The LNW80 computer was LNW's attempt to take advantage of the success of the
TRS-80 Model I, a very popular and inexpensive computer
system first released by Radio Shack in 1977. While claiming to be fully hardware
and software compatible with the TRS-80, the LNW80 has additional circuitry to expand its
features and capabilites.
LNW Research Corp. was formed and run by Gene Lu, Michael G. Norton, and Ken Woog.
Their first product was an "expansion system" for the TRS-80 to increase its limited capabilities.
According to magazine advertisements, this was first offered as a kit in January of 1980 for only $69.95,
but the purchaser would have to buy all of the required integrated circuit chips (ICs) and assemble it in
order to create a functioning device.
In November of that same year, LNW offered the LNW80 TRS-80 clone computer.
This single, bare circuit board cost only $89.95, but again would require hundreds of dollar of additional
components to complete the assembly.
In October of 1981, another accessory for the TRS-80 was released - the "LNDoubler", which allowed
the use of double density-floppy drives instead of the more limited single-density drives.
Eventually all of their products - the LNW80 single-board computer, the expansion interface,
and the LNDoubler, would be combined into a single case, fully assembled, as the LNW80 computer, for $1495.
A kit version was also available for approximately $900.
In addition to the TRS-80's features, the LNW80 has a higher clock speed - 4MHz vs. 1.77MHz, but is
capable of stepping back down to 1.77MHz for compatibility reasons.
The LNW80 features include cassette I/O operations at 500/1000 baud, a real-time clock,
both serial and parallel ports, and a floppy drive interface for either 5 1/4 or 8-inch floppy drives,
none of which exist on the original, unexpanded TRS-80 Model I.
While the LNW80 also has support for color and higher resolution graphics, these are of limited use since
they are not supported by original TRS-80 software applications.
LNW eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1984 after, rumor has it, a robbery of their warehouse in which
most of their inventory disappeared. The inventory reportedly eventually surfaced at an all-LNW repair facility
in Southern California.