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Omega-TI

Add-ons that FAILED for the various "Classic Computers".

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I'm wondering if part of the third party problem of things tanking in the Classic Computer Era had anything to do with how fast technology was evolving.  Now days you can buy a high end PC and expect to use it for 7 years easily.  Back in the early 80's before the "PC standardization" took place, a computer might get you 18-24 months max before it was so far out of date nobody wanted to dump more money into them.  Since it took time to develop and market items after a new platform was released, spending money on an out-of-date system might not have been as exciting/appealing as getting something for it when it was new. 

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How many different bar code type readers were there that promised to end typing in listings from magazines?
Did any of them stay on the market for over a year?

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What about the “stringy floppy” drives that were essentially endless tapes?  TI never released their version due to it being deemed unreliable, but it did come out for a few other computers with the promise of cheap, fast storage.  I know it came out for the Commodore computers but I don’t know anyone who bought one.

 

I’d argue that the 1581 disk drive for the Commodore computers also failed in the marketplace, primarily because it wasn’t a 1541.  Commodore never made the transition to 3 1/2” disks.

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30 minutes ago, Casey said:

What about the “stringy floppy” drives that were essentially endless tapes?  TI never released their version due to it being deemed unreliable, but it did come out for a few other computers with the promise of cheap, fast storage.  I know it came out for the Commodore computers but I don’t know anyone who bought one.

 

I’d argue that the 1581 disk drive for the Commodore computers also failed in the marketplace, primarily because it wasn’t a 1541.  Commodore never made the transition to 3 1/2” disks.

 

Yeah, by the time that 1581 was released, wasn't the Commodore 64 pretty much yesterday's news?  Now with the hobby/retro market it really no longer matters if a computer is out-of-date, the nostalgia overrides the practical aspects.  Not being a Commodore man myself, I have to ask is the SD2IEC as slow as the 1541 was?

 

2100424296_CommodoreDrives.thumb.jpg.6836686d02764ccae82a01cee5a7b7f6.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

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23 minutes ago, Casey said:

What about the “stringy floppy” drives that were essentially endless tapes?

I was going to mention that, but the Exatron was sort of popular for the TRS-80 Model I.  Not as good as a disk drive (but way cheaper) and much better than a cassette.  I have an 80 Micro magazine here with a full back page ad.  Says they are also available for Apple, PET, OSI and an RS232 unit.

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2 minutes ago, Omega-TI said:

I have to ask is the SD2IEC as slow as the 1541 was?

Ha, I was just looking at those today on eBay and thinking the same thing.  Also, there doesn't seem to be a single seller of a C64 SD device in the US?  I've got a 64C in the box that's been in my garage attic for 20 years, I don't even remember buying it, so it may have been there when I bought my house.  Never been into the Commodore line of computers and I'm not about to buy a disk drive, but thought it might worth getting and SD2IEC to see what's it's about.  Currently under quarantine after testing positive for corona and boredom is setting in. lol

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10 minutes ago, Turbo-Torch said:

I was going to mention that, but the Exatron was sort of popular for the TRS-80 Model I.  Not as good as a disk drive (but way cheaper) and much better than a cassette.  I have an 80 Micro magazine here with a full back page ad.  Says they are also available for Apple, PET, OSI and an RS232 unit.

I remember those ads!  I've never see one being used in person though.  Thanks for mentioning that, it brought back memories.

Stringy.thumb.jpg.db056b80d9b4bce25d834c05b847d1b1.jpg

 

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1 hour ago, Omega-TI said:

Yeah, by the time that 1581 was released, wasn't the Commodore 64 pretty much yesterday's news?  Now with the hobby/retro market it really no longer matters if a computer is out-of-date, the nostalgia overrides the practical aspects.  Not being a Commodore man myself, I have to ask is the SD2IEC as slow as the 1541 was?

