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Any reason why there are hardly any computer formats anymore


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#1 carmel_andrews OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:05 AM

These day's you only have PC and Mac and support for those systems, games wise is very thin on the ground (with even less games support for linux and similar to linux)

Somewhat strange considering that practically every game developed on the wii, xbox, ps2/3 ds/3ds/psp etc are all developed on a PC

Whereas way back when you had a lot more formats, i.e Atari (st and 8bit), Commodore (Amiga and 8bit), Sinclair/Amstrad, MSX, Apple (Mac and 8bit) Tandy/Dragon data, Acorn (8bit and Archie) and the various lesser systems like tattung einstein, elan enterprise, memotech, oric, camputers lynx etc etc and ofcourse the peecee (including the atari and commodore badged ones)

Seems as though the big shift in 3rd party games development lessened considerably on the computer front after the demise of the 8bit market and Commodore going under also Atari pulling out of h/w manufacture all that sort of happened from 1992-4 and the big switch to games development on gaming systems (i.e nintendo, sega, sony etc)

Though i guess in the US the switch to games development on games systems happened slightly earlier then in europe/uk (i guess about late 80's when the NES started getting into it's stride, say 1987/8) whereas in europe/uk the big switch to games development on games systems didn't really happen (en masse) until the CD based systems like playstation/saturn etc took off in mid 90's (just after commodore going under)

By 'big switch' i mean that games development on gaming systems surpassed/overtook the equivalent games development on computers and that gaming system games development then took a lions share of that market (whereas before the early/mid 90's it was more games development on computers then gaming systems)

perhaps we need more computer formats like we had back then

One idea would be something along the lines of the Raspberry pi (mentioned elsewhere on AA), but with FPGA capability and say running on an ARM processor (as opposed to the intel/AMD lark), say have a bunch of old school o.s's (i.e Atari/commodore/sinclair) etc and have updated versions of said o.s's and also updated hardware (i.e sound/graphics & i/o hardware) enough for decent 2d/less complex 3d gaming

And in regards to games development, we already would have that infrastructure inplace (due to the massive retro 'puting/classic gaming homebrew/games development already taking place), remembering that even the existing 'mainstream' games development market started out as what we now call 'homebrew' back when 3rd party games development took off (i.e late 70's/early 80's), who's to say that what we have now as 'homebrew' won't in a ferw years time, if more computer formats (as mainstream games development is concerned) are established and start taking some market away from the gaming systems, be up there with the likes of EA, Activision et al and become mainstream

#2 Pengwin OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:34 AM

I was looking at the Raspberry Pi just now and thinking something similar. I was also wondering how difficult would it be to create a proprietary operating system for something like the Pi that would give us something like a 'home' computer that we had back in the 80s (something like an updated A8, C64 or Spectrum), a system designed for games, but also for easy programming. Would it be so bad to have a text based operating system based on Basic again? The potential for re-igniting the bedroom coders would be enormous (in my opinion).

Edit: Just re-read your post and realised that you also proposed something like this. I for one would definitely be interested in trying something like this.

Edited by Pengwin, Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:36 AM.


#3 TMR ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:26 PM

Whereas way back when you had a lot more formats, i.e Atari (st and 8bit), Commodore (Amiga and 8bit), Sinclair/Amstrad, MSX, Apple (Mac and 8bit) Tandy/Dragon data, Acorn (8bit and Archie) and the various lesser systems like tattung einstein, elan enterprise, memotech, oric, camputers lynx etc etc and ofcourse the peecee (including the atari and commodore badged ones)


The answer is that users wanted standardisation; one of the biggest causes of complaint during the 8-bit era and to a degree up to the Pentium-based machines was compatibility issues; this peripheral only worked with that model of computer, disks for machine X couldn't be read by the drive for machine Y, this sound card conflicted with the IRQ for that graphics card and so on. Consumers as a whole wanted computers to be simpler, that meant doing away with all the regional variation of the 8-bit era.

Trying to introduce something to mass market now like you're describing isn't really going to fly, even the grand plans the foundation behind it have for the RasPi don't see it going into homes as a consumer device like PCs have become, it's targeted for tinkerers and education. A machine like the one you described can be built with something like an FPGA development board (stick a Cyclone 3 in a nice case, nobody'd be the wiser) but getting it to sell past folks like us isn't a worker commercially.

