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Disappointments in Classic Computing -- (Your stories here)


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#1 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:14 PM

I'll start off with my recent one..

 

Someone liked something I had done, so they initiated a barter offer in exchange for a limited quantity.   So I spent the next couple of days, making them, using my supplies and mailing them off.  They are EXACTLY as pictured, in fact they look like originals... the only thing, they need to be attached differently than what the individual assumed. The method needed would only cost the person $1.50 of which they would only use less than .25 cents of the product and it would functionally behave NO DIFFERENTLY than what he originally assumed.  So now I'm out my time, effort and supplies.

 

The person offered to send them back, but what would I use them for?  I think I'm done doing things for people.  Stuff like this has happened before, and I'm done wasting my time and eating the associated costs, no matter how much it is.  It sure is discouraging.  It makes me wonder how many others no longer help others and how it affects the hobby.



#2 Ransom OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:40 PM

Sorry that happened to you. Commerce is tough all by itself, but route it through email and there's bound to be all kinds of additional troubles. :(

I've had some bad experiences, too. That's why I have a huge stack of stuff I don't want any more, but I have yet to sell it to anyone. Some day I'll bite the bullet, but every time I think about it, I think, "Nah, I don't need the trouble."

I know, 99% of the time it all works out. But that 1% can be really bad sometimes.

#3 John_L OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:33 PM

Back in 1980 when IBM released the IBM PC, it was the calling card everyone was waiting for.  IBM was virtually synonymous with computers before the home computer revolution hit, therefore, the general public was sort of waiting for IBM to jump in the game because they figured IBM, if anyone, knew computers better.  In certain respects, that was true, but the home computer was alot different than big huge mainframes, and  in reality, The early companies like Tandy, Apple, and Commodore were miles ahead of IBM.  IBM put out a workhorse, because that's what they were used to doing, but as a personal computer, it sucked, and took the better part of 7 years before architecture matured to the point where it was a decent computer, and another 7 or 8 years before graphics and sound fully developed.

 

What this did was kill the likes of Commodore, who had an amazing computer with the Amiga line, Tandy with their I/III/IV, II/12,16, and Color Computer line, and the lower end of Apple's line.  The only survivor still made today is the Macintosh line(s).  

 

My big disappointment was seeing the death of all these other systems.  There was a worry that when IBM finally released a PC that it would take over the market weather it was a good machine or not, and that's what eventually happened.  I wonder what would have been if the sleeping elephant hadn't rolled over.and these other systems would  have been allowed to mature.  



#4 wood_jl OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:02 PM


My original Atari 400 only had 8K. The guy I bought it from (it was brand new; he didn't keep it long) said it was 16K. I didn't know RAM from ROM (I was 10), and he said that it had 16K when the BASIC cartridge was plugged in, since there was 8K (of ROM) in that. So I believed I had a 16K machine.

Then I ordered "Frogger" (an excellent conversion, BTW) on cassette from mail order. It required 16K. Of course, it would load to a point (after a long time at slow Atari cassette speed) and then crap out. That was disappointing, to the extreme. I had to throw newspapers for *months* before I could get enough money for a memory upgrade. I decided to go all the way to 48K, and that was $190 (installed) in 1981.

After I got the RAM upgrade, I could play Frogger, but the machine kept blowing the fuse in the power supply, as the new RAM was too energy-hungry. Of course, I didn't know there was a fuse inside the power supply. I took it to the shop and they told me my power supply was bad, as the machine would work (for a time) with another power supply. So I bought (at great cost) another power supply. It worked for a time, then the same. Bought another. After some more time passed, it happened again. That was disappointing

I had been saving up for an Atari 800 anyway. I wanted the flagship model of Atari computer. After more than a year of saving (and buying power supplies), the 800 started to come with 48K *standard* from the factory. QUOTE: "We tripled the memory without touching the price."

So I put an 800 on "Lay-Away" (or my parents did; that's where the store used to hold it for you as you made payments and you get it in the end when you pay it off). Finally! Reliable 48K machine!!!! Real keyboard!!! Top-of-the-line FLAGSHIP!!!! Very shortly thereafter, the 1200XL came out as the new flagship with 64K. I didn't stay on top for very long. Disappointing! 1980-1983 dollars were not only hard to come by, but worth a multiple of what a dollar is worth today.

#5 Algus OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:31 PM

Back in 1980 when IBM released the IBM PC, it was the calling card everyone was waiting for.  IBM was virtually synonymous with computers before the home computer revolution hit, therefore, the general public was sort of waiting for IBM to jump in the game because they figured IBM, if anyone, knew computers better.  In certain respects, that was true, but the home computer was alot different than big huge mainframes, and  in reality, The early companies like Tandy, Apple, and Commodore were miles ahead of IBM.  IBM put out a workhorse, because that's what they were used to doing, but as a personal computer, it sucked, and took the better part of 7 years before architecture matured to the point where it was a decent computer, and another 7 or 8 years before graphics and sound fully developed.

