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Keatah

Computers and the videogame crash of the 80's.

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1 minute ago, wongojack said:

. . . Blerg . . .

 

I take it you reread the text.  LOL

 

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12 minutes ago, JamesD said:

There is no dip in the graphs I posted around 1982, so your graph has to be wrong or the graph I shared has to be wrong.
If your hypothesis is correct, then sales should ramp up again after the lull in sales is over.  They don't.
So why the jump in sales from 1982-1983?
This is when the computer price war started.
In 82 you had the intro of the C64, TS-1000, IBM PC, ZX-Spectrum, etc... so a whole series of more capable or cheaper machines to drive new sales.
The VIC20, Color Computer, TI-99/4A, Atari, etc... all had price drops to compete with cheaper machines in time for the Christmas sales season thanks to the new competition.
And I think that's right about the time people were saying you had to get your kids a computer to prepare for the future. 
Little did they know that largely involved arguing on the internet.

 

2 minutes ago, wongojack said:

 

No, I decided you can't even be bothered to read your own post turned into a visualization, so why talk about it anymore.

Read the line again

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I wasn't attacking your plotting skills, but I'll reword it for you. 
Either the data for the graph you plotted is wrong, or the data for the graph I shared is wrong.
They can't both be right. 
I just copied the stuff, I didn't create it.

So which is correct?
I also shared this:
"In 1982, Apple Computer is the first personal computer manufacturer to hit the $1 billion mark for annual sales."
Would it make sense for that to happen in a bad computer sales year?
Have you ever heard of a computer sales crash of 1982?
So the comment about reported sales for 1982 must be wrong.  It was probably only for one machine or something.

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On 9/9/2020 at 11:52 AM, empsolo said:

You do realize that in the US, gaming was not the reason why consumers bought an IBM PC or an Apple II, right? I mean my dad played F117 stealth fighter on his upgraded 286 but he primarily used it to bring work from his home office to the regular office.

You basically ignored the post I quoted, talking about bridging to the Atari and 64 machines, and that was because the later two were seeen as gaming machines and not serious workstations

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On 9/9/2020 at 8:15 AM, Hwlngmad said:

Yep, the Apple IIe had a truly amazing long run in public schools into the 90s when they were replaced by Macs and/or PC clones.  Still, its a bit perplexing why companies didn't try to bridge the gap between say an Apple IIe or C64 to an Atari ST and/or Amiga.  Either way, this big evolutionary step is what help PC clones really take off in the U.S.

Just a couple things, though I'm not 100% sure what you mean by bridging the gap. 
I'm taking this as introducing a machine somewhere in between.

Apple introduced the IIGS, and Jobs went out of his way to neuter it so it couldn't compete with the Mac.
It was bridging the gap, but it was expensive, and the new software base was much smaller. 
Most people simply ran Apple II software.
If it had run at 4-8MHz, I think the GUI would have run much better, but then fewer people would buy a Mac.

Amiga development took place at a different company that was purchased by Commodore, so they didn't really have much notice to create something in between.
There was GEOS to add a windowed OS and apps though.
They probably should have introduced an improved C64 upgrade with 2MHz, 128K, and additional colors instead of the TED series,
but I'm not sure the Amiga deal was in the works yet, so it's not like it would have been an intentional gap filler.

The Atari ST was completely developed from scratched after Jack took over. 
Again, no development time for some intermediate 8 bit, though they did give the 120XE more RAM... and a worse keyboard.

If you meant something like a 68008 machine... it would have had some appeal on price, but the performance wouldn't be that great.
It's already a 32 bit oriented instruction set on a 16 bit buss, so 68000 code isn't nearly as compact as 8 bit instruction sets.
Code would run quite slow on the 68008, and you still need the same amount of RAM to run the software, so it's not saving much.

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On 9/8/2020 at 2:17 PM, Hwlngmad said:

Ironically, the Apple II and C64 managed to chug along further into the late '80s well past their prime where one would think there should have been more (attempted) successors.  Still, very odd, but very true too.

A big driver for that was software.  By the late 80's, there was a lot of good software for both machines.  People were buying Apple 8 bitters for education and small business.  A few were buying them as workstations of some sort too, development, test, measure, control.  Same for C64, a bit less on the niche part of things.  Both machines had great game libraries.  

 

I knew people running both machines to make good money.  On the Apple, it was Appleworks mostly.  On the C64, I didn't see many, but a couple people, including an uncle of mine, used a C64 word processor that could conditionally include text and populate fields.  He made a ton doing real estate with that C64 cranking out kick ass offers and contracts in minutes.

