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JKK

The real fight Atari versus Commodore

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Way I see it:

Atari folks try to beat the C64 by making something better: Cool. I'll download that.
C64 folks fight back by trying to make something better: I have both side-by-side on a shelf so I'm going to download that too.

So keep on fighting... I win either way

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It was a sily fight back in the days and it's still a silly fight.

 

At the price those were selling back then, you bought what your friends also had so as to benefit from a growing software and knowledge pool.

I couldn't afford either when they came out and had to wait for people replacing them with PC or Amiga/ST to buy either at a discount, so I got first an Atari 600XL/410 in '86 and the next year I got a deal on the C64/1541 from a repair shop. I then replaced the 600XL with a 130XE/1050/1027 in '87.  

 

At no point in time I could've afforded an Apple computer and none of my friends had TRS-80s so I didn't get those until recently and they're mostly for collecting purpose in my "museum". Funny thing, the one I really wanted back in 83/84 was the TI-99/4a after seeing it on display with its PEB at Compucenter. It looked so professional but it was way costly and I didn't knew anyone who had one.

 

This war thing wasn't really a thing were I live. Nobody started flame war in the schoolyard about which computers or console someone had. Hell, 99% of the school didn't have any at home! It may have been a thing in Europe, but in Canada/USA? Nah, we were more interested fighting over girls or hockey teams 🙂

It did happen on BBS's, but again only a minority had modems and most family had a single phone line. And since the C64 was more popular than the Atari by the time I got into the game, you had to search real hard to find a dedicated Atari one. Those that existed had or were transitioning to the ST line by then.

 

So, in conclusion, I liked the OP video, but I wouldn't have used the term war to describe it. It's great to see comparaison on gaming or other piece of software since I may end up chasing one version or the other in order to get the better one. Or maybe a hidden gem video on titles that were exclusive to one or the other but in the same style.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Just stopping by to say: "Remember kids, don't feed the troll(s)"

 

You guys bit HARD on this one.

 

Emkay - you need to patch your troll-o-meter, it is vulnerable to 'Pokey attack"

Edited by danwinslow
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@Mclaneinc, decrypt/decode two hidden messages in my video please! If you do it, probably you will discover something interesting. :P

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@Tuxon86 Not sure how about other European countries but in Poland these 8-bit computers were extremely expensive comparing to salaries. So many boys and girls didn't have them. Most discussed just having very limited experiences ex. just few hours of gaming on friend's computer. However the subject was very very hot! I even remember starting my first programming experiences writing first programs in the notebook, not even running them once. So there were only 100% theoretical programs. :D However we had hours and hours of discussions with friends. Sometimes very silly... :P as noone was expert. But still we were trying to prove which computer is better. :P

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1 minute ago, JKK said:

@Tuxon86 Not sure how about other European countries but in Poland these 8-bit computers were extremely expensive comparing to salaries. So many boys and girls didn't have them. Most discussed just having very limited experiences ex. just few hours of gaming on friend's computer. However the subject was very very hot! I even remember starting my first programming experiences writing first programs in the notebook, not even running them once. So there were only 100% theoretical programs. :D However we had hours and hours of discussions with friends. Sometimes very silly... :P as noone was expert. But still we were trying to prove which computer is better. :P

Oh, they were just as expensive here in Canada. My father was making $300 a week and once he had paid all the bills there was about $45 left and he loved his beer 🙂

If I wanted something Id better work to get it or I'd lived without it. And also the 80's were a bad period for the economy here as the heavy industries were on the decline. He sometime went nearly a year without work so food and rent was the priorities.

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There was a real fight back in the day: it was Tramiel vs everybody else. The price war he instigated while at Commodore was very much real, it was mostly vs TI but Atari got caught in the crossfire. Quite possibly this was the main reason why eventually C64 sold so much more than A8.

 

These were very interesting times and could be fun to discuss, it's just that people take it too personally and start "defending" their favourite. Perhaps it will be only possibly when we're all finally 6 feet under, and some next-gen historians will look into it (if anybody will care, that is :)

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, emkay said:

The answer is "relatively" easy. 

Low sounds were SID's strength.

High sounds were POKEY's strength.

I'm always open for friendly discussions. 

Great master MK,

 

 

Enlighten me. What is the effect that is heard in the video at 03:27 and 03:30? Is it possible to have it in Atari too?

