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Disappointments in Classic Computing -- (Your stories here)


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#26 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:22 PM

I thought the CoCo was awesome even with the chicklet keyboard on the original F board; but no denying the available software for the Atari 400/800, the VIC and then later the emerging C64 were definitely more colourful and soundful ;)

 

I was fortunate to be in a Computer Club with a lot of interesting folk including some very advanged engineers; we shared a "library" of all the CoCo software ever produced which prompted me to upgrade to a Disk drive, since it was all on disk :)

 

I had an opportunity to take a Timex-Sinclair ZX-81 out of the library and found it intriguing and cool looking - really tiny sleek machine!

 

I had an early PET with the tapedec built in and that was ablast too :)

 

 

I remember around the mid 80's sears started advertising the Atari 800xl as > 64k and I did a double take, just like that Sinclair ad. We all saw this technique again in the 90's with the drives; reasoning that 1k is 1000 and not 1024 HDD MFR's would inflate the spec - it's still debated I think.

 

Disappointments hmmm... DAK sent me a Gorilla Bannana printer - was a lemon, fortunately they exchanged it for a working Bananna :) Whatever happened to them? The DAK guy could really write up the tech to make you want everything, great talent.

 

Breaking the PET and one of my CoCo's was disappointing because I ruined some awesome hardware trying to connect the PET monitor to the CoCo - almost got it but the signal was compressed at the top of the screen.



#27 The Usotsuki OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:39 PM

Salesman's units, I call them.



#28 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 1, 2014 12:32 AM

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


If they work on Win UAE I'll give them a looksee..

In the meantime it is somewhat difficult to find disappointments with classic computers. Everything was new then, and we weren't sure what to expect. And in order to experience a disappointment you must have some expectation. Like when I learned of Print Shop.. Today it would be considered a tedious mess, but back then I used it to print millions of banners and signs and made money off the neighbors by doing so. And I thought it was the cat's ass of desktop publishing!

#29 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 1, 2014 12:43 AM

If they work on Win UAE I'll give them a looksee..

... back then I used it to print millions of banners and signs 

 

 Where old technology had an advantage!  That continuous tractor feed paper was great.  Try making a decent banner now days with single sheet printers.  Hell, I don't know if they even make banner software anymore!  Do they?



#30 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 1, 2014 9:09 AM

 

 Where old technology had an advantage!  That continuous tractor feed paper was great.  Try making a decent banner now days with single sheet printers.  Hell, I don't know if they even make banner software anymore!  Do they?

Yeah it was awesome for code listings too, you could print a Scroll and wind it like one to carry it around :)



#31 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 1, 2014 10:52 AM

Initially I was disappointed in the lack of colors on the Color Computer 2 (after all, it WAS called a Color Computer). The Atari 8-bit machines were always so much more impressive.

 

Later though, I actually started to like the CoCo a lot. The Diecom games were really neat and the speech/sound cartridge was pretty cool too. Another thing that helped was the DIN-to-9-pin D-shell converter that allowed me to use conventional Atari joysticks on the Color Computer.

 

Once I found the better games like Buzzard Bait, Marble Maze, Cashman, Shock Trooper, and a ton of text/graphic adventures, I was really happy with it as a machine. Plus, the 6809 was a good CPU to program on.

 

 

My other disappointment was the graphics and sound on the first PC I had (a turbo XT). We spent extra to get an EGA card for it, and the graphics were still pretty underwhelming. Again though, the more time I spent with it, the more I appreciated what it was strong at (CAD, directory structures, word processing, spreadsheets, and -- of course -- Sierra games like Thexder and Space Quest II). 

 

 

When I first saw a Commodore 64, the person who showed it to me made the mistake of loading up Forbidden Forest. I thought the graphics in that game were crap. Now if he'd loaded something like Impossible Mission or Satan's Hollow, I would have freaked out at how awesome a machine it actually was. Hence I never did own a C64 back in the day.

 

 

And lastly, I was disappointed in the lack of support for the Color Computer III. Thinking back now, with the Atari ST and Amiga available, there was no way the CoCo III could compete with machines like that (not for a lack of trying though).



#32 wongojack OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 1, 2014 11:15 AM

 

When I first saw a Commodore 64, the person who showed it to me made the mistake of loading up Forbidden Forest. I thought the graphics in that game were crap. Now if he'd loaded something like Impossible Mission or Satan's Hollow, I would have freaked out at how awesome a machine it actually was. Hence I never did own a C64 back in the day.

 

 

Gawd, Forbidden Forest looked awful.  I was a kid with a C64 at the time and played tons of games (some pirated and some not).  We got a collection of games that included FF, and I remember loading it and playing it for less than 2 minutes before deciding I never needed to look at it again.

