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ADAM and the MSX


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#26 Lynxpro OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:51 AM

 

I still don't think it would have made enough of a difference. It seems like the DOS/Wintel standard was inevitable. Arguably the one thing Atari and Commodore could have done was make IBM PC compatibility somehow standard within their systems and eventually transition to being the "best" PC makers once their platforms inevitably became no longer viable (let's just say with the release of Windows 95, for arguments sake). [certainly Tandy followed this path, with their somewhat unique PC compatibles eventually becoming full-on generic clones; it didn't end well for them either] Obviously both Atari and Commodore both made stand-alone PC compatibles, but they never really went all in with a total commitment. The argument against that of course is that it would have been hard to distinguish themselves in a crowded market and the margins would have been razor thin. Really, almost all scenarios end up with Atari and Commodore in pretty much the same places that they ended up, at best delaying the inevitable by a few years.

 

 

All true. Or a combined Atari ST/Amiga platform might've - however remote the possibility - displaced the Mac as the only other alternative to survive the WinTel alliance.  There were certainly folks in the computer press that were advocating both companies hybridize the PC Clone Market by enhancing them with the various features the ST or Amiga had. I remember Computer Shopper had an article that advocated Atari do that and that was back in 1987/88...make PCs with ST features or sell an ST adapter board for existing PCs. Oh well. My original point was the ST and the Amiga put the final kibosh on MSX adoption in North America and Western Europe. It even failed in Eastern Europe when the Wall came down thanks to local interest in the Commodore 64/128 and the Atari 8-bit computer line. And those of us today who enjoy those computer platforms are very thankful of this since a good portion of the new exciting hardware for both of those platforms come from "Eastern" - excuse me, "Central" - Europe.  :) 



#27 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:35 AM

 

 

All true. Or a combined Atari ST/Amiga platform might've - however remote the possibility - displaced the Mac as the only other alternative to survive the WinTel alliance.  There were certainly folks in the computer press that were advocating both companies hybridize the PC Clone Market by enhancing them with the various features the ST or Amiga had. I remember Computer Shopper had an article that advocated Atari do that and that was back in 1987/88...make PCs with ST features or sell an ST adapter board for existing PCs. Oh well. My original point was the ST and the Amiga put the final kibosh on MSX adoption in North America and Western Europe. It even failed in Eastern Europe when the Wall came down thanks to local interest in the Commodore 64/128 and the Atari 8-bit computer line. And those of us today who enjoy those computer platforms are very thankful of this since a good portion of the new exciting hardware for both of those platforms come from "Eastern" - excuse me, "Central" - Europe.   :)

 

Agreed. The best chance for ST/Amiga was to displace the Mac's niche. The catch there is that Apple was relatively early in the market with the Mac so they were well-established (at least in mindshare), had an affluent group of Apple II users that often moved onto that platform, and of course had the desktop publishing niche, which was the most viable at that time versus the ST's music production and the Amiga's video production. The ST and Amiga tended to be relatively weak in terms of productivity software, certainly in comparison to the PC, but definitely to a good degree to the Mac.

 

And yes, I also agree that the PC, Mac, Amiga, and ST eliminated any room for more low end systems, particularly since the C-64 had that segment already locked up and there were still some minor alternatives kicking about (Atari 8-bit and Coco). The collective "energy" definitely shifted to more powerful computers in North America. Obviously, Europe, with their greater price sensitivity, and Japan, with their very different market, held onto additional 8-bit stuff a lot longer.

 

As a C-64 user from back in the day still with all of my original stuff, I'm consistently amazed at the energy from your referenced European market in terms of new creations for 8-bit platforms. It's really great to have that pipeline.



#28 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:14 PM

As far as the Mac userbase was concerned, I remember the 1984 to 1986 years for the Mac very vividly, and what stood out for me, was the absolute hype-machine that propelled the machine forward despite the machine having a shitty RAM footprint until the 512K Mac (and arguably until the Mac Plus a year after that), the software available was very small, most of it from Apple themselves, and until the desktop publishing niche solidified itself, it was considered an expensive toy by a significant number of existing computer users (for every reason under the sun from the point and click interface, to the paltry amount of ram, little software, little expandability, etc.) ... And even then, it was a considerable expense, to drop $3000 on a memory expanded Mac that could run a DTP suite, and... another $2.5k just for the Laserwriter. Saying nothing about the cost of the software or the fonts, or other bits of overhead..... This is why I was so surprised when Atari actually had a bright thought in their head by positioning an Atari Mega ST with a laser printer with a software rasterizer as a cheaper desktop publishing alternative...it's a shame that Tramiel didn't believe in aggressive marketing pushes.

blah. I'm rambling... but the point being that the Mac literally survived on nothing but marketing hype and the rabidity of their user base.