 

What this did was kill the likes of Commodore, who had an amazing computer with the Amiga line, Tandy with their I/III/IV, II/12,16, and Color Computer line, and the lower end of Apple's line.  The only survivor still made today is the Macintosh line(s).  

 

My big disappointment was seeing the death of all these other systems.  There was a worry that when IBM finally released a PC that it would take over the market weather it was a good machine or not, and that's what eventually happened.  I wonder what would have been if the sleeping elephant hadn't rolled over.and these other systems would  have been allowed to mature.  

 

Even Macintosh is "IBM Compatible" now ;) 

 

There are some new(ish) Amigas out there if you are willing to pay through the nose to get them.   They still use PowerPC too.   It's probably good that everything is standardized but I can't help but feel something has been lost now that all computer manufacturers build to the same specifications and platforms.   



#6 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:50 PM

Amiga 500 and 1000. I bought into each of these machines expecting better-than-arcade graphics. And with the 500 the salesperson said I could do Babylon 5 graphics just like the show. Imagine that in $500 computer system!! I absolutely could not wait till I bought the rig home. I was practically in a state of orgasm. Ridiculous. But I was beyond excited! Imagine playing flight simulator with the ships and making space battle movies.

 

I got the rig all set up and went through the process of learning the Workbench and KickStart; BUT WHERE WERE THE GRAPHICS AND GAMES?? I quickly learned none of it was realtime, that big co-processors were required, megs upon megs of ram, and special video cards - none of which would fit into a 500.

 

And then there was the vaporware. Ridiculous promises and nothing to show for it. I was dismayed and forever learned to hate the platform.

---

 

More in-line and realistic disappointments were watching and seeing other systems develop and not the Apple II. This of course was in the very late 1980's. No more hardware was being made, no more peripherals.. A sad time.

 

I was also dismayed that no boards (or expansion options) provided for custom chips for the 2 series. Where there were some one-off gigs like the Sprite card and Arcade card, nothing ever caught on. There was the Mockingboard, but that felt like a tacky add-on. It worked, but Applesoft BASIC (naturally) had no built-in interface to it.



#7 roland p OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:44 AM

Keeatah, aren't you just naive, believing that sales man that an amiga 500 could do babylon 5 graphics?
Babylon 5 aired in 1994, so the amiga was around for 9 years already.
Blame the salesman instead, not that poor amiga.

My dissapointment: The atari falcon got a cool dsp and 16bit sound. The amiga 1200/4000 only got some upgraded graphics/processor. Besides, it missed the grunt to do 3d graphics like pc could do at that time. It should have some playstation like graphics to stay ahead.

Edited by roland p, Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:50 AM.


#8 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:22 AM

I suppose yes. Maybe some day I'll come around and see something good. I am getting into Amiga, a little, through emulation. When it came to the 16-bit machines after the Apple II I was ohh so very green. I think the true disappointment was working on the machine with only 1 or 2 floppies, and no HDD. And lack of pirate warez buddies - thus no endless supply of gamez.



#9 Britishcar OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:35 AM

I have to go with a simple one: The stock BASIC in a TI-99/4A, dead dog slow and no (easy?) way to PEEK, POKE or otherwise supplement with machine language routines. I enjoyed learning BASIC on it early on and it did have some very nice features but weird, weird limitations such as only one statement per line and you're always in that light blue background with black text. Your eyes would faze out after a while looking at it.

 

Arg.



#10 am1933 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:48 AM

The Mattel Aquarius-need I say more?



#11 bkrownd OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:57 AM

My original Atari 400 only had 8K. The guy I bought it from (it was brand new; he didn't keep it long) said it was 16K. I didn't know RAM from ROM (I was 10), and he said that it had 16K when the BASIC cartridge was plugged in, since there was 8K (of ROM) in that. So I believed I had a 16K machine.

 

Timex tried to trick people like that, advertising RAM+ROM numbers.  Was it the norm at the time? 



#12 Seob OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:46 AM

When we finaly bought our first homecomputer we bought a cpc-464 because a friend of mine had loads of software for it that i could borrow. But when we got it home, i could only borrow one game from him and nothing more. And since it was a real underdog system it was hard to find anything in the shops for it near my place.

#13 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:17 AM

I suppose I have two:

 

1. Growing up with an Atari 400.  The 400 was a nice computer, but it couldn't support a disk drive (well not without an expensive 48K upgrade that I didnt know about and couldn't afford anyway).  The tape drive was serviceable but SLOW and unreliable.  Loading a game of Jumpman took almost 10 minutes (plus however many times it failed), which is an eternity to a kid.

