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Keatah

Computers and the videogame crash of the 80's.

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15 hours 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!

Same.  There's definitely internal politics that goes on in corporations between divisions and product teams,  so these stories are believable.   We shouldn't just write it off as "oh that's just a conspiracy theory".   A lot of times decisions are made for reasons other than technical.

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9 hours ago, JamesD said:

You can't even push/pull the index registers directly to/from the stack on the 6800 or 6502.

An advantage of the 65C02 over the 6502 is the ability to push and push the indexes directly (phx, phy, plx, ply).

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

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.

Yeah, exactly. For the vast majority of people, iPhones are perfectly fine and do everything they could ever want and then some. For the average person I'd argue it's a better choice (with costs being roughly equal) because it's much easier to ensure compatibility with apps, add-ons, and accessories, but it's not like getting a decent Android phone (putting aside the lower end stuff, of course) would be a bad choice either. If you're a certain type of power user or have specific needs, certainly there are good Android phones out there that will meet your needs, and certainly the higher end Samsung ones are fine examples. 

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

Same.  There's definitely internal politics that goes on in corporations between divisions and product teams,  so these stories are believable.   We shouldn't just write it off as "oh that's just a conspiracy theory".   A lot of times decisions are made for reasons other than technical.

Politics aside, in the case of the CoCo 3, again, they were lucky to get approval for the project at all and cost was absolutely at the forefront. If they didn't have the numbers make sense, we wouldn't have had anything after the CoCo 2.

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15 hours ago, Keatah said:

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

Windows pone 7 and 8/8.1 were pretty much a middle ground between Android and IOS so not sure why you believe that it's tedious for phones, I agree with tablets though RT was a good attempt and Surface seems to be selling well right now.

 

Microsoft is doing the phone thing again by the way, the new phone is running android. 

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I gotta say the CoCo 3 was one heck of a machine regardless of its cost considerations.  Too bad it didn't have the success of the CoCo and CoCo 2.  Still, it is a machine and computer line that gets lots love for good reasons.

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13 hours ago, Bill Loguidice said:

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.

While peoples opinions vary there does seem to be an additional cult/status symbol aspect to iphones that also help it's adoption rate.

 

also I noticed phones have a similar problem to PC manufacturers which is there are several companies that make PC's and laptops but most don't make money or are flat and only 2 or so companies actually make real profit.

  

5 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Yeah, exactly. For the vast majority of people, iPhones are perfectly fine and do everything they could ever want and then some. For the average person I'd argue it's a better choice (with costs being roughly equal) because it's much easier to ensure compatibility with apps, add-ons, and accessories, but it's not like getting a decent Android phone (putting aside the lower end stuff, of course) would be a bad choice either. If you're a certain type of power user or have specific needs, certainly there are good Android phones out there that will meet your needs, and certainly the higher end Samsung ones are fine examples. 

I disagree with this since apple has been gimping their older phones to force upgrades the last few years and have been causing compatibility issues intentionally. Before 2016 I'd agree with this though. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Leeroy ST
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I really wished Radio Shack did push the CoCo3 more, in fact the RS in the area where I lived didn't even have it and I never knew it existed till after I moved and saw it in another store.  And by then I already had my Atari 130XE!

 

Not only I would have gotten a home computer that still ran my existing CoCo software but also maybe gotten a Tandy 1000 later on and then moved on to a multimedia PC made by them.

 

Guess they only wanted do business with corporate types only like all the other computer stores...

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1 hour ago, MrMaddog said:

I really wished Radio Shack did push the CoCo3 more, in fact the RS in the area where I lived didn't even have it and I never knew it existed till after I moved and saw it in another store.  And by then I already had my Atari 130XE!

 

Not only I would have gotten a home computer that still ran my existing CoCo software but also maybe gotten a Tandy 1000 later on and then moved on to a multimedia PC made by them.

 

Guess they only wanted do business with corporate types only like all the other computer stores...

