The TRS-80 (later rebranded Tandy) Color Computer 2 was my first computer and the system that I first learned to program on. Unfortunately, the one that I had when I was young is long since gone. First we upgraded to a CoCo 3 (I don’t actually know what happend to the CoCo 2, but it was probably sold when my parents bought the CoCo 3) and then later to a number of other systems, finally landing on IBM PC compatibles. But when I was young we were to be found in our living room, tying up the TV with the CoCo 2 hooked to it, more often than not typing in a game from a magazine and trying to get it to run.
Because of this, the Tandy Color Computer series has always been my favorite 8-bit computer system, and probably the system that I am most nostalgic for. I have a couple of CoCo 3 systems today, but until now didn’t have a CoCo 2. Now I’ve managed to get my hands on one, but it seems like it’s been through a lot. Let’s see what we can do to get it fixed up.
Restoring a Tandy Color Computer⌗
I got this TRS-80 Color Computer 2 from Shop Goodwill. I didn’t get a particularly good deal on it, but it was exactly what I was look for as far as a system, an original 16K CoCo2. They didn’t have a picture of the model number, but based on the case badge I was hopeful. It came untested, and the pictures showed how dirty the system was. I decided to take a chance on it anyway.
I have had fantastic luck with refurbishing Tandy systems. With all of the systems that I have worked on, I have never found the plastic to have become brittle over time, and whatever plastics they used don’t seem to need retrobrite treatments either, as the plastic itself does not yellow over time, either with the case or the keycaps. Likewise, the internals seem to hold up really well also. There are no batteries in this age of machine, of course, and the capacitors are all high-quality. I have no very little concerns just plugging in a random CoCo and just firing it up.
And in this case, fire up it did. The only thing I did in the internals is just give it a clean with 99% IPA and a toothbrush, as well as a bit of deoxit in the cartridge port to restore it a bit. The keyboard also worked as-is. This particular machine still had it’s warranty sticker intact (until I got to it anyway!) so there were no modifications or bodges in sight. Overall the system was just in fantastic shape.
One thing I should point out with the Tandy machines. That mylar connector is pretty easy to damage. Use care, gentle pressure, and only touch the edges when inserting or removing the connector from the machine. If the very worst happens, there are replacement keyboards available such as the Keyfix2. Also, all that said I haven’t managed (yet) to destroy one of these mylar connectors myself, though I’ve heard of other people having troubles.
Back to the outside, I spent some time trying to get all the grime, adhesive, and stains cleaned up. The case badge came off with a heat gun and gentle prying with a spudger. After that I did what I could with gentle soap and water on the case, then I ended up using my go-to for these machines - baking soda on the plastic with a mixture of water and vinegar on the towel, then lots, and lots, of scrubbing. On this system I also had to use a heat gun a bit on the stickiest areas along with some manual persuasion (my fingernails.) In the end it was successful, and I feel like I got my exercise for the day at the same time. In the end I managed to get the best of the grime and the case cleaned up well.
The remaining adhesive on the case badge I cleaned up with some WD-40. Thanks to Mastadon - shout out to my favorite server, bitbang.social - along with the CoCo Discord server I had a couple of options for what I could try to reattach the badge. I ended up going with 3M 468MP double sided adhesive. It worked a treat, I really couldn’t tell the difference between it and the original adhesive.
And here is the system all cleaned up! I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that looks half bad. Finally I’ll be able to use that “Audio Spectrum Analyzer” cartridge that I’ve had since I was a kid but haven’t been able to use since it doesn’t run on a CoCo 3. Probably I’ll try to find a way to install a RGB2HDMI analog cable so that I can use HDMI with it if I can figure out someplace to run it without damaging the case, but otherwise I’ll probably keep this one stock.