Jump to content
Keatah

Computers and the videogame crash of the 80's.

Recommended Posts

For me, my very first computer experience was dad's PCjr, which he had purchased to do police work with. We had a single game; King's Quest.

 

In the days before the internet and walkthroughs, we sat around the computer while dad was at work, trying to figure out all the in's and outs of that game, and solve its puzzles. My sister learned how to use bios basic on that system, etc.

 

I remember wanting a computer of my own so badly that I could taste it, but they were way too prohibitively expensive, and mom did not want to sink the cost.  It wasnt until the early to mid 90s that she finally relented, and got us an AST Advantage 486sx 33 system.  It did not come with a sound blaster, and came with a very customized version of windows 3.1.  It had a cirrus logic based video chipset integrated on the motherboard, and had a whopping 4mb of RAM.  My brother and I saved money, and purchased parts for it, and refused to wait for mom to take it to the computer store to have them installed.  We just opened the thing while she was out at work, and dropped in all the parts ourselves. It about gave her a heart attack when she came home and found us in the finishing actions of screwing the case back together, and when everything worked as expected, she felt it was time for me to get a summer job working on computers (to keep me out of trouble.)

 

This propelled me down the road to working in the slave-pit, but it's an experience I would gladly do all over again.  It was a magical time to be working on computers; There were all kinds, and I got to have a very broad palette of experiences doing service and repair. (But, I did also have to contend with the Packard Bells... *cringe*.. You have not known pain and suffering until you have had to work on a 486 class Packard Bell Legend that has a Cyrix CPU installed in it.) 

 

Sadly, I missed out on the majority of the 8bit micro era.  But I lived large in the early days of the PC.  I have seen so many crazy things, it defies all reason.

 

Still, I remember when the schools switched to PCs from Macs;  I was right at home at the DOS prompt, doing shit at the console, and scaring the daylights out of the teachers. :P

 

These days PCs are kinda bland;  Back then, you could find truly radical, and mysterious devices inside those systems. Things like the digital data interface that drives a metal detector, built up inside a 486, and plugged into about 4 ISA slots. Or the byzantine multi-modem cards that drove automated telephone systems of the time.  The strange world of single board PCs that basically plugged into a dumb backplane, like the WYSE 386s did-- and so much more.

 

 

Edited by wierd_w
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even in the late 90's almost everyone started forgetting about Apple products and kept praising PC retroactively so many saw PC as more influential and Apple a lesser influence. So that may give you an answer.

 

18 hours ago, JamesD said:

Funny how a company that dropped out of the computer market produced one of the most successful computer products to this day.

ARM, RISC Processors, everything seem to go back to Acorn but ask somebody if they know who Acron is and they'll point to a nearby tree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

On 9/18/2020 at 10:15 AM, Bill Loguidice said:

As a US person who has owned various UK Amstrad CPC-based systems and even the stillborn console, there is no way I consider it the hypothetical "mid-range" option. It was slightly better than a C-64 in some ways and worse in others in my opinion.

 

I guess that we'll have to disagree on our definitions of "mid-range" then, which is OK, these are all just questions and individual opinions. :)

 

 

You're right that the CPC was better in some ways, and worse in others, and C64 fans will always be able to point out that the CPC can't scroll worth a damn, and doesn't have sprites, while CPC fans will say that it didn't need sprites, and that its colors blew away the muddy grey-and-brown look of C64 games. That's the joy of the 80s fanboi wars that still continue today. ;)

 

 

For myself, I have no difficulty seeing *some* kind of middle ground in the following screenshots ...

 

Commodore 64

 

50356451788_0fe024b088_o.png

 

 

Amstrad CPC464

 

50357314497_fdef696b40_o.png

 

 

Amiga / ST

 

50356451793_667ef30c9e_o.png

 

 

And heck, I'm not even really talking about the CPC as some wonder machine anyway, because the CPC was cost-reduced to the bare bones.

 

My point is that in 1984-1986, hardware designers *could* have come up with something between the C64's and the Amiga's capabilities, and that they did so in other regions, such as the MSX2 in Japan, or the Enterprise 128 in Britain (which is roughly like a CPC with a larger color palette, and that could scroll).

