Jump to content

Photo

Amiga 1000 - Too Expensive at Introduction or not Priced High Enough?


11 replies to this topic

#1 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

rpiguy9907

    Chopper Commander

  • 177 posts
  • Location:New Jersey, USA

Posted Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:00 AM

I have recently taken apart and refurbished an Amiga 1000, Commodore 128, and a Commodore 1571.

 

I am baffled at why the Amiga 1000 was so much more expensive ($1295) than the Commodore 128+1571 combo ($700 often discounted further even at intro).

 

I know they had the Amiga 1000 manufactured in Japan instead of Hong Kong and yields on the Amiga chips were initially poor... but the IC count is higher on the Commodore 128+1571 combo and the number of custom chips is about the same (VIC-II, SID, VDC) and the VDC also had terrible yields. The C128 system even had three CPUs (if you count the one in the 1571).

 

The mother board of the A1000 is needlessly complex and the daughterboard for the Kickstart ROM completely unecessary (why not just give the thing a cartridge port and let people upgrade ROM that way?)

 

Memory wasn't even that expensive in 1985, the RAM price spike of the 80s was two years away.

 

*****

On the other side of the equation, maybe it would have benefited from even higher premium pricing? A comparable IBM AT with a PGA or Orchid 4096 color card was at least 4x as expensive, and the Macintosh was 2x-3x as expensive and was B&W only.

 

*****

 

So I am torn, I can't decide if Commodore should have been more thrifty in producing the A1000 and introducing it at $799 or if they should have doubled the price. 


Edited by rpiguy9907, Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:00 AM.


#2 carlsson OFFLINE  

carlsson

    Metagalactic Mule

  • 7,319 posts
  • Location:Västerås, Sweden

Posted Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:51 AM

I think it is better to compare with the Atari ST which was significantly cheaper. Yes, it had fewer newly made custom chips. Also by your reasoning there are only production costs involved, engineers work 2 years for free or that Commodore should have enough money in the bank to pay wages for R&D without putting any of that onto the final product. The C128 to a much higher degree consisted of older technology that already had paid off itself, plus at least the 8502 was made by CSG themselves which boils down the external chip costs to Z80 vs 68000, RAM etc.

 

In order to sell a more expensive product, Commodore needed greater industry recognition and support. One could ask if the 1000 was the right model to launch, if they should have made an even more expandable model like the 2000, or even gone straight for the home market right away, though at its launch I don't know how much they could cost reduce the 1000.



#3 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

rpiguy9907

    Chopper Commander

  • Topic Starter
  • 177 posts
  • Location:New Jersey, USA

Posted Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:05 AM

True Commodore would have wanted to recoup their investment in Amiga. I think that represents the difference in thinking between Tramiel and "real" management. Tramiel would have written off the R&D costs, much in the same way he made MOS fab chips for practically nothing (MOS probably would have made more money selling chips to outside companies).

 

You are probably correct with the chip packaging technology they had in 1985 (limited to 48 pins) they couldn't have taken out too much cost. The daughterboard I think stands as a real example of one thing that should have gotten the axe.

 

Sell a model with one less CIA and drop the serial port, delete the disk drive and add a cartridge port, reduce the number of PLA and connecting logic. But yes if they did this they should also have an expandable model to compliment it.

 

Ideally they would have launched with both a low cost model they could sell mass market, and an expandable one, but they just couldn't afford it at the time with the Z-machine, LCD machine, Commodore 128 and all the other projects going on.



#4 christo930 OFFLINE  

christo930

    Moonsweeper

  • 253 posts

Posted Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:20 AM

I have recently taken apart and refurbished an Amiga 1000, Commodore 128, and a Commodore 1571.

 

I am baffled at why the Amiga 1000 was so much more expensive ($1295) than the Commodore 128+1571 combo ($700 often discounted further even at intro).

 

I know they had the Amiga 1000 manufactured in Japan instead of Hong Kong and yields on the Amiga chips were initially poor... but the IC count is higher on the Commodore 128+1571 combo and the number of custom chips is about the same (VIC-II, SID, VDC) and the VDC also had terrible yields. The C128 system even had three CPUs (if you count the one in the 1571).

 

The mother board of the A1000 is needlessly complex and the daughterboard for the Kickstart ROM completely unecessary (why not just give the thing a cartridge port and let people upgrade ROM that way?)

 

Memory wasn't even that expensive in 1985, the RAM price spike of the 80s was two years away.

 

*****

On the other side of the equation, maybe it would have benefited from even higher premium pricing? A comparable IBM AT with a PGA or Orchid 4096 color card was at least 4x as expensive, and the Macintosh was 2x-3x as expensive and was B&W only.

 

*****

 

So I am torn, I can't decide if Commodore should have been more thrifty in producing the A1000 and introducing it at $799 or if they should have doubled the price. 

They made a lot of dumb decisions. One anecdote that comes to mind is from an Amiga anniversary party up on YT where a couple of the engineers are reminiscing about the good old days of engineering the Amgia. They went to a TV store and bought several of the worst TVs they sold. They literally went into the store and asked for the worst possible TV set so they could design an interface that would work well on the cheapest set out there.  This is why it has that horrible color scheme by default. This is indicative of the mistakes they made.  They were trying to fill a market niche' that did not exist.  WHO was going to buy this expensive computer (Well over 3 grand in today;s dollars) and then hook it up to the cheapest television they could find? I don't think it even had a TV output on the MB!  They should have had it run in a higher resolution and required a monitor.

 

 

They needed to either dramatically lower the price or gave it more power and capability at a higher price. Simply selling the existing Amiga at a higher price was probably not going to help. They could have made changes and still came in way under the price of the competition, even with a monitor. There should have been an internal HD option.  There should have been a standardized expansion bus right from the beginning with the 1000. They could have offered a 1000 without the expansion bus as the 'home' edition rather than the awful design of the 500/600/1200. 