 

-Thom 



#29 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:26 PM

As far as the Mac userbase was concerned, I remember the 1984 to 1986 years for the Mac very vividly, and what stood out for me, was the absolute hype-machine that propelled the machine forward despite the machine having a shitty RAM footprint until the 512K Mac (and arguably until the Mac Plus a year after that), the software available was very small, most of it from Apple themselves, and until the desktop publishing niche solidified itself, it was considered an expensive toy by a significant number of existing computer users (for every reason under the sun from the point and click interface, to the paltry amount of ram, little software, little expandability, etc.) ... And even then, it was a considerable expense, to drop $3000 on a memory expanded Mac that could run a DTP suite, and... another $2.5k just for the Laserwriter. Saying nothing about the cost of the software or the fonts, or other bits of overhead..... This is why I was so surprised when Atari actually had a bright thought in their head by positioning an Atari Mega ST with a laser printer with a software rasterizer as a cheaper desktop publishing alternative...it's a shame that Tramiel didn't believe in aggressive marketing pushes.

blah. I'm rambling... but the point being that the Mac literally survived on nothing but marketing hype and the rabidity of their user base.

 

-Thom 

 

Certainly the company names had a lot to do with it. Atari was associated with games, Apple was associated with the Apple II computer. It was going to be tough for both Commodore and Atari - and especially Atari - to make significant inroads in most professional circles. There was less of a stigma with Apple, and certainly no stigma with IBM or most of the countless clone brands. The modest AV capabilities for most of the first decade of the IBM PC standard certainly helped to sell that image as well. And yes, the implication is that the awesome graphics/sound capabilities of the Amiga, and, to a slightly lesser degree, the ST, probably didn't do them any favors in the business world. 



#30 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:41 PM

 
Commodore and Atari Corp both could've harmonized the ST and the Amiga into a single platform in 1987-88 when they settled all of their lawsuits but obviously, they didn't rise to the occasion.

From where I sit, 30 years later and with no direct experience of either, the Atari ST and Amiga computers seem almost identical to me. Similar specs from the same designer, running very similar software with little differentiation. I know Im probably wrong and missing some pretty obvious things. Where can I read about the real differences between the two platforms?

#31 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:01 PM

oh boy. yeah, um... you need to do a little bit of digging :)

 

The Atari ST is very much a low cost 68K design, bare minimum to get going. 

While the ST had more I/O from the get-go in the form of ASCI, and it had built in MIDI, the Amiga had a superior graphics and sound system (utilizing dedicated VLSI logic functioning as co-processors to support a massive DMA architecture between the CPU, graphics, and sound chips).

 

This had the effect of, e.g. being able to do sound output from the Paula chip while the CPU basically set idle. Or being able to do an extension of Atari like display effects of mixing graphics modes, palettes, and other features on the fly with little to no intervention from the CPU for such facilities (the best example of this, is the fact that you have overlapping screens of different modes, that you can pull up or down, and view at the same time.

 

The Amiga also had a fully functioning blitter (something the ST wouldn't get until the Mega ST series), and a sprite architecture expanded from the Atari 8-bit system. 

 

These features ultimately left the 68K CPU free to do computing tasks, and ultimately resulted not only in better game implementations, but the Amiga had a fully pre-emptive multitasking microkernel that supported a windowing operating system that ran extremely smoothly...The ST wouldn't get fully pre-emptive multitasking until MiNT (and its brother MultiTOS).

 

-Thom



#32 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:03 PM

From where I sit, 30 years later and with no direct experience of either, the Atari ST and Amiga computers seem almost identical to me. Similar specs from the same designer, running very similar software with little differentiation. I know Im probably wrong and missing some pretty obvious things. Where can I read about the real differences between the two platforms?

 

To put it simply, the Amiga had better graphics, sound, and a true multi-tasking capability. The Atari ST was initially less expensive and had a high resolution monochrome mode to go along with a color mode, although each mode required its own monitor. The ST also had a built-in MIDI interface. Otherwise they were of more or less of similar capabilities, and, as usual for these things, the Amiga suffered for a time from lazy Atari ST ports.



#33 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:35 PM

The Atari ST was initially less expensive and had a high resolution monochrome mode to go along with a color mode, although each mode required its own monitor. 

 

So an ST "power user" would have two screens, perhaps hooked up via different ports? Not sure I understand.



#34 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:52 PM

 

So an ST "power user" would have two screens, perhaps hooked up via different ports? Not sure I understand.

 

Yes, literally two monitors next to each other. The lowest price point was the Atari ST with a monochrome monitor. Most games didn't work in that mode, though, so you wanted the low res color monitor too. The monochrome option was a way to undercut the similarly monochrome Macintosh by a significant amount. 



