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Was there a personal computer market crash (or correction) in the mid 80s


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#26 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:00 AM

 

Though regularly repeated, there's really very little evidence that people bought computers for their kids instead of game consoles. The numbers just don't bare that out, so it was clearly not a major contributing factor to The Great Videogame Crash. Both markets suffered similarly and both markets pared down to fewer and fewer participants. It was simply more obvious on the videogame side because the stakes were higher and the numbers bigger, but there was very little cross-talk in terms of buying one or the other. If you wanted a console, you got a console, if you wanted a computer, you got a computer. Some got some combination of both.

You mean besides Atari's profits being cut by more than half between 1980 and 1981 and the sudden surge in computer sales in 1981-1982?
 



#27 Bill Loguidice OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:06 AM

You mean besides Atari's profits being cut by more than half between 1980 and 1981 and the sudden surge in computer sales in 1981-1982?
 

That would be fine except for the fact that computer sales never outstripped videogame console sales. The drop in revenue was not a side effect of computer sales, which Atari also sold. Surely for those who could only afford one or the other, the computer was a better choice, and certainly there were some computer sales that took away from console sales, but it was not a significant percentage. You also have to remember that a fully functional computer system was generally quite a bit more expensive than a straight up game console.



#28 atarian63 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 12:15 PM

There may not have been a crash in comparison to the home video game market in 1983-84, but there was a serious shrinkage in the number of companies actively marketing computers and viable products in the 1984-1985 period in the United States.  Atari's home computers 8-bit computers were nearly dead in 1985 and the Atari ST never really took off in the states.  TI left the market due to Commodore's price cutting and the Coleco Adam failed to gain marketshare.  IBM's PCjr. was not the great success big blue was hoping for, and the Apple //c left the Apple market rather unplussed.  The Macintosh took time to grow in sales.  Tandy's TRS-80 computers had reached the end of the line for the most part as did Commodore's other 8-bit machines.  The Commodore 64's sales were never the same after '85 (they were very good in Europe for a few more years) and the Amiga failed to catch on in the US as it did in Europe.  

 

So by 1985 you had IBM PCs and clones firmly entrenched in the business market, Apple IIe machines in the schools, and Commodore 64s functioning as a game machine for many home users.  The NES took care of the Commodore in the low end and PC clones essentially dominated everything else except for the comparatively few users of the pricey Macintosh machines.  

Wrong, Atari 800xl was pc of the year in 85 due to it's new low price(invertory dumping) and from 85-89 Atari ST was very succesful besting Amiga 2 to 1. PC's we just starting at the consumer level,and really did not take off till 87 and after. Apple II seemed to be floundering,C64 was hurt by the St and later the Amiga.



#29 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 12:33 PM

That would be fine except for the fact that computer sales never outstripped videogame console sales. The drop in revenue was not a side effect of computer sales, which Atari also sold. Surely for those who could only afford one or the other, the computer was a better choice, and certainly there were some computer sales that took away from console sales, but it was not a significant percentage. You also have to remember that a fully functional computer system was generally quite a bit more expensive than a straight up game console.

Just a few points here.

Atari was selling the Atari 400 (complete with worst keyboard ever on a personal computer) at over $500 where the VIC-20 was under $300($200?) and the TS-1000 was $150(?) at intro. Atari had been gaining market share up to that point but lost market share afterwards.

Computer sales didn't have to outstrip console sales, they just had to reduce them and force console makers to reduce their prices as well. 
I remember when I was young some of my friend's parents told their kids they could have a computer OR a videogame for Christmas.
Most parents aren't made of money and there was a recession around 1982.  Some kids had to have picked the computer.

Fully functional computers were a console and a cassette deck at that time.  People wanted a printer and a disk drive but they could buy that later and that was another expenditure that kept some people from buying a games console or games for a console they already had.  

When people started playing games at home, not everyone stopped playing in the arcade.  Arcade machines still looked and sounded better, had better controls and there was a social aspect to it.  But how many arcades are left now?  There isn't an arcade anywhere close to me and there used to be arcades all over around here.  I know of a handful of decent sized arcades withing a 4 hour drive of me.  The local bars each have a couple touch screen machines with games for adults but that's about it.
Even local grocery stores and restaurants don't have a single game .  They might have movie/game rental kiosks instead or nothing.
When people started buying computers, some of them already had game consoles and some still bought game consoles.  Not everyone just ditched the consoles.
Over time, popularity for gaming has switched back and forth between consoles and computers but now there are also tablets and smart phones.
Every new generation has an impact on the last generation.
 

