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Why was 7800 discontinued

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2 hours ago, zzip said:

Yeah the 7800 launch library was already kind of dated when it was supposed to release in 84.   But when it finally released in 86 with the same titles, it was EXTREMELY dated.   But by then Atari had separated from their arcade division and no longer had the pipeline of current games they had prior to 84.

From what Peter Pachla (Jinks) has said about Atari actively discouraging the use of POKEY chips on 7800 games, as it pushed up production costs and ate into their profit margins and how he got dragged over the coals over how many Rom banks he used in Jinks, the 7800 library seemed doomed from the start under the Tramiel family. 

 

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Lostdragon said:

From what Peter Pachla (Jinks) has said about Atari actively discouraging the use of POKEY chips on 7800 games, as it pushed up production costs and ate into their profit margins and how he got dragged over the coals over how many Rom banks he used in Jinks, the 7800 library seemed doomed from the start under the Tramiel family.

Even before..  the decision to not put a POKEY inside the 7800 itself apparently came down to not enough space on the motherboard.   Spending a little more to redesign the board in the beginning would have paid off in the long term.

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45 minutes ago, zzip said:

Even before..  the decision to not put a POKEY inside the 7800 itself apparently came down to not enough space on the motherboard.   Spending a little more to redesign the board in the beginning would have paid off in the long term.

I've always viewed the 7800 from a UK perspective as Atari betting the proverbial farm as it were, on the system doing well over here as it was cheaper than it's rivals. 

 

Sure, it picked up sales from the less affluent homes, where parents could pay for it and it's software in monthly payments via the home shopping firms, though surprised they still took it, after Atari screwed them over with the 5200,had them place it in their catalogues and then once the US Crash hit, annouce it's cancelation for the UK. 

 

A redesigned 7800 (POKEY on the motherboard), dev kits out to prominent UK software houses, developers given the cartridge sizes they needed, could of seen the system give the Master System a run for it's money. 

 

 

Instead it limped out, immediately looked and sounded dated and irs software went up against the flagship NES and M. S titles, no comparison.. 

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Since I am looking into porting Ature to the 7800, I investigated it's techical specifications. One thing I can say is that the 7800 was too early in the market, at least technically speaking. The MARIA graphics processor is an interesting design, with it's draw lists, but both the NES and the even better Master System had graphics processors that were superior to what the 7800 could muster, in resolution, in colors (certainly the Master System), and in the ability to have a hardware acelerated scrollable tile map with true hardware sprites. The main problem was marketing, though, and in the case of Nintendo, the willingness to use underhanded ploys to prevent publishers from making multi-platform games. The Atari 7800 was a marketing disaster. Popularity does not correlate with quality, marketing can make a medicore product more popular than a high quality one. The Master System also had bad marketing by the way. If all 3 systems had been marketed with equal intensity, the Master system could have easily "won" due to it's technical superiority.

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Games were not outdated at launch for Prosystem 7800 model. Atari internally knew full well market demand was still high for those retroactive considered old games, and demand for 2600.

 

That is why 2600 was still sold even with Prosystem being compatible with 2600 library. 

 

They planned to coast on name brand because console market research showed no indication that any of new comers had any chance so they only thought they would instead try and make money and they did. Not a single console product lost money all gain 100%.

 

Every press wire they have earnings or some announcement of consoles brining in some amount of money so on and so on.

 

No one knew Nintendo had big number of production facilities and sent an army over. It gave Nintendo ability to take the shelves. But even with Nintendo ending up being winning competitor unforeseen, Sega was burning cash and Atari was making cash it didn't really matter if they were losing.

 

Because if you exclude Nintendo things went as planned. They compete much more than usual but only to sell a good number of consoles to increase profit, but still go with plan of coasting on brand name and selling in demand old games.

 

Atari 7800 Prosystem console, XE system consoles, 2600 console in old stock, the new Junior 2600 model, left over 5200 warehouse units, all together maybe sell 15 million units world wide. Maybe 10 million of that in US or more alone. 

 

It big pay day at Atari, and they had big software sales in the millions too, much revenue generated, then you have accessories and so on. I would say for Atari brand most successful period in life 1985-1991? There was no lack of customers, Nintendo came out of nowhere and surprise and yet still big sales for Atari name and not including computer, only TV machines.

 

Sega meanwhile never make single dollar on any system in each.

 

Individually it may seem mixed with small library some great games some WHAT? games but, Atari never planned individual they wanted to invade through many machines.

