This quote from from Earles McCaul typifies the experience of many computing pioneers.
“After contacting all the ‘known’ publishing houses and finding nothing suitable, I then contacted The Blacksburg Group. Their immediate response was (paraphrased): “Well if *WE* don’t have it, would *YOU* be interested in writing it?” This unsolicited offer literally floored me.”
Earles shared his story over on David Larsen’s Bugbook blog. The first people to be aware of personal computers were the people who were already adventurous enough to manage to gain access to minicomputers like the PDPs. Groups like the Yuma Computer Club were collections of people who met to talk about, rather than touch, computers. When the first Altairs and such showed up, they were there – and not much else was. There were very few manuals. Even monitors and keyboards weren’t necessarily included, but those were shorter hurdles. Computers that could fit in a car were (trans)portable and a cause for great discussions.
Discussions were great, but to really do anything required scholastic and technical research. Trial and error was the norm. And, as Earles learned, looking for help could get you identified as an expert.
The TRS-80 was the Tandy Radio Shack computer that anyone could buy, if they were in stock.
And what program was Earles McCaul interested in? Assembly – the computer language that lives in the barely decipherable realm between the ones and zeros of machine code and the “high” level codes like BASIC. It was undoubtedly a triumph to claim to “TRS-80 Assembly Language Made Simple”, yet that was his challenge, his book, and his accomplishment.
We encourage you to read his post, and to consider how many other computers, languages, and uses were made useful by people with the authority of “Well if *WE* don’t have it, would *YOU* be interested in writing it?”