The important thing here is the market was and still is driven by the capabilities of the products and their prices.  

There was no instant migration but the next best thing cut into the sales of the last best thing, not just in units sold but in profits.
As the new next best thing is introduced, the last best thing drops in price, number of sales as does it's profits.

But hey, that's just the way I see it.


Edited by JamesD, Wed Nov 13, 2013 12:33 PM.

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#30 Seob OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:35 PM

All i want to say now is that the US market was different comparred to the European market. And even within the European market there where lots of differences. The machines that where popular in one country could be the biggers lossers in the neighbor country.

#31 carlsson ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:01 PM

Yes, it depends very much on how the importer, agent acts on the local market. How financially sound they are, which market connections they have or can establish. Just having a great product isn't enough to get it sold. One very good example of that would be the original Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 line, the Z80 business computers. Those became rather successful on many markets, perhaps mostly in the US. Over here, one company held the agenture and basically waited two years for the computer to sell itself, which never happened. Then another importer took over, and tried the opposite tactic, a massive campaign to translate documentation and software, even write their own software inspired by how Datatronic had become something on a market leader in the business segment with their Commodore PET line. However it costs a lot of money and time to translate and even more develop new software, so that effort also never took off. IIRC there was a third agenture simply trying to market and sell the TRS-80 as they were, with CP/M software but at that point the competition had got more fierce, not only PET but also Apple II on the professional market, possibly with the IBM PC around the corner even. If the first agenture had put more money and efforts into marketing the TRS-80 line from the start, it may have made an impact even over here, but as it didn't work that way, the TRS-80 barely is a parenthesis in the history of computer models sold in Sweden.


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#32 atarian63 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:19 PM

Just a few points here.

Atari was selling the Atari 400 (complete with worst keyboard ever on a personal computer) at over $500 where the VIC-20 was under $300($200?) and the TS-1000 was $150(?) at intro. Atari had been gaining market share up to that point but lost market share afterwards.

Computer sales didn't have to outstrip console sales, they just had to reduce them and force console makers to reduce their prices as well. 
I remember when I was young some of my friend's parents told their kids they could have a computer OR a videogame for Christmas.
Most parents aren't made of money and there was a recession around 1982.  Some kids had to have picked the computer.

Fully functional computers were a console and a cassette deck at that time.  People wanted a printer and a disk drive but they could buy that later and that was another expenditure that kept some people from buying a games console or games for a console they already had.  

When people started playing games at home, not everyone stopped playing in the arcade.  Arcade machines still looked and sounded better, had better controls and there was a social aspect to it.  But how many arcades are left now?  There isn't an arcade anywhere close to me and there used to be arcades all over around here.  I know of a handful of decent sized arcades withing a 4 hour drive of me.  The local bars each have a couple touch screen machines with games for adults but that's about it.
Even local grocery stores and restaurants don't have a single game .  They might have movie/game rental kiosks instead or nothing.
When people started buying computers, some of them already had game consoles and some still bought game consoles.  Not everyone just ditched the consoles.
Over time, popularity for gaming has switched back and forth between consoles and computers but now there are also tablets and smart phones.
Every new generation has an impact on the last generation.
 

The important thing here is the market was and still is driven by the capabilities of the products and their prices.  

There was no instant migration but the next best thing cut into the sales of the last best thing, not just in units sold but in profits.
As the new next best thing is introduced, the last best thing drops in price, number of sales as does it's profits.

But hey, that's just the way I see it.

atari 400 was innovative for kids and 1st time users at the time. Vic 20 had little to no software and virtually no where to buy it



#33 desiv OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:26 PM

Though regularly repeated, there's really very little evidence that people bought computers for their kids instead of game consoles. The numbers just don't bare that out,

Which numbers are those?
I'd be seriously interested, it felt like it was happening a fair amount when I was growing up..
I know it happened in our household, then again, 1 is a pretty bad number to base a trend on.. ;-)

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#34 Great Hierophant OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:16 PM

Wrong, Atari 800xl was pc of the year in 85 due to it's new low price(invertory dumping) and from 85-89 Atari ST was very succesful besting Amiga 2 to 1. PC's we just starting at the consumer level,and really did not take off till 87 and after. Apple II seemed to be floundering,C64 was hurt by the St and later the Amiga.