 

I remember being disappointed with the first John Madden football game on C64.  Thinking back now, it seemed like a pre-cursor to what fantasy football is, but I didn't get it.  I wanted Mindscape to make Omni-Play/Superstar Football (which they never did), so I was pre-disposed not to like it.

 

As a more hardware related disappointment, the PC compatible "Turbo" button baffled me.  I don't know if anyone actually tried to sell me on it as a "go fast" feature, but I definitely did not understand it's purpose. And so, it seemed like a disappointment that it only really impacted compatibility (or whatever).



#33 bkrownd OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 1, 2014 12:55 PM

In the meantime it is somewhat difficult to find disappointments with classic computers. Everything was new then, and we weren't sure what to expect. And in order to experience a disappointment you must have some expectation.

 

  Hah - it wasn't difficult to be disappointed if your parents kept you years behind the curve.  We had the Atari 2600 into the 1990's, and something like a Colecovision was just a dream.  I had been using the Apple // in school for years before we finally got a clearanced Timex computer at home.  Disappointing is an understatement.  Then I got a pokey PC XT clone when 386 machines were coming out.  (unaffordable 386 machines, granted)  My entire 1980's computer experience was very stunted - I was always years behind the times.  Fortunately right after that I left home and was able to jump to Sun workstations.  ;)



#34 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 1, 2014 1:13 PM

Sounds more like a disappointment with home living arrangements as opposed to being upset with a specification or feature of a classic computer.

 

I remember playing with Eliza. And I was disappointed with how simple it was. I tried approaching and building conversations with it from many angles in hopes of eliciting more in-depth thought and commentary. No luck. Nevertheless the hype built-up in me made me keep a copy or two of it around. I vaguely recall trying to improve upon it. But I quickly realized that the methods I wanted to use were beyond the capacity of contemporary systems. Intelligence similar to K.I.T.T. or HAL-9000 would have to wait.



#35 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 1, 2014 4:37 PM

 

I remember playing with Eliza.

 

I remember as kid, (with adolescent humor intact), getting a kick out of Eliza on the TRS-80 Model 1.  If you typed the words, 'I cut the cheese.' and then 'I just farted.' in the next entry, it would reply with something like, "It does smell in here" or something like that.  I don't remember Eliza coming out for the TI-99/4A, if it did, I never knew about it. 

 

Hammurabi was another text interactive program on the Trash-80 that I liked.



#36 Charlie_ OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 1, 2014 5:44 PM

Yeah it was awesome for code listings too, you could print a Scroll and wind it like one to carry it around  :)

I had the TP-10 thermal printer for my MC-10. I used it a lot on my coco too... I had all these mini scrolls all over the place from all the program listings I would print out.

Great thing about that little printer (I still have it) is that it would print 32 column, the same as the coco screen.

 

** edit. I had to take it out and print something :-p

I ran out of paper years ago, found some thermal fax paper and cut it to size on a lathe at my old job.

Printing Dungeon Crawl:

 

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Edited by Official Ninja, Fri Aug 1, 2014 5:55 PM.


#37 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 2, 2014 7:52 AM

I had a Tandy CoCo and I was disappointed in the color palette selection.
I had done my homework and was prepared for a lot of the limitations but I was caught off guard with how you only had two fixed color palettes.
I discovered color artifacting pretty quickly so that wasn't such a big deal but it was a bit dissappointing that I couldn't select which of the 9 colors to display in 4 color mode.

The other thing was RAM. Since the machine didn't have sprites I worked out double buffered animation that at least looked like the screen updated all at once. The frame rate was passable and I did some really impressive animation with it including some really large sprites over drawn backgrounds. But when I went to use it in a game, I kept running out of memory. Each hi-res screen takes 6K of RAM. When you double buffer that means you have used 12K before writing a single line of code. The text screen reserves 2K, BASIC takes a couple K for itself and the disk requires a buffer. So now you have taken up around 16K before writing a line of code. Software sprites that use the GET and PUT commands take string space. If you have several large animated sprites and preserve the background you are drawing over you have less than 8K remaining for code because the CoCo memory map only leaves 32K of RAM mapped for BASIC since the other half is reserved for ROM. Every time I started to get an interesting looking game I'd run out of RAM. Dropping to a lower resolution would save 4K of RAM but I couldn't use color artifacting and I still wouldn't have a complete game.

#38 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 2, 2014 10:22 AM

I had a Tandy CoCo and I was disappointed in the color palette selection.
I had done my homework and was prepared for a lot of the limitations but I was caught off guard with how you only had two fixed color palettes.
I discovered color artifacting pretty quickly so that wasn't such a big deal but it was a bit dissappointing that I couldn't select which of the 9 colors to display in 4 color mode.