Mind you, there were Commodore computers AFTER the 64. The C128 along with a couple 1581s were very popular for BBS operators, since they could store so much data per disk. Neither was particularly successful but there was at least some market for those.

The SD2IEC is supposed to be as slow as the real 1541. Hence fastload cartridges are still popular.

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Oh yes, memories.

I had a 1581, copied all Pool of Radiance  5 1/4" (original purchase) onto one 3 1/2" for faster access, but it done the opposite. It took lots of more time accessing (finding) the files.

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9 hours ago, Omega-TI said:

I'm wondering if part of the third party problem of things tanking in the Classic Computer Era had anything to do with how fast technology was evolving.

Partly. What about the industry still being in its infancy? Throwing random things at a moving wall to see what stuck.. New ideas had to be tried.

 

9 hours ago, Omega-TI said:

Now days you can buy a high end PC and expect to use it for 7 years easily.  Back in the early 80's before the "PC standardization" took place, a computer might get you 18-24 months max before it was so far out of date nobody wanted to dump more money into them.  Since it took time to develop and market items after a new platform was released, spending money on an out-of-date system might not have been as exciting/appealing as getting something for it when it was new. 

I ventured away from the Apple II to an Amiga to explore graphics and Photon Paint and other contemporary art packages. It was fun and relaxing. But only for that. Everything else was a sorry mistake. Like I wanted to do some animation. The basic 500 or 1000 I was able to afford fell like 2000% below what the advertisements and editorials said it could do - unless I spent another $3000 on upgrades. So I pushed the Apple back into service for productive writing till I could afford a real PC. Available funds and prices converged early in the 486 era.

 

Through various incremental upgrades I had kept the Apple II useful for 10-12 years. For text it was as crisp and clean as a basic PC. The issue with Amiga/Workbench or even ST/TOS/GEM was sluggish-feeling bit-mapped text. Just felt mushy and the drive access was way slow compared to HDD on the Apple.

 

Happy to say I have both the Apple and the PC today!

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There were some video enhancers for the Amiga line that technically didn't last too long...

I could include the DCTV (which I have now).  With it, you could do 640×200 to 736×482/566 (NTSC/PAL) in 24 bit.  I don't think it spread to enough be considered a success.  That said, it was the most successful and might not have been a failure...  The fact that it included a color video digitizer helped it...

 

There are two others I am aware of that weren't as popular tho.

 

One I had back in the day.  HAM-E, which is a similar device but without the digitizer.  I believe it came out more than a bit before the DCTV.  HAM-E had:

Screen modes with 256 colors out of a 24-bit pallete:

HAM-E: 384×480 (overscan NTSC), 384×560 (overscan PAL)

HAM-E Plus: 768×480, 768×560

(Note:  I didn't buy mine.  I won it in a Compuserve chat when Black Belt Systems released it...)

 

The other one is the Grafitti from Individual Computers that gave the Amiga chunky modes.

I do have one of those now.  Here's a bit from the website on it:

Graffiti is a graphics adapter for all Amiga computers. It uses a different data format in chipram, enabling more colours on OCS/ECS systems and faster chipram access on AGA systems. Graffiti changes the Amiga bitplaned graphics into a chunky pixel mode. I.e. one byte in memory represents a single pixel. The value of a byte selects it's colour. The colour palette is 256 out of 262144 at a time. Possible resolutions are 640x256, 320x256, 160x256 and 80x256. In each mode, 256 colours are available, interlacing doubles the vertical resolution.

 

All really interesting, but none of them caught on enough to get any real 3rd party support.

(There are a very few games that support the Graffiti...)

 

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After market touch screens were another widespread failure. The touchscreens themselves were barely adequate for the job but because the touchscreen was not designed to match the monitor on which it would be mounted, accuracy was quite minimal. Light pens at least had the virtue of being cheap. 