 

Your point seems to be that people wouldn't have seen enough difference to upgrade their Apples, Ataris or C64s, and I'm not going to disagree ... what I consider to be the potential "middle ground" market is all of those people wanting an affordable first computer for their kids, or perhaps gamers upgrading from an Atari 2600, an Intellivision or a ColecoVision.

 

Perhaps that market didn't even exist in the US, although the sale of 3 million Amstrad CPCs in Europe, and the sale of 8 million of the more business-oriented Amstrad PCWs suggests that there was *some* demand that wasn't filled by the existing 8-bit machines, while some people waited for the price to drop on the 16-bit machines and IBM clones.  It certainly helped to make Alan Sugar a very rich man.

 

 

On 9/18/2020 at 8:17 AM, mr_me said:

Any computer you bought in the later 1980s would have been obsolete within a few years.  Software was getting held back by the hardware so changes were happening quickly.    If you bought a  no-name IBM compatible the only thing you might have saved was the case.  Name brand PCs often had proprietary designs making board swaps not practical.  An affordable IBM PC compatible in the mid-1980s would have meant monochrome graphics and awful sound.  I don't know how many people had cga hooked up to their TV.  In hindsight, a Tandy 1000 would gave been the way to go but Radio Shack didn't have a reputation for quality.  The IBM PC and compatibles was dominating market share but that was mostly in the office.  It didn't become the dominant home computer until the internet in the mid 1990s. 

 

I was looking for a computer in the mid 1980s and Amiga was at the top of the list.  I considered an IBM PC compatible as well as older technology in the c128, but in the end didn't feel right buying anything.  I waited until 1989, when I bought an IBM PC compatible.  Paid more than double over an Amiga and then constantly upgraded components for the next twenty years.  I don't think I saved much, if anything, in hardware over buying an amiga a couple of years earlier.  The question with amiga would have been where to go to pirate software.

 

This matches my experience of the times.

 

At some point the PC clones became the obvious choice, for all of the reasons that the people here have talked about, and I personally spent a lot of time and money from the very early 1990s onwards upgrading mine and running the latest-and-greatest software and games.

 

PC clones went through the 386, 486, Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium II, and Pentium III, with various sockets and CPU slots. They had ISA, VLB, PCI and PCI-66 slots for graphics, and if you weren't running a recent motherboard, with the latest graphics card on the latest bus technology ... then it felt like you were going to miss out on some feature in some exciting new game.

 

Each of those motherboards back then seemed to introduce yet another new version of RAM, and maybe even a new hard-disc standard (ST-506/SASI/SCSI/IDE).

 

It was a fun time and experience ... but it wasn't cheap, and there seemed to be little real practical reuse of components, unlike what some folks here seem to be suggesting as one of the advantages of the slot-based IBM clone.

 

Technology was just moving too fast in that decade, and any CPU/RAM/HD/graphics-card/sound-card that you bought was obsolete within 2 or 3 years.

 

 

But that is all about the wonderful 1990s, and I thought that this thread was started to talk about the computers in the 1980s, and the effect of the 1983 videogame crash on that time period, specifically in relation to gaming.

 

 

On 9/18/2020 at 9:39 AM, zzip said:

Another factor that I don't think these companies fully appreciated back then was the 8-bit computers were the game consoles of the mid 80s, especially the C64.  When the 16-bits came, they were too expensive for many of these people, which gave an opportunity for the dedicated console like NES to return.   Mid-range models may have helped keep those gamers around.

 

That is what interests me ...

 

While it is easy to point out how the C64 won the home-computer wars, and was the gamer's choice in the US (and nearly everywhere else) for many years, there were other computer choices available, and technology kept on moving forwards.

 

In the US, no decent 8-bit computer appeared after the C64 that really challenged it, and so the NES (designed only about a year after the C64) was able to stroll into the US market in 1985/1986 and begin to steal back the hearts of gamers towards the dedicated videogame console.

