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Keatah

Computers and the videogame crash of the 80's.

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7 minutes ago, JamesD said:

The Tandy 1000 group supposedly tried to get the CoCo line discontinued, and pointed out how much better the 1000 version of Rampage looked in a meeting!
Except it turned out that they pointed to the CoCo 3 screen which was the better looking version and that insured the CoCo was still manufactured a couple more years.
When the CoCo was discontinued, they supposedly destroyed all the design documents, etc... to make sure the decision was final.
Someone from the 1000 group no doubt.

but were the two really in competition with each other?   Seemed like people flocked to the T1000 because they wanted an affordable PC clone.  Those people were never going to buy a CoCo,  likewise the audience for a CoCo wasn't looking for a PC.

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Just now, zzip said:

but were the two really in competition with each other?   Seemed like people flocked to the T1000 because they wanted an affordable PC clone.  Those people were never going to buy a CoCo,  likewise the audience for a CoCo wasn't looking for a PC.

They probably weren't but the PC group perceived the CoCo 3 as cannibalizing their sales. 
Tandy said several times that the CoCo was their top selling machine, and that might have caused some jealousy.

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The conspiracy theories with companies purposely sabotaging their own products, like Coleco with the Atari 2600 and Intellivision ports of Donkey Kong, Apple with the IIGS, Tandy with the CoCo 3, etc., really have to go away. Rarely, if ever, will a company purposely do something to weaken or diminish their own product. After all, it's their product with their name on it, and the only harm they'd do is directly to themselves. If they really didn't want a product out there, they'd either discontinue it or not release it in the first place. It's almost always other factors at play, like resources, time, or skill.

 

In terms of the CoCo 3, as Boisy and I covered in the book, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer (https://amzn.to/32s9lrW), it's a miracle it got made at all. The Deluxe Color Computer, which was a genuine upgrade for the CoCo series, was already nixed. The CoCo 3 was a budget-limited way to extend the line a bit further. Much-needed upgrades for sound and other extras were simply left off to keep the bill of materials as low as possible (and if the engineers had insisted, there would have never been a CoCo 3, so you take what you can get). Tandy knew exactly how much a product had to cost to turn a profit and they were going to stick to that metric. And yes, absolutely, the Tandy 1000 series was the lead computer series for Tandy, but if the CoCo and TRS-80 were still going to sell enough units, sure enough Tandy was going to sell them. That's why both the CoCo 3 and TRS-80 Model 4 made it into catalogs long past their respective primes and useful commercial lifespans. For modest 8-bit computers like the CoCo and TRS-80 series to last roughly a decade and 14 years, respectively, on the market, is no small feat. 

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1 minute ago, Bill Loguidice said:

The conspiracy theories with companies purposely sabotaging their own products, like Coleco with the Atari 2600 and Intellivision ports of Donkey Kong, Apple with the IIGS, Tandy with the CoCo 3, etc., really have to go away. Rarely, if ever, will a company purposely do something to weaken or diminish their own product. After all, it's their product with their name on it, and the only harm they'd do is directly to themselves. If they really didn't want a product out there, they'd either discontinue it or not release it in the first place. It's almost always other factors at play, like resources, time, or skill.

What about the stories of Steve Jobs/Mac faction vs the Apple IIgs?

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14 minutes ago, zzip said:

What about the stories of Steve Jobs/Mac faction vs the Apple IIgs?

It was the Apple II in general, really. They wanted Mac as the future, period. Arguably, they were right, because the Apple II 8-bit architecture and the 16-bit architecture in the Apple IIGS really would lead to eventual dead ends, despite the former being the money maker that kept the company solvent through the Mac's severe growing pains. Again, though, like with the CoCo and the TRS-80, it's hard to argue that the Apple II series hadn't been given its due or run its course after an amazing 16 year run. In any case, it's hard to really pin down how the IIGS would have been purposely hampered. As with the CoCo 3 there were certainly curious design omissions, but it's hard to say in the case of the IIGS that, as with the CoCo 3, it wasn't simply more practical considerations that led to those. More parts, more additions, more features, etc., lead to higher, and potentially impractical, selling prices.

