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Is the C64 too different to A8 to ever have meaningful comparison?


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#51 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 9:33 AM

With C64 you played games with A8 you did other things too. So C64 like Spectrum was a games machine. Apple 2 most 8bit software range, including games, also was top doing more than just play games. And yes, I have a C128, before some smart guy says 'C64 does more than playing games', nobody was interested in that, especially in th UK. Zzap64 was the UKs top selling C64 mag, Commodore Disk User was not.

Edited by high voltage, Sun Mar 4, 2012 9:36 AM.


#52 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 11:42 AM

...
The Atari 400 (my first computer!) had to be an overall mistake for the line. The "McDonald's Cash Register Keyboard" only aggravated the situation where the brand was seen as game machines. To the casual observer, this thing reminds them of an Odyssey 2. The VIC-20 got a real keyboard! The 400/800 were just too expensive, early on. $550 (??) for an 8K 400 and $1100 for an 8K 800 doesn't just sound expensive. It certainly was. If you consider the "real" value today of those 1979-1982 dollars, it's damn expensive.

The fact that one could not upgrade an Atari 400 - OFFICIALLY - until very late in the machine's life caused some people to abandon the A8 computer line. Anecdotal case in point: I knew 2 kids in "Jr. High School" who both had 400s and 410s like I did. Nobody (this age) could afford an 800 or 810. Everybody hated waiting on the 410 to load games, badly. Cartridges were super-expensive, so most kids only had a few, and trade carts for the weekend (etc.). Most gaming was still done on cart, because of the dreadfully slow 410. If anybody wanted a disc drive, they'd have to get an unofficial $190 48K upgrade. At the time, the 810 was about $599. Then, you'd still be stuck with that keyboard, or some yuck aftermarket chicklets if you could find them.
...


I forgot about the slow tape interface.
Slow tape interface, limited expansion (from Atari), bad keyboard, expensive disk drives, high initial price tag, slow BASIC, and no right cartridge slot.
And the lack of a right cartridge slot kept people from releasing carts that used the right slot, effectively making it redundant.
Does that about sum up the 400?


The more I think about it, the more I remember something one of Atari's managers said.
He said they knew they had the best product, they couldn't understand why it didn't sell better.
With that attitude, maybe they didn't see the mistakes they had made so they never corrected them.

Edited by JamesD, Sun Mar 4, 2012 11:43 AM.


#53 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 12:25 PM

We're assuming the 400 was intended to be just a budget-minded 800. Part of the reason for the 400's keyboard was to make it child-proof. I think they really intended to target two different markets and not just two different price points.

#54 TMR OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 4, 2012 3:03 PM

And yes, I have a C128, before some smart guy says 'C64 does more than playing games', nobody was interested in that, especially in th UK.



Gaming for the 8-bits generally was a behemoth, but that didn't mean there weren't users of the C64 and indeed other 8-bits doing non-gaming things; for example, the UK had the huge ICPUG (which had one of the driest newsletters i've ever read) who barely touched games and focused their resources, newsletter and large public domain library and buying service on productivity and utilities. And they weren't alone, there were smaller local groups dedicated to non-gaming interests on just about every platform going, a reasonably sized demo scene for the C64, online services like Compunet and Micronet and even magazines that people remember as exclusively gaming like Zzap! 64 and Crash would carry adverts for Mini Office or The Music System and offer printers or applications via their own mail order shops.

Zzap64 was the UKs top selling C64 mag, Commodore Disk User was not.


By the time CDU launched, Zzap! was already well over two years old and, unsurprisingly, established enough that it was difficult to compete against. Zzap! also had a bigger publisher behind it[1], better distribution and less competition at launch.

[1] i met the editors of both Zzap! and CDU - one was in an office with a couple of staff writers, the other his own back bedroom using freelancers.

#55 oky2000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 5:55 PM

Zzap!64 came half a decade after C64 came into production. Commodore User was around from the start and very similar in content to Atari User UK (not Page6 re-release).

There was plenty of serious software for the C64 and creative stuff too like midi-carts and touch tablets and mice. And GEOS v2.0/128 was a fine GUI on any computer.

Hell even some obscure languages like Prolog and Pascal were released early on.

#56 TMR OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 8:18 PM

Zzap!64 came half a decade after C64 came into production.


Well, about three years... =-)

Commodore User was around from the start


Commodore User was indeed (and did pretty well next to Zzap! in sales if memory serves) but high voltage said Commodore Disk User, a different magazine entirely that was launched in late 1987 and came with a covermounted disk of software.

#57 kenjennings OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 5, 2012 8:47 PM

...
Everybody hated waiting on the 410 to load games, badly. . . . Most gaming was still done on cart, because of the dreadfully slow 410.
...


