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Old-school Nerdy Comics 441

savetz writes "20 years before User Friendly, Doctor Fun, and Dilbert, about the only place a geek could go for a fix of nerdy comic goodness was ... Radio Shack. Tandy Computer Whiz Kids was a comic book series that was distributed for free at Radio Shack stores. It featured overeager kids stopping bad guys with their TRS-80s and acoustic modems, sweetly naive information about computers, and constant shilling of Radio Shack products. They're now on the Web." Update: 04/19 03:44 GMT by J : We're having a bit of DB trouble tonight... bear with us.
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Old-school Nerdy Comics

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  • That would have been right around 2 years before my birth...
  • by Blaine Hilton ( 626259 ) on Friday April 18, 2003 @10:05PM (#5763182) Homepage
    As a self-proclaimed "new age" geek, it's nice to be able to see these comics from the past. Hopefully Michael alerted them so they can try to be prepared for the /dot effect. With all of those large graphics they are going to probably be hit hard.

    Go calculate [webcalc.net] something.

    • Well its good to see /. back up at least for now. I hope they are hosted on something better then the TS-80s in those comics.
    • Well, it seems this will finally be not-offtopic, so I'd like to plug my own geeky webcomic, Overcaffeinated [overcaffeinated.net]. Take a look, hope you like it -- (btw, I made this same post a long while ago, but I think it's buried in the second or third page of this story's comments due to the DB problems, so sorry for replying to your comment) =)
  • Nerds! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BusErrorBob ( 660209 )
    I remember those things. Those kids were definitely dorky. Unfortunately, I later become equally as dorky. So perhaps I shouldn't point fingers and laugh. I never wanted to be caught with Tandy hardware, though.
  • The Computers That Said No To Drugs. How 80's.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18, 2003 @10:06PM (#5763187)
    I remember as a kid, my dad would take me to Radio Shack, and it was awesome. Now, it's just sad... really really sad. If I had kids, I wouldn't take them, because I'm sure they'd find it boring.
  • They used to pass them out at my grade school actually. Maybe thats where I got my techy-DIY mentallity.

    Im off to re-read all my old favorites now.
    • They used to pass them out at my grade school actually. Maybe thats where I got my techy-DIY mentallity.

      Nah, but I bet it explains your midnight sleepwalking trips to the dump to scavenge for casette tape players, accoustic couplers...and, of course, Tandy Pocket Pagers [atarimagazines.com].

      On a serious note- it's pretty sad that Tandy blatantly took advantage of the anti-drug "war" going on to basically brainwash kids...and that teachers and parents didn't see right through it and protest up a storm.

  • I remember picking this up and actually reading it after I used my free battery card- everything seemed to run on batteries at that time, even though I can't really remember what any of those things were.

    I know I'm aging myself with this post, but I also think that those comics completely ended up turning me off from the really good shit that came out later, including anime
  • Wow! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by frostgiant ( 243045 )
    Is there anything the wonderful TRS-80's of Metro City could not do?

    As a side note, these things were made by Archie.

    If you enjoy these, you sure enough will love the classic Hostess Fruit Pies ads that ran about the same time as these comics. Check 'em out at www.seanbaby.com
  • Radioshack pc's blew (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday April 18, 2003 @10:10PM (#5763212) Journal
    Me and a friend back in HighSchool broke off a tray to one of their cd-roms on a Tandy sensation when we attemped to play a cd. It made fisher price look like they made high quality and sturdy plastic. Luckily the manager did not see us do it. It was a 486sx back in the mid 1990's when pentium's and 100 mhz 486's were in. And it has a juge 14 inch crt monitor that flickered on anything above standard 640x800.

    • by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Friday April 18, 2003 @11:57PM (#5763703) Journal
      The Sensation II was the last Tandy branded computer to sell in the US. My parents got one when I asked for a computer all those years ago. If it had a cdrom tray rather than caddie, then it was a Sensation II. The first Sensation came with a caddie CDROM.

      The WD hard disk had a strange habit of hanging under heavy swapping load, it would freeze for like a full minute, then start working again right where it left off.

      Oh, yeah, the hard disk they shipped with was 212 megs, and it was already nearly full with all the crap they put on it. Tons of demo programs, and the stupid desktop replacement that Tandy wrote was default instead of Program Manager, forgot the name. It was huge and bloated for the time and considering the machine shipped with 4 megs ram.

      The soundcard and modem were on the same card, and the modem was only 2400 when 9600 was pretty much standard by late 1993 when the system came out. Of course you had three ISA slots to upgrade it with, but the lower slot could only take short cards because the processor interfered with the clearance.