 

In the UK, I don't even remember the NES as being a relevent machine in any way. Home gamers stayed on computers until the Genesis and SNES appeared, except for those affluent few who imported PC Engines and got to exerience CD-ROM games many years before everyone else.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, elmer said:

I guess that we'll have to disagree on our definitions of "mid-range" then, which is OK, these are all just questions and individual opinions. :)

 

You're right that the CPC was better in some ways, and worse in others, and C64 fans will always be able to point out that the CPC can't scroll worth a damn, and doesn't have sprites, while CPC fans will say that it didn't need sprites, and that its colors blew away the muddy grey-and-brown look of C64 games. That's the joy of the 80s fanboi wars that still continue today. ;)

 

For myself, I have no difficulty seeing *some* kind of middle ground in the following screenshots ...

 

Commodore 64

 

50356451788_0fe024b088_o.png

 

 

Amstrad CPC464

 

50357314497_fdef696b40_o.png

 

 

Amiga / ST

 

50356451793_667ef30c9e_o.png

 

 

And heck, I'm not even really talking about the CPC as some wonder machine anyway, because the CPC was cost-reduced to the bare bones.

 

My point is that in 1984-1986, hardware designers *could* have come up with something between the C64's and the Amiga's capabilities, and that they did so in other regions, such as the MSX2 in Japan, or the Enterprise 128 in Britain (which is roughly like a CPC with a larger color palette, and that could scroll).

 

Your point seems to be that people wouldn't have seen enough difference to upgrade their Apples, Ataris or C64s, and I'm not going to disagree ... what I consider to be the potential "middle ground" market is all of those people wanting an affordable first computer for their kids, or perhaps gamers upgrading from an Atari 2600, an Intellivision or a ColecoVision.

 

Perhaps that market didn't even exist in the US, although the sale of 3 million Amstrad CPCs in Europe, and the sale of 8 million of the more business-oriented Amstrad PCWs suggests that there was *some* demand that wasn't filled by the existing 8-bit machines, while some people waited for the price to drop on the 16-bit machines and IBM clones.  It certainly helped to make Alan Sugar a very rich man.

I think we can both agree, however, that a lazy Spectrum port to the C-64 is hardly the best indicator of the C-64's relative audio-visual capabilities versus the CPC464, right? We can do the same in the reverse:

C-64 Life Force/Salamander:

Life Force Commodore 64 Guardian of stage one

CPC464 Life Force/Salamander:

Life Force Amstrad CPC Level one boss

We can certainly agree to disagree, but the point I was trying to make was that there really wasn't much room for in-between systems between the 8-bits and 16-/32-bits. The Amstrad CPC has some serious limitations and would have never sold in the US had it been introduced there. Something like the Enterprise 64/128 is probably a better example of a genuine step up, with fewer limitations in color and resolution and actual stereo sound, but that landed with a thud because it arrived later than it should have (among other reasons). There really was a small window, roughly up to mid-1984 (around when the CPC464 was released, I might add, not 1985+) for something to gain a foothold, particularly in the prime US market. Again, after the C-64's introduction and first big price drop, time was running out at a furious rate on anything not truly next gen. And as I pointed out earlier with the example selling prices, I just don't see the math working out.

If you had to spend $200 more than the well-established low end 8-bit computer or $200 less than the considerably more powerful 16-bit computer, it would be hard to make the argument for the mid-range solution. That was my main point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Bill Loguidice said:

We can certainly agree to disagree, but the point I was trying to make was that there really wasn't much room for in-between systems between the 8-bits and 16-/32-bits. The Amstrad CPC has some serious limitations and would have never sold in the US had it been introduced there. Something like the Enterprise 64/128 is probably a better example of a genuine step up, with fewer limitations in color and resolution and actual stereo sound, but that landed with a thud because it arrived later than it should have (among other reasons). There really was a small window, roughly up to mid-1984 (around when the CPC464 was released, I might add, not 1985+) for something to gain a foothold, particularly in the prime US market. Again, after the C-64's introduction and first big price drop, time was running out at a furious rate on anything not truly next gen. And as I pointed out earlier with the example selling prices, I just don't see the math working out.


If you had to spend $200 more than the well-established low end 8-bit computer or $200 less than the considerably more powerful 16-bit computer, it would be hard to make the argument for the mid-range solution. That was my main point.

 

The Amstrad CPC definitely had some serious limitations, and AFAIK it was *briefly* sold in the US ... where it totally failed.