. . . I forgot about the slow tape interface.
. . .


I was programming for years with that tape drive. It was so heavily used that the catch for the play button wore out and a small carpentry clamp was needed to hold the play button down. That thing taught me patience.... lots of patience. And the virtue of saving everything three times in different places. Did I mention patience?

This habit learned from using the 410 carried over to floppies when I was finally able to afford a floppy drive. It's turned out to be useful now. I've been working with the sio2pc-usb over the past week to turn all the 25 year old floppies into ATR files. Occasionally there's a sector error, but with redundant copies on multiple floppies I have not yet lost anything.

#58 oky2000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 7:55 AM


Zzap!64 came half a decade after C64 came into production.


Well, about three years... =-)

Commodore User was around from the start


Commodore User was indeed (and did pretty well next to Zzap! in sales if memory serves) but high voltage said Commodore Disk User, a different magazine entirely that was launched in late 1987 and came with a covermounted disk of software.


My mistake, thought it was 1986 not 85 when ZZAP launched.

Was just saying, there were other mags too carried over from VIC days in the old fashioned style. By 1986 though the fad for using 8 bit micros seriously was pretty much over due to the £450 520STM and typed in listings in Computer and Video Games died well before 86. Of course people like me still wrote basic GEOS rip-offs in Laser BASIC on the C64 until we could afford such 16bit luxuries :)

#59 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 8:05 AM

Even though I was a member of ICPUG and joined Compunet for the man (boy) on the street (school yard) the C64 along with Speccy was a games machine

#60 TMR OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 9:37 AM

Even though I was a member of ICPUG and joined Compunet for the man (boy) on the street (school yard) the C64 along with Speccy was a games machine


You originally said "before some smart guy says 'C64 does more than playing games', nobody was interested in that, especially in th UK." (so not just school kids, but everybody) and yet you were involved with a large user group and a countrywide online service that both demonstrated that they did have an interest. But okay, we'll ignore the fact that adults also owned 8-bit computers for a bit, but even then there were schoolkids doing far more than playing games; a large number of those Compunet demos (and those from the wider European scene) you may have seen were written by teenagers of school age along with many popular utilities and games as well.

Yes, gaming was the focus for many schoolkids on the C64 and Spectrum but, if we ignore the adults and the kids writing demos or other code or even the ones doing their homework, the exact same argument applies to the Atari 8-bit as well.

#61 TMR OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 9:49 AM

My mistake, thought it was 1986 not 85 when ZZAP launched.


It was mid 1985 and the C64 didn't arrive in the UK until early 1983 so really it's more like two and a half years between launch and Newsfield deciding there was a market for Zzap!

Was just saying, there were other mags too carried over from VIC days in the old fashioned style. By 1986 though the fad for using 8 bit micros seriously was pretty much over due to the £450 520STM and typed in listings in Computer and Video Games died well before 86.


i wouldn't have said that personally, Commodore User, CDU and Your Commodore (later Your 64) were all around during Zzap!'s lifespan and presumably had enough regular readers to warrant their continued publication; in fact Your Commodore started before Zzap! and only failed in 1990 when it tried to rebrand as a poor imitation of a Zzap! style gaming mag and the serious content was removed. And as i said, there was ICPUG, the online services, local user groups and the scene all doing non-gaming things with the C64 and similar groups and services for the Spectrum, neither machine was purely games-oriented in the UK - it just appeared that way if you didn't look too closely because Zzap! and Crash were so "loud" compared to the other publications.

Of course people like me still wrote basic GEOS rip-offs in Laser BASIC on the C64 until we could afford such 16bit luxuries :)


i wrote games, demos, terrible utilities and did my homework on a C64 with a 1541 and MPS803. And many of my school friends were in the same boat with their C64s, Spectrums and Atari 800XLs.

#62 oky2000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 11:51 AM

I think Atari User UK (original 4 volumes) was probably the last magazine to have listings chronologically although CU Amiga had fun hardware projects in the 90s.

Of all the 8 bits I would say only the BBC Master (maybe the CPC Amstrad too) was used instead of an ST for say wordprocessing, and they were mad given the £399 price of STFM! They did have 80 column capability on regular monitors unlike the C128 with RGB-i only 80c output after full reset of machine :)

Crash or CVG really was the first mag to say "OK most of you got a Speccy/C64 for games WE KNOW!"

If you read the adverts for the C64 in early 83/late 82 some companies did push the serious side, hell there are example base relief bar chart screen shots on the EU mk1 breadbin C64 boxes. 64k as standard was a nod to business users, it was years before 64k was "limiting" for games programmers.

Here's a question, did the A8 have any software 80 column mode programs in the early 80s?

#63 Pengwin OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 12:41 PM

Here's a question, did the A8 have any software 80 column mode programs in the early 80s?