      Now that I think about it, I really know way more than I ever wanted to about this subject. That computer was really what got me into computers in the modern sense, the only one I had before that was a C64.
  • As a self-proclaimed "new age" geek, it's nice to be able to see these comics from the past. Hopefully Michael alerted them so they can try to be prepared for the /dot effect. With all of those large graphics they are going to probably be hit hard.
  • must be really, really slow.

    In other news, those comics are about the only thing from radio shack that worked as promised for that long.

    Also, it's been about 10 minutes and no fp yet. Wow.
  • Would... (Score:5, Funny)

    by cmehta1 ( 88375 ) on Friday April 18, 2003 @10:13PM (#5763232)
    ...remembering these and doing a "first post" on a Friday Nite totally qualify me for "Nerd of the Month" championships?
  • will always be Pupkin [bobbycrosby.com] followed by Elftor [elftor.com]!

    Not really techy, but you dont have to live computer all the time.. do you?

  • Is it me, or does this drug dealer, Mr. Clayton, [atarimagazines.com] look an awful lot like J. Jonah Jameson?
  • I just dug out my old COCO2 and am working on getting everything working again. Now I can see some of the original ads. Feeling like emulating your old Tandy? MESS supports the Color Computer series, MC-10, Model 1-4 and Tandy 1000 MS-DOS compatable series.
  • If I'm going to read old, exceptionally cheesy comics, I prefer ones that have fruit pies [seanbaby.com]. Fruit pies that the heroes will throw to you if you've been hoarding food or stealing national monuments. Fruit pies that are not only filled with delicious real fruit filling, but filled with the sweet taste of poetic justice.
  • I don't know which is sadder- the fact that this story is here or the fact that I laughed at it because I could relate.
  • by DanThe1Man ( 46872 ) on Friday April 18, 2003 @10:16PM (#5763260)
    The computer that said no to drugs [atarimagazines.com]. Oh my fucking god.
  • blah (Score:2, Funny)

    by OutRigged ( 573843 )
    They're now on the Web

    Not for long!
  • Pupkin [bobbycrosby.com] and Elftor [elftor.com]!

    Not necessarilly techy, but the funniest things on the Internet imho!

    Also, is slashdot a tad borked atm? Posts I'm making are dissapearing...

  • If only the the Whiz Kids had won that battle... Too many servers these days are high on meth.
  • by YetAnotherName ( 168064 ) on Friday April 18, 2003 @10:20PM (#5763287) Homepage
    Oh, blessed childhood, lost forever. No more 25-in-one, 50-in-one, 75-in-one, or (the holy grail), the 150-in-one Electronic Project Kit. No more being kicked out of Radio Shack after debugging for hours from handwritten and typewritten notes of programs cobbled together on scrap paper. No more studying for hours the TRS-80 BASIC Programming manual, featuring "Karl" in the margins, commenting on things like the odd pronunciation of the word "integer."

    You really can never go back home.
  • by embedded_C ( 653649 ) on Friday April 18, 2003 @10:20PM (#5763289)
    The ads on the first page are great!

    "Not only does the 128K Color Computer 3 offer twice the memory, twice the speed, and even better graphics than our popular Color Computer 2, it's also compatible with the Tandy hardware accessories and software designed for the popular Color Computer 2 -- you may never outgrow it!


  • Seems like every 80s comic book had a similar plot...just say no..

    I'm glad my athlon doesnt use illicit substances...although my 680x0 machines have had substance abuse problems

    Its a JOKE people

  • BOFH [ntk.net] (text version of present day comics) was there too. dont forget that. And all you needed was "tin" newsgroup reader.
  • by CyberWolf ( 309553 ) on Friday April 18, 2003 @10:24PM (#5763314)
    I just started to read the frist episode, and I found 2 points to be interesting.

    1) The include girls. The co-heroes are a boy and a girl.

    2) The girl seems to know more about computers than the boy. I guess this comes from secretaries being mostly women at the time.

    The pages are a bit slow to load, but it is an interesting read, a flash back to an almost forgotten past.

  • Actually, I think I know what happens to computers that don't say no to drugs... [microsoft.com] :-)
  • Late news? (Score:2, Funny)

    by nhaines ( 622289 )
    Okay, so this comic came out 19 years ago, in 1984?

