The uptake of personal computing was increasing in Australia in the late 1970s and early 1980s; however the cost and availability of personal home computers was still restrictive to many. The popularity of the Tandy Radio Shack (TRS) 80 personal computer prompted the Dick Smith Electronics stores to make a similar computer more widely available to the Australian market, and do so at a lower price.
The Dick Smith System 80 has been termed a TRS 80 clone; however, the System 80 had many of its own quirks which made it unique. The System 80 featured the cassette reader/recorder incorporated into the unit, and had an extra port for an external cassette unit. Moreover, many of the software commands were completely unique to the System 80. And, of course, the price of the System 80 was much more reasonable.
The Dick Smith Electronics chain of stores, founded by Australian entrepreneur and adventurer Dick Smith, began in 1968 with a single store in Sydney. Smith has a talent for marketing, and coupled with the popularity of citizens' band (CB) radio in the 1970s, and then electronic gaming and personal computers in the 1980s, Dick Smith stores opened nationally. The chain was bought by Woolworths Limited in the 1980s, and was further expanded. Rebranded as Dick Smith Power House, and Dick Smith Technology, the chain continues to trade in Australia and New Zealand.
Damian McDonald, curator