I don't know about any commercially available software, but Atari User did publish a type in for 80 column text to be used with your own basic programs.

#64 TMR OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 12:55 PM

I think Atari User UK (original 4 volumes) was probably the last magazine to have listings chronologically although CU Amiga had fun hardware projects in the 90s.


Well the most recent magazine to have a type-in game was Retro Gamer issue 100... [Cheeky grin =-]

Of all the 8 bits I would say only the BBC Master (maybe the CPC Amstrad too) was used instead of an ST for say wordprocessing, and they were mad given the £399 price of STFM! They did have 80 column capability on regular monitors unlike the C128 with RGB-i only 80c output after full reset of machine :)


For home use? Nah, the BBC Master wasn't really a home machine so it didn't really appear on the radar for those sorts of things; the Amstrad was far more common and Tasword for the C64 with does 80 columns in software (and if memory serves Tasword 128 for the Spectrum handles 64), GEOS had GeoWrite and some users just lived with a 40 column scrolling display from programs like Mini Office, Kwik Write or Easy Script.

Crash or CVG really was the first mag to say "OK most of you got a Speccy/C64 for games WE KNOW!"


Both mags said it pretty much from issue 1 and C&VG came first.

#65 oky2000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 2:44 PM

AMX mouse, Pagemaker, Viewsheet, Wordwise all were used by the BBC loyal userbase, sure they were hardly mass market. But as a % sold many more were put to serious use. The educational market monopoly helped Acorn's catalogue of serious software immensely for sure.

I meant Crash was just games on sale ie reviews, previews and hints/tips for the software on sale, no typed in listings or programming tutorials I meant ;). Crash was initially a mail order catalogue with short reviews of best selling games. Not sure exactly when typed in listings etc stopped within CVG but the 1985 Yearbook has type in game listings still.

In fact they tried the Crash/Zzzap treatment back in the DOS gaming 90s with PC Attack magazine. Was great mag!

It's hard to say C64 or A8 had more serious user, I got a VIC-20 in 1982 and the first thing I tried to do was write Pole Position style racing game for it in BASIC using PETSCII graphics haha! I guess it was a sign of the times, I remember trying to replicate the Cylon/Viper fighter's radar display using two shades of green of C64 and sprites for proper Viper/Cylon ships floating across them as my second go on my shiny new C64 in Easter 1983 :) I am betting this was "normal" for the time and many of us who were in the very first generation of home computer users would atleast have wanted to write our own game or something even if we had no need for word processors or spreadsheets at the age of 10.

#66 SpiceWare OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 2:45 PM

With C64 you played games with A8 you did other things too. So C64 like Spectrum was a games machine. Apple 2 most 8bit software range, including games, also was top doing more than just play games. And yes, I have a C128, before some smart guy says 'C64 does more than playing games', nobody was interested in that, especially in th UK. Zzap64 was the UKs top selling C64 mag, Commodore Disk User was not.

This reminds me a lot of the ignorant folk who dismissed the Amiga as "a mere toy" just because it happened to play games well.

#67 TMR OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 5:45 PM

AMX mouse, Pagemaker, Viewsheet, Wordwise all were used by the BBC loyal userbase, sure they were hardly mass market. But as a % sold many more were put to serious use. The educational market monopoly helped Acorn's catalogue of serious software immensely for sure.


Yeah, the Beeb had a massive shoe in due to education, but for home use (which is where we're going if we're talking about the man in the street like high voltage did before he changed the argument to just kids) it wasn't a major player because many wrongly saw it as just for educational use. It didn't help that the original model B was so expandable, all those connection points and sideways ROM sockets meant it cost a lot more than most of it's competition.

It's hard to say C64 or A8 had more serious user


i wasn't trying to really, i took exception to the C64 being written off as just a games machine (in the same way i would've for the A8, the BBC or just about anything else).

#68 flashjazzcat ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2012 6:39 PM

What's the usage balance like today? I know the C64 has a decent back-catalogue of "serious" apps from back in the day (someone on a C64 forum recently asked what word processor they should use, and someone said PaperClip), but is there much heavyweight application development going on nowadays? The A8 seems to enjoy a reasonably even balance of game and application development from what I see.

#69 emkay OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2012 1:08 AM


With C64 you played games with A8 you did other things too. So C64 like Spectrum was a games machine. Apple 2 most 8bit software range, including games, also was top doing more than just play games. And yes, I have a C128, before some smart guy says 'C64 does more than playing games', nobody was interested in that, especially in th UK. Zzap64 was the UKs top selling C64 mag, Commodore Disk User was not.

This reminds me a lot of the ignorant folk who dismissed the Amiga as "a mere toy" just because it happened to play games well.