    *Now* I understand why I keep hearing people complain about Slashdot being slow to post news stories!
  • Well, they were until we slashdotted their TRS-80s.
  • If only the Whiz Kids had won that battle... Too many servers these days are high on meth...
  • Man, that is OLD school. My first computer experience was in '81 or '82 at the local library on a TRS-80, playing 'Hunt the Wampus' and I think "Ice Climber" or some such thing. Anyone else remember this system and its games?
  • This takes me back. Ah the days of the CoCo and "Rainbow" magazine


  • Seems that tonight their webserver is performing like a TRS-80.

  • . . .so it's either being /.'ed, or the site's hosted on a TRS-80 and connected via an acoustic modem.

  • must...stop...can't...resist...
  • Correction: They were on the Web.

    Unfortunately, nobody knew what a Slashdotting was in 1985.
  • "The Computers That
    Said No To Drugs"

    "The Computer

    "News By Computer
    Foils Kidnappers"

    Do I sense a theme?

    Also at the bottom of the page, "Hi, Slashdot people!" does /. now alert webmasters of the impending doom of their servers?
  • by c.derby ( 574103 )
    i was just thinking about these the other day. it almost makes me want to go back to my parents house and check my collection to see how many i have.
  • Nerdy beyond redemption...
  • The year is 2003, and the evil DMCA and Patriot Act threaten the world. Earth's last best hope...the Computer Whiz Kids!
  • "ah those were the days.... writing basic on the Color computer (coco) from radio shack.... riding my bike down to the local radio shack to bang on their TRS-80.... lusting after an Osbourn.... Those were the days...
  • I'm making my way through this one right now. That's some vintage "war on drugs" propaganda:

    All right students! I won't keep you in suspense any longer! The next surprise is a special visitor from the Coastal City Police Department here to give us all a talk about the DANGERS of drug abuse!

    I can't wait to see the computer say no through their DC10 modem!
  • . . .we've got comics!
  • These are so nerdy I not only don't remember them, but I don't think I want to navigate beyond the thumbnails.

  • Ah, RadioShack, the store that has those commercials critizing other stores for having unknowledgeable sales people that goes like this:

    Customer: I need a USB hub

    Sales person of RadioShack competitor: A USB hub?

    Customer: Yeah, for wireless networking

    Sales person: For wireless networking?

    WTF!?!?!? The commercial is critizing the "other guys", but obviously this customer is making no sense! Who the hell came up with this commercial?

    Oh yeah, RadioShack people...

  • I've never seen any of these old-school comics (maybe because NZ never got them). But they're a great classic.
  • The teacher is one hot babe! Wow! I like the touch of all the girls telling the guy what the computer program "scripsit" does! haha!! Wish that would happen in real life. *sigh* yes.. more women in CSC would be a good thing. [/lame][/nerd]
  • Of the times when I was "cool" because I had 64k RAM, three voices, and 16-color graphics on my C64 and I thought it was the greatest thing to type in 10 PRINT "RICKY" : GOTO 10 and impress all the first grade teachers because I knew how to work the newfangled computer in the classroom.

    I wonder though - did my dad do me a favor when he brought home the computer all those years ago?

    Just my TRS-80's-worth...

    PS: and to think that I actually work at the 'shack now... :)
  • My fave is the 'Computer That Said No To Drugs'.

    Your computer can say no to drugs too! 10 INPUT A$;IF A$="Do you want some smack, ludes, coke, weed, acid, X, cough syrup, morphine, cocaine, oxycodone (Percodan®), methylphenidate (Ritalin®), and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®), heroin, marijuana, LSD, PCP, cocaine, acetaminophen with codeine (Tylenol® No.3), paregoric, hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Vicodin®), diazepam (Valium®), alprazolam (Xanax®), propoxyphene (Darvon®), and pentazocine (Talwin®)?" THEN PRINT "NO!"



    • For some reason, the system is handing them out to me like candy. I used to only get mod points once a month. I get them almost once a week now....and yes I alerted the Great Slashdot Admins. Oh well, I wish had some now. That's the funniest thing I've read all month.

      +5 Fricken' Hilarious.

  • Who gives a damn about old comics? I do. The geek culture to which I have become acustomed over my years in the IT industry has allowed me to laugh at myself, my friends, the fools I support, and everyone else I can think of.

    Just today, somebody started quoting a StarWars Episode 4 (see also "A New Hope") and the next lines were quoted verbatum from one engineer to the next.

    A few weeks ago I saw a License plate sporting the ubiquitous advice "RTFM". I honked and waved at the fellow geek that was driving.
  • Finally it's not offtopic for me to plug my webcomic! check it out at:
    Overcaffeinated [overcaffeinated.net]. Thanks =)
  • Is there a reason why its 10:52 and I'm 4th post? Meh.
  • 100's of hand scanned comic book pages + Slashdot == trouble.