 

- Yautja, The all seer -

 

Edited by Yautja

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okay that last post was really hard on my ears youjta, I like bits and pieces of it. But I don't wanna here that over and over... Thanks for posting something to putz around with though

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1 hour ago, danwinslow said:

Just stopping by to say: "Remember kids, don't feed the troll(s)"

 

You guys bit HARD on this one.

 

Emkay - you need to patch your troll-o-meter, it is vulnerable to 'Pokey attack"

100%

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3 minutes ago, _The Doctor__ said:

I don't wanna here that over and over...

I can undertsand this can be annoying for the old regulars here, and die hard Atari fans, but the way I see it, it could be fun if approached in a relaxed way.

 

I mean, no matter what's your microcomputer favourite, they all got done by the PC anyway un the end, so we're all in the same boat* :)

 

*unless, like me, you like DOS PCs as well, har har

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Posted (edited)

no, your reading that in another way than I intended... I don't want the noise in my ears over and over.... problem in not in the conversation, it's in that noise! I don't want to hear it! It's not sounding nice to my ears at all.

Edited by _The Doctor__
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14 minutes ago, Yautja said:

Great master MK,

 

 

Enlighten me. What is the effect that is heard in the video at 03:27 and 03:30? Is it possible to have it in Atari too?

 

- Yautja, The all seer -

 

Ask SID programmers. 

To cut the peaks of the wave, you can do "doppler" FX or use the external filter. You could also use both together. 

As POKEY has no low pass filter at all, this is not possible. 

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27 minutes ago, youxia said:

The price war he instigated while at Commodore was very much real, it was mostly vs TI but Atari got caught in the crossfire.

Speaking of the price war, recently there was a discussion elsewhere about the Commodore share price. It was a record high in May 1983, but in June it dropped like a stone. Supposedly Commodore had announced at Summer CES that they were about to cut their prices by 1/3 and thus initiate the big price war, something the shareholders reacted negatively on. The share never reached the same heights again, and after Tramiel left the company in January (?) 1984, the share barely sustained $25 for a few months before it dropped really low for the remaining 10 years.

 

While 1983-84 on short term was the most profitable in Commodore's history, in the long run they probably took as much hit from it as their competitors, of which they got rid of a bunch. To be honest, Clive Sinclair over in Europe ran his own price wars too so it wasn't one man's fight against the world. I also know that some people think it had been better if computers had remained more expensive but included more documentation, software, peripherals in the price. It would have given more room for the lesser computers on the market, possibly a better market for 600XL, Commodore 16, TRS-80 CoCo, TI-99/X, all those European ZX Spectrum, Oric, perhaps Electron, various Hong Kong brands including VTech and why not the Mattel Aquarius. How many of those would have been able to release improved machines over time and what effect it would have made on the 16-bit generation can only be speculated.

 

Perhaps avoidance of a home computer price war also would have affected the console market positively, prolonged the crash to some aspect. If you're only buying an Atari or C64 to play games anyhow, you could as well get a console if it was quite much cheaper (for the system, probably not regarding the games). Perhaps the Amiga would've become a cartridge based console if it wasn't for Tramiel's (and Sinclair's) price war, extrapolating results over a couple of years?

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53 minutes ago, carlsson said:

While 1983-84 on short term was the most profitable in Commodore's history, in the long run they probably took as much hit from it as their competitors, of which they got rid of a bunch.

Yes, it was quite a pyrrhic "victory". But the fact remains that C64/128 sold truckloads and should give Commodore better positioning for other stuff (16 bit, vs PC, etc)

 

56 minutes ago, carlsson said:

To be honest, Clive Sinclair over in Europe ran his own price wars too so it wasn't one man's fight against the world. I also know that some people think it had been better if computers had remained more expensive but included more documentation, software, peripherals in the price. It would have given more room for the lesser computers on the market, possibly a better market for 600XL, Commodore 16, TRS-80 CoCo, TI-99/X, all those European ZX Spectrum, Oric, perhaps Electron, various Hong Kong brands including VTech and why not the Mattel Aquarius. How many of those would have been able to release improved machines over time and what effect it would have made on the 16-bit generation can only be speculated.