I'd say they did a good job of pushing it. There were commercials and it was featured in their ubiquitous catalog. It was never going to sell gangbusters in a world with competitors like the C-64.

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On 9/15/2020 at 7:55 AM, The Usotsuki said:

An advantage of the 65C02 over the 6502 is the ability to push and push the indexes directly (phx, phy, plx, ply).

Apple was the only company I'm aware of that used it, and you couldn't just plug it in to a lot of computers.
I *think* there are even mods in Apple Assembly Lines on how to get it working in some older Apples. 

FWIW, I wrote a Mockingboard music player several years ago, and I added 65C02 support to see what improvement it offered.
It ended up around 5% smaller, but the test program was rather small, so the interrupt handler probably skewed that a little high.
Rockwell's version offers additional instructions, but they were mostly bit operations you'd use in an embedded system.
 

Edited by JamesD

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35 minutes ago, The Usotsuki said:

Acorn used it too, and I think the Atari Lynx had a 'C02 too.

The BBC Micro only used it in the 2nd CPU expansion, and the Lynx isn't a personal computer.

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20 minutes ago, The Usotsuki said:

Didn't the BBC Master have a 65C02 variant as  its main CPU?

Not according to the page I looked at.  It was just a 2MHz 6502.
The 2nd CPU expansion ran at 3MHz, so they had to use a 65C02.

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22 minutes ago, The Usotsuki said:

Huh.  Sources I read said it used a Rockwell 65C12.

Looks like it was in the later models
https://stardot.org.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?p=230593

 

Quote

...
BBC Model A and B

Original BBC Model B has a MOS 6502A (NMOS).

External 6502 Second Processor

The external 6502 Second Processor uses a Rockwell 65C02 (CMOS) version which includes bug fixes, eight new instructions (BRA, PLX, PLY, PHX, PHY, STZ, TRB, TSB), plus four additional Rockwell-only instructions (BBR, BBS, RMB, SMB), and two new addressing modes (“Indexed Absolute Indirect” and “Indirect Zero Page”).

The BASIC II assembler doesn’t support use of the 12 additional instructions or addressing modes(?).

BBC Master and Compact

The Master uses a Rockwell 65SC12 CMD/GTE G65SC12, which adds the eight new instructions, and addressing modes, from the second processor’s 65C02. The Rockwell-specific instructions are not supported.

The BASIC IV assembler adds support for the eight additional instructions of the 65C02, and two of the Rockwell-only instructions (BBR and BBS).

BBC Master Turbo

The Master Turbo co-processor has a Rockwell 65C102 with, presumably the same features as the Master’s 65SC12.
...

 

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On 9/15/2020 at 4:01 PM, MrMaddog said:

Not only I would have gotten a home computer that still ran my existing CoCo software but also maybe gotten a Tandy 1000 later on and then moved on to a multimedia PC made by them.

 

Guess they only wanted do business with corporate types only like all the other computer stores...

Compu-Shop had a small section of games and they catered to the home hobbyist in a respectable manner. So did DataDomain. DataDomain had a those hobbyshop-like glass counters full of whatever they could stuff in there. Cards, cables, hardware fittings and fretterings, memory chips. And more. And they had walls of bagged software for everything.

 

Computerland sucked ass. If you weren't dressed right they didn't have interest in you. They even called (or threatened to call) the cops on us once. But we BMX'd outta there in record time.

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5 hours ago, Keatah said:

But we BMX'd outta there in record time.

🚳     :D

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On 9/15/2020 at 4:41 PM, Bill Loguidice said:

I'd say they did a good job of pushing it. There were commercials and it was featured in their ubiquitous catalog. It was never going to sell gangbusters in a world with competitors like the C-64.

Well, they certainly advertised it. 
I'm not sure they did much to show how good the machine was though.
But then, you could say the same for other computers.
Nobody really compared themselves to the competition.
 