#35 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:10 PM

Thanks Bill, this is interesting. I see the specifics in the FAQ and am once again very grateful for modern computers that are more versatile in the way they output video. Lower prices, too!

 

When the platforms under discussion in this thread were big, I was happy to have my Intellivision, Timex Sinclair 1000, mainframe access, and a bit later, an NES.

 

As much as I would have enjoyed games on the home computers of the day, there's no way my parents would have subsidized it for me. My first real computer was a Mac SE for college which IMHO smokes them all ... especially when paired with a Sega Genesis for games. A roommate from Greece was like, "do you know about the Amiga?" because the games looked similar to him.

 

As for ADAM and MSX? I don't think I even knew the MSX existed until ColecoVision emulators came along, at least 10 years after the Coleco company was dead. It looks like it was neat for what it was, but with all the competition, high prices, and market uncertainty, it's easy to see why it never came over here. 



#36 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:25 PM

As much as I would have enjoyed games on the home computers of the day, there's no way my parents would have subsidized it for me. My first real computer was a Mac SE for college which IMHO smokes them all ... especially when paired with a Sega Genesis for games. A roommate from Greece was like, "do you know about the Amiga?" because the games looked similar to him.

 

I added a Mac SE to my collection years later and was an original owner of an Amiga 500. Similarly, I added several more Macs, ST's, and Amiga's to my collection since. I can say without hesitation that outside the arguably cuter (and undeniably more compact) form factor, the Mac SE is definitely inferior to both the Amiga and ST. Where the Mac wins out is what I alluded to earlier and that's it's much more stable (at least from my years on the Amiga) and relatively mature productivity software. My Amiga kicked ass for art thanks to the Deluxe Paint series, but was a disappointment when it came to word processor quality and stability. It was unfortunate for both ST and Amiga users when they fairly quickly stopped making updates to WordPerfect or those respective platforms. Word processing was definitely one of the more sought after category of productivity apps of the time, and, at least from my experience, the Amiga's obvious potential was squandered in that area.



#37 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:35 PM

What you say makes sense in vitro. Don't underestimate the power of the network effect/herd mentality.

 

For me, in 1988, just about everyone in my college had a very similar Macintosh. They were the standard for the computer labs (necessary unless you had a printer of your own), we all swapped files and software since we all had the same kind of diskettes, and networked NetTrek was a thing of beauty. 

 

See also "the Sega Master System was just as good as the NES," "high resolution Mac games were so much better than DOS games," and "the Atari Jaguar never got a fair shot."



#38 mr_me OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:58 PM

I was in high school in the late 1980s and wanted a computer.  Apple came to mind but at the time they looked overpriced and poor value for a teenager's budget.  The C-64 was still popular but it was old technology to me and and I didn't want old tech.  There was the C-128 that advertised CPM compatibility but again old technology.  The Amiga was new and the magazines talked them up quite a bit; I still have that copy of Personal Computing.  Don't remember much about Atari.  I do remember calling a computer store, maybe about the Amiga, and the guy on the phone said "you should consider an IBM compatible".  My initial thought was "yuck", monochrome graphics.  The Amiga being new seemed like a risky buy.   Nothing seemed right at the time.  When I got to university, many of the kids had IBM compatibles; and one of my classes used PC software.  So in 1989, I used my student loan money and bought a 386sx with SVGA.  That wasn't new technology but in those days you had to wait a few years for prices to become reasonable.  And when I added a sound card the next year it turned into a great game machine with lots of games and software that I could borrow from the other kids.  I only new one kid that had a Macintosh; it was gifted to him.

 

I don't think we missed much here not having the MSX; the C-64 was a comparable if not better 8-bit machine at the time.  Would it have been possible for the Atari ST and Amiga to have a common operating system with compatible software.  It would have given them a much better chance of succeeding, and a practical alternative to Apple would have made sense.


Edited by mr_me, Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:04 PM.


#39 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:25 PM

Technically possible? Or politically possible?

#40 Lynxpro OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 2, 2017 11:45 PM

oh boy. yeah, um... you need to do a little bit of digging :)

 

The Atari ST is very much a low cost 68K design, bare minimum to get going. 

While the ST had more I/O from the get-go in the form of ASCI, and it had built in MIDI, the Amiga had a superior graphics and sound system (utilizing dedicated VLSI logic functioning as co-processors to support a massive DMA architecture between the CPU, graphics, and sound chips).

 

This had the effect of, e.g. being able to do sound output from the Paula chip while the CPU basically set idle. Or being able to do an extension of Atari like display effects of mixing graphics modes, palettes, and other features on the fly with little to no intervention from the CPU for such facilities (the best example of this, is the fact that you have overlapping screens of different modes, that you can pull up or down, and view at the same time.