 

That kind of proves my point that the 8-bit line was dead or dying when people are picking the then-discontinued 800XL up at firesale prices and the software made for the system shrunk by 50% in 85 and would shrink again by 50% in 86.  The Atari ST's performance to the Amiga, in relative terms, was still a drop in the bucket compared with the other systems mentioned.  



#35 atarian63 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:28 PM

That kind of proves my point that the 8-bit line was dead or dying when people are picking the then-discontinued 800XL up at firesale prices and the software made for the system shrunk by 50% in 85 and would shrink again by 50% in 86.  The Atari ST's performance to the Amiga, in relative terms, was still a drop in the bucket compared with the other systems mentioned.

I would agree it was shrinking but not at the rates you mention, I was an Atari dealer at this time and this big drop off was in 87. home pc's (IBM Clones) really werent moving alot till 87, the Days of Vendex, Packard Bell,Epson etc not to mention the rise of all the crap clones in computer shopper and these were primarily only Turbo XT models with cruddy CGA/Mono,sure you could buy an EGA card and during that year 8 bit vga cards arrived (good for stills and not tons more,certainly not arcade games)goofy dos memory settings, oddball sound cards as there was was not really quite a standard yet.
In 86 C64's were being dumped (as in traded in to us in large numbers) folks going to an ST or PC and sometime Amiga, Yes some Atari 8 bits but most held onto them.

Edited by atarian63, Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:28 PM.


#36 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:58 PM

atari 400 was innovative for kids and 1st time users at the time. Vic 20 had little to no software and virtually no where to buy it

Seems to me the VIC20 was available mail order.  Honestly, I even bought my CoCo that way because it saved around $100.



#37 atarian63 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:54 AM

Seems to me the VIC20 was available mail order.  Honestly, I even bought my CoCo that way because it saved around $100.

it was, those were the great days of mail order, we had Electronic One here in my town,they had tons of stuff, that was the best part of computer mags of the day, reading all the stuff that you could get!



#38 CatPix ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:17 PM

The biggest thing that happened in the mid 85 was the transition from 8 bits to 16/32 bits.

 

How does this explain anything?

 

Well, by the fact that in the early 80's, almost everyone could make a 8 bits computer and make it a success; and this worked for many countries, the most famous one being England of course.

But even for France/French market, I can throw a dozen different computer that got some success market.

 

Because of the huge market, things like Z80 processor and 64Ko of RAM were cheap enough for anyone to make a little computer.

When the 16/32 bits era came, the market had matured. From there in Europe, Commodore, Amstrad and Sinclair were the leaders in 8 bits computers, with Atari being noticed (as well at the MSX).

 

But, neither Sinclair nor Amstrad had the financial power to make a step in the 16/32 bits era; and smaller companies (or big companies like Thomson were the computer department was just a look in the market) obviously had fewer chances.

When the Amiga and Atari ST hit the market, Amstrad just kept selling their CPC and made the improved Plus line of 8 bits computers, as well as the Spectrum, since they knew they had no chance to compete in that bit war.

 

Ironically at the end of the 80's, the success of the Master System and NES made Atari, Commodore and Amstrad trying to empty their shelves by repackaging their old 8 bits systems into gaming consoles.



#39 Robot2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:14 PM

I had an IBM 386 and it was amazing. Compared to other systems it was like a dream. 40 meg harddrive. You could write a dozen damn novels on this thing. DOS. QBASIC. PASCAL. DOSSHELL. Quicken (I guess). Hell, it even made greeting cards and printed them on dot matrix awesome. It wasn't tacky back then to have computer-printed cards. It was the future and it was free.

 

Plus, you could get shareware discs and free copies of games from friends. Probably got it in 88-89. Showed it's age by '92, but functioned well into 1998. It broke with the Y2K. 



#40 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:19 PM

Things seemed pretty hunky dorey to me.  Dell started.  Amiga was introduced.  Windows came out.  About the only thing doomed was Apple (Jobs left).



#41 barnieg OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:18 PM

Amstrad were doing extremely well with the PC range from what I have read. I think they missed a trick in merging the CPC successors with PC compatibles, with some out of the box thinking they could have built a CPC+ which operated in Z80 mode and an enhanced PC mode - this might not have even needed 2 cpu's. By the time the plus range were released Amstrad could already see the rise of the ST & Amiga and from there own sales where the PC market was heading. 