The other thing was RAM. Since the machine didn't have sprites I worked out double buffered animation that at least looked like the screen updated all at once. The frame rate was passable and I did some really impressive animation with it including some really large sprites over drawn backgrounds. But when I went to use it in a game, I kept running out of memory. Each hi-res screen takes 6K of RAM. When you double buffer that means you have used 12K before writing a single line of code. The text screen reserves 2K, BASIC takes a couple K for itself and the disk requires a buffer. So now you have taken up around 16K before writing a line of code. Software sprites that use the GET and PUT commands take string space. If you have several large animated sprites and preserve the background you are drawing over you have less than 8K remaining for code because the CoCo memory map only leaves 32K of RAM mapped for BASIC since the other half is reserved for ROM. Every time I started to get an interesting looking game I'd run out of RAM. Dropping to a lower resolution would save 4K of RAM but I couldn't use color artifacting and I still wouldn't have a complete game.

 

Agree the lack of sprites was an issue of contention but the 6k hi-res screen would have been much larger if those were real colours instead of artifacts - that was a nice edge over real colour modes on other machines! :)

 

The semigraphics modes offered similar savings and IMO were under utilised - that 32x16 text screen was only 512 bytes which translated to a 64x32 9 colour semigraphics mode using only 512 bytes (not bad!) not 2k; the additional memory was reserved for the more awesome semigraphics modes (my favourite) not supported by the CoCo3.

 

Semigraphics and artifact colours are awesome ways to multiply the bitplane with no additional RAM requirements :)

 

They remind me of that 80's song:

 

You get your colours for nothing, get your bits for free...



#39 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 2, 2014 10:29 AM

I had the TP-10 thermal printer for my MC-10. I used it a lot on my coco too... I had all these mini scrolls all over the place from all the program listings I would print out.

Great thing about that little printer (I still have it) is that it would print 32 column, the same as the coco screen.

 

** edit. I had to take it out and print something :-p

I ran out of paper years ago, found some thermal fax paper and cut it to size on a lathe at my old job.

Printing Dungeon Crawl:

 

Awesome pic Official Ninja! :) I like the way that TP-10 has yellowed compared to the pristine white CoCo3 :)

Wish I still had mine, they never wear out! I replaced mine bitd with the four colour printerplotter that broke almost immediately - think it was also the same size/form factor with tiny paper.



#40 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 2, 2014 10:38 AM

 

I remember as kid, (with adolescent humor intact), getting a kick out of Eliza on the TRS-80 Model 1.  If you typed the words, 'I cut the cheese.' and then 'I just farted.' in the next entry, it would reply with something like, "It does smell in here" or something like that.  I don't remember Eliza coming out for the TI-99/4A, if it did, I never knew about it. 

 

Hammurabi was another text interactive program on the Trash-80 that I liked.

 

The Eliza parser was fantastic! :) I typed that program in and analysed it on a C64 - it inspired me to come up with the full sentence text parser for The Parlog Building in the 4th Rainbow Book of Adventures.



#41 Charlie_ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 2, 2014 10:41 AM

Awesome pic Official Ninja! :) I like the way that TP-10 has yellowed compared to the pristine white CoCo3 :)

Wish I still had mine, they never wear out! I replaced mine bitd with the four colour printerplotter that broke almost immediately - think it was also the same size/form factor with tiny paper.

Thanks! No idea why it turned so yellow.. The coco3 and MC-10 it was always hooked up to are still white as new! If it wasn't on the same table with them it was in its original box.



#42 kiwilove OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 7, 2014 7:15 PM

The biggest would be - having gotten a first place in a contest - with a project in which I did the graphics for.  Then for the prize money not to be paid out.

And not given any explanation or apology, etc etc.  Thank you ANALOG for destroying my dream.

I did use to rate ANALOG highly -but not any more.

 

After that I got rid of all my analog magazines (which I had subscribed to, for some years...) - bar one.

 

I can guess they got into financial trouble - which is understandable.  But at least they could have had the decency to owe up to it - and make an apology, etc...

 

Harvey



#43 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 8, 2014 10:33 AM

That reminds me....

 

There was a contest at a local mall in the mid 90s for a competition on a Star Trek : The Strategic Operations Simulator coin-op. Whoever got the high score would get the arcade machine.

 

My brother is a pro at that game, so I called him and excitedly told him all about it. Sadly, he couldn't make it there in time for the competition.

 

Later on though, I was informed that it had to be cancelled because the system board in the machine fried itself.

 

Hindsight being what it was, I regret not asking them what they planned to do with the machine and seeing if they'd sell it to me cheap. A year later, I found a great source for arcade machine parts. I now realize I could have fixed that beasty up nicely and had it running again.



#44 am1933 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 8, 2014 1:21 PM

 

 Where old technology had an advantage!  That continuous tractor feed paper was great.  Try making a decent banner now days with single sheet printers.  Hell, I don't know if they even make banner software anymore!  Do they?

