In my recent jaunts to Portland’s outlet warehouse stores I wound up with a stack of old model railroad magazines from the 1960s through the 1980s… because of course I did. Flipping through them, they are detail-intensive and super esoteric, which means they’re perfect for this blog. Unfortunately, I cannot even try to care enough about model railroading to this degree. However, this article “Computerization Of The Great Southern” in the March 1983 issue of Model Railroader caught my eye because it intersected with 1980s retro-computing, which *is* something I give half a crap about.
The article features Lorell Joiner (who apparently died in 2007) discussing the computerization of his Great Southern Railroad model. As you can see from the photo, the equipment involved is a TRS-80 computer. Apparently the Great Southern was kind of a legendary big deal in the model railroad world, and certainly looks like no joke:
The article doesn’t go into any of the program code or anything, but does detail the engineering aspect of it using those awesome programming flowcharts that used to be all over computer programming books from the 1980s.