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Were Atari 8 bit, C64 and others mainly gaming machines?

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The CoCo can do lowercase -- with the right software (the VIP desktop series). Problem is, not many people seemed to know about it.

...

I think Telewriter was the first word processor to use graphics to display text, but VIP had more features.

Then Flex came out with 51 column graphics text and finally VIP.

VIP was really nice.

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What was the quality of the text like? Was it easily readable?

 

I played around a bit with using the DRAW command to make letters (IIRC there was even some sample code in the ECB manual), but with the colour artifacting, they were virtually unreadable.

 

I saw the magazine advertisements for Telewriter, etc., but I never used it. I think that I used Color Scripsit once or twice, but mainly I used a magazine type-in program with limited editing capabilities for my minimal letter-writing needs.

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What was the quality of the text like? Was it easily readable?

 

I played around a bit with using the DRAW command to make letters (IIRC there was even some sample code in the ECB manual), but with the colour artifacting, they were virtually unreadable.

 

I saw the magazine advertisements for Telewriter, etc., but I never used it. I think that I used Color Scripsit once or twice, but mainly I used a magazine type-in program with limited editing capabilities for my minimal letter-writing needs.

I had a composite output board with color and monochrome, so 51 and 64 characters per line were very readable.

It would be good on PAL machines as well.

RF out on an NTSC TV... I'm not sure.

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In the Amstrad range, you can distinguish between the 464 and 6128.

The 464 with it's built-in tape player and cheaper price was certainly more targeted to gamers and home use. You can also consider the bright colored keyboard :

 

cpc464a.jpg

 

On the other hand, the CPC 6128, with double the RAM (128 Ko, hence the name) had a more professionnal looking keyboard, came with a floppy drive (3" ) and was shipped with a CP/M floppy by default, hinting that it was meant to be used as a more professionnal machine.

 

Amstrad_CPC_6128.jpg

 

And certainly enough, it did found a way into the industrial world :

 

SchneiderBMWMuseum2.jpg

(in the BMW Museum, Schneider relabeled CPC 6128)

 

Note the both the 464 and 6128 offer a 80 colum, high resolution mode (640*200 pixels) makign them well suited for text editing.

 

Amstrad will then follow the same "simple, all in one" formula and spawn was is certain the most famous CP/M machine ever made, the Amstrad PCW :

 

Amstrad_PCW_8512.jpg

 

The PCW was sold between 1985 and 1995! and sold 8 millions machines. The first version had one floppy drive and 256 Ko of RAM, the latter 512 Ko of RAM and two 3" then 3,15" floppy drives.

 

It came with Locoscript for word processing and file management, and you could boot on CP/M from the floppy.

ls2a.png

Unlike the CPC, the PCW display was in permanent 80 column/640*200 mode and had no way to connect an external color or B&W monitor.

 

And despite the lack of a proper sound chip, there are several PCW games.

:D

Edited by CatPix
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Yep. The low end, monochrome monitors for the CPC were also green. And most cheap monitors for European computers, in the 8 bits era. One exception was probably Thomson, but heh, Thomson had acess to black and white TV tubes for their TV lines.

 

img_2248.jpg

 

wp7ed0a999_0f.jpg

Edited by CatPix
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On the other hand, the CPC 6128, with double the RAM (128 Ko, hence the name) had a more professionnal looking keyboard, came with a floppy drive (3" ) and was shipped with a CP/M floppy by default, hinting that it was meant to be used as a more professionnal machine.

 

Amstrad_CPC_6128.jpg

Sometimes I miss my old 6128, it was a really nice machine.

 

I had an external 3.5" floppy drive for it so that it could share files with other machines that were around at time.

 

Being able to switch from 16-colour-160-wide to 4-colour-320-wide on any scanline was nice for games.

 

But ... it was a real pity (for game developers) that it didn't support a smooth horizontal hardware-scroll.

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Yeah. And the Gate Array design that reduced the Z80 speed to an effective/useable 3.33 Mhtz instead of 4.