 

I myself had a variety of machines, but a lot of the real work got done on an Apple 8 bit machine.  

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On 9/9/2020 at 1:30 PM, Keatah said:

That was a big stink for me, having a floating point unit. My first 486 had one and I was a little disappointed to learn, even had hard time believing it, that games didn't really make use of it. Not even flight simulators or other simulations. It. Just. Wasn't. Used.

CAD used it.  I am not sure much else, aside from the occasional fractal fun type program, did.

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15 hours ago, JamesD said:

One of the things that came out of the 2020 lock down, is that a lot of people that had been using tablets or phones to browse the internet, send/receive email, etc... suddenly bought PCs to work from home.

That hit me too.  Very large numbers of people basically use a tablet / phone as their primary "home" Internet machine.  And this trends bigger with young people, who are pretty strapped for cash these days.  If there is a priority, they are going to get a nicer phone and just deal.  Worst case, mooch a laptop.

 

Working at home / remotely is going to have a positive impact on that.  Lots of people may just adopt desktop, and really I mean laptop computing employing the desktop metaphor here, computing more broadly in their lives.  

 

That may save us from the ongoing touchify everything trend that is out there.  Keyboard / mouse rocks hard for getting work done.  Adding touch is cool and can help, but touch only, maybe with some of the more technical ones employing an external keyboard / touchpad, sucks.  I will say though.  Get a higher end phone with some actual compute power and RAM and add a keyboard / mouse / touchpad to it, and suddenly one can do a lot more these days than many people realize.

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Provided the OS lets them and has provisions for what they want to do. File managing and importing/exporting operations always seem fraught with tediousness. Procedures designed with restrictions which allow one file to be moved after an annoying number of taps or clicks. And you're never quite sure precisely where the file is. Can't work that way, and thus my mobile phone remains just that, a phone and camera. Everything else waits till getting home to a real computer and not a babysitting toy.

 

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56 minutes ago, potatohead said:

I myself had a variety of machines, but a lot of the real work got done on an Apple 8 bit machine.  

That is right. I got in on the Apple II scene in the late 70's. And have had a II series machine in operation till I got a 486 in 92/93. That's a long stretch.

 

I did a lot of word processing and journaling, among other text-based productivity and printing activities. And I did try to replace the II with an Amiga. Despite the Amiga being vastly more powerful (on paper) the software for how I worked and what I was doing just wasn't there.

 

Transitioning into the PC from the II was an easy no-brainer. Importing/exporting and file-management on PC just worked and was more adaptable at accepting the work and workflow I was doing on the II. Some of which I continue to do today.

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16 hours ago, JamesD said:

I think families were opting to buy their kids computers instead of video games at that time as they could do more than just play games.

My parents and grandparents were starting to call my cartridge-based videogame consoles "baby games". Insisting I "grow up" and start doing computers. This was in the mid-80's! And I had an Apple II in the late 70's! Go figure..

 

16 hours ago, JamesD said:

Tandy's policy of not carrying 3rd party software in their stores kept them from getting more support even thought they were one of the sales leaders coming into the 80s.

I never thought anything of that state of affairs. For a while I thought it was part of their downfall. But today I think it was them trying to continue marketing the model 4 and 16 for too long. Too long into the PC era.

 

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11 hours ago, JamesD said:

Little did they know that largely involved arguing on the internet.

Too early.  This was the time of MacPaint nudes and BBS flame wars :)

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12 hours ago, Keatah said:

And have had a II series machine in operation till I got a 486 in 92/93. That's a long stretch.

My experience was similar.  Got my own Apple in the 80's, and used it regularly through about 93.  It actually was the first machine I put on the Internet via a dialup ISP offering shell accounts and a pick up service for moving big downloads without using the sloooow modem.

 

I used my Apple for a number of things:

 

Writing and documentation was the top use.  

Communications.

Developing manufacturing related BASIC programs.  Mostly these computed hard to derive things used in various layout and CNC related tasks.  Got started on a G-code backplotter for a machine I used a lot and just never finished.  Should have :D

 

I would still have that one, but a forced move a bit later on caused me a lot of grief.  In the process most of my gear got stolen.  

 

So, no Apple, until about '10. 