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30 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

The conspiracy theories with companies purposely sabotaging their own products, like Coleco with the Atari 2600 and Intellivision ports of Donkey Kong, Apple with the IIGS, Tandy with the CoCo 3, etc., really have to go away. Rarely, if ever, will a company purposely do something to weaken or diminish their own product. After all, it's their product with their name on it, and the only harm they'd do is directly to themselves. If they really didn't want a product out there, they'd either discontinue it or not release it in the first place. It's almost always other factors at play, like resources, time, or skill.

 

 

I hear where you are coming from here, but this bullsh!+ below is also very believable.  "I want more funds for my product.  I've reviewed the numbers, can't you see how much better it is?  Just look at the difference" <points at wrong screen>.   I mean, I've been in that meeting!

1 hour ago, JamesD said:

The Tandy 1000 group supposedly tried to get the CoCo line discontinued, and pointed out how much better the 1000 version of Rampage looked in a meeting!
Except it turned out that they pointed to the CoCo 3 screen which was the better looking version and that insured the CoCo was still manufactured a couple more years.
When the CoCo was discontinued, they supposedly destroyed all the design documents, etc... to make sure the decision was final.
Someone from the 1000 group no doubt.
 

 



Beyond price, I'd have to say games were the #1 thing people did with their computers.
People might buy a word processor, or Print Master, but they came back over and over for games.
Suggesting people somehow chose a machine by features is probably overrating most customer's knowledge.
I saw a lot of customers pass through my partner's computer store, and for every person that knew anything about computers, there were a hundred that knew nothing.

We'd hear "So and so said this", "I want to get what the schools have", "this magazine says", "it has to run this", "it has to be IBM",  etc...
The people that said "it has to run this" often didn't even know what that software did, someone just told them they needed to be able to run it.
I almost never heard anyone say anything about the hardware beyond "I need a hard drive", "I need a printer", or "I have to dial in to the university computer".
They certainly weren't asking about quality, performance, etc...  and any decision made based on that was indirect via a friend that knows computers, or a buyer's guide.
If performance was an issue, they just knew more MHz was better.
Oddly enough, a lot of people had never even heard of Commodore or Amiga was, so I'm pretty sure they didn't know what a C64 was. 
Everyone knew who Radio Shack, Apple, and IBM were.
From what I could tell, people didn't want to know about computers, they only got one because they thought they had to.
I think the reason a lot of people use tablets instead of computers now, is people still don't want to know about computers.
They see a tablet as an appliance, but a computer somehow has the expectation it requires you know something special.
 

 

I got chills reading that last part.  The more things change . . .

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29 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

The conspiracy theories with companies purposely sabotaging their own products, like Coleco with the Atari 2600 and Intellivision ports of Donkey Kong, Apple with the IIGS, Tandy with the CoCo 3, etc., really have to go away. Rarely, if ever, will a company purposely do something to weaken or diminish their own product. After all, it's their product with their name on it, and the only harm they'd do is directly to themselves. If they really didn't want a product out there, they'd either discontinue it or not release it in the first place. It's almost always other factors at play, like resources, time, or skill.

 

In terms of the CoCo 3, as Boisy and I covered in the book, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer (https://amzn.to/32s9lrW), it's a miracle it got made at all. The Deluxe Color Computer, which was a genuine upgrade for the CoCo series, was already nixed. The CoCo 3 was a budget-limited way to extend the line a bit further. Much-needed upgrades for sound and other extras were simply left off to keep the bill of materials as low as possible (and if the engineers had insisted, there would have never been a CoCo 3, so you take what you can get). Tandy knew exactly how much a product had to cost to turn a profit and they were going to stick to that metric. And yes, absolutely, the Tandy 1000 series was the lead computer series for Tandy, but if the CoCo and TRS-80 were still going to sell enough units, sure enough Tandy was going to sell them. That's why both the CoCo 3 and TRS-80 Model 4 made it into catalogs long past their respective primes and useful commercial lifespans. For modest 8-bit computers like the CoCo and TRS-80 series to last roughly a decade and 14 years, respectively, on the market, is no small feat. 