Of course, all those shortcomings are what made the CPC cheaper than most computers of the time.

I still think that Amstrad should had released the Plus range in 1986 or late 87. As and entry-level 8 bits machine, it would have been great, and coming "soon enough" to catch on and get us some great games with the added beef of the Plus range.

Ah well, you can rewrite History all day long, it won't make the real outcome be any different :D

Edited by CatPix

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I like the shiny black cases and trim lines on those machines -- much more elegant than any computers I remember from that era.

 

It's probably because I'm an idiot, but every computer I touch, own, or care about is mostly a game machine.

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I still think that Amstrad should had released the Plus range in 1986 or late 87. As and entry-level 8 bits machine, it would have been great, and coming "soon enough" to catch on and get us some great games with the added beef of the Plus range.

Ah well, you can rewrite History all day long, it won't make the real outcome be any different :D

The Plus's extra capabilities would have been welcome in 1986 ... but it would have split the CPC software market, which would really hurt the willingness of software developers to make games for it.

 

By 1986/1987, the Atari ST was becoming the "hot" gaming machine, and even with the launch of the Amiga 500 and its quick drop in price, it still took a while in the UK for that to become the "top" gaming computer.

 

Even then ... with the Gaming Press drooling over the PC Engine in late 1987, and the rise of the UK's grey-import shops, it showed that consoles were soon to take over gaming from Home Computers.

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I like the shiny black cases and trim lines on those machines -- much more elegant than any computers I remember from that era.

 

It's probably because I'm an idiot, but every computer I touch, own, or care about is mostly a game machine.

Then you'd have loved this, if it hadn't died so quickly ...

 

e64_6.jpg

 

It was the best-designed 8-bit home computer that I know of.

 

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/24/elan_flan_enterprise_micro_is_30_years_old/

 

Just for amusement ... "yes", the David Levy whose company designed the Enterprise, is the same one now involved in the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ debacle.

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The Plus's extra capabilities would have been welcome in 1986 ... but it would have split the CPC software market, which would really hurt the willingness of software developers to make games for it.

 

By 1986/1987, the Atari ST was becoming the "hot" gaming machine, and even with the launch of the Amiga 500 and its quick drop in price, it still took a while in the UK for that to become the "top" gaming computer.

 

Even then ... with the Gaming Press drooling over the PC Engine in late 1987, and the rise of the UK's grey-import shops, it showed that consoles were soon to take over gaming from Home Computers.

Yep. Well the CPC market was already split by the 464/6128 division, so I can imagine that. In fact, I ahve an example. Thomson release the Thomson TO7 in 1983, the TO7-70 in 1985, the TO8 in 1986 and the TO9 and even a 9+ in 1988. Most software were made TO7-70 compatible, and only a handful use the TO8 superior capabilities, and even less used the TO9 ones. And the TO9+ was born dead, much like the Amstrad Plus line.

Of course, different market, different reaction. Maybe people wouldn't have been eager to buy an Amstrad Plus, maybe msot developper would have stick to developping for the standard CPC line because the Plus was backward compatible. Who can tell?

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And that is one of the major reasons why the C64 was so successful and lasted for so long, that it didn't get upgraded along the way although a lot of people think it should've been. The Plus/4 obviously wasn't an upgrade, and although the C128 kind of was an upgrade, it was rather limited in what you could do with the 80 column display and only attracted productivity software and some text adventures.

 

Now I understand why smaller manufacturers would want to release new models all the time, in hope to get a break and finally catch a small market share but technology isn't the only reason why a system would take off.

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True. Tho in Thomson case, I'm fairly certain that they upgarded the hardware because their computers were sold to French schools; and I assume that in this contract, Thomson would have to sell computers for a fixed price as long as it was produced, so, by releasing an upgraded model every year or so, they could push the prices up while keeping most of the line unchanged, as from the TO7 to the TO9+, they all run with the same Microsoft BASIC (tho improved to deal with 512 Ko of RAM for latter models) and the same Motorola 6809 CPU @1Mhtz.; the improvement were mostly on the video display (going from a crude, unique 320*200 8 colors with color clashes display to a multi-resolution system with up to 16 colors from a palette of 4096) and a built-in joystick and sound chip.