 

For Baby step and nostalgia 2600 Junior model, for those ready for next step teenagers college Prosystem 7800, those who was burned they get some small 5200 stuff. For sophisticated computer user you have now a TV Atari 8-bit computer. I remember reading they call it "multi-demographic targeting" which worked.

 

Problem is they had no follow up. No follow up to Prosystem 7800 means you can't use 7800 as new first step machine like 2600 junior. You have no computer TV machine after XEGS. You instead have two cancelled device one may never have even exist, so called ST hybrid TV computer, I think 100% imaginary.

 

So named Cheetah than changed to Panther also may have just been demo model that never actually did anything itself if it did I apologize but I think any software was some stand alone thing had nothing to do with an actual working Panther machine.

 

We end up with another cat Jaguar, going to save the company they all keep saying, but turns out to be another dead cat bounce just like those that had false hope Radioshack stock coming back so they go bankrupt with them, lose their house.

 

Only product we got in between was handheld Lynx, did not even bundle Klax after seeing Tetris and was second priority to Jaguar dead cat bounce. So Lynx end up bouncing with it, but at 300 feet what happen when you land on head? Rip.

 

My opinion Jack did not do enough to train his kids, they did not understand his original master plan for what was term "multi-demographic targeting" which worked very well, what we should have had is 7800 Prosystem replace 2600 as first step console, Atari 10000 as new main console, ST Game System short hand as STEG to replace XEGS, then Atari have 3 product for all ages compete with Sega Drive and Super Nintendo. And Bonk machine but that would be easy win. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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45 minutes ago, beoran said:

The MARIA graphics processor is an interesting design, with it's draw lists, but both the NES and the even better Master System had graphics processors that were superior to what the 7800 could muster, in resolution, in colors (certainly the Master System), and in the ability to have a hardware acelerated scrollable tile map with true hardware sprites.

What's the point of "true hardware sprites" in the NES if they're gimped compared to the 7800? (which isn't exactly soft-sprite either) The 7800 can push over a hundred sprites per frame with no flicker in sight, while the NES tops out at 64 per screen. Each 7800 sprite width can be up to 32 bytes wide, instead of the NES fixed width of 8 pixels wide. Any game object wider than 8 pixels on the NES has to use multiple sprites, which is problematic due to the max of 8 sprites per scanline.

 

The truth of the matter is, the NES is fantastic with tiles, and weak with sprites. The 7800 is fantastic with sprites, and weak with tiles. A clever programmer can overcome the NES limits by abusing tiles, and a clever programmer can overcome the 7800 limits by abusing sprites.

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3 hours ago, beoran said:

Since I am looking into porting Ature to the 7800, I investigated it's techical specifications. One thing I can say is that the 7800 was too early in the market, at least technically speaking. The MARIA graphics processor is an interesting design, with it's draw lists, but both the NES and the even better Master System had graphics processors that were superior to what the 7800 could muster, in resolution, in colors (certainly the Master System), and in the ability to have a hardware acelerated scrollable tile map with true hardware sprites. The main problem was marketing, though, and in the case of Nintendo, the willingness to use underhanded ploys to prevent publishers from making multi-platform games. The Atari 7800 was a marketing disaster. Popularity does not correlate with quality, marketing can make a medicore product more popular than a high quality one. The Master System also had bad marketing by the way. If all 3 systems had been marketed with equal intensity, the Master system could have easily "won" due to it's technical superiority.

Early UK marketing for both the NES abd M. S and Press reaction to the Master System. 

 

Note they'd been expecting almost arcade perfect conversions of the Sega coin-ops in cases... 

 

 

NES feature added for balance. 

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Edited by Lostdragon
Add NES reaction
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Well, there were high expectations. Also interesting though, would be to see the atari 7800 articles and advertisements (if any) that came out then.

Edited by beoran

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31 minutes ago, beoran said:

Well, there were high expectations. Also interesting though, would be to see the atari 7800 articles and advertisements (if any) that came out then.

Only got the European ads, misc news anno cements and the Son Of VCS article  at hand, all put up earlier in the thread. 

 

I never saw any UK adverts for it from Atari UK or game adverts for any of it's titles. 

 

Stark contrast to the NES and MS, Atari simply put everything it seems into promoting the ST. 

 

Even the 65XE had 2-page magazine adverts for the software. 

 

Plus Atari cutting prices, just as press were about to run articles, didn't help.. 

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Edited by Lostdragon
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Interesting! I think those go to show that for Atari, their 8 bits computer lines where what they were promoting, and the 7800 was perhaps nothing but a "budget" version that you couldn't even program. So in a sense the 8bit computers of Atari might also have contributed to the lack of interest in the 7800. An important thing for companies is not to make products that compete with their own products, which Atari definitely did.