I think Sinclair's drive for cheap computers was much different than Tramiel's, at least when it comes to the "war" bit. Tramiel seemed to want revenge on TI and drove the price of an expensive machine down very hard. Sinclair line on the other hand was designed to be cheap from the get go.

 

Not sure I can agree with that sentiment about pricier computers. Can't see how it would make the models you mention more popular...most of them weren't all that hot to start with, design wise. Also, fragmented market could arguably result in less quality software and stiffle innovation.

I think the Big 4 divide in the end has worked out quite all right - they all found their audiences and inspired countless computing and gaming fans.

 

Disclaimer: none of my statements in such threads are "final", it's just a bit of fun theorizing and thinking out loud. I'm no expert on computer history and still learn as I go (which is a useful thing about these threads, at least before they self implode :).

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19 hours ago, emkay said:

Low sounds were SID's strength.

High sounds were POKEY's strength.

Agree in how they sound. Even though SID can go high, somehow the external filter circuit muffles all the high overtones.

 

On resolution however, I disagree. The 16-bit frequency register is the complete opposite. You need high resolution for the bass notes. Notes are only a few Hz away from eachother. The higher notes need less resolution. You are not going to hear the difference between A6=1760Hz or A6=1755Hz. But A1=55Hz. If you're 5Hz off there, you are playing either B1 or G1(!).

 

Now, SID has a frequency register that is lineair. POKEY on the other hand has a clock/n divider. Much more suitable for music, as the relation between frequency and pitch is exponential.

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I mean before the price war you roughly had three categories of computers $149, $299 and $599. After the price war, you had $99, $199 and $399. Before the war the difference between midrange and premium was $300, after the war it was $200 and possibly getting less over time. Every $100 extra you would have to pay for a better model might instead mean more sales for the midrange. I agree though that fragmentation in the long run was not beneficial except for vintage computer collectors 30++ years later, which was one of the reasons behind ASCII Corp's reasoning about the MSX standard.

 

Regarding the ZX Spectrum, it is true that it was designed to be cheap from the start but apparently Sinclair had enough margins to push the price below £99 in order to kill off e.g. the Oric-1, which happened roughly simultaneously to the Commodore - TI war.

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4 minutes ago, ivop said:

Agree in how they sound. Even though SID can go high, somehow the external filter circuit muffles all the high overtones.

 

On resolution however, I disagree. The 16-bit frequency register is the complete opposite. You need high resolution for the bass notes. Notes are only a few Hz away from eachother. The higher notes need less resolution. You are not going to hear the difference between A6=1760Hz or A6=1755Hz. But A1=55Hz. If you're 5Hz off there, you are playing either B1 or G1(!).

 

Now, SID has a frequency register that is lineair. POKEY on the other hand has a clock/n divider. Much more suitable for music, as the relation between frequency and pitch is exponential.

 

Good point. 

It's particular the low resolution on the basses that makes SID music sounding "off" a little. 

Particular if you want to do modulations (Ringmodulation) and waveshaping you have to have the frequency "modulo". 

Thanks to the unsharp basses, a lot of SIDs can be converted using the 8 bit resolution polycounter "bass" sound. 

 

But sometimes a clean "Triangle" or better "Sinus" is strongly recommended for building harmonics.  

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3 hours ago, Tuxon86 said:

Oh, they were just as expensive here in Canada. My father was making $300 a week and once he had paid all the bills there was about $45 left and he loved his beer 🙂

If I wanted something Id better work to get it or I'd lived without it. And also the 80's were a bad period for the economy here as the heavy industries were on the decline. He sometime went nearly a year without work so food and rent was the priorities.

 

I have impression that correlation between computers prices and salaries was even worse in Poland. Perhaps that's a good topic for another video? However thanks a lot for this comment.

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2 hours ago, youxia said:

These were very interesting times and could be fun to discuss, it's just that people take it too personally and start "defending" their favourite. Perhaps it will be only possibly when we're all finally 6 feet under, and some next-gen historians will look into it (if anybody will care, that is :)

 

In my country we say "golden words". It's a great comment. We should look at that from some perspective having more fun in discussion than just fighting.

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7 hours ago, JKK said:

@VinsCool Thank you for this comment. I would be highly interested which information is not accurate. Sure there are many simplifications in order to keep the video length reasonable (especially that I have also limited time I can spend on preparing videos). However can you see any serious errors?