 

2. After getting an Apple IIe for Christmas 1986, I played mostly pirated games from my next door neighbor (he was a pretty notorious pirate and had just about everything).  By the time I was old enough to have my 'own money' to buy games, I found out that the Apple II was being discontinued (this was about 1990-91) so there were very few new games to be had.  Of course the few that there were were all top notch (Prince of Persia was probably my favorite from that time period), but it would have been nice to have more selection.  A few years later I managed to get several titles out of various bargain bins, including my all time favorite Apple II game: Wasteland.



#14 wood_jl OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:31 PM

The Atari 400 managed to turn off a LOT of people that would have stayed with the Atari8 line.   If they would have put a normal keyboard on it and made the RAM expandable, I think the Atari Computers would have done significantly better.  I knew of a few kids with 400s in Jr. High school, and used to trade cartridges regularly.  Nobody had a disk drive yet, and everybody hated the speed of the 410 cassette.

 

Then after tiring of the keyboard - and not being able to have enough RAM to run a disk drive, they'd have to upgrade.  It was just like starting over.  I chose the Atari 800, but practically everybody else chose Apple II (since we had them at school) or Commodore 64 (because C64/disk drive combo was so much cheaper than 800/disk drive combo).

 

I knew almost nobody with an Atari computer for the first half of high school.  For the second half, the Atari ST came out and since it was cheap, I did (suprisingly) run into some people with it.  It was at least nice to know a few people that used Atari computers, once again.



#15 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:52 PM

Timex tried to trick people like that, advertising RAM+ROM numbers.  Was it the norm at the time? 

 

Maybe among cheap systems. But with quality systems there was no need to that sort of trickery. Come to think of it I don't recall any advertisements combining RAM + ROM as the total memory. They always advertised the RAM and that was it.

 

Typically in the S-100 bus days, you would get a separate count for each type of memory. Then as the consumer market took off they just advertised RAM, with a footnote of the ROM capacity.

 

More importantly (and never advertised) was the actual number of bytes available to a user. C64 has of course 64K memory with ~38K available to the user via BASIC. The Apple II lost about 10K when DOS was loaded.

 

On another note: A shame that the Atari 400 was considered lousy because of the keyboard. I never found it to be that bad. I don't know of anyone actually being turned off the 8-bit line by it. Rather it was a prick-tease for the real deal. And an incentive to upgrade. For playing Star Raiders and other games is was perfectly acceptable. And quite a bit more attractive and futuristic looking compared to the 800. Well you may disagree - but I liked it.

 

I will agree I was the only kid in town with the 400/800 rigs. Everyone else had Apple II and C-64. The rich kids with smart and professional parents had Apple II, and the factory worker parents' kids had the C64.


Edited by Keatah, Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:55 PM.


#16 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:04 PM

I never had a problem with the 400 keyboard, but then again I didn't do much programming on it being so young (I was around 5-6 when we got the computer).  I think my parents said they purposely got the 400 over the 800 because of that keyboard.  They were afraid I'd spill something in it (and they were probably right).  



#17 Ripdubski OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:54 PM

I bought my Atari 800 with a grocery bagger job part time at 13.  Needless to say the amount of money required was hard to come by for a kid back then.  Seems like I was in it for $900 all said and done.  It came with 16K ram.  I had the 410 because I could barely afford the computer much more the 810.  Imagine my disappointment 4 months later when Atari started shipping it with 48K (and I thought the price went down too).



#18 bkrownd OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:30 PM

 

Maybe among cheap systems. But with quality systems there was no need to that sort of trickery. Come to think of it I don't recall any advertisements combining RAM + ROM as the total memory. They always advertised the RAM and that was it.

 

Here's an example - 72k= 48k RAM+ 24k ROM

 

timex2068.jpg



#19 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:14 PM

Yep. One of those cheap-o systems.



#20 jhd OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:33 PM

My biggest diappointment was getting a Coco. In about 1983, I sold my Atari 2600 and took some additional money from my savings account to get it. It was about Cdn$550 on sale, and it included a free game cartridge and a pair of joysticks. About a year later, my parents paid for the 64K RAM upgrade as a birthday gift.

 

I chose the Coco mainly because I had used the Model III in (elementary) school, and Radio Shack stores were everywhere. There was a RS Computer Centre nearby that had very good salesmen :roll:

 

Alas, there was almost no support at retail, other than Radio Shack -- and their selection of software was never great. Only one small store in a nearby city sold Coco software at retail; the owner dropped support in about 1985 or 1986 and he then became an Atari ST dealer.