 

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1 hour ago, beoran said:

Interesting! I think those go to show that for Atari, their 8 bits computer lines where what they were promoting, and the 7800 was perhaps nothing but a "budget" version that you couldn't even program. So in a sense the 8bit computers of Atari might also have contributed to the lack of interest in the 7800. An important thing for companies is not to make products that compete with their own products, which Atari definitely did.

 

The Atari computers and software for them, suffered from being far too expensive and failed to get a real foothold in the UK. 

 

 

Atari selling the 65XE system, 2600 and 7800 at same time didn't help the 7800 either. 

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Atari never intended for Europe the 7800 to be a contender, just extra side dish for money.

 

That is why it was quickly replaced in stores by XE game system to extend 8bitline and give upgrade path to ST for 8bit users and maybe get 2600 users also to upgrade to XE or to ST.

 

The European computer market was pretty huge for many things including games and Atari took notice, computers in Europe and certain countries in Mesopotamia and Africa, some south asia, and the rest all consoles.

 

In computer areas the 8-bit series was the first step at a cheap price, XE and XL for the more sophisticated, ST for those ready for next generation. XE for those that want easy TV XE and to get console players to computers.

 

In console areas 2600 Junior model is first step machine, then you have 7800 as the main machine with XE as a bridge machine to get some consoles to move to computers or to have a nice console with nice library of games that console generally missed out.

 

Atari marketing plan was always in 3's for "multi-demographic targeting" because it was expected this approach would sell more machines and push more in peoples homes because each age would be covered so someone would buy at least one if not more of these machines. 

 

This did seem to work but Sam was not potty trained and broke the plan. Killed everything but dead cat bounce Jaguar. amazing.

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22 hours ago, Lostdragon said:

The Atari computers and software for them, suffered from being far too expensive and failed to get a real foothold in the UK.

This is essentially what held them back in the marketplace, at least until the ST line came along.  Even then, they were kinda pricey at first, but did become more reasonable after a year or two.  But the A8s never hit the price point they needed to in order to become truly mass-market - well, not until the technology was at the end of its life, anyway.

 

People used to ask what kind of computer I had when the A8 was still viable.  After a while, I started telling them, "it's the fourth-most popular computer out of the top three," without actually using the Atari name.  That usually confused them enough that I didn't need to go much further with the explanation :-D

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10 hours ago, x=usr(1536) said:

This is essentially what held hem back in the marketplace, at least until the ST line came along.  Even then, they were kinda pricey at first, but did become more reasonable after a year or two.  But the A8s never hit the price point they needed to in order to become truly mass-market - well, not until the technology was at the end of its life, anyway.

 

People used to ask what kind of computer I had when the A8 was still viable.  After a while, I started telling them, "it's the fourth-most popular computer out of the top three," without actually using the Atari name.  That usually confused them enough that I didn't need to go much further with the explanation :-D

The 400/800 were kind of pricey for what they were,  but I didn't think the 800XL and XE line were overpriced, compared to what the competition were charging.   At least in the US,  not sure about Europe.

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The moment C64 became cheaper, Atari 8-bit line was doomed. If an arguably more powerful - or at least ~on par - machine is 100$ cheaper, then it's a simple choice. And in 1984 C64 already had a substantial game library and was gaining momentum.

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

The 400/800 were kind of pricey for what they were,  but I didn't think the 800XL and XE line were overpriced, compared to what the competition were charging.   At least in the US,  not sure about Europe.

Which is fair.  One thing I didn't make clear is that I was speaking from the perspective of someone who grew up in Europe, so that was the market (specifically, Ireland and the UK) that I had in mind.

 

In that vein: while 400 and 800 weren't cheap, and the XL line reduced prices somewhat over their predecessors, by the time they hit the market the C64 and ZX Spectrum were already on sale at lower price points.  This dogged the XL range throughout its life, and when the more-reasonably-priced XE range eventually landed, the ST and Amiga were already on the market and the writing was clearly on the wall for 8-bit machines in general.

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4 minutes ago, x=usr(1536) said:

In that vein: while 400 and 800 weren't cheap, and the XL line reduced prices somewhat over their predecessors, by the time they hit the market the C64 and ZX Spectrum were already on sale at lower price points.  This dogged the XL range throughout its life, and when the more-reasonably-priced XE range eventually landed, the ST and Amiga were already on the market and the writing was clearly on the wall for 8-bit machines in general.