The story about the meeting where the Tandy 1000 guys were trying to do away with the CoCo 3 was from Steve Bjork, the guy that wrote the CoCo 3 version of Rampage
Tell him he got it wrong
 

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31 minutes ago, wongojack said:

I hear where you are coming from here, but this bullsh!+ below is also very believable.  "I want more funds for my product.  I've reviewed the numbers, can't you see how much better it is?  Just look at the difference" <points at wrong screen>.   I mean, I've been in that meeting!

 

I got chills reading that last part.  The more things change . . .

Corporate turf wars are common. 
I have plenty of stories myself.
*edit*
Check the Chuck Peddle story from Motorola at just after the 48 minute mark

Classic corporate turf war crap

 

Edited by JamesD
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17 minutes ago, wongojack said:

I got chills reading that last part.  The more things change . . .

It's also why even when other smartphones were better in number of features and accessibility people still kept the Iphone train going because they deemed them as too much of a learning experience, even when Palm was in the game.

 

This is why that people who are into technology these days are dumb as a box of rocks. There's no learning curve at a basic level and they don't really need to try and gain any knowledge outside if their app doesn't download form the play store properly or they want to avoid factory resetting a phone because they downloaded a virus from their porn site.

 

There's a reason why Windows tablets lost to android and IOS decisively. It's only recently with Surface tablets that marketshare picked up and even than that's aimed toward a specific userbase not the general consumer, that's what Windows RT was aimed at and failed miserably.

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There's nothing conspiratorial about the IIgs being crippled or held back by Apple. Valid marketing reasons existed. Many IIgs users really enjoy using the color desktop when their machine is equipped with a 7Mhz accelerator card. Apple had the option of going faster but Jobs insisted only 3MHz be used.

 

It is also true that 16bit systems were either showing signs of aging or about to, especially once the 32bit 386 got underway.

 

Intel was transitioning upward in bus widths as well as clock speed. But it's the bus width I wanted to point out here. And their ecosphere remained backward/forward compatible to a remarkable degree. The people who made the main part of the infrastructure understood this without saying as much or making a big stink about it. It just happened.

 

Once processor silicon got to be orders of magnitudes faster than the I/O and RAM, Intel and the PC working groups started layering the system. Caches, buffers, multiple bus speeds in a system. More asynchronous operation. Just off the top of my head I can break down my P3 rig as follows:

 

8/12MHz keyboard

4.77 - 20MHz ISA bus

33MHz PCI Bus

33/66MHz AGP bus

100MHz Frontside CPU-Northbridge bus

Several varying frequencies internal to the CPU itself

 

And the number of interim speeds keeps increasing over the years all the while maintaining compatibility. Something the early single-board computers weren't designed to do. There was no need. Everything ran at CPU speeds. And so it started simply when CPU speeds exceeded the ISA bus speeds. That being due to electrical signaling issues, skew crosstalk, sloppy timing. More.

 

Today we may lose a few speeds here and there as technology becomes obsolete. But they keep increasing in the silicon. And for different reasons such as power management and thermal regulation.

 

The commonly known early examples of this were the first clock-doubling efforts. Use a cheap bus with cheap memory at 25MHz and run the CPU at 50MHz. Or in the case of a PowerStacker, 100MHz. Or the 486DX2/66 itself. A favorite that set the standard for early DOS gaming. Today the retro sweet spot is a Pentium. Not no bloody II, III, 4, or D. Just Pentium!

 

Early Apple II accelerators were similar in concept. A Titan or a Transwarp or a Zip/Rocket chip may have run somewhere between 3 and 8MHz. They had their own memory and other glue logic, essentially making them a full computer minus the I/O and peripheral connectivity. The fast board would talk to the Apple II and use the peripherals and I/O at 1MHz for compatibility. Especially the DISK II drive which was entirely dependent on the CPU for every read/write operation. When done with I/O it would run the software at the accelerated speed.

 

Now whether they achieved this 1MHz bus compatibility by varying the clock speed or though cache, buffering, or clock division I don't know. Likely all techniques were used.

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1 hour ago, Leeroy ST said:

It's also why even when other smartphones were better in number of features and accessibility people still kept the Iphone train going because they deemed them as too much of a learning experience, even when Palm was in the game.