#4 Rybags ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:35 PM

Yep, it was more "exciting" in that you had lots of different architectures to play around with but annoying at the same time in that if you had 2 machines, even from the same manufacturer, you might have to buy a whole bunch of new peripherals for the new one.

These days it's annoying enough with stuff like different flash memory formats - if everyone just used the SD standard it'd be great, but you have these annoying profiteers like Sony that insist you use their junk, and you have the other ones like XD and CF that are rare to the point that the media is ridiculously priced even though it usually performs the same or worse.

Edited by Rybags, Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:35 PM.


#5 SIO99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:51 AM

I was looking at the Raspberry Pi just now and thinking something similar. I was also wondering how difficult would it be to create a proprietary operating system for something like the Pi that would give us something like a 'home' computer that we had back in the 80s (something like an updated A8, C64 or Spectrum), a system designed for games, but also for easy programming. Would it be so bad to have a text based operating system based on Basic again? The potential for re-igniting the bedroom coders would be enormous (in my opinion).

Edit: Just re-read your post and realised that you also proposed something like this. I for one would definitely be interested in trying something like this.


I think that's an excellent idea! I saw an episode of BBC Click over a year ago, which pointed out that computers nowadays were being used mainly as communications devices, not for computing. The Raspberry Pi is a computer which is cheap and can be customised. Unfortunately demand is outstripping supply, so I haven't been able to get one yet. I don't know anything much about programming the ARM processor which it uses, but I've just looked up a document listing the ARM instruction set and it seems more complicated than it should be, as the R in ARM stands for Reduced instruction set. The Raspberry Pi comes with Brandy BASIC, a BBC BASIC clone, so it's time to study some BBC BASIC to prepare yourselves! BBC BASIC has a long history with lots of source code available. It was originally on ROM in the 6502 based BBC Micro and Acorn Electron, before being ported to the 32 bit Acorn Archimedes, containing a RISC CPU, the ancestor of ARM. BBC BASIC has a built in 6502 Assembler and a version called BBC BASIC for Windows is available, which also runs under Linux using WINE. I use Linux OS (Ubuntu distro) most of the time, plus Mac OS X and Android the rest of the time. Linux support is growing and commercial games are being developed by various people. I've seen these under the "Ubuntu Software Centre" menu, but they should be available from other sources as well. The languages Ruby and Python also seemed to be supplied in one or all packages for the Raspberry Pi.

BTW, at the moment I'm studying Atari BASIC programming on an emulator, as well as BBC BASIC programming using BBC BASIC for Windows. I hope my bidding on an Atari 8 bit on eBay is successful, then I should get my hands on it in a few days time!

#6 Stormtrooper of Death OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 7, 2012 2:37 AM

I have the same idea. In Holland, there is a local retail store called "Kruidvat", they used to sell the retro Atari 2600 consoles with built in games for 25 euros or so. (The Atari Flashback) http://en.wikipedia....ari_Flashback_2

Re-creating an 8bit computer system and selling it for 25 euros can be done. Yep, the Reto Atari 2600 consoles sold very well.

Just include a keyboard , a basic programming rom, 2 external joysticks and an USB port, (instead of selling cheap 8bit/16bit consoles in 2012) and sell it for 29 euros.

Nice for kids.

The marketing slogan would be like :"New learning computer for your kids, only 29 euros. Able to play games and even learn to program on it. Includes USB port, keyboard, Atari 8bit Basic E (extra) and 2 joysticks. Included are also 80 atari 8bit roms that are built into the rom chip.

Sell it, make it cheap.

Atari once said: We make computers for the masses, not the (upper) classes.

So, i still believe in this idea. We can do it. One problem : Which chinese cheap manufacturer wants to start producing 1 milion of these new-retro-computers for 10$ each. (price of production)

If those chinese can produce millions of 8bit handhelds/consoles for 10$, then they are also able to produce our dream Atari ! (or other 8bit computer retro-system)

Edited by Stormtrooper of Death, Mon May 7, 2012 2:39 AM.