I still use one sometimes, but the best one I ever used was this huge floor standing unit at college that I used for compliling COBOL programs, it used to spit out sheets worth of paper in the blink of an eye and sounded truly awesome.



#45 mos6507 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 8, 2014 1:42 PM

The selection of a home computer platform was pretty monumental as a kid.  It was a big purchase and you tended not to change platforms afterwards.  And every platform has its share of pros and cons.  It was just a sign of the times as each platform selected its own share of tradeoffs in order to package as much usability into something the average person could afford.  This is what set the stage for the paltform wars on BBSs, where everyone defended their purchase and struck low-blows to other platforms.

 

Being an Atari user, I was envious of software that was made for Apple or C= but not Atari.  I'd go into Lechmere where they had a computer rack and I'd be lucky to find one piece of Atari software.  If it was available for Atari, it wasn't on the shelves.  It was enough to give me quite the nerd inferiority complex.

 

Then I sat back and watched ANTIC go away and ANALOG switch to ST coverage and general computer mags generally ignore Atari and shift to PC and Mac coverage.

 

Then I remained so sentimental that I switched to an Amiga 1200 long after the Amiga had peaked, only to realize that despite its great multitasking it would crash at the drop of a hat.

 

Computer evolution isn't as exciting anymore, but the upside is it isn't fraught with so much disappointment.  You pretty much know what you're getting and what you're not.  The last time I was disappointed in computers was when I couldn't keep upgrading my AGP-based motherboard anymore.  My CPU was fast enough, but my graphics weren't, but everything had switched to PCI-express so I was forced to switch over.  I now have an ASUS motherboard with a 16x PCI and SATA6 which is already a few years old but it still feels contemporary enough, especially now that I have SSD in it.



#46 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 8, 2014 2:19 PM

Then I sat back and watched ANTIC go away and ANALOG switch to ST coverage and general computer mags generally ignore Atari and shift to PC and Mac coverage.
 
That was a depressing time for anyone I would imagine. Just different names and faces. For me it would have (obviously) been the Apple II, along with InCider & A+ and the closing of Compu-Shop, Computerland, and DataDomain. All great things which would be lost on today's facebooking "millenials" - to use a buzzword.
 
And yet, today, it is the PC along with MAC and various Linux incarnations that enable us through their prodigious storage capacities and processing speeds to relive the very machines they pushed out. Emulation. Storage of .PDF magazines, debuggers..
 

 

Computer evolution isn't as exciting anymore, but the upside is it isn't fraught with so much disappointment.  You pretty much know what you're getting and what you're not.  The last time I was disappointed in computers was when I couldn't keep upgrading my AGP-based motherboard anymore.  My CPU was fast enough, but my graphics weren't, but everything had switched to PCI-express so I was forced to switch over.  I now have an ASUS motherboard with a 16x PCI and SATA6 which is already a few years old but it still feels contemporary enough, especially now that I have SSD in it.

 

Today it appears to be more about operating system ergonomics and conventions. How things are carried out. The hardware side of things is becoming more and more abstracted.


Edited by Keatah, Fri Aug 8, 2014 2:23 PM.


#47 Seob OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 8, 2014 4:06 PM

An other disapointment i had back in the day, was when my parents visited friend in west-germany. They had a c64 with diskdrive. I finaly had the guts to ask if i could play games on it, only to find out i couldn't get any game to load, because i was used to the datasette and didn't know how to load from disk.

#48 MarkO OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 19, 2014 5:10 PM

The Coleco Adam......

( enough said )

MarkO

#49 R.Cade OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 19, 2014 5:42 PM

 

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.   

 

That's just not true.... Sorry.

 

http://www.netmarketshare.com/

 

Pick operating systems, desktop trend.  Macs have never been above a high 7%. They are moving down, not up...


Edited by R.Cade, Tue Aug 19, 2014 5:44 PM.


#50 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 19, 2014 6:46 PM

 

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.

 

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.

 

PC Compatible is so 80's and I don't mean that in a flattering way. Anyhow I remember my dad getting a PC "just because". Not being all that computer literate (tech), he went through a 286, 486, AMD K6-2, Pentium 4, and only recently got into the latest i3/5/7 models. It was a trying time from the late 80's till about 5 years ago when he found a practical-enough purpose for having one.

 

But with him still being technically challenged, they tended to collect dust. With the refinement and ease-of-use afforded by the iphone/ipad ecosphere he finally became comfortable and can now keep up with the most ADHD twitching, twerking, texting teen you've ever seen.

 

That's 5 generations of PC that failed. 5! And it took only 1 (or two depending how you look at it) generation of Apple product to make a non-tech "appear" competent. Well anyways, the user support questions posed to me dropped by 90% at least once Apple was embraced.


Edited by Keatah, Tue Aug 19, 2014 6:48 PM.

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