 

Yes, the CPC464 was released in 1984, and not in 1985, I know.  IIRC it did rather well in 1984.

 

The 1985 comparison was to point of the difference in UK prices between the CPC6128 and the Atari ST, both models with floppy drives, since you were making a point about the importance of computers having the price of floppy drives included in anyone's purchasing decision. I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear.

 

As for whether there was room for something better than the CPC in the American market; I understand your belief in the position that there wasn't, and that the US market was definitely different to the UK market.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Bill Loguidice said:

I think we can both agree, however, that a lazy Spectrum port to the C-64 is hardly the best indicator of the C-64's relative audio-visual capabilities versus the CPC464, right?

 

The C64 port of Salamander is lovely, and yes, the Amstrad's "lazy Spectrum port" is horrible! ;)

 

What you are missing (whether deliberately or not), is that the C64 version of "Head over Heels" isn't a lazy port ... it is just a particular type of game that shows the technical limitations of the C64, and the strengths of the CPC ... much like your Salamander example does in the opposite direction (even if the Amstrad port had been better).

 

It is absolutely the best that the C64 can do with that kind of a high-resolution (256 or higher pixels per line) bitmapped game, rather than the 160 pixels per line (with scrolling) tile based game that the C64 does best.

 

The C64 just can't display 4-color (2bit-per-pixel) graphics at that resolution. It isn't "laziness" on the part of the programmer, it is a limitation because of the difference in the memory bandwidth that became technically affordable for manufacturers between the C64's 1981 design and the CPC's 1983 design.

 

At that resolution the C64 is monochrome, and adding color attributes for the 8x8 tiles would only introduce horrible color clashes that would have made that kind of bitmapped graphics look awful, which is why it wasn't done on the Spectrum either.

 

The screenshots show how much nicer 2bit-per-pixel high-resolution graphics can look in comparison to monochrome high-resolution graphics ... something that Nintendo also showed the American market later on in the decade.

Edited by elmer
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, elmer said:

 

The C64 port of Salamander is lovely, and yes, the Amstrad's "lazy Spectrum port" is horrible! ;)

 

What you are missing (whether deliberately or not), is that the C64 version of "Head over Heels" isn't a lazy port ... it is just a particular type of game that shows the technical limitations of the C64, and the strengths of the CPC ... much like your Salamander example does in the opposite direction (even if the Amstrad port had been better).

 

It is absolutely the best that the C64 can do with that kind of a high-resolution (256 or higher pixels per line) bitmapped game, rather than the 160 pixels per line (with scrolling) tile based game that the C64 does best.

 

The C64 just can't display 4-color (2bit-per-pixel) graphics at that resolution. It isn't "laziness" on the part of the programmer, it is a limitation because of the difference in the memory bandwidth that became technically affordable for manufacturers between the C64's 1981 design and the CPC's 1983 design.

 

At that resolution the C64 is monochrome, and adding color attributes for the 8x8 tiles would only introduce horrible color clashes that would have made that kind of bitmapped graphics look awful, which is why it wasn't done on the Spectrum either.

Yes, I suppose resolution does make a big difference, because there are plenty of multi-color isometric games on the C-64. Of course, the Amstrad, like all computers of the era, has similar issues when upping the resolution and needing to drop the number of colors. Regardless, when I did own the Amstrad systems, I think my biggest disappointment was the lack of smoothness to most of the games and the uneven quality (that whole ports thing that plagued every system). It just felt as limited in its own ways as most other 8-bit platforms, so not having the nostalgia factor, I was unimpressed (in fact, when partially rebuilding my collection relatively recently, I chose the BBC Micro series as the sole original purely British representation in my collection, and everything else like the Spectrum went FPGA or emulation). Almost all of them seem to have some issue here or there, i.e., there's really no ideal 8-bit. They all do several things very right and then they all do several things very wrong (relative to the competition, of course).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The C64's memory layout for bitmapped graphics also causes a speed penalty for 3D wire frame graphics.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of my first tech jobs was working in a mom'n'pop computer store. The first day was like organizing pre-IDE cables. Sorting gender changers. Straightening out the low-cost odds and ends. I didn't last long when I found out there would be zero opportunity to play games.

