products were not as successful as those that came later. Intel and Microsoft created millionaires and the TRS-80 didn't, but the "trash-80" and those who programmed it paved the way for those who came later.

How We Created Software
The early years of computing were essentially the stories of individuals. In those day, software was not created by teams working for big companies with large budgets, but generally by one person. Programmers started their own little companies because there were few outlets for selling software. Radio Shack sold software, giving work to some programmers, but mainly, Radio Shack ignored the growing legions of novice software authors. But these early microcomputer programmers often found others wanted the software they'd created for their own use. So they went into business selling it, just as we did. Radio Shack’s inability to provide enough software for their successful microcomputer led to a robust independent market that used magazines and mail order as the main sales vehicles.

We Weren't All in Silicon Valley
The TRS-80 software sellers were from mainstream America, urban places like Detroit and Dallas, but also heartland towns like Columbus, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Wichita, Kansas -- anywhere within driving distance of a storefront with a big “Radio Shack” above it. Hollywood has lionized the early Silicon Valley pioneers, but there was plenty of energy in less glamorous places for this new phenomenon called microcomputing. 

Some software companies, like ours, were in Michigan. Lazy Writer, Multidos (programmed by our friend, Vernon Hester), and Super Utility (programmed by the legendary Kim Watt) all originated in the state known for its autos and not its software. Up in Lansing there was an outfit called The Alternate Source that sold software and put out a journal that had pretensions of seriousness about it. One of our rival word processors, LeScript, was based in Florida, along with Scott Adams and his popular Adventure Series games. Logical Systems was in Wisconsin. Texas, the home of Tandy Corp, was also home to a lot of small software companies. Simutek, which later sold another word processor called Copy Art, was in Tucson Arizona. Companies were located anywhere there were Radio Shack stores.

Ah, the Memories!!
The TRS-80 “community” was not located in one physical place and  there was no cyberspace yet -- but we did have magazines that held us together. The biggest and best was 80 Micro, owned by one of the TRS-80’s legendary characters, Wayne Green, and published from Peterborough New Hampshire. In an email I received from Wayne, he claims 80 Micro was once the third largest magazine in the US. He had owned other successful magazines as well, founding Byte and later losing it in a divorce settlement. There were other TRS-80 publications too, mainly small black and white pubs like 80 US. Some magazines, like Creative Computing and Interface Age, covered all the popular small computers of the day. The magazines became the glue that held together this scattered bunch of enthusiasts.

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