So by doing this they could keep charging more and more for the computers, while allowing software programmers to keep writing for the most popular TO7-70 platform.

Edited by CatPix
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It's probably because I'm an idiot, but every computer I touch, own, or care about is mostly a game machine.

It's because you like the pretty colors. I'm the same way... easily distracted by glowy lights.

 

Problem is, back then the machines that could crank out the colors were usually not great for text displays and the machines with sharp text typically were awful in the color palette department. Because of the monitor technology at the time, the two were pretty much mutually exclusive. The Atari ST line illustrates this well in that you end up with two monitors in order to work in both worlds (one lower resolution color monitor and a high-resolution monochrome monitor).

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It's because you like the pretty colors. I'm the same way... easily distracted by glowy lights.

 

Problem is, back then the machines that could crank out the colors were usually not great for text displays and the machines with sharp text typically were awful in the color palette department. Because of the monitor technology at the time, the two were pretty much mutually exclusive. The Atari ST line illustrates this well in that you end up with two monitors in order to work in both worlds (one lower resolution color monitor and a high-resolution monochrome monitor).

 

The Apple II is much the same. You could have decent color graphics on a color monitor, or sharp text on a monochrome monitor. You can't have both.

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The Apple II is much the same. You could have decent color graphics on a color monitor, or sharp text on a monochrome monitor. You can't have both.

 

The 1084S monitor allowed exactly the opposite. You had a button in the front that allowed for Composite or SEP LCA. Razor sharp 80-column text OR standard composite color graphics with artifacting, color fringes, and fuzzies..

Edited by Keatah

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It's because you like the pretty colors. I'm the same way... easily distracted by glowy lights.

 

Problem is, back then the machines that could crank out the colors were usually not great for text displays and the machines with sharp text typically were awful in the color palette department. Because of the monitor technology at the time, the two were pretty much mutually exclusive. The Atari ST line illustrates this well in that you end up with two monitors in order to work in both worlds (one lower resolution color monitor and a high-resolution monochrome monitor).

 

Forgive my ignorance about the old display technologies, but I always recall seeing graphics/text on TV shows in the CRT days that had smaller typefaces than the computers could do, yet they didn't turn all green/purple/orange at the edges like the text on our computers was prone too?

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The 1084S monitor allowed exactly the opposite. You had a button in the front that allowed for Composite or SEP LCA. Razor sharp 80-column text OR standard composite color graphics with artifacting, color fringes, and fuzzies..

 

The Apple Color monitor had a similar feature. You could press a switch to get White Monochrome for 80-col text, but it was a little harsher on the eyes than Green.

 

The Commodore 1084-S I believe can accomplish a similar effect, by switching from Composite to Y/C the monitor will take the composite video signal and use it as just the Luma signal, you can get an "ok" 80-col using that.

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I had several friends with Commodore 64s and they used them primarily for gaming. Actually, it seemed like they also used them for pirating a lot. With so many people around with C64s and it being so easy to copy tapes and disks, they were always trading and getting together to copy games.

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EA was complaining way back that they don't release A8 titles anymore due to piracy. It was far more present on C64, (I owned that to) but EA didn't seem to have problems with that.

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Perhaps the C64 had more users, so if the ratio in general would be that 1 out of 50 people would buy the original game, the total sales volume would be greater compared to development costs. Or perhaps the C64/1541 offered more opportunities for new copy protection schemes?

Edited by carlsson

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There used to be parties for the Apple II where the whole purpose was to copy software. I'm sure the same happened on the C64 and other computers.
It wasn't just games though, it was everything.
Duping tapes wasn't exactly unheard of either. I actually had a dual deck boom box and never even thought to use it to pirate software. It even had a high speed mode.

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