 

17 hours ago, wierd_w said:

These days PCs are kinda bland;  Back then, you could find truly radical, and mysterious devices inside those systems. Things like the digital data interface that drives a metal detector, built up inside a 486, and plugged into about 4 ISA slots. Or the byzantine multi-modem cards that drove automated telephone systems of the time.  The strange world of single board PCs that basically plugged into a dumb backplane, like the WYSE 386s did-- and so much more.

Well I think that's only partly true. Today's hardware is bland on the surface. But rich underneath. Though to interact with it like we did with TTL, you need to get sophisticated tools and become a chip designer. Because so much is being integrated on the CPU. Much of the excitement is in software now that hardware has been commoditized and abstracted away decades ago.

 

IDK.. I'm still fascinated and entertained by the continued evolution of microprocessors and comparisons against what was available in the past. It's interesting to see how more and more of the motherboard is getting absorbed into the CPU die, not the package or MCM, but the die. And I fully expect to see the Southbridge fully assimilated within the next 5 or 6 years. Just like how they started out by removing the memory controller from the Northbridge and quickly sucked up the rest.

 

As a kid I always like the variety of expansion boards that were available for the //e. To a kid they were colorful and special. In that kind of way.

 

And later on the PC's boards. Liked them enough to have a small collection going - curated from past hardware upgrades. Sound cards and graphics cards were always a big personal hit. Got the basic SB16 and discovered I could even upgrade that! ASP chip and General MIDI daughtercard. And CD-ROM. 3 expansions for an expansion card. And graphics cards. Well the evolution has been thrilling. Going from a few thousand or million transistors to +30 billion today!

 

And then there are SSDs which are finally becoming consumer commodity items. It's quite the thing to track the evolution through the increasing levels, SLC - MLC - TLC - QLC - PLC - HLC. And now there are new stacking technologies giving us 160, 192, 256 layers (or individual chips) in a single package half as thick as the old-school DIPs. That's in addition to the 3D structures in each layer.

 

This can't (yet) be applied to CPUs of any worthy speed, way too much heat generation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The CPC included a monitor and was widely used across many countries in Europe for work or other applications. My dad used it for a few years to create graphs and movement simulations (he's a Physics and Maths fan) until he gave it to me when he bought an MS-DOS PC in 1989.

 

I think that detail really helps understanding its success.

Edited by IntelliMission

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, IntelliMission said:

The CPC included a monitor and was widely used across many countries in Europe for work or other applications. My dad used it for a few years to create graphs and movement simulations (he's a Physics and Maths fan) until he gave it to me when he bought an MS-DOS PC in 1989.

 

I think that detail really helps understanding its success.

There was no doubt an appetite for all-in-one, complete systems from certain segments of the buying public. Those were hit or miss in terms of success in the US depending upon how it was implemented and who it was targeted at. Of course, the monochrome monitor on the cheapest CPC was unfortunate for those who got that one, but it's understandable given the price point they wanted to hit. There were typically compromises for every system, of course, especially given the relative costs versus what we have today. Certainly in the US, a lot of Apple II owners had monochrome monitors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The monitor was required for 80 column text display.  The Commodore 128 added digital rgb output to support it's 80 column text mode.  Both the c128 and cpc424 supported CP/M and all the business and scientific application programs available there.  Someone looking for a video games machine might not want to pay extra for 80 column text and cp/m support.  The amstrad obviously compromised on video game specific features; and a colour monitor was likely a pricey option as was a disk drive.  What was the pricing like for a cpc424 compared to a c64 in the UK?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@mr_me I think you mean CPC464.

 

One of my friends had the "green monitor" (not really black and white and more like the Game Boy) and, even if back in the day I enjoyed playing in his house one day because I didn't have any of the games we played, in retrospective I was very lucky to have disk and color monitor instead of tapes and green monitor as my friend. Disks loaded in 5 seconds Vs. the 5 minutes of the tapes.

 

The big difference was that my friend's parents bought the machine for their kid to play only, but my dad wanted the whole package in 1986: I guess he had enough of tape loading after having a ZX Spectrum and also wanted to play with colors to create his physics simulations.