 

 

 

The biggest thing that happened in the mid 85 was the transition from 8 bits to 16/32 bits.

 

But, neither Sinclair nor Amstrad had the financial power to make a step in the 16/32 bits era; and smaller companies (or big companies like Thomson were the computer department was just a look in the market) obviously had fewer chances.

When the Amiga and Atari ST hit the market, Amstrad just kept selling their CPC and made the improved Plus line of 8 bits computers, as well as the Spectrum, since they knew they had no chance to compete in that bit war.

 

Ironically at the end of the 80's, the success of the Master System and NES made Atari, Commodore and Amstrad trying to empty their shelves by repackaging their old 8 bits systems into gaming consoles.



#42 CatPix ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:29 AM

By the time the Plus range was released in 1990, it was too late to catch up.
Alan Sugar himself said later that Amstrad couldn't keep up with the market. Even if they did moderately well with their PC, it was always cheap PCs, selling 286 when the market moved to 386, and selling 386 when 486 was the big thing.

#43 barnieg OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:20 AM

They couldn't keep up with the market which is why some out of the box thinking would have helped, Also a cheap PC compatible but with hardware sprites and scrolling etc could have made a dent. 

 

The sales figures reported by Amstrad for their ranges were not bad as listed on

http://www.amstrad.c...hive/index.html

 

 

On the other hand I think Atari & Commodore getting into PC compatibles was a mistake and diverted from efforts to sell Amiga's & ST's

 

 

By the time the Plus range was released in 1990, it was too late to catch up.
Alan Sugar himself said later that Amstrad couldn't keep up with the market. Even if they did moderately well with their PC, it was always cheap PCs, selling 286 when the market moved to 386, and selling 386 when 486 was the big thing.


Edited by barnieg, Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:22 AM.


#44 BSA Starfire OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:09 AM

Well here in the UK the 8-bits lasted a long time. Of course the Speccy and 64 were the dominant 2 but even the Dragon 32/64 still had a magazine until 1989. And the Commodore Vic 20 was still going in 1985, lots of games were released, particularly the budget publisher Mastertronic.

 

wiki quote here:Dragon User was a British magazine for users of the Dragon 32/64 computers published from 1982 by Sunshine Publications. Production of the computers themselves had ceased by 1985 but the user community remained sufficiently active to justify the magazine's continuation until 1989.

 

The most common office machine I came across back in the late 80's early 90's was the Amstrad PCW, that was based on a Z80 cpu. wiki here for anyone interested: http://en.wikipedia....iki/Amstrad_PCW

 

I was a part time writer at the time, 87-94 or so and used a PCW 9512 with Locoscript for the entire time, it did everything I needed and was cheap and very reliable & came bundled with a good daisy wheel printer, a huge number of British authors used PCW. It also Ran CP/M 3.3 so loads of other software was available, even some great games like Batman, Head over Heals, Southern Bell and most of the Infocom text adventures.

I had an Atari ST for games and later a Amiga 500, but as for consoles, i never even played a NES or Sega. i wanted a NEC PC engine, but they were really expensive as grey imports. Only later in the 90's did my friends get Megadrive but by then the ST and Amiga were 8+ years old. It wasn't until the Playstation that I got a console again, the previous being a 2600 back in 1982.

Well this is purely from my own experience, but PC really didn't figure at all until the latter part of the 90's round here, the big hotels etc were still using mini-computers(my dad was a hotel manager at that time) of late 70's early 80's vintage. They ran a info system on a Tatung Einstein(another Z80 8-bit machine) until at least 1995. This was a THF 5* hotel.

But anyway, the UK market was ruled by tapes, not carts(too expensive) or discs(drives too expensive), almost the exact opposite of the USA. for that reason whatever had cheap, fast and fairly reliable tape loading with a large numbers of cheap games won. The BBC micro was probably the best micro available, but at £400 and being "uncool" as it was the school computer it never had much presence at home, shame as it was probably the "cream of the crop" of the 8-bits.