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On 9/15/2020 at 6:41 PM, Bill Loguidice said:

I'd say they did a good job of pushing it. There were commercials and it was featured in their ubiquitous catalog. It was never going to sell gangbusters in a world with competitors like the C-64.

Oh I do believe you that RS did advertised the Coco 3 but still weird I hadn't heard of it till a bit later.

 

Ok I asked my mom when she bought my first and second computers.  She got my first at Radio Shack because they actually answered her questions about computers.  My second one was five years later when I couldn't do much with only 16K so she took me to a different store and I picked out the Atari XE cause I've always wanted an 800.

 

Anyway getting back to the general topic... These home computers do serve as an introduction to computer tech for hobbyists. Like gaming as a hobby, programming as a hobby and even organizing simple data files or typing papers as a hobby.

 

But obviously personal computers are much better for getting more productive work done, but they were expensive because they're made for business people.  I felt it was a shame that there was no "middle ground" computer like the ST that could succeed in the States at the time.

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3 minutes ago, MrMaddog said:

But obviously personal computers are much better for getting more productive work done, but they were expensive because they're made for business people.  I felt it was a shame that there was no "middle ground" computer like the ST that could succeed in the States at the time.

Well again, I don't know how much "middle ground" there could be. The 520ST was around $800 with a monochrome monitor and with a color monitor it was around $1000. That was in 1985 (I do believe the price actually increased a bit not too long after launch, but let's just go with those numbers for now). The C-64 was around $150 by that time, not counting a disk drive, which would have roughly doubled the price. So let's say around $350 for a great low end computer setup at the time and some miscellaneous extras. So, basically, $350 versus $1000 versus up to a few thousand for other computers and setups. Now, the Commodore 128 was around $300 in 1985. Add in a disk drive and monitor and you're looking at around $600 or so. So, really, that was your mid-range, like with the CoCo 3 (which came out a bit later). The "mid-range" ended up being really close to the pricing of the entry-level range of the Atari ST and Amiga 500 (which came out a few years later or so), although you could get in much cheaper in the mid-range by leaving out a monitor and just using a TV set, although you would of course not be able to make full use of all of the modes and you're essentially just duplicating a low-end setup. 

So, in today's dollars, circa 1985, you could get a good low end computer setup for around $850, a good "mid-range" computer setup for around $1500, and a good higher end (Atari ST) computer setup for around $2,500. It really shows how far we've come with relative value. Today you can get a really good $1000 computer for the equivalent of around $400 in 1985 dollars. Pretty crazy how things have improved.

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1 hour ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Well again, I don't know how much "middle ground" there could be. The 520ST was around $800 with a monochrome monitor and with a color monitor it was around $1000. That was in 1985 (I do believe the price actually increased a bit not too long after launch, but let's just go with those numbers for now). The C-64 was around $150 by that time, not counting a disk drive, which would have roughly doubled the price. So let's say around $350 for a great low end computer setup at the time and some miscellaneous extras. So, basically, $350 versus $1000 versus up to a few thousand for other computers and setups. Now, the Commodore 128 was around $300 in 1985. Add in a disk drive and monitor and you're looking at around $600 or so. So, really, that was your mid-range, like with the CoCo 3 (which came out a bit later). The "mid-range" ended up being really close to the pricing of the entry-level range of the Atari ST and Amiga 500 (which came out a few years later or so), although you could get in much cheaper in the mid-range by leaving out a monitor and just using a TV set, although you would of course not be able to make full use of all of the modes and you're essentially just duplicating a low-end setup.

 

This is where we had a different experience in the UK in 1985, and why we probably had room for a middle-ground computer, at least for enough years that it could develop a large software library and a fan base, and therefore continued marketplace existence until the early 1990s ...

 

The Amstrad CPC464 launched in 1984 with a cassette drive integrated, and then in late 1985 Amstrad launched its CPC6128 computer with an integrated floppy drive, which meant that the 1985 market looked like ...