Edited by IntelliMission
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

5 hours ago, mr_me said:

The monitor was required for 80 column text display.  The Commodore 128 added digital rgb output to support it's 80 column text mode.  Both the c128 and cpc424 supported CP/M and all the business and scientific application programs available there.  Someone looking for a video games machine might not want to pay extra for 80 column text and cp/m support.  The amstrad obviously compromised on video game specific features; and a colour monitor was likely a pricey option as was a disk drive.  What was the pricing like for a cpc424 compared to a c64 in the UK?

 

You're right, the Commodore 128 added CP/M support, and an 80-column text mode (and a bitmap mode, although Commodore didn't even tell anyone about until 1986).

 

But to use that 80-column mode, and have it actually be readable for any length of time, then IMHO you would have had to go out and buy a CGA monitor, because your old C64 RGBI-TTL monitor certainly wasn't designed to clearly display text at that high a resolution!

 

The C128's CP/M mode was gimped by the memory access timings on its 4MHz Z80, and by having the CP/M BIOS calls need to switch in 6502 mode for handling ... resulting in CP/M performance that reported runs like a 2MHz Z80.

 

The Amstrad runs a 4MHz Z80, so if you actually *wanted* to run CP/M software, then the C128 was a bit of a joke.

 

 

As for monitors, well maybe every American kid in the 1980s had a nice new color TV in their bedrooms, but in Europe lots of kids were lucky to even have a hand-me-down black-and-white TV in their bedrooms ... the color TV was downstairs in the living room, and their parents were watching it! ;)

 

That made Amstrad's inclusion of a monitor rather attractive to a lot of consumers, and the 80-column-capable high-resolution green monitor version sold very well, especially since you could easily see the 16-color games on it ... just in shades of lovely green.

 

 

Adding the 1985 price of the C64 to my earlier list gives ...

 

Commodore 64 (no cassette, no floppy, no monitor) GBP £149

Commodore 1541 floppy drive GBP £150

 

Commodore 64 (1985 Christmas bundle with cassette and software) GBP £199

 

Amstrad CPC464 (with cassette integrated) and including green-scale monitor GBP £199
Amstrad CPC464 (with cassette integrated) and including color monitor GBP £299

 

Amstrad CPC6128 (with floppy integrated) and including green-scale monitor GBP £299
Amstrad CPC6128 (with floppy integrated) and including color monitor GBP £399

 

Commodore 128 (no cassette, no floppy, no monitor) GBP £269 at launch

Commodore 128 (1570 floppy, no monitor) GBP £450 after two price drops


Atari 520ST with monochome monitor GBP £749

 

 

For more about the C128's difficulties in the UK, and Commodore's price drops, you can read this and page 4 of this.

 

It is also important to remember that whatever *my* perceived pricing or technical issues are with the C128, it still outsold the CPC range, with approximately 4.5 million sold vs Amstrad's 3 million CPCs sold (2 million of them CPC464 models). ;)

 

Edited by elmer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The c64 video output is analog (composite or s-video).  The c128 had both c64 analog and hi-res digital video output.  And the c128 supported hi-res 80 column text on its native 6502 cpu at full speed, has a graphical os and other hi res applications. They had to add a second z80 cpu to support cp/m.  They might have been thinking of the business market.  For someone like me, seeing what amiga and macinitosh were doing, cp/m didn't mean much.  And it added unnecessary extra cost to the c128.  C64 pricing in the uk was expensive; looks like it was near double that in north america. 

 

I know we started with a 20" black and white TV in the early 1970s.  That became the second TV when we got the 26" colour tv.  And then we replaced the black and white with a 14" colour tv in the early 1980s.  Consumer electronics 

was more expensive back then but housing was way more affordable.  I think the UK taxed households annually for each television.  Maybe a computer monitor was a way to avoid those fees.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, mr_me said:

The c64 video output is analog (composite or s-video).  The c128 had both c64 analog and hi-res digital video output.  And the c128 supported hi-res 80 column text on its native 6502 cpu at full speed, has a graphical os and other hi res applications. They had to add a second z80 cpu to support cp/m.  They might have been thinking of the business market.  For someone like me, seeing what amiga and macinitosh were doing, cp/m didn't mean much.  And it added unnecessary extra cost to the c128.  C64 pricing in the uk was expensive; looks like it was near double that in north america. 