 

I loved the + and //e   Decided to get a Platinum and I'm glad I did.  Really like that one, and we've got great hardware options happening these days.  A FastChip with 65816 was a great buy.  Always wanted to do some programming on the //e with an '816, so I got that there for the next time I'm feeling it.  Add in Serial, CFFA, and a disk drive, and it's set to rock!

 

I use it for writing and when I need a terminal every once in a while for electronics related projects.  Need to see whether any terminal software can go really fast with the FastChip running.  That can wait too, but will be kind of interesting.  And it's my goto if I want to knock out some retro programming.

 

So many years later, it's still kind of a workstation.  If I had to, I could do quite a lot on it.  And being able to plug in a USB thumb drive, do stuff, hop to a laptop and extract the info is kick ass.  Huge tech gap closed very reasonably.

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Keatah said:

Tandy's policy of not carrying 3rd party software in their stores kept them from getting more support even thought they were one of the sales leaders coming into the 80s.

Really @JamesD said that, but I'm not gonna fight the forum spiffy quote system right now.

 

Seriously!  That decision was a very poor one in hindsight.  The Tandy scene, maybe Coco 3 in particular, would have looked very different.  That little machine is very powerful.  Deserved much better software than it generally saw.

 

 

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Re:  ColecoVision

 

In my neck of the woods, a few people got 'em.  And having a legit Donkey Kong was a big deal.  Impressed a lot of people, but I must say the moment the NES hit?

 

Boom!  They were everywhere within a year.  

 

If you ask me, the Coleco machine had a lot going for it.  Controllers, and enough graphics power to make some compelling games.  Was a definite upgrade to the systems prior, but it was not quite there.  To me, seeing the NES and things coming, and what computers were doing?

 

It seemed high end, but last of an earlier generation more than it seemed forward looking.  That's just one subjective take.  

 

And marketing had a YUGE influence on all that.  The NES was the start of something, and it was big, they had those gaming events, etc...  

 

How things were marketed had just as big of an impact as any technical decisions did.  IMHO, the "add on computer" was seen as a dubious move by a lot of people, and it was easy to get lumped into the toy computer bucket.  The Aquarius, Tomy, Adam, others were all kind of little islands.  Thinking back, people were like, either get a computer, or get a game system.   

 

I know that's how most of my circle of people felt about it.  The good stuff was happening elsewhere.

 

Game systems played games.  Computers could do that, and actually do computing. 

 

A lot of people who got an NES also got a C64 too.

 

Right about that time, computing split.  As others have mentioned, people began taking work home, others were starting up work (that's me taking contracts and delivering programs, or info, graphics) at home. 

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On 8/25/2020 at 9:34 AM, bluejay said:

A successful computer makes a lasting impact on the computer industry. So in my opinion, the IBM PC was the most successful of them all. it wasn't a great computer, and it was ridiculously overpriced.

I often wonder what the IBM PC would have looked like without the Apple 2 out there and successful.

 

Frankly, I always saw the PC as the business Apple 2.  Back in the early days, a well equipped Apple 2 was just as serious as the PC was, and due to an insane amount of software, totally capable.  

 

Look at an Apple mainboard:

 

 DSCF4862.jpg

 

Now look at an early PC mainboard:

 

59d7949909be789709ac45e11c2e7637.jpg

 

I think that's the 5150.

 

If we want to talk influence, seems to me the Apple 2 punches solid for it's weight class, doesn't it?

 

Apple 2 computers pretty much defined what a "PC" actually was.  

 

To me, there were a couple significant differences:

 

The 6502 was solid 8 bit, and the video system was part of the base configuration.  

 

On the PC, the initial CPU was 16 bit where it counts:  Memory addressing  And the video system was an option.

 

I often wonder what would have happened had Apple put another video option on a card early on.  The options that did get built in and expanded were just good enough anyway.  That's part of why the machines had the long life they did.

 

But, just a bit more and things may have turned out differently.  Most likely outcome would have been an even longer life, and another round of software, given color high density text and an output that could drive better than TV displays.  The 16 bit 65816 would have been an obvious choice for more than the gs.  LOL, I have one in my //e anyway, clocks up to 14, maybe 16Mhz, I can't remember off hand right now.

Edited by potatohead
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Just now, potatohead said:

I often wonder what the IBM PC would have looked like without the Apple 2 out there and successful.

 

Frankly, I always saw the PC as the business Apple 2.  Back in the early days, a well equipped Apple 2 was just as serious as the PC was, and due to an insane amount of software, totally capable.  