#7 Stormtrooper of Death OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 7, 2012 2:45 AM

It seems that the ATari Flashback 3 is still for sale: http://www.atgames.n...Category=103701

#8 naf456 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:32 AM

hey - just read this thread.
I did have an ide about this a couple of months ago.
I was going to create a system powered by a parallax propeller micro controller - there pretty cheap , and it would be fairly easy to port over a BBC compiler to the spin platform it uses.

I didn't bother in the end - if kids really want to build games- all they need to download is codeblocks and an open source sprite engine and off they go...

another idea was to build and open source game console (better and cheaper then the pandora box) which gives kids an already well structured game engine , for free and free software to calibrate and use wii like controllers - all powered by an ARM based SoC (tegra 3?)
along with create two communties - a Developer community and a player community - having a built in asset store and allow kids to share arts and graphics (along with other hobbiest.)

still - I'm only 17 - not like I have 200 million dollars to build a complex infraustructure like that...

#9 gooner73 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:39 AM

I Actually think it would be very easy (surely these days) to make a multi format computer?

one that could emulate most popular and less popular systems to run rom files etc and also to be able to program with?

there must be a genius out there that could come up with the hardware cheaply enough that would fit into a nice keyboard style case!

have always wanted a multi format computer that combines emulation and programming!

#10 sack-c0s OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:30 AM

Anybody who says ARM is too complicated probably hasn't spent too long with x86. It's far nicer :)

No worrying about what register can be used under which circumstance, conditional execution of all instructions (nice not having to branch over single instructions, and can be really powerful if you chain comparisons in the right way), easy to learn the basic instruction set... I loved ARM coding as a teenager. I think if I looked at the entire extended instruction set today without having learned on an oldschool ARM 250 it might seem a bit overwhelming though.

Whilst I've been waiting for RISC OS to get sorted out (it boots - but the bottom 10% of the screen is clipped off - which is the important bit sadly) I've figured out how to get things going from cold. I think I've got code sketched out to take over from the pre-boot stuff and replace kernel.img and find the video memory but I just need a bit of time to see if I'm right.

If I am I'll pass around the framework code

Edited by sack-c0s, Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:34 AM.


#11 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:23 AM

There was the Be computer in the 90s and NEXT but both failed?


#12 SIO99 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:14 AM

Some reasons that there are fewer computer formats today is to ask yourself why after 32 bit computers came out, did PCs and Macs take over? This happened after other formats, such as the Amiga, and the Atari ST/TT/Falcon fell into decline. Unfortunately, the most popular versions of the Amiga and Atari ST had no expansion ports for plug in cards. The plug in cards could have contained new "standard" interfaces, but even so, I was able to use my Amstrad printer with my Amiga. My modem was by Pace and seemed compatible with lots of machines. Unfortunately, PCs were made by hundreds or thousands of different companies, but the Amiga was only made by Commodore, although they did have a period of licensing it to a few other companies. Unfortunately, Commodore went bankrupt, which left the Amiga in limbo for some time, before the rights were bought by Escom, then finally by Gateway. I noticed shops bearing those company names, but the Escom shop had lots of PCs and only one Amiga on display, while the Gateway shop seemed to have no Amigas on display at all. Before Commodore went bankrupt, I also managed to get involved in another situation which may have led to its death. I went for a job interview at Silica Systems Ltd/Silica Shop. My suggestions included encouraging Amiga owners to buy expansion units such as the Bodega Bay and Checkmate Digital A1500, as well as asking any women in the shop if I could help them, instead of assuming they were with a male customer. Unfortunately, at the interview I was rejected because "your top button's not done up" and "your hair is all OVER the place!" The interviewer was wearing some kind of sports jacket with tennis rackets on the top pocket. I later sent a spy to ask the assistants some questions and their answer to not being able to afford an Amiga A2000 was to buy a 512K RAM upgrade, totally ignoring the lack of expansion slots. Of course, it was surprising that my spy was able to get them to take any notice, as she was a woman. They had one female assistant, who wasn't wearing a tie and didn't have a particular hairstyle. So now you know!

Edited by SIO99, Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:15 AM.





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