 

I know we started with a 20" black and white TV in the early 1970s.  That became the second TV when we got the 26" colour tv.  And then we replaced the black and white with a 14" colour tv in the early 1980s.  Consumer electronics 

was more expensive back then but housing was way more affordable.  I think the UK taxed households annually for each television.  Maybe a computer monitor was a way to avoid those fees.

 

I apologize ... I had a brain-fart and confused the old 1702 monitors (without RGBI), with the later high-resolution-capable 1080/1084 monitors (with RGBI).

 

So you would have absolutely *needed* to buy a new monitor if you wanted to see 80-columns on the C128 .... at an extra cost.

 

 

That horrible pricing differential applied to pretty much all electroinics, and was much complained about.  US prices seemed to be converted nearly 1:1 into GBP, even though the Pound was worth approximately double the Dollar at the time.

 

 

It wasn't called a "tax", and AFAIK it still exists. Households in the UK legally *have* to pay an annual "License Fee" for each TV in the house to help pay for running the BBC (which doesn't have adverts, and so no advertising revenue).  It was substantially cheaper for a Black-and-White TV license than a Color TV license.

 

Dedicated computer monitors didn't need to pay the license fee because they couldn't display broadcast-TV programs.

 

So "yes", that was another attractive feature (for new computer owners) about the CPC's inclusion of a monitor.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, elmer said:

I apologize ... I had a brain-fart and confused the old 1702 monitors (without RGBI), with the later high-resolution-capable 1080/1084 monitors (with RGBI).

 

So you would have absolutely *needed* to buy a new monitor if you wanted to see 80-columns on the C128 .... at an extra cost.

Only if you need color.  The RGBI port of the C128 has a composite line (pin 7 IIRC) that is usable on standard monitors, though it is only monochrome.  I remember seeing the cables at some computer stores, and I want to say you could order one but I have not recently seen an ad from the period with one shown.  I made my own.  The output works just fine with 1702s and others, especially the old Apple green monochrome (which is what I used for quite some time.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/19/2020 at 5:26 AM, Keatah said:

The II series had clearly run its course and the Amiga wasn't nearly as upgradable as I was led to believe

Not sure if the Amiga was like this, but the ST had lots of upgrade options, problem was they were all fricking expensive compared to a similar upgrade in the PC world.  Hard disk-  even though the ST's ACSI interface was based off a SCSI draft, it still needed a rather pricey ACSI-SCSI adapter, then you needed a more expensive SCSI drive,  in an external case if you cared about keeping it tidy.  This is in contrast to a PC where you could just mount a cheaper IDE drive inside your PC case.   There were CPU accelerators too, but you worried about how they effect backwards compatibility.  In the beginning Atari was truly delivering 'power without the price', but by the 90s, the economies of scale in the PC world flipped that and PCs were cheaper for what you got.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On a related note, outside of an Apple II, Apple IIGS, and Mac SE CRT-based monitor, the only other CRT I still have is the Commodore 1084S. It's truly versatile as it not only supports composite and S-Video, but also RGB for the C-128, Amiga, and CoCo 3, as well as CGA/Tandy for IBM PCjr and Tandy 1000. The best part is that with systems like the C-128, CoCo 3, PCjr, and Tandy 1000, I can switch between RGB and composite/S-VIDEO modes on the fly with the simple press of a button. Of course, I use it with other systems in my collection too, including various other 8-bit computers and select consoles. The built-in stereo speakers is a nice bonus. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/19/2020 at 3:31 PM, elmer said:

For myself, I have no difficulty seeing *some* kind of middle ground in the following screenshots ...

 

Commodore 64

 

50356451788_0fe024b088_o.png

 

 

Amstrad CPC464

 

50357314497_fdef696b40_o.png

 

 

Amiga / ST

 

50356451793_667ef30c9e_o.png

 

I almost want to say the C64 wins this because it was spared the awful color palette choices in the other two versions 😄

  • Haha 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, zzip said:

Not sure if the Amiga was like this, but the ST had lots of upgrade options, problem was they were all fricking expensive compared to a similar upgrade in the PC world. 

But that was arguably due to PC having a massive lead on third party companies that produced those upgrade or helped produce those upgrades. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...