#45 The Usotsuki OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:08 AM

Heh, a friend and I were just talking last night about how well a system with an 8 MHz V20, a V9938 (MSX2 video controller) and a YM2149 or two would have done in their time. xD



#46 carlsson ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:12 AM

Well, I remember one (US) price comparison of XT clones in 1987'ish, an the Atari PC whichever its model number is, came out as the cheapest on the market, better priced than all the noname brands at pretty much the same specs regarding CPU, memory, drives, graphics. Also I seem to recall reading that Commodore's PC section was quite profitable, perhaps even making up for some of the loss in other sections for a couple of years.

 

The idea of expanding the semi-standard IBM PC with additional, sometimes proprietary hardware was of course tried. Perhaps the best known examples would be the PCjr and Tandy 1000 series. I can't recall if the Tandy 1000 was sold in Europe, otherwise it could have made sense for e.g. Amstrad to produce it on license. I know that in Germany/Austria, Schneider produced the CPC on license (?) and later made their own EuroPC. Although I used to own a broken one for a short period of time, I can't recall without looking it up if it had any custom hardware or just was another XT clone in all-in-one form factor. I'm not sure that Amstrad & Schneider cooperating with Tandy would have made a lot of difference on the home computer market in Europe as a whole though, perhaps if they managed to price the computers right.

 

With the risk of getting off-topic into the "what if" land, I've entertained the idea that Commodore instead of developing the CBM-II a.k.a. B-series to follow up the CBM/PET professional computers, right from the beginning in 1982 had made a CP/M, later on IBM PC compatible computer with a PET expansion card. That beast could've run the best of both CP/M or MS-DOS software, and the existing PET catalogue. Of course they had the CBM 9000 in the works before the Amiga project was acquired, so a regular PC clone being backwards compatible with the PET possibly would have messed up the road map for where the company was heading, besides the 8-bit home computers (VIC, C64). It is possible that the custom chipset from the Amiga could've been a PC expansion board. Whether that had been a better, cheaper or more smooth transition for 8-bit users than what actually happened is hard to tell, but the idea of having a 286 that both could run 6502 software and having some of the graphics and sound capacities of the Amiga...



#47 Seob OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:59 AM

In 8 bit terms specaking we had the odd ball system back then. Our first and only homecomputer was bought in 1987 and waa a schneider cpc464. Only 1 person i knew had it. Then we moved on to the pc with a philips brand 286 computer.
The commodore pc brand was also pretty big back then. The first pc i came in tough with was a commodore pc1. I recently boughr a commodore pc 10, but it is broke.
Consoles didn't really sell that good back then. They where bought by richer people who could affort to buy a system only dedicated to gaming only. When it was pretty common for people to have a computer at home, consoles sold better here in the Netherlands.

#48 BSA Starfire OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:49 AM

Amstrad did make some pc clones in the 80's, the PC1512 wiki here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PC1512 but it didn't ship with a printer or word processor like the PCW's. so worked out more expensive(by quite a bit!), so no real advantage. for games an ST(£299 for 520STFM bundle) was way cheaper and better, for normal business use the PCW had bundled software and a printer for £100 less than the mono PC 1512. 



#49 Major Havoc 2049 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 16, 2013 12:18 AM

 

Though regularly repeated, there's really very little evidence that people bought computers for their kids instead of game consoles. The numbers just don't bare that out, so it was clearly not a major contributing factor to The Great Videogame Crash. Both markets suffered similarly and both markets pared down to fewer and fewer participants. It was simply more obvious on the videogame side because the stakes were higher and the numbers bigger, but there was very little cross-talk in terms of buying one or the other. If you wanted a console, you got a console, if you wanted a computer, you got a computer. Some got some combination of both.

In the US, the vast majority of the video gaming public from 1983 - 1985 went from the Atari 2600 to the Commodore 64.  Ya, there were other players, but those were the platforms that had the majority of the mind share of the video game public.  Almost all the game developers that were heavy into the 2600, Intellivision and Colecovision went under, while many computer game developers that were into the C-64, 400/800/XL and Apple II thrived during that time. 



#50 Seob OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:25 AM

By the time the Plus range was released in 1990, it was too late to catch up.
Alan Sugar himself said later that Amstrad couldn't keep up with the market. Even if they did moderately well with their PC, it was always cheap PCs, selling 286 when the market moved to 386, and selling 386 when 486 was the big thing.

Well they released the amstrad mega pc a hybrite 386/megadrive system. And recalling the price when i was in the UK at that time it was expensive. So they didn't release cheap pcs only. Wish to have one but they are way to expensive now.




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