    This is going down like "Chemical Ali."
  • It's been up for like half an hour. I just wanted to see what the error message is.
  • The good ol' days of my computing experience.
    /me huggles his CoCo 2.
  • Just looking through "The computers that said NO to drugs", it really contrasts to how people think of computers these days. When the teacher unviels the Tandy it is explained that the computer is a tool useful for productivity and information. You know, stuff like word/data processing and programming to solve problems. Nowadays it's a 'magic box' that 1/2 the people don't know how to use correctly and see it as a toy.
  • Fun times, old comics.

    Nothing particularly interesting to say, sorry.
  • Awww.. You slashdotted it!... Now how am I going to finish reading The Computers that said no to Drugs? [atarimagazines.com]

    You people ruin everything
  • The only place to find it is not on this site, whice is currently in the process of melting.
  • ...and you know what? Even though I was a kid, they sucked back then. I might read them now for the sheer entertainment value, but certainly not out of nostalgia. If I wanted that, I'd read the other comics I read back then, like Archie and Richie Rich and Casper and... well, absolutely anything else. :)
    • You're right. They sucked back then. I remember having one of them (might still be around somewhere, actually; I'm pretty sure I've seen it in the last couple of years) and thinking that it was a really dumb comic that was just advertising Radio Shack's crappy computers. However, being able to go back and read them now, they're absolutely hilarious. I laughed my a__ off when I read the part where the girl explains how to use the scriptsit (or however you spell it) word processor, or the detectives diatr
  • I have an idea for a superhero all the fanboys will connect with. He's called Blobman! He lives in his mother's basement.
  • What about the old issues of The Incredible Hulk when Rick Jones used his Ham radio to gather "The Teen Brigade" assist the Hulk in times of need? You might want to check out Incredible Hulk #6 for quite possibly the first truly geek comic reference. (Google yielded this [geocities.com] as a place to read about it -- check out the bottom of the page.)
    - Senor Cliffy
  • I had a friend who had both a Model IV and a Color Computer, but I only had a Color Computer. I think I may have seen one or two of the comics, but I was more interested in the programming, and I was more eager to get the lastest issue of the Rainbow magazine.
    • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday April 18, 2003 @11:54PM (#5763693) Journal
      I remember that magazine. When I followed the link I was trying to remember the name of that old magazine that had basic programs in it. I remember the code on the end of magazines.

      I was about 9 or 10 at the time and I played around with basicA from IBM on my 286 pc at home. I also remember the IBM manual on it and programming various sounds from low pitch to high pitch and even ended up creating a simple program that created a police siren.

      Only 1 or 2 of the programs worked out from the magazine because I had little patience to type in the code which was sometimes long. I was disappointed that the programs had no graphics or sound like I hoped they would. I lost interest because I was a kid at the time who was only interested in video games. Sound and video were everything for me at that immature age.

      Years later I learned basic from computer math at my freshmen year in highschool and relized that I actually was programing when I read the Rainbow magazine. I just did not know it at the time.

  • Wow, what happened to that, anyway? It seems everyone wants to use 1 based now.

    "Insert the disk into drive 0"
    • Well, first off, the too geeky for fashion UNIX crowd still counts from zero.

      The rest of the computer world realized that humanity, and the English language, start counting at 1 when dealing with items, and only start from zero when talking about a change in state.

      i.e., when counting physical locations, or locations in memory, or records in a database, the first item should be "1". When dealing with, oh, relative distances like moving a HDD, you count from zero--because the assumption is that you're goin
  • by Zerth ( 26112 )
    The nostalgia. Too bad rat shack sucks so much now.
  • Do you think we'd all be reminiscing about it 15 years later?

    "Ah, remember when MSN Man foiled the BSDaemon. That sure was a great issue!"

  • Finally!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Levine ( 22596 ) <levine&goatse,cx> on Friday April 18, 2003 @11:22PM (#5763615) Homepage
    My letter writing campaign has paid off!
  • They used to be always there for that 3.5mm jack plug in times of need.

    Sadly, the Tandy set-up in the UK was sold to the Carphone Warehouse who just wanted it for the store locations :(
  • sorta makes up for their shoddy products and overpriced goods.

    one of the best things for hobbyists has been the means of the internet as a way to bypass the radioshack monopoly... radioshack has turned to selling shit like rc cars and cordless phoens now.
  • That page is a goner already. No other posts yet even!
  • by ktakki ( 64573 ) on Friday April 18, 2003 @11:26PM (#5763635) Homepage Journal
    Thanks to the Tandy Corporation, Alec attended Stanford University, all expenses paid, where he earned his degree in Computer Science. After graduation, he was hired by Pets.com as Chief Techology Officer.

