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I've had this drawer unit for nearly 20 years. I found it left behind in a vacant apartment. The label says "Radio Shack TRS-80 Data Drawer File System" but nothing else.

I spent a lot of time in Radio Shacks looking at the the later Tandy branded computers, but the TRS-80 is a little before my time. I've been using it for paper storage.

I've tried searching for the name and haven't come up with anything and I was wondering if anyone remembers it and what kind of media it held.

Photo 1

Photo 2

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Page 3 of this 1983 Radio Shack catalog shows the Data Drawer in two different sizes, "printout" which holds 14-7/8×11-inch 132-column printer paper, and "letter" which holds up to 8-1/2×14-inch legal size paper. There are also inserts for cassettes and printwheels.

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  • Thank you! It's great seeing the actual original advertisement. I never considered it would be used for ordinary printouts. – Mysterfxit Sep 28 at 20:03
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Following up on @snips-n-snails.

The use case for this is to organize printouts for reference. A simple example is that if someone wanted the ID of a vendor or customer, it was not untoward at the time to not look it up on the computer, but, rather, pull out a printout and look it up there. This organizes printout.

You can easily envision a printout for the Customer Master (sorted by name) to find a customer code by name, then grabbing the Open Accounts printout to find the customers current balance.

Part of the problem was simply storage space. With floppy based systems, and the small floppy sizes of the time, there simply wasn't enough space to keep the data on line all the time, and it's much safer to dig through a printout than have someone swapping floppies etc.

Finally, of course, it takes very little training to learn to navigate a report, so it's easy to stick one of these up by the front desk, away from the computer.

This storage cabinet is simply a manifestation of the day of folks making do with what they had. Today, naturally, we take this all for granted.

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  • 1
    and in those days, we measured software size in "inches of lineprinter listing" – another-dave Sep 28 at 17:23
  • That's one word for it. At school, on the mainframe, there was a concept called "Carriage Control" which were codes at the beginning of lines that can control page handling. Of note, a 1 in the first column caused the printer to advance to the next page. Imagine my chagrin when I printed BASIC program listing with Carriage Control accidentally enabled, especially in the area where the line numbers were between 1000-2000, and after 10000... I got 1/3 of a box of paper in my bin. – Will Hartung Sep 28 at 17:45
  • Thank you. This context is great. I had no clue that it would actually be used for printouts. I was thinking it was for some arcane electronic storage media. Makes a lot of sense. How far we've come! – Mysterfxit Sep 28 at 20:02
  • @WillHartung - standard Fortran carriage control, for lineprinters generally done in the printer. – another-dave Sep 28 at 20:47

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