No, this is NOT the TRS-80...

In the late 1970s, perhaps early 80s too, Radio Shack sold a sort of computer trainer kit. It had a hex keyboard and its output was primarily through a grid of LEDs on a raised stand.

I seem to recall this was also sold through other companies.

Does anyone recall this? My google-fu is failing me.

UPDATE: Lengthier description:

  • the base was white and had a hex keypad. I believe it also had one or two 7-segment LED displays.
  • at the back of the base were two black plastic cylinders rising vertically a couple of inches
  • on top of the two cylinders was the "display area". among other things, in the center was a grid of conventional red LED lights, 4x4 IIRC, or perhaps 3x3.
  • I recall playing a pong-like game on on the LED grid. It had a known bug that would sometimes lead to it looping the ball between two positions forever.
  • Huh. I asked over on EE.SE whether identifying kits was on-topic and was suggested to hit up chat. "Identify this computer" is on-topic here? Given that the tag exists (which I added -- seems legit) maybe so...
    – user12
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 18:00

3 Answers 3


I think you're thinking of the Science fair microcomputer trainer:


which had a TMS1100 as the processor (if not there is the digital computer kit on the previous catalog page but I don't think that matches your description).

This page has some more details http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=1053

The other options I can think of might be the MZ-40K from sharp, Micro-Professor MPF-1 or one of lots of other single board computers.

  • No, unfortunately this (interesting example) is not the one I am thinking of. Although I suspect it is a variation, perhaps from the same supplier? The one I am thinking of had a grid of red LEDs 3x3 or 4x4 IIRC, on a separate box that was standing above the base on two cylinders. None of the others you mentioned were it either. However. "computer trainer" may be the google-fu I needed. Commented May 2, 2018 at 15:01
  • That's a shame, thought I had it with that one, it's also a "new" item in 1985. I couldn't find anything in the mid 70s catalogs so maybe it was a one off special.
    – PeterI
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 15:10
  • Or perhaps it was not RS and I saw it elsewhere,but I SEEM to recall seeing it there. Now RS Canada was a different company than it's parent in the US, so maybe that's an issue too! Commented May 2, 2018 at 15:16
  • @MauryMarkowitz: I think I remember something like that in the Sears Christmas catalog of that era. The name escapes me, however.
    – supercat
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 15:23
  • @maurymarkowitz, I think you might be right about Radio Shack Canada being different for some products. I've yet to find many of the kits I had as a young person in the online scans of catalogues. There are a number of more specific kits (i.e. not the "x-in-1" ) that are just absent from the online history.
    – user12
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 12:28

Going thru my junk box, I found the remains of a computer trainer that I think I got at Radio Shack. I attempted to hack it, but soon lost interest. 30+ years later I am ready to play around with it again. It used a TI MP1312 CPU. I think this may be the trainer in question. I cannot find any info on CPU.

  • 1
    Do you have a serial number, or photographs? Or a model name?
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 9:59

Perhaps you are referring to the Heathkit ET-3400 microcomputer.

via vintage-computer.com

It has the hex pad, the line of LEDs on the left, and a few 7 segment displays. I don't see anything green, though.

Many Radio Shack stores were privately owned franchises, where they would carry additional items other than the standard Radio Shack fare (often TV repair shops). You may have seen a Heathkit/Zenith item in a store like this.

  • Well the LEDs in the one I'm thinking of was in a grid, not in a line, and they were also raised above the box. But for some reason I think it was a Heath product so I'm going to look at their catalogs. Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 14:32

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