AMIGA missed a serious displaying device for office purpose. The solution had been , to build a dedicated monitor with a built in flicker fixer...

But, C64 , even due to it's slow Floppy and proposed as the better gaming machine , back then, it has been found in offices for -Small Business Database- Writing - .... and so on. But I've never seen an A8 at that position.

#70 www.atarimania.com OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2012 1:56 AM

Not true.

Actually, there were many "parallel markets" using Atari 8-bit computers. Though the line had less presence than the Apple, TRS-80 or C64, you'll find MANY applications in a variety of fields (don't let the small utilities section on Atarimania fool you).

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#71 TMR OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2012 2:54 AM

What's the usage balance like today? I know the C64 has a decent back-catalogue of "serious" apps from back in the day (someone on a C64 forum recently asked what word processor they should use, and someone said PaperClip), but is there much heavyweight application development going on nowadays? The A8 seems to enjoy a reasonably even balance of game and application development from what I see.


There was a new GUI in development for SuperCPU-equipped machines called JOS, but that stalled quite a few years back now so anyone using a GUI is either working with GEOS or Wheels - there's a little development going on for those, usually device drivers rather than extensions to the main code.

As far as i'm aware at the moment, the only applications really seriously worked on right now are development tools and mostly cross dev too; you can get a very rough picture of that from the CSDb since it has a searchable "Other Platform C64 Tool" category (follow this link to 0xPaint and then click on "Other Platform C64 Tool") but that lists everything added to that category including revisions of emulators.

#72 oky2000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:06 AM

Yeah, the Beeb had a massive shoe in due to education, but for home use (which is where we're going if we're talking about the man in the street like high voltage did before he changed the argument to just kids) it wasn't a major player because many wrongly saw it as just for educational use. It didn't help that the original model B was so expandable, all those connection points and sideways ROM sockets meant it cost a lot more than most of it's competition.


The beeb had some amazing early 8 bit arcade game rip-offs, it may not have had quite the same colour palette but there are awesome Asteroids/Invaders/Scramble/Zaxxon etc clones for it, most from Acornsoft themselves. There is a rumour that Donkey Kong by Atarisoft was finished for the beeb but I've never seen either the original or an emulator friendly file, shame really.

Going back to my original question however, taken in the context of 1982, I think pretty much all machines had a completely different way of doing it except maybe the completely unassisted custom hardware devoid bottom of the barrel machines like the Spectrum/Oric-1/Newbrain/Laser 3000/Aquarius etc but beyond those basic Z80 based machines pretty much all machines had some sort of hardware assistance or specific multi-colour pixel level screen colour assignment and proper sound chip.

So I guess it's just a case of completely different methods (and other business tactics like purchasing your own semiconductor plant) to get the desired effect. Having an 800XL and breadbin set up not constantly it is easy to just appreciate the machines and celebrate their differences 3 decades later while taking a whiz on my crusty old windows laptops when I get bored :)

#73 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:35 AM

That's what I say, enjoy all three main 8-bit computers (Apple 2, A8, C64) for all purposes of computing.

#74 oky2000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:08 PM

We don't really have much Apple II stuff for the UK, wasn't a big seller here, so that's a tough one. Still...plenty of obscure machines to get stuck into like the awesome Memotech MTX series (the computer from Weird Science of course!)

For those that are interested, as I read back a few replies and TMR stated the C64 was only available early 1983 in the UK (which is what Retrogamer et al say) I did a fair bit of validated research and eventually found out that dealers had the old breadbin delivered on or just after Nov 19th 1982. Machines were being advertised in October 1982 issues of magazines like CVG by big players like Maplin.

PS of course my last post should have said

"Having an 800XL and breadbin set up noW constantly it is easy to just appreciate the machines and celebrate their differences 3 decades later....."

I got fed up with emulation and PC keyboards, these games are meant to be played on real joysticks on glowing CRT screens via RF/composite video in low lit rooms......now I just need to find my regularly played games on real cassettes or disks (or better still carts) This collecting lark is EXPENSIVE :)

Edited by oky2000, Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:11 PM.


#75 TMR OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:56 PM

For those that are interested, as I read back a few replies and TMR stated the C64 was only available early 1983 in the UK (which is what Retrogamer et al say) I did a fair bit of validated research and eventually found out that dealers had the old breadbin delivered on or just after Nov 19th 1982. Machines were being advertised in October 1982 issues of magazines like CVG by big players like Maplin.




It's probably better to say "generally available" really, there were machines around but not in great numbers and at least some of them were imported NTSC machines - i believe Jeff Minter has said previously that his machine was NTSC (although it was shipped over by HES) and he didn't get anything to market until 1983).

Just out of interest... any reason for necroposting to the year-old thread....?




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