 

I was also upset at the almost total absence of RPGs on the system (I did have Dungeon's of Daggorath). I vividly recall the ads for Bard's Tale, and seeing that it was ported to virtually every system EXCEPT the Coco.

 

Amongst my friends and classmates, most had C-64s or Vic 20s; only two aquaintances had a Coco (we shared a few games) and one fellow had an MC-10.



#21 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:09 PM

I will say this about the Apple II, it had more than it's fair share of RPGs (very few didn't get ported).  I was very happy about that as a kid.  Too bad they stopped porting AD&D Gold Box games after the first three, even the C64 got the next three.



#22 John_L OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 31, 2014 12:13 AM

 

Even Macintosh is "IBM Compatible" now ;)

 

Can't even really say "IBM compatible" anymore since IBM doesn't make desktops, and hasn't for a long time.  Eventually  "Wintel" sort of won out with Microsoft and Intel driving the market, and at that, not even that is a big deal.

 

 

Windows based PC sales have been flat while Apple is enjoying 30 percent increases in sales compared to years past.  The behemoth iPhone has carried so much weight, alot of PC users are buying Macs these days because the huge software base that MS-DOS, then Windows had isn't as big a deal anymore.  People "realize" these days why they own a computer.  Back then, people bought one because everyone else was buying one, so gee, better get one too, even though they had less of an idea what to do with it back then.  Now, people have "grown up" with computers, and know what they want out of them, and you can get it Weather you're running Linux, Windows, OS X, or whatever.  The Amiga is starting what could become a big comeback for them, Apple is selling Macs hand over fist, and a good number of people fed up with Microsoft run Linux.  Microsoft is loosing their grip on the market.  They had a big piece of the mobile market before Apple came along and scooped it out from under them.  One bright spot is that MS did a good job with WIndows Phone OS.  Windows Mobile sucked, and although it took a few years, they did ok with it.  Unfortunately for them, it didn't translate into the PC market very well because they wrote a touch screen interface for people who own mice, and WIn 8 sucks.   



#23 Gamemoose OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 31, 2014 2:50 PM

My biggest diappointment was getting a Coco. In about 1983, I sold my Atari 2600 and took some additional money from my savings account to get it. It was about Cdn$550 on sale, and it included a free game cartridge and a pair of joysticks. About a year later, my parents paid for the 64K RAM upgrade as a birthday gift.
 
I chose the Coco mainly because I had used the Model III in (elementary) school, and Radio Shack stores were everywhere. There was a RS Computer Centre nearby that had very good salesmen :roll:
 
Alas, there was almost no support at retail, other than Radio Shack -- and their selection of software was never great. Only one small store in a nearby city sold Coco software at retail; the owner dropped support in about 1985 or 1986 and he then became an Atari ST dealer.
 
I was also upset at the almost total absence of RPGs on the system (I did have Dungeon's of Daggorath). I vividly recall the ads for Bard's Tale, and seeing that it was ported to virtually every system EXCEPT the Coco.
 
Amongst my friends and classmates, most had C-64s or Vic 20s; only two aquaintances had a Coco (we shared a few games) and one fellow had an MC-10.


Thing with the CoCo, a lot of software was mail order back then for tape and disk. Sure Radio Shack had what they distributed in their stores (or could order in for you from their catalog) but the "good stuff" were advertised in Hot CoCo and Rainbow magazine. I can't recall what RPGs were available but they were out there.

#24 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:14 PM

I suppose yes. Maybe some day I'll come around and see something good. I am getting into Amiga, a little, through emulation. When it came to the 16-bit machines after the Apple II I was ohh so very green. I think the true disappointment was working on the machine with only 1 or 2 floppies, and no HDD. And lack of pirate warez buddies - thus no endless supply of gamez.

Just for the heck of it, maybe try these Amiga OCS games and see what you think of them:

- Hybris

- Rodland

- Assassin SE

- Stardust

- Pinball Dreams

- Vital Light



#25 jhd OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 31, 2014 4:26 PM

Thing with the CoCo, a lot of software was mail order back then for tape and disk. Sure Radio Shack had what they distributed in their stores (or could order in for you from their catalog) but the "good stuff" were advertised in Hot CoCo and Rainbow magazine. I can't recall what RPGs were available but they were out there.

 

Yes, I eventually discovered (and subscribed to) Hot Coco; I only ever saw a handful of issues of Rainbow as it had no newsstand distribution locally.

 

The challenge was that as a young teenager, I did not have very much disposable income. Since all of the software vendors were located in the United States, the exchange rate added some 20% to the base cost, and there was also shipping charges and customs duties. It was just not a viable option for me. 

 

I did get a Coco disk drive, and I migrated to a (Tandy) PC in 1988. 






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