DeskMate is a discontinued software application that provided an operating environment that competed with early versions of Microsoft Windows. It originally was made for Tandy's TRS-DOS Operating System and for their TRS-80 line of computers, but eventually shifted to PC, where it was developed using C and Assembly. Like Windows (and other competitors from the time, such as GEM), it was not a full operating system, requiring a separate disk operating system in order to function. Although the initial PC ports would only run on Tandy's PCs (such as the Tandy 1000), the introduction of the true PC-compatible computers such as the Tandy 3000 resulted in the software later being made available for other compatibles.

DeskMate 3.02.JPG
Initial releaseNovember 1984; 35 years ago (1984-11)
Stable release
3.05 / c.1992; 28 years ago (1992)
Operating systemMS-DOS

Some non-Tandy software used DeskMate to provide the user interface, and provided a runtime version of the operating environment for those without it. Examples included Activision's The Music Studio,[1] and a version of Lotus 1-2-3.[2]

DeskMate 1.0Edit

DeskMate version 1.0 was included with the original Tandy 1000 and did not work correctly on non-Tandy computers. This was mainly due to the use of the function keys - as most non-Tandy PCs either did not come with an F12 button or with one that did not act in the same way as a Tandy F12 function key (Tandy adopted F11/F12 before IBM did).

DeskMate was popular, increasing sales of the Tandy 1000 to homes and schools.[3]

DeskMate 2Edit

By the time Personal DeskMate was released with the Tandy 1000 EX, it was a GUI that acted as a portal for many other office productivity applications. The DeskMate application would run on top of MS-DOS. The user interface was made up of text. The applications that made up the suite were:

  • a basic word processor ("Text")
  • a spreadsheet ("Worksheet")
  • a calendar
  • a basic database program ("Filer")

The programs all fit on a 360K floppy disk. With careful manipulation, it was possible to isolate the individual applications and remove the others, placing them on separate floppies to be swapped when required. DeskMate was still required, as the individual programs could not be accessed directly.

DeskMate 3Edit

DeskMate 3 added a number of interesting basic applications:

  • a drawing program ("Draw")
  • a simple digital audio editing program ("Sound")
  • a simple music program ("Music"), which could play music with audio samples created in Sound, used the 3-channel Tandy DAC, which provided 22 kHz 8-bit audio.
  • an online service ("PC Link")

The core parts of DeskMate (and DOS) were shipped in ROM on certain Tandy 1000s, allowing the computer to boot into DeskMate within a few seconds.

This was the first version of DeskMate that allowed for a run-time version that could be distributed with applications. This allowed users to use DeskMate applications on their PC's even if they did not have DeskMate installed.

Professional DeskMateEdit

Tandy offered DeskMate for corporate users as an alternative to OS/2 Presentation Manager. Professional DeskMate provides a text-based GUI for DOS, with LocalTalk-based file-service and email extensions.[3]


This was a complete rewrite for Microsoft Windows 3.1, providing a simplified user interface and a few applications.


Noting that Tandy had found that Personal DeskMate increased sales of its 1000 computers, Stewart Alsop II in 1988 praised Tandy's strategy for Professional DeskMate as "brilliant: while IBM, Apple, and virtually the rest of the computing world focus almost exclusively on corporate and government business", Tandy "responds to the basic needs of small businesses and professional offices".[3]


  1. ^ Latimer, Joey (November 1989). "The Music Studio 3.0". Compute!. p. 102. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  2. ^ Lewis, Peter H. (1989-08-13). "Sorting Out Lotus's New 1-2-3's". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Alsop, Stewart II (1988-01-18). "Tandy DeskMate: Viva La Small Business" (PDF). P.C. Letter. 4 (2): 9–10.

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