I got into the iPhone once enough friends and family had one. And it just plain works.

 

Everyone knows that I abhor software updates. Especially with Windows. But that isn't the case with iPhone and iOS. I've done a few updates over the past few years and they worked flawlessly. With downtime being just a couple of minutes while the phone rebooted.

 

1 hour ago, Leeroy ST said:

This is why that people who are into technology these days are dumb as a box of rocks. There's no learning curve at a basic level and they don't really need to try and gain any knowledge outside if their app doesn't download form the play store properly or they want to avoid factory resetting a phone because they downloaded a virus from their porn site.

One could argue that technology has progressed to the point where a box of rocks can operate it. And there are tons of supersmart people that wouldn't know the 1st thing about how it works. They're likely just not interested.

 

And technology isn't for everyone - just as being a pilot isn't for everyone.

 

1 hour ago, Leeroy ST said:

There's a reason why Windows tablets lost to android and IOS decisively. It's only recently with Surface tablets that marketshare picked up and even than that's aimed toward a specific userbase not the general consumer, that's what Windows RT was aimed at and failed miserably.

Windows is too tedious for tablets and phones. Though Microsoft is going to try the phone thing again.

 

Problem is that Windows works best with an expansive screen, keyboard, and mouse. Scrunching all that down to 10-inches isn't ideal. Text and numbers are hard to read. And the best content creation happens when you're seated at a workstation. Not bouncing around on the city bus or in the coffee shoppe.

 

Furthermore, mobile device manufactures love to place limitations on desktop OS'es when run on mobile devices - regardless of their capabilities. Don't know why. But they're relentless. And mobile OS'es don't have the features to cross over into the desktop arena. So. Yeh..

 

I did not take interest in RT because it wouldn't run any software I already had.

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3 hours ago, JamesD said:

The story about the meeting where the Tandy 1000 guys were trying to do away with the CoCo 3 was from Steve Bjork, the guy that wrote the CoCo 3 version of Rampage
Tell him he got it wrong
 

X2 - I think the issue with the CoCo III was decided to advertise it at 640x192 resolution and 64 colors for marketing reasons rather than 640x225 and 256 colors as the GIME was capable of specifically to keep from competing with the Tandy 1000 and keep it squarely in the CoCo I/II space.

 

There was already an issue of internal competition for the 1000 line with the Model IV line which was in the business space. The OS-9 equipped CoCo III could have further intruded into this so Tandy was very careful to maximize niche marketing across their multiple line-ups without the multiple computer products breaking into each others niches. Underplaying some specs was part of the marketing genius.

 

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18 minutes ago, Mr SQL said:

X2 - I think the issue with the CoCo III was decided to advertise it at 640x192 resolution and 64 colors for marketing reasons rather than 640x225 and 256 colors as the GIME was capable of specifically to keep from competing with the Tandy 1000 and keep it squarely in the CoCo I/II space.

 

There was already an issue of internal competition for the 1000 line with the Model IV line which was in the business space. The OS-9 equipped CoCo III could have further intruded into this so Tandy was very careful to maximize niche marketing across their multiple line-ups without the multiple computer products breaking into each others niches. Underplaying some specs was part of the marketing genius.

 

The 256 color mode is something of a legend/myth. It was intended at one point, but never properly implemented and no one to my knowledge has ever been able to even do a hack to make it work. It's again a dubious claim in my opinion that Tandy as a company would be concerned in any way about taking sales away from itself by implementing a nominally useful 256 color mode(s) on the CoCo 3, especially when they couldn't even bother to upgrade several other key components that really needed upgrading along the way. Like just about every other CoCo design, the CoCo 3 design was cost-constrained design from the beginning.

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1 hour ago, Keatah said:

I got into the iPhone once enough friends and family had one. And it just plain works.

 

 

I agree with this 100%. I've had plenty of Android phones in the past and have written books and reviews on various such devices, so I'm certainly no stranger to them. You just reach a point where you want something to work and updates to be guaranteed. As such, I've been on iPhones and iPads as my primary devices in their categories for years now, as is the rest of my family save for my youngest of three daughters, who's about to turn 6, who has a hand-me-down Android phone and uses spare Android-based tablets.