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On 11/12/2020 at 8:59 AM, davidcalgary29 said:

I'd agree, but the qualifying factors here are "heavily advertised and much anticipated". And I remember that it wasn't readily available, at least here in Canada, unless you bought it with the XEGS. I had to buy a third-party modified Sega light phaser from a seller in Florida. And I think that there are certainly many more than four games for the A8 that use the light gun, even though some of them were released years (or decades) later.

Yeah, I meant specifically at the time.  I think they attempted at least some marketing of the XEGS as a NES competitor, like I don't think the light gun combo came with the keyboard did it?

Sure games came out afterward by people who owned the gun and wanted a reason for its existence!

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6 hours ago, leech said:

Yeah, I meant specifically at the time.  I think they attempted at least some marketing of the XEGS as a NES competitor, like I don't think the light gun combo came with the keyboard did it?

Sure games came out afterward by people who owned the gun and wanted a reason for its existence!

Yes, both the XG-1 and keyboard were pictured as essential components of the XEGS console on its box. Then again, I'm sure contents varied locally -- my last boxed XEGS (bought fifteen years ago now!) came packaged with a 1050, and the styrofoam insert looked like it was cut specifically to fit the drive. I should've kept the packaging, but it was in terrible shape.

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On 11/12/2020 at 8:47 AM, zzip said:

were any peripherals outside of printers/modems/drives ever really a success for classic systesm?   I can remember digitizers, light pens, Koala tablets, 3D glasses that were never supported beyond a handful of packages

What about monitors? The 1702 was the ultimate peripheral for my 800 in 1984. 

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1 hour ago, davidcalgary29 said:

What about monitors? The 1702 was the ultimate peripheral for my 800 in 1984. 

Wait... you can't be talking about the Commodore 1702 on an Atari 800... right?

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If we can discuss software for a moment or as a natural progression of the thread, then, I would vote recipe keeping software. Along with checkbook balancing and early cataloging/database programs for inventory. Maybe even automotive repair records too.

 

A lot of that type of software was more trouble than it was worth. Disk access (except for Apple II) was slow. And text menus we cumbersome because the industry hadn't had much UI experience for the layperson. Things were cryptic. The whole shebang was just tedious compared against the traditional file box and ledger.

 

And yet there was an endless supply of these programs and advertisements for them.

 

The complete opposite would be word processing. Granted there were hundreds of them in the 8-bit era and ONE of them was bound to fit your workflow and style of aesthetics. Most all of them did their job reasonably well.

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21 hours ago, Keatah said:

If we can discuss software for a moment or as a natural progression of the thread, then, I would vote recipe keeping software. Along with checkbook balancing and early cataloging/database programs for inventory. Maybe even automotive repair records too.

 

A lot of that type of software was more trouble than it was worth. Disk access (except for Apple II) was slow. And text menus we cumbersome because the industry hadn't had much UI experience for the layperson. Things were cryptic. The whole shebang was just tedious compared against the traditional file box and ledger.

 

And yet there was an endless supply of these programs and advertisements for them.

 

The complete opposite would be word processing. Granted there were hundreds of them in the 8-bit era and ONE of them was bound to fit your workflow and style of aesthetics. Most all of them did their job reasonably well.

Add gas mileage trackers, biorhythm programs, astrology programs, lottery number pickers, loan amortization, etc... to that list.
Yeah, there are people that would find some of that useful, but there were free versions of every one of those.

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On 11/14/2020 at 10:05 AM, davidcalgary29 said:

Zzip was asking for or musing about successful peripherals, though. :)

Monitors are essential.  I was thinking about the various non-essential things like light-pens, digitizers, voice synths, graphics tablets that were proprietary, never got wide adoption, and most of the companies that manufactured them are defunct.   My question was more whether any of those types of things succeeded on classic computers. 

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All these things, be it hardware or software, might not have "succeeded" on a large scale, but were a fun part of the early scene. And also helped to popularise microcomputers in general. They have also been naturally assimilated - now a silly onboard audio can do advanced voice sythesis and touchscreens owe a lot to the concepts deriving from lightpens/tablets.

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