 

The Amiga also had a fully functioning blitter (something the ST wouldn't get until the Mega ST series), and a sprite architecture expanded from the Atari 8-bit system. 

 

These features ultimately left the 68K CPU free to do computing tasks, and ultimately resulted not only in better game implementations, but the Amiga had a fully pre-emptive multitasking microkernel that supported a windowing operating system that ran extremely smoothly...The ST wouldn't get fully pre-emptive multitasking until MiNT (and its brother MultiTOS).

 

-Thom

 

The Amiga [1000] was more expensive*, had less RAM, and was slower for productivity apps than the ST. The Kickstart discs made it more vulnerable to viruses than the ST's OS. And that multitasking OS on a 68000 crashed more than the ST.  Until the Amiga 500 debuted and turned the whole ship around, Atari Corp was outselling the Amiga with the ST by a wide margin. But Atari Corp took forever to get the STe out and by not shipping it with VGA graphics standard, it didn't outdo the Amiga's standard graphics which was a major disappointment.

 

 

*It shouldn't have been more expensive than the ST since Commodore owned MOS and manufactured the Amiga's custom chips in-house. They should've been priced the same as the ST or even less expensive. Suffice to say, Commodore gouged the Amiga enthusiasts.



#41 Lynxpro OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 2, 2017 11:47 PM

 

So an ST "power user" would have two screens, perhaps hooked up via different ports? Not sure I understand.

 

 

Yes. Lots of ST owners had both the Color and Monochrome monitors. They used Practical Peripherals' Monitor Master to hook both up and then physically turn the switch to switch over to the other version.  The monochrome monitor was 640x400 resolution...in 1985. It was the most popular monitor to use for MIDI and desktop publishing on the ST.



#42 ryoder OFFLINE  

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I was in high school in the late 1980s and wanted a computer.  Apple came to mind but at the time they looked overpriced and poor value for a teenager's budget.  The C-64 was still popular but it was old technology to me and and I didn't want old tech.  There was the C-128 that advertised CPM compatibility but again old technology.  The Amiga was new and the magazines talked them up quite a bit; I still have that copy of Personal Computing.  Don't remember much about Atari.  I do remember calling a computer store, maybe about the Amiga, and the guy on the phone said "you should consider an IBM compatible".  My initial thought was "yuck", monochrome graphics.  The Amiga being new seemed like a risky buy.   Nothing seemed right at the time.  When I got to university, many of the kids had IBM compatibles; and one of my classes used PC software.  So in 1989, I used my student loan money and bought a 386sx with SVGA.  That wasn't new technology but in those days you had to wait a few years for prices to become reasonable.  And when I added a sound card the next year it turned into a great game machine with lots of games and software that I could borrow from the other kids.  I only new one kid that had a Macintosh; it was gifted to him.
 
I don't think we missed much here not having the MSX; the C-64 was a comparable if not better 8-bit machine at the time.  Would it have been possible for the Atari ST and Amiga to have a common operating system with compatible software.  It would have given them a much better chance of succeeding, and a practical alternative to Apple would have made sense.


In 1990 I was deciding what to do with my Tandy 1000HX. I wanted more power and better graphics. I started reading Computer Shopper. I realized I needed VGA to be happy but looked hard at the Amiga 500 and 1000. I was always surprised that the 1000 was cheaper when it looked more professional. I ended up buying a VGA monitor and 8 bit card plus a 100 dollar expansion box for my HX to run the card. I bought this stuff with lawn mowing money and it wasn't cheap. 275 for the monitor, 100 for the card and 115 for the box I think. I plugged it in backwards and fried the HX motherboard. The HX was the family computer and not mine. As this was occurring my mom walked into my room crying about a death in the family. I didn't have the heart to tell her I just killed the computer.

So then I took it to Radio Shack and they fixed it for maybe 175. I sent back the expansion box and the company was out of business, I filed a claim with the BBB and sent them a personal letter explaining that I was a freshman in high school and needed my refund. They sent me a check. I kept mowing lawns and bought a 286 16mhz motherboard, case, floppy, power supply, 2MB RAM and a 40MB hard drive. When the parts arrived I was dumbfounded. I had to figure out how to put it together. My friend was no help. I got it day we bombed Iraq in Desert Storm. My mom walked into my room crying as the computer was just booting up on the A drive. She lived through the Vietnam war so it was hard for her to see war footage again.

In the end. I became a PC guy with that Tandy in 1987 and then was graduated to power user in 1990. Three years later I got a job at a computer store and built thousands of computers feom386SX to Pentium IIs. That's my story.




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