 

Having an Android phone often feels a bit like maintaining a PC, which I do enough of with my actual PCs. I just need my phone, and, to a lesser degree, tablet, to just work. It also helps that more of the apps I count on are on iOS, and of course I'm always guaranteed all kinds of cases and accessories will be made for the Apple stuff. In terms of functionality, I can't imagine a single thing I'm missing out on, especially since I have no need to root my device or run "unauthorized" apps of any kind. I'm also all-in on the Apple Watch (and I guess for that matter, Apple TVs as our primary cord cutting streaming boxes).

 

On the flipside I have no use for Macs. I'm Windows 10 all the way. Again, a lot of that has to do with everything being made for it versus Mac or Linux, both of which have their pluses and points of interest, but I'd rather deal with the dominant OS and have access to more stuff. 

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11 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

The 256 color mode is something of a legend/myth. It was intended at one point, but never properly implemented and no one to my knowledge has ever been able to even do a hack to make it work. It's again a dubious claim in my opinion that Tandy as a company would be concerned in any way about taking sales away from itself by implementing a nominally useful 256 color mode(s) on the CoCo 3, especially when they couldn't even bother to upgrade several other key components that really needed upgrading along the way. Like just about every other CoCo design, the CoCo 3 design was cost-constrained design from the beginning.

A famous CoCo programmer from the scene explained to me a few years ago that he had unlocked this mode and got it working on a stock CoCo III and that Tandy had deliberately disabled it. I don't think he was the only programmer to do so.

 

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1 minute ago, Mr SQL said:

A famous CoCo programmer from the scene explained to me a few years ago that he had unlocked this mode and got it working on a stock CoCo III and that Tandy had deliberately disabled it. I don't think he was the only programmer to do so.

 

Despite some herculean efforts in the community, no one has been able to prove it, sadly, so I guess the capability to do so may die with him.

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12 minutes ago, Mr SQL said:

A famous CoCo programmer from the scene explained to me a few years ago that he had unlocked this mode and got it working on a stock CoCo III and that Tandy had deliberately disabled it. I don't think he was the only programmer to do so.

I know an engineer supposedly said he tested the 256 color mode, but that might of been on the prototype.
Leaving that out could have had to do with the number of gates that would fit on the chip, or other costs. 
That's one case where I'm not sure it had anything to do with competing with the 1000 line, though I don't blame people for being suspicious.

 

 

 

 

 
Edited by JamesD

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Just now, Bill Loguidice said:

Despite some herculean efforts in the community, no one has been able to prove it, sadly, so I guess the capability to do so may die with him.

Yes it would be really cool to see a demo of this mode being unlocked before it is lost to time.

 

Check out this CoCo III only demo that creates a smoothly animated melting ball using timing idiosyncrasies in the GIME. CoCo fan Briza typed it in after I posted the program listing from Rainbow Magazine: 

 

 

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1 minute ago, JamesD said:

I know an engineer supposedly said he got the 256 color mode working, but that might of been on the prototype.
Leaving that out could have had to do with the number of gates that would fit on the chip, or other costs. 
That's one case where I'm not sure it had anything to do with competing with the 1000 line, though I don't blame people for being suspicious.

 

 

 

 

 

I wonder if it's the same engineer?

 

It's possible the design initiative included marketing parameters and not just costs considering how many models Tandy manufactured, advertising the max graphics resolution as 640x192 instead of 640x225 was pure marketing downplay because the contemporary model 1000 was spec'd at 640x200.

 

 

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Re: Phones

 

I live Samsung and Android.  I never did fully understand why people have so much trouble with their android phones.

 

Seriously, I have not had trouble.  At all for pretty much a decade since I got my Note 4 phone.  Currently I am using a note of  and can do almost everything I do on my laptop on this phone.

 

Remote conference

Content create illustrations, videos, etc...

Email other comms

Write programs

Run programs 

Terminal

Nav and all standard phone things

Content edit audio, photo, annotate

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3 minutes ago, potatohead said:

Re: Phones

 

I live Samsung and Android.  I never did fully understand why people have so much trouble with their android phones.