    However, his life took a turn for the worse, when one of the network administrators discovered his secret cache of kitty porn, thousands of images of underage cats in compromising positions. He was hanging on to his job by a thread when the technology sector crashed, and he was the first to go. Currently, Alec works the midnight-to-8AM shift at Kinko's, where he can indulge his predilection for feline pornography between customers.

    Shanna was not nearly as lucky as Alec, having been seduced by an assistant manager at the local Radio Shack, where she bartered sexual favors for boxes of floppy disks and packs of resistors and capacitors (she liked the pretty color codes). When she found out she was pregnant at age 16, the manager tried to induce a miscarriage using a battery-operated remote control monster truck toy. Shanna nearly bled to death in the mall's food court.

    Fortunately, she received medical attention just in time, and went on to live a long, happy life as a camgirl, living off of gifts from her Amazon.com wish list sent by middle-aged male admirers. She was recently hired by the National Beef Council as a consultant, aiding them in their quest to feed cheeseburgers to anorexic teenage girls.

    And now you know the rest of the story.

    This is Paul Harvey...good day!

  • This is really amazing to me. The one comic "The Computers that said No to Drugs (1985)" I had as a small child. My grandmother gave it to me when she bought me my first TRS-80. It is really amazing, I was evidently 7 years old when I first started writing endless variations of

    "What is your name?"
    ? Sean
    "Hi Sean"

    God she cursed me to nerddom when I was that young. Damn you Grandma.

    I think I'll have to go write that in perl now and see how far my skills have not progressed.

    I used to go to Radio Shack al
  • by smoondog ( 85133 )
    "The Computers That Said No To Drugs"

    Heh, heh. Man those are funny. Next up, the cell phone that ate more vegetables.

  • I work part time for a Radio Shack (don't ask). Have you ever tried to buy a computer at Radio Shack?

    First, sales associates at the Ratshack know nothing about computers. Honestly, that company has no training whatsoever (ok, so a little tutorial in the back room...right).

    Secondly, only the top 2% of stores ever have them in stock.

    Third, if the computers are in stock, they're typically display models. When you work at Ratshack, you turn into a display model whore to make your 3 to 7% (depending on what y
  • Temporary mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    here [homeip.net]. Go easy on me, please!
  • by BJH ( 11355 )
    The more things change, the more they stay the same. [atarimagazines.com]

    "Gosh, Mr. Green, we were only doing what anyone would -- fighting terrorism -- the enemy of free people worldwide!"
  • Mirror (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheAlchemist ( 89319 ) on Saturday April 19, 2003 @12:19AM (#5763735)
    Here's a complete mirror of the comics:

    Tandy Computer Whiz Kid Comics [austinsystems.com]

  • ...I refuse to RTFA....god help me I clicked the link...


    IT BURNS, IT BURNS! aaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • I detasseled corn successive summers to save up enough for a Coco 2, a Coco 3, and one of those horrible 35 track single sided (!) floppies. I used to hang out at Radio Shack all of the time, bugging the techs to let me watch them solder 64k upgrades onto the 16k coco 2.

    I finally got a DiStefano 512k upgrade, OS-9 Level II, Multiview, and a mouse, and tried to write horrible programs in Basic09 in the default editor, which was basically edlin.

    Had stacks of Rainbow Magazines, had the high score for Munchk
  • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Saturday April 19, 2003 @03:25AM (#5764049) Journal
    Oh, how I loved it! It was a piece of crap, don't get me wrong, but it led me into a lifelong love affair with computers. My dad bought it in 1979, I was 8 years old, going on 9.

    At first, all we had was the base unit. We loaded programs off of audio cassette tapes. Within a month or so we got a 300 baud acoustic coupled modem. My dad got an account on CompuServe. By 19080, we were online.

    We had an Epson Dot Matrix printer. I used to print out naughty ascii art I downloaded off CompuServe. When it came out, we got the expansion interface, 48k of memory, and the 5.25" floppy disk drives.

    I learned to program, first in BASIC, then in Z-80 assembly language. I played games: Temple of Apshai and Scott Adams text adventures were my favorites.

    I read Byte magazine religiously back then. I can remember typing in page after page of code. After I got better at programming, I wrote a Dungeons and Dragons character generator, and then a simple text adventure game.

    I've had a lot of better computers since then, but I still have a special place in my heart for the old Trash 80.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes