Punch card reader for TRS-80

I recently found a 1984 card reader for the TRS-80 aimed at schools. Marked or punched cards. For evaluating surveys, polls and tests.

I never heard of this before. Were there card readers for other home computers?

I remember around 1981 or 1982 our high school purchased some kind of management system with an Apple ][ that had a card reader. But I think it was an optical scanner where you would fill in the little boxes with a pen. The system used it as a quick way of taking attendance.

I was a pretty religious reader of Radio Shack catalogs and this is the first I’m seeing this device. Wonder if it was marketed in a different set of catalogs?

This is almost like a reverse Mandela-Effect for me. :grin:

Found a manual available here:


There’s a few things that are making me think this might be an elaborate hoax:

  1. I’m looking at the main catalogs for 1984, 1985, and 1983. There’s no mention of this device.
  2. The “manual” that I’ve found looks like it was typeset more recently (the text for the description of the card weight positioning isn’t part of the image, it was added after the fact.
  3. It doesn’t follow the designs of other Radio Shack products from the period. So if this is truly a Radio Shack product it was likely re-branded from another device. I’m not finding a similar device though. Perhaps other Internet Sleuths can validate this?

If it’s a hoax it’s elaborate. If it’s not then it was such a submarine product that Radio Shack never really promoted it.

Regardless, it’s interesting if a hoax (which is remarkably done well) or an interesting niche product.

It was also offered on ebay and mentioned in this magazine


Ah, here we go. It was in the computer catalog itself according to archive.org:

and here:

Interesting to find more mentions of it in the wild. I stand corrected.

The only one, I know of, is the MZ80MCR cad reader for the Sharp MZ-80. (This seems to be extremely rare, as well.)