 

Look at an Apple mainboard:

 

 DSCF4862.jpg

 

Now look at an early PC mainboard:

 

59d7949909be789709ac45e11c2e7637.jpg

 

I think that's the 5150.

 

If we want to talk influence, seems to me the Apple 2 punches solid for it's weight class, doesn't it?

 

Apple 2 computers pretty much defined what a "PC" actually was.  

 

To me, there were a couple significant differences:

 

The 6502 was solid 8 bit, and the video system was part of the base configuration.  

 

On the PC, the initial CPU was 16 bit where it counts:  Memory addressing  And the video system was an option.

 

I often wonder what would have happened had Apple put another video option on a card early on.  The options that did get built in and expanded were just good enough anyway.  That's part of why the machines had the long life they did.

 

But, just a bit more and things may have turned out differently.  Most likely outcome would have been an even longer life, and another round of software, given color high density text and an output that could drive better than TV displays.

 

Impressive.

 

Could I add a new graphic/audio/hard disk card on Apple II?

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I am not sure about a hard card back then, but SCSI controllers were made and PRODOS supported hard disks.  I've used those back in the day.  Never owned one myself though.

 

Edit:  Today?  Yeah, you can put a hard disk into an Apple 2   Nobody does it anymore, using solid state media instead.  My Apple has a CFFA 3000 card, and has a few hard disks on tap via Compact Flash, and if I want, I can drop disk images, floppy, hard disk, onto a USB thumb drive, plug it in, boot and go.

 

Here's a good one:

 

https://archive.org/details/TotalReplay

 

4AM is converting a ton of Apple gaming software for use on PRODOS hard disks.  It's a lot of fun right now, still in development, but totally good to go as is.  

 

Some graphics cards were also produced, but saw niche uses.  That's my musing above.  Had Apple themselves actually produced one, things may be different.  

 

Audio cards were produced too.  Mockingboards.  

 

Outside what you asked for, there were a TON of add on cards for the Apple 2.  Midi, data acquisition cards, printers, accelerators, serial, parallel, modem, hardware controllers of all kinds...  And you could get coprocessors!

 

Z80 CP/M cards saw a lot of use.  People running WordStar and other business apps.  I did some of that early on, though my current machine doesn't have one.  I don't care right now.  But the 6809, 68000, Z80, others were available on cards to do specialized tasks, or for cross development.

 

The Apple was often used to develop for other machines too.  One could add a lot of inexpensive, reasonably fast storage and RAM and build an interface for whatever it was onto a card and go.  Starpath developed for the Supercharger on one.  Many 8 bit developers had one and would cross compile for other machines.

 

It's really the PC before the PC, in my view.

 

Edited by potatohead
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1 hour ago, potatohead said:

I often wonder what the IBM PC would have looked like without the Apple 2 out there and successful.

 

Frankly, I always saw the PC as the business Apple 2.  Back in the early days, a well equipped Apple 2 was just as serious as the PC was, and due to an insane amount of software, totally capable.  

 

Look at an Apple mainboard:

 

 DSCF4862.jpg

 

Now look at an early PC mainboard:

 

59d7949909be789709ac45e11c2e7637.jpg

 

I think that's the 5150.

 

If we want to talk influence, seems to me the Apple 2 punches solid for it's weight class, doesn't it?

 

Apple 2 computers pretty much defined what a "PC" actually was.  

 

To me, there were a couple significant differences:

 

The 6502 was solid 8 bit, and the video system was part of the base configuration.  

 

On the PC, the initial CPU was 16 bit where it counts:  Memory addressing  And the video system was an option.

 

I often wonder what would have happened had Apple put another video option on a card early on.  The options that did get built in and expanded were just good enough anyway.  That's part of why the machines had the long life they did.

 

But, just a bit more and things may have turned out differently.  Most likely outcome would have been an even longer life, and another round of software, given color high density text and an output that could drive better than TV displays.  The 16 bit 65816 would have been an obvious choice for more than the gs.  LOL, I have one in my //e anyway, clocks up to 14, maybe 16Mhz, I can't remember off hand right now.

The Apple II was a great computer, and no doubt it influenced a handful of other computers. However, no other computer will beat the original PC 5150 and PC-DOS 1.0 when it comes to making an impact to the computer industry. Modern computers don't have ANYTHING to do with BASIC or ProDOS. And I wouldn't say the Apple II was the first to define what a PC actually was; the Apple I did that before it. But the sheer fact that computers being produced today are still based upon the original, 1981 PC's way of things, I mean, no other computer can beat that.