 

Yeah that's probably that, some simplification can lead to misunderstanding or some things being unclear, that's the main thing that really stood out for me.
I am by admission not an expert in the A8 or C64 field either, so that's only up to everyone's interpretation.

If we only focus on the general content of the video, I think it was pretty nice, the visuals were good, the narration was also pretty good, if only a little too slow to my own taste.
Some long pauses between video parts also contributed to the feeling I had, I think being a little more dense (basically, flow faster) would have worked just as well for maybe 12-15 minutes, if longer videos was the idea, getting a little more elaborate on the details and in-depth with the informations could go a long way, and also prevent inaccurate/simplified information being taken as facts.

There was some unrealistic comparisons, like modern CPU to the 6502. I do think the idea was a nice refresher to where we began and where we are now, however.
This is a nitpick I personally had, the idea by itself was good, but it made me sigh a bit thinking: "really...?"
In all fairness, it wasn't intended to be one of those "is a Atari 8-bit a better computer to run Minecraft" kind of clickbait videos so don't worry about the critic :D 

The chess game between the 2 machines was a cool idea, the side by side comparisons was also pretty cool, because it nicely showcased which machine was shining with the creativity of programmers, graphic artists and musicians.

I think it was pretty fair balance too, some games looked/sounded great on the A8, and some others were great on the C64, some were also equally as good (but slightly different) between each machines.
I really like to be able to pick my favourite version of a game between platforms based on that, because it truly shows where the people involved had the most fun and creativity.

Other than that, I think you're on the track, I hope more Atari related content will come, or maybe more Commodore stuff as well if you wish, or anything else you feel like doing in the future. 🍻

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For one moment in time, the Atari 800 was a low cost challenger to the Apple II.  Later I was informed C64 and Atari had a beef.

 

I certainly had fun with being an Atari fan (and still do - I see no point in changing what works), but in reality, even back in the day, the C64 was just another choice.

 

Anyway, I hate to admit this, but my Atari is no longer my daily driver...I jumped ship to Mac, and my latest is a Macbook Air M1...don't tell me the PC won, I don't agree with that.  From my perspective Android/iOS/PC/Mac are all really computer platforms, targeted at different niches.

 

 

 

 

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@VinsCool With video speed, it's like with a good cake. You can eat it probably quite quickly but you can also enjoy the taste and eat small bite by small bite. If I like the subject I'm not so quick. Sure if we squeeze the video, it could be much shorter. However quite often I can hear fully different comments being on opposite sides. Some are saying that I could present more things in a pill, others that I could discuss some subjects much more deeply. One of good examples is this subject with comparison of Atari processor against modern processors. For guys who had Atari the huge difference in speed is quite obvious. However for much younger viewers it doesn't have to be so obvious. I fully agree that comparing frequencies and number of threads is huge simplification. However to go more deeply I should probably prepare another 20-30 minutes video just for this subject and I can bet that it would not be still perfect. Thus it's always some kind of compromise.

 

Btw, which games would you like to see in such a comparison?

 

And I have to admit that I have also to be brave a bit to put some clickbaits. I prepared around 20 videos on my small channel and as for now the results of this channel are quite poor. If interest is still so low, I might consider... stop playing in youtube... but that's another story.

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8 minutes ago, JKK said:

And I have to admit that I have also to be brave a bit to put some clickbaits. I prepared around 20 videos on my small channel and as for now the results of this channel are quite poor. If interest is still so low, I might consider... stop playing in youtube... but that's another story.

An unrequested advice, should you allow me

 

If you think of becoming "popular" talking about little Atari computers, you are wasting your time. The audience you've chosen is very small and quite demanding...

 

But if you create contents because you love this machine, go on with it. You will not become an "influencer" nor make money with it; but if you are lucky enough, will meet some very interesting people.

 

- Y -

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@Yautja, that's a big challenge. :D I would prefer both, to present things I'm deeply interested and to have popular channel. Please better tell me how to do. :D

 

In particular this guy is very inspiring for me: https://www.youtube.com/user/adric22 Sure he is doing this since a couple of years and he has good collection of many devices (and growing fast due to his viewers) but you know step by step and perhaps one day...

 

And of course I really appreciate meeting interesting people (or perhaps should I say interesting geeks?). :D

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