 

The Amiga 2000 should have been the 1000 with flicker free hires graphics with a hard disk or 2nd floppy option in 1985, not 87. The 386 was two years old in 1987!

 

By 1985, there were already lots of cards available for PCs, so it's not like Commodore didn't know there was a big market for them (not to mention a need).

 

It would have been nice if they could have eliminated the need for chip/fast RAM and handled all RAM the same. Separating the two completely would have been a better, if not more expensive, alternative (just like EGA or VGA's RAM is entirely dedicated to the EGA/VGA card).  According to Trameil, 256k RAM modules were a few dollars around this time. Dedicating 256K to the chips with an additional 512k as 'fast' RAM is another place where a slight price increase would have paid off in the long run.



#5 Nebulon OFFLINE  

Nebulon

    Stargunner

  • 1,828 posts

Posted Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:37 PM

This magazine has a pretty good write-up that really puts things into context. Pages 14 and 15:

 

https://www.tpug.ca/...22_1986_Apr.pdf



#6 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

rpiguy9907

    Chopper Commander

  • Topic Starter
  • 177 posts
  • Location:New Jersey, USA

Posted Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:08 PM

This magazine has a pretty good write-up that really puts things into context. Pages 14 and 15:
 
https://www.tpug.ca/...22_1986_Apr.pdf


Did you link to wrong issue I see nothing on 14-15.

#7 Casey OFFLINE  

Casey

    Moonsweeper

  • 278 posts

Posted Sat Aug 11, 2018 2:53 PM

Yes, one wonders how it might have played out had the launch machines been the 500 and 2000 instead of the 1000.  I had a Commodore 128 at the time and had the 500 been out (at a price I could afford) I would have probably gone down that path first instead of switching to a PC.  Who knows if that would have made things turn out differently in the end, but I have to think people buying Commodore machines might not have looked around so quickly if they could have gotten a 500 priced machine initially.



#8 Nebulon OFFLINE  

Nebulon

    Stargunner

  • 1,828 posts

Posted Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:12 PM

Did you link to wrong issue I see nothing on 14-15.

On Page 14
 
"It looks like CBM is lowering the price of the Amiga 1000, as the current model is known... now selling the system for $999 (US), $300 less than the original retail price. More incredibly, they are selling a packaged system consisting of the Amiga 1000, the RGB monitor and cable, the 256K RAM cartridge, and an Epson JX-80 colour printer with cable, all for $1195!"
 
And on page 16
 
"'The Atari [ST] is a very good computer at a terrific price, while the Amiga is a terrific computer at a very good price.'"

  • jhd likes this

#9 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

rpiguy9907

    Chopper Commander

  • Topic Starter
  • 177 posts
  • Location:New Jersey, USA

Posted Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:21 PM

Thats more of a news blurb, no insights into the discussion.

#10 Nebulon OFFLINE  

Nebulon

    Stargunner

  • 1,828 posts

Posted Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:54 PM

The topic is "Amiga 1000 - Too Expensive at Introduction or not Priced High Enough?" with both a news article's perspective on the price point of the Amiga 1000 soon after launch, along with a quote from a non-journalist computer user. 

 

If you can't see the contextual relevance of that to the OP's post, then I'm sure I can recommend a good optometrist.



#11 Nebulon OFFLINE  

Nebulon

    Stargunner

  • 1,828 posts

Posted Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:13 PM

The info in the book, "Commodore: The Amiga Years" suggests that the launch pricing for the Amiga 1000 was fine in North America but too high in UK and Europe. 

 

North American specialty shops demanded as many Amiga 1000 computers as Commodore could manufacture.  That and the above article suggest that for those who were shopping for a hardware-accelerated 'color Mac', the Amiga was a good deal. 

 

So even with the inflated manufacturing costs out of Japan, I agree that there was pricing flexibility to include more RAM as well as a hard drive controller (if not a hard drive too). The designers wanted more RAM from the get-go and Jay Miner wanted an expandable case more like the 2000 -- right out of the gate. He was also a big fan of the flicker fixer.

 

Regardless, Commodore would still be relying on specialty shops since most computer retail chains were happy just selling PCs and Commodore had already alienated most of the large department store chains. Plus, the Amiga 1000 was too expensive for most department stores to consider as a product.

 

Having the machine built for less would have certainly given them more margin so that they could possibly even offer it at a better price-point on the other side of the pond.

 

As for the Amiga 500 -- I think it's actually a good design. It's remarkably expandable, despite its footprint. That and it fit the bill for what the European market wanted.

 

The Amiga certainly did have two identities. And I also agree that if the goal was to make a serious computer, the monitor and a de-interlacer should have been mandatory.



#12 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

rpiguy9907

    Chopper Commander

  • Topic Starter
  • 177 posts
  • Location:New Jersey, USA

Posted Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:40 PM

The topic is "Amiga 1000 - Too Expensive at Introduction or not Priced High Enough?" with both a news article's perspective on the price point of the Amiga 1000 soon after launch, along with a quote from a non-journalist computer user. 
 
If you can't see the contextual relevance of that to the OP's post, then I'm sure I can recommend a good optometrist.


Um, I am the OP (perhaps you need the optometrist, lol. ) and I specifically pointed out things like IC count and manufacturing cost, of which nothing was mentioned in the small, unrelated news blurb about a price cut in the user group magazine.

Commodore: The Amiga Years does go into detail about the A1000 being made in Japan instead of Hong Kong making it pricier, as well as the added cost of the mezzanine PCB for Kickstart.

The book is also very clear that very few dealers sold the A1000 the first year due to mistrust of Commodore.




0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users