Edited by bluejay
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Oh I don't know about all that.

 

Like I said, what would the IBM PC have looked like had there not already been a PC to derive a PC from?

 

That's what the Apple machine was.

 

Bet you a cookie, more than a few IBM'ers had Apple machines, or used them.   

 

At the time, both experiences were remarkably similar.

 

Turn on a PC with nothing else, and you get BASIC, and a cassette I/O for storage.

Turn on an Apple, and you get BASIC and a cassette I/O for storage.

 

Boot a floppy on a PC, and you get DOS and or some application running.

Boot a floppy on an Apple, and you get DOS and or some application running.

 

Both came with a speaker, lol

 

Etc...

 

There were Apple clones.  There were PC clones.

 

The IBM machine didn't really offer anything new.  Had the Apple 2 not been a thing, the IBM effort may look quite different, and who is to say it would have ended up how it did?

 

Yeah, a lot ended up derived from that.  No argument there.  And no worries.  

 

Just subtract the Apple 2, leaving the TRS-80 and the PET, and what would IBM have done?  It's an interesting thought to me, and I think it speaks strongly to the influence discussion.

 

One could argue that overall design approach is just logical and would have happened generally.  That's entirely fair too.

 

I disagree about the Apple 1.  It's sort of there, but not really useful in the general sense.   

 

Having lived through those times, I frankly see the software as the more primary influence and driver behind what drives modern computing today.  What IBM did looks like a straightforward, and conservative offering well aligned with what was already successful.  The decision to do it on Intel with Microsoft had a huge impact too.  

 

And modern computing is diverging again too, has been for a while now.

 

It's going to be interesting in a decade or two to come back and revisit a topic like this and talk about ARM vs Intel, the PC and non PC / tablet / touch / voice / wearable computing.

 

We've hit some limits, similar to those in play back in 8 bit times.  

 

In the next decade, we are going to see more custom hardware again, or until we get a new means of general production that can reach new clock speeds, or something.  Who knows?

 

Until that happens, it's all going to start diverging in subtle ways.  Little bits of custom silicon here.  Security, networking, graphics, user interface, I/O maybe.  Frankly, I'm hoping it shakes up some and we get another colorful era to enjoy.

 

 

Edited by potatohead
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2 hours ago, Serguei2 said:

Could I add a new graphic/audio/hard disk card on Apple II?

 

Separately, yes.

 

There are the Ufonic, Mockingboard, Echo, SuperTalker, Mountain Hardware Music System, S.A.M. DAC, and even modern-day soundboards. There are some niche "Sprite" boards built around a TMS99xx chip, RGB monitor hookups, modern-day RGB monitor hookups, and several old and new VGA-out boards. And there is the Vulcan internal hard disk kit as well as the SpaceCoastSystems internal 20MB HDD. There's also a way to mount a modern laptop drive in there too.

 

But to put all that on a SINGLE card, that was never done back in the day. Somewhat due to space. Chips were bigger back then. More to do with bus limitations I presume. That's a lot of functionality to move over an 8-bit bus - though each function works one at a time. You won't be playing music while loading. And don't forget the power supply for it all.

 

Today you can get a VGA daughtercard that piggybacks onto the RAMWORKS III card in slot 0. Mockingboards are "somewhat standard". And the CFFA3000 or BMOW floppy emu picks up the hard disk. CFFA takes its own slot, BMOW-FE plugs into the original existing Disk II controller card.

 

So 2 of those functions don't consume a slot. Just the Mockingboard would - until someone figures a way to piggyback that! Ha!

 

And all modern versions use microcontrollers and CPLD/FPGA and other modern microscopically-sized parts that consume low power.

 

Edited by Keatah

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IBM was clearly inspired by Apple. They were neck and neck in the early 80s, and even though the Apple 1 was a terrible computer it was the first computer to define what a personal computer was. 

However, in the end, the Apple II died and the PC won. Why is the primary hard drive called C:\? IBM and MS-DOS. Why do executable programs end with .exe? IBM and MS-DOS.

I like Apple and I understand the IBM couldn't have been without the computers that came before it. MS-DOS was much more versatile than ProDOS. The IBM PC, in many ways, was more capable than the Apple II. But best of all, it had potential to expand to infinity and beyond. As I have said, modern computers are based on the IBM PC because it was better than what the Apple II did. I see no other logical reason why modern computers would still be more or less compatible with a computer almost 40 years old.

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