Resurrected Entertainment

Tandy Deskmate

September 17, 2007

Tandy DeskmateI first experienced this desktop software while using a Tandy 1000 RL machine which my father decided to go out and buy at the last minute on Christmas Eve, so I wouldn’t be disappointed. It was a nifty little machine with a 20 MB hard drive, built-in audio, 3 1/2-inch drive, and virtually no expansion capabilities what-so-ever. It had one ISA bus; everything else was pretty much hardwired into the system. It did have serial and parallel ports which allowed you to plug-in a MODEM or printer which certainly helped later on. After booting it up, I discovered the manufacturer had installed DeskMate onto a read-only partition on the harddrive. Much to my dismay, they had pre-configured it at the factory. When I needed to reinstall the system sometime later, DeskMate never functioned like it did out of the box. For some reason, and I have yet to figure out, it was about two or three times slower.

When compared against other Windowing environments at the time, such as Windows 2.X or even Windows 3.X, it could hold its own. The major feature missing was network support, but even Microsoft products didn’t support that until Windows 3.11.Until DeskMate walked into my life, I had never experienced a visual desktop before. It was an exciting experience and I wanted to explore every nook and cranny. First and foremost, I wanted to write software for it, so I phoned the number provided by Tandy Corporation in our manual. They said I needed to purchase the software development kit (SDK) and a suitable compiler. At the time, I didn’t know what a compiler was so I thanked the person and went about calling local stores and asking them questions. After a bit of research I discovered that the SDK was expensive and so was the compiler, which according to the sales person was a “program to make other programs.” They were probably brushing me off since I was basically a kid (or a young punk) at the time. I know they were at least a few hundred dollars a piece which put them out of my price range. In the end, I’m happy I didn’t invest the money in the SDK since I have since learned it wasn’t very good. Apparently, many companies had to write much of their own code in order to do anything useful. I would still like to check out the API, so until then, I reserve final judgement.

DeskMate had all sorts of small applications available. It had all of the standard applications like a word processor, simple database, spreadsheet, drawing application, telecommunications software, etc. These applications are extremely simplistic compared to what is available today; although the word processor did have spell checking and even a thesaurus and dictionary (purchased separately), and the database was functional enough to be useful. It even installed a personal diary program, which was very well done. It also came with a variety of useful on-screen tutorials to help you learn the software as you use it. Microsoft Windows didn’t have anything that helpful until Windows 95.

One Response to “Tandy Deskmate”

Chris wrote a comment on October 8, 2009

This was my first OS at 6 years old. I loved the Music and the Draw programs in it, not to mention Hangman!

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