CoCo Programming


My first computer was a CoCo (Tandy Color Computer produced by Radio Shack). I still have a CoCo, a CoCo3, assorted hardware and tons of CoCo software lying around in storage. So naturally, when I found out a regular PC could emulate a CoCo, I was very excited by the prospects. Not only could I finally back up all those old CoCo disks to newer formats, I could actually play the programs on them again on my latest computer. I'm including on this page some links I've found helpful in getting my CoCo software up and running again.


To get CoCo software up and running on your PC, you'll need an emulator.

MESS,, works great on some of the later PC operating systems like Windows and Linux/FreeBSD. If you have a Raspberry Pi device, check out the CoCo-Pi project which uses the mame emulator. To get MESS working, all you need to do is download the software and follow the instructions to make a copy of your CoCo's BIOS information. You can also find CoCo BIOS files on the web if you run a search for them. Place the BIOS files in the bios subdirectory so MESS can find them and you should be ready to run.

To get your software over to a PC is a little trickier. There are some tools for doing so in Jeff Vavasour's CoCo2 and CoCo3 emulation software. I've been using two methods for the transfer.

Once you get your CoCo files in either of these formats, various emulators will recognize them and you'll be able to run them.

Open Source Emulators

I've been investigating which Open Source emulators are easier to build from source and which port well to a variety of platforms. Building the emulator from source code makes it easier to customize or modify emulator functionality when needed. Here are some of the emulators I've found that are Open Source, cross-platform and not too complicated to build from source code.

Other CoCo Resources

Development is still going on in the CoCo community. Some programmers are even attempting to get a cross-compiler working using the gnu compiler suite. Check out the CoCo mailing list for the latest information on CoCo activity. You can also ask advice from other CoCo owners if you get stuck on anything.

Another great resource for CoCo enthusiasts is at The library on CoCo material and documents at the site certainly takes up less space than my own paper based one.

Converting CoCo Code

Years ago, I've converted some of my CoCo Basic programs to a version of BASIC that would work on DOS and Windows PCs. However, I've been wanting to convert some of those programs over to C so they will work on a variety of operating systems. I've been searching for resources to help in the process. I found several interesting programs for converting BASIC to C/C++ and for running old BASIC programs on newer operating systems.

So far, the resource I've found most useful is msbasic2ascii. It converts programs in tokenized BASIC format to readable ASCII text. The utilities handle formats used by the CoCo, other TRS-80 computers and by GW-BASIC/BASICA. More information and the source code is available at I've patched the source so it builds on Windows and not just POSIX compatible systems and I also built executables for Windows. If anyone's interested in my modifications or the executables, I can add the source and binaries to the LM BLD project. Just let me know.

Public Domain Software

I still have quite a few public domain CoCo disks in my collection, so if anyone's interested in trading public domain CoCo programs like we used to do in the old days, feel free to contact me about it.


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Last Update: 20200803