 

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

 

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


Atari 520ST with monochome monitor GBP £749

 

So while the prices in the US might have meant that the expensive Commodore/Atari/CoCo floppy drives could have made the Atari ST look like a great deal, it wasn't so clear in the UK.

 

Whatever the advantages of a 16-bit computer, and IIRC there was little game software in 1985 to actually show those advantages, it just wasn't until the integrated Atari STFM upgrades in 1986/1987, and the prices drops that those integrations allowed (such as the modulator meaning that you could use a TV instead of a monitor), that the ST really began to take off.

 

The same with the Amiga 500 ... it didn't exist until the end of 1987, and it didn't really take off as a home machine until Christmas 1988 (or Christmas 1989 price-drop more likely).

 

What folks here seem to be glossing over is the incredibly rapid pace of technological evolution at the time, and very short period in which this all happened.

 

 

Edited by elmer
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That's the thing, though, right, the pace of change and price drops. There wouldn't have been time for a mid-range option (whatever that means) to take hold. The low end was well-served and did everything the vast majority of users could want at the time, while the so-called high end options were maturing and dropping in price. Even PCs eventually hit the sub-$1000 magic price point (and that was a big milestone).

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22 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

That's the thing, though, right, the pace of change and price drops. There wouldn't have been time for a mid-range option (whatever that means) to take hold. The low end was well-served and did everything the vast majority of users could want at the time, while the so-called high end options were maturing and dropping in price. Even PCs eventually hit the sub-$1000 magic price point (and that was a big milestone).

 

Yes, that was rather my point ... there was a rapid pace of change, and regular price drops made *all* machines more affordable as time went by, both at the top and the bottom of the ranges, and at any theoretical "middle" range.

 

The mid-range option that I'm missing in the US market is precisely what I just pointed out ... some theoretical US machine that could compete with the Amstrad CPC range, because that was what was *affordable* to build in 1984/1985. A cheap computer with an 80-column text mode, and 16 colors in chunky-pixel 160x224, or 4 colors at 320x224.

 

To put it in terms that might make sense to an American ... lets call it the computer equivalent of what Nintendo was designing in 1982 ... the hardware technology that knocked American companies out of the ring as home-video-game manufacturers.

 

Unless I'm missing something, American computer companies didn't release anything significantly *new* (I do NOT include cost-reduced versions of existing machines) for the home market in 1983/1984/1985.

 

The Coleco Adam comes the closest ... but since it was just a retread of the 1982's ColecoVision, with its 1979 graphics chip, and based on the same Texas Instruments reference design that gave us the Spectravideo, the Tatung Einstein, the Memotech MTX, and the original MSX1 ... it hardly counts as either uniquely interesting, or as a technical upgrade.

 

The Commodore 128 in 1985 offered far too few improvements to be worth discussing, and while the CoCo3 was a lovely upgrade to the Coco2 in 1986, it was still too-little, too-late.

 

 

Anyway ... I believe that the answer has really already been given, and its not about some technological superiority of computers-with-slots (which doesn't seem to have stopped the iPhone/iPad), it is about corporate fear and comsumer herd-mentality.

 

Commodore and Atari tried to make something different, and gave it their best try, but everyone else jumped on to the IBM clone bandwagon, and the sheer number of the alternatives made their success seem both desirable and innevitable to both consumers and businesses ... which then became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

As was said earlier, in business "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM", and by the late 1980s most buyers didn't want to make a "mistake" and so buying an IBM clone was the "safe" bet.

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Like the coco3, the commodore 128 had rgb output for high resolution graphics in 16 colours and 80 column text.  The c128 also had actual video game graphics hardware that supported multicoloured sprites and scrolling background graphics.  Both computers benefitted from not having a built-in cassette tape player.  As someone that wanted to buy a computer in 1985, once the amiga came out the c128 seemed obsolete.  However, if you were looking for a cost effective video game system there was no need to look beyond a c64 and disk drive.

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