In Color Basic ROM v1.1, clearing the screen to an invalid color (9-255) will give you a Microsoft copyright message


Press CTRL-ALT-RESET and a 256×192 hi res picture comes up the screen. This is actually the power-on cold start sequence for the CoCo 3. The picture is of 3 Microware guys that did work for Tandy on enhancing the Extended Color Basic ROM into CoCo 3 capabilities. Tandy knew of this pix just before release into the market and decided to ship the units as is instead of reworking the ROM code. (Rogelio)

The picture consumed about 6K of the 8K of additional ROM that Microware was given in those systems to make some enhancements for BASIC. Generally known as “The Three Stooges” image, you frequently found it up on the store computers …. The three people were employees at Microware. The Tandy buyer knew or became aware of the picture before the machines shipped, but no one in R&D knew. If it was known, the VP of the hardware groups would have replaced the 8K with a 2K part to save a nickel. (Frank Durda IV).

Model III

Model III and early Model 4 ROMs had “RON” for Ron Light hidden down in the “A” ROM. As far as Frank knows there wasn’t anything that caused it to be displayed, but that is what that is. (Frank Durda IV).

Model 4 Boot ROM

Frank Durda IV’s footprints are in a few places in the the Model 4P boot ROM. When you turn on a Model 4P, after the initial “di” instruction at location 0, the next four instructions executed are actually the ASCII characters “FDIV”! The instructions don’t do anything useful in this context. In addition, lowercase “fdiv” appears a bit further down, and the words “Frank” and “Durda” can be found mixed in with the French and German error messages. (Tim Mann).

Model III/A

“fdiv” also occurs in various places in all versions of the MODELA/III file. (MODELA/III is the ROM image that was loaded into RAM for Model III compatibility mode on the Model 4P.) In some it’s in the actual ROM image; in others it’s in extra bytes at the end of the file that are not loaded into RAM. (Tim Mann).

Tandy VIS Systems

On the Tandy VIS systems, Microsoft tried to sneak a new product line logo for Modular Windows in at the last minute (it looked like a rip-off of the “Wool” logo you see on garments), but as it was displayed on each boot, replaced the VIS logo, which Tandy didn’t like, and MS was over their ROM budget in the first place even before adding this bloat, Tandy complained loudly.

The Next release MS sent Tandy doesn’t display the logo and we are told it has been removed, BUT the modules are even bigger. We get suspicious. A disassembly shows the image is still there and MS added new code to make the image appear only in certain situations. Only after John Roach called Bill Gates on this, did the logo really get removed. Of course, we didn’t know that in retaliation, MS decided to torpedo the VIS project anyway by changing Modular Windows in a very minor but incompatible way with the version in VIS, and told us just two days after the VIS ROMs were sent to be fabbed. Modular Windows was disowned by Microsoft after a few more months (they denied it was even a product in public statements), but it was eventually remarketed with bigger system CPU and memory requirements, more bloat and a brand new name: Windows CE.

Of course, if you examine the VIS ROMS, you will find hundreds of messages telling you that the network printer is out of paper and other messages that don’t make sense for a machine with no network or printer capabilities. That’s Windows CE (I mean Modular Windows) dragging around great steaming chunks of regular Windows that could not be cut-out, or at least that’s what Microsoft claimed. After the stunt with the logo, relations were real bad. (Frank Durda IV).



In TRSDOS v2.x for the Model I, run BOOT/SYS.WHO while holding down the R and V keys (Randy Cook’s first two initials) you will get a notice screen. Because of the way it was coded, any key combination that results in a in 68 (0x44) (such as holding down the 2 and 3) will decode the message properly. The “00 FE” bytes at the beginning of the sector are cleverly disguised load module codes (equivalent to a comment record).

For TRSDOS v2.1 and v2.2 the message was:

Tandy caught on and the message was changed in TRSDOS v2.3

That message is one of the key items that made Randy Cook and Tandy part ways so violently, and probably why Tandys various revisionist histories of that period frequently fail to mention him or Steve Ls role in putting Tandy in the computer business. As Frank recalls, the original message also had a non-Tandy telephone number Randy set up to do his own support from, which ticked-off Tandy even more. Either George Robertson or Ron Light (both now deceased) created the patch that changed the message after Randy went away. (Frank Durda IV).


In Model III BASIC under TRSDOS 1.3 type CMD"&"& and you will get:

LDOS v5.1.0

Type the command A! or B! at the LDOS Ready prompt. It will print “Hi there! This command is reserved for the future by your LDOS Support group. Roy, Bill, Tim, Chuck, Dick.” (The “Tim” was Tim Mann.)

Tandy made LSI change the message in the versions Radio Shack shipped to something different, probably due to vivid memories of Randy Cooks activities. (Mike Yetsko).

You’ll also find “Roy” or “Tim” here and there in the middle of a few /CMD or /DVR or /SYS files. When the development team needed a 3-byte data area that didn’t have to be initialized to anything in particular, they’d sometimes have the assembler put their names there. (Tim Mann).

Roy thought that the “T” in RS232T/DVR (the Model III RS232 driver) was meant to stand for “Tim”. (Tim really didn’t, Tim just thought RS2323/DVR would look silly, he picked T to stand for “three”.) So Roy changed the name of the Model I RS232 driver to RS232R/DVR, claiming that “R” stood for “Radio Shack”, not “Roy.” (Tim Mann).

XENIX v3.0

On XENIX 3.0, in a really obscure hardware failure condition (the Z80 got back to the main operation dispatch loop with the stack at a different depth than it was on the previous pass), z80ctl would spit out:

Bugchk: Sckmud
“Shut her down Scotty, she’s sucking mud again!”

“Shut her down Scotty…” was somebodys’ sig line on USENET back around 1984 and the vision of Captain Kirk yelling this down to Scotty always struck Frank as very funny, so when Frank needed a message for this insanely implausable condition Frank had seen a few times in test, Frank felt you needed a special reward if you managed to get here, so Frank picked that message. The technical support documentation describing this message suggested that rebooting soon would be a good career move. (Frank Durda IV)

Misc Software.

Scott Adams’ Adventures

In the specially formatted copy protection sector on track 0 of an Scott Adams (Adventure International) disk, there is a message from Kim Watt, who designed the copy protection scheme, saying roughly “If you can read this, phone Kim Watt at xxx-yyy-zzzz to find out what reward you get.” (Tim Mann).