 

Seriously, I have not had trouble.  At all for pretty much a decade since I got my Note 4 phone.  Currently I am using a note of  and can do almost everything I do on my laptop on this phone.

 

Remote conference

Content create illustrations, videos, etc...

Email other comms

Write programs

Run programs 

Terminal

Nav and all standard phone things

Content edit audio, photo, annotate

Many things that, to be fair, are pretty niche and specific to your needs. While an Android phone may be better for some people, the same can be said for an iPhone. I always try to remember that what I want and/or need is not the same as what other people may want and/or need. Regardless of what you personally think of an iPhone, there's no obvious reason for most people to not get one over some other phone. Most people will lose out on nothing and actually have some advantages. Frankly, that's the same thing with the whole Mac versus PC thing. For most people, it really shouldn't make much of a difference what they have. I'd hesitate to lump Linux in there only because you tend to need a bit more knowledge to do the same types of things that are pretty much effortless on the other two platforms.

The above actually does tie into the OP's topic as well, because this not really being able to make a poor choice with some rudimentary research and basic consideration of your needs was not really possible in the past. There's much more parity and less diversity in all things these days.

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Re CoCo 3 256 colors

 

Well, if one plugs their CoCo3 into an NTSC composite monitor, it will do 160, 200+ in 256 colors, nice 1 byte per pixel.

 

 

With a 6809, spiffy auto increment, decrement modes, blasting pixels is fast.

 

Abuse the stack, and it's even faster.

 

And before anyone says "those aren't real colors", they are as real as anything produced on the wildly successful 8 bit Apple line.

 

Too bad that didn't see more use like CGA 16 color mode did.  

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6 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Regardless of what you personally think of an iPhone, there's no obvious reason for most people to not get one over some other phone

Well, do notice I didn't speak to iPhones being bad or better or worse.

 

I did speak to Android on great hardware and all it can do and wonder how people get into trouble on their Android phones.  I run the crap out of Android and have for years with remarkably few issues.

 

What I tend to talk about is just how much people can do on mobile these days rather than what sucks or does not.  Android on the higher end Samsung hardware definitely doesn't suck.

 

I retro game on mine when I am in the mood.  Can even do that from a real 3.5" floppy.

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1 hour ago, potatohead said:

With a 6809, spiffy auto increment, decrement modes, blasting pixels is fast.

 

Abuse the stack, and it's even faster.

 

And before anyone says "those aren't real colors", they are as real as anything produced on the wildly successful 8 bit Apple line.

 

Too bad that didn't see more use like CGA 16 color mode did.  

We've swung way off topic, but...
Funny thing, the separate 6803 instructions to load or store plus the increment or decrement instruction take the same number of clock cycles as the 6809's instructions with auto increment.
The 6809 is really memory efficient, but not so much on clock cycles. 
The speed difference comes when you start dealing with a compiler. 
The stack relative addressing, LEA instructions, and ability to push/pull multiple registers with a single instruction don't exist on other 8 bit CPUs. 
You can't even push/pull the index registers directly to/from the stack on the 6800 or 6502.
6809:
STA ,X+

6803:
STAA ,X
INX
 

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11 hours ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Having an Android phone often feels a bit like maintaining a PC, which I do enough of with my actual PCs. I just need my phone, and, to a lesser degree, tablet, to just work. It also helps that more of the apps I count on are on iOS, and of course I'm always guaranteed all kinds of cases and accessories will be made for the Apple stuff. In terms of functionality, I can't imagine a single thing I'm missing out on, especially since I have no need to root my device or run "unauthorized" apps of any kind. I'm also all-in on the Apple Watch (and I guess for that matter, Apple TVs as our primary cord cutting streaming boxes).

Modern Android phones require no tweaking if you want a phone to just work, it will just work

 

In terms of functionality,  iPhones are extremely locked down, and there are lots of things that are difficult or impossible to do on an Apple device that are simple on an Android.   Granted a lot of them are things the common user won't be doing.

 

I have both types of devices in the house, so it's moot, but if I had to choose only one, it would be Android, because it gives power users like me so much more options.

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