The turmoil at Atari due to the 1984 sale didn't help either.   For awhile that uncertainty caused a lot of developers to pull back and not release Atari 8-bit software.  This helped the C64 software library pull ahead.   Eventually when the dust settled, you started to see them release new Atari software again,  but it was always behind C64 from that point,  A better software library also influences what system people buy..

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5 hours ago, zzip said:

The 400/800 were kind of pricey for what they were,  but I didn't think the 800XL and XE line were overpriced, compared to what the competition were charging.   At least in the US,  not sure about Europe.

Sorry, I should have made it a bit clearer, I meant the original 400/800 machines, the 800XL, 600XL (aimed at less affluent end of the consumer market) and XE line, were indeed good VFM but when Star Raiders was the Killer App and drawing gasps of amazement, so few could afford an Atari computer to play it on. 

 

Think I put the press clipping up earlier where Atari tried to justify the high cost of software. 

 

 

Another Atari UK statement on 7800

 

 

 

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Edited by Lostdragon
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On 9/15/2021 at 2:33 PM, zzip said:

The 400/800 were kind of pricey for what they were,  but I didn't think the 800XL and XE line were overpriced, compared to what the competition were charging.   At least in the US,  not sure about Europe.

Few more odds n sods regarding Atari UK Prices.. 

 

Maplin 1981 prices. 

 

Adda 1982

 

Spectrum 1983

 

£399.99 for a 48K Atari 800 vs £345.00 for the 64K C64

 

Atari 800 cartridge games at £29.99 for top end titles. 

 

 

Also throwing in the Atari Vs Coleco snippet. 

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On 9/15/2021 at 4:01 PM, x=usr(1536) said:

by the time they hit the market the C64 and ZX Spectrum were already on sale at lower price points.

On 9/15/2021 at 2:33 PM, zzip said:

but I didn't think the 800XL and XE line were overpriced, compared to what the competition were charging.   At least in the US,  not sure about Europe.

In my experience, the XL was really scrapping for that 4th berth in the UK with BBC Micro/Acorn Electron/MSX and others, well behind the established and entrenched Spectrum, C64 and Amstrad, in that order. A lot of the other brands were already dead or going out of business, Tangerine (Oric), Camputers (Lynx), Dragon Data (Dragon - similar to the TRS80CoCo) or they just failed to have any kind of success and failed to get a critical mass. I'd have guessed the A8's were closer to that than many of the other "also rans", but a good indicator is software support. Most of the big houses in the UK had dropped the A8 years before. Ocean, Elite, Gremlin etc.

 

Just before the XE's landed, I remember XL's being sold off cheap on the high-street with packs for £80 at Dixon's and Currys (Around Nov/Dec 85). The XE's were also sold pretty cheaply later on from what I recall, but by that time, the 8bit machines days were numbered (down to £89 or so by mid '87). 

 

I have a bit of a pricing database for the UK market for computers (nothing on the consoles), it's some old research that I gathered some years ago. - long story but it feeds my inner stat-geek.

 

A snapshot into the A8 Pricing :

 

Around March '84, the 800XL was selling in the UK for around £249 in various packs, the 600XL around £160. The UK 8bit market was super congested at this time. Here's a snapshot of the "everything" else :

  • BBC Micro model B was around £399
  • Acorn Electron around £199
  • Mattel Aquarius (£50 - lol this thing was DOA).
  • C64 around £199
  • Spectrum 48k was around £130
  • Oric 16k/48k (£100/£140 respectively)
  • Dragon 32/64 (£155/£225 respectively)
  • Sinclair QL (£399)
  • Lynx 48/96 (£199/£299 respectively)
  • ViC20's still for selling for around £100
  • Memotech MTX 500/512 (the 8bit with the sexiest case ever -black anodised aluminium - £250/£290 respectively- the only thing that tops this is the red version they planned to sell to Russia. Subtle.)
  • Sony HitBit around £300
  • ZX81's still selling for around £45
  • Missing good pricing on the TRS80/COCO and TI4A but they were pretty insignificant as competitors in the UK market.

This info comes with no warranty, and you probably shouldn't even read it incase your head explodes or something. If you go looking to prove these prices one way or the other (I know some folks are like that, :D ..), that's cool but remember I typically recorded the cheapest price I found for a system at each point in time, not every price. You might find something more expensive (or cheaper!). Doesn't mean these prices are wrong (or that you are wrong), they are indicative. This data worked for my purposes at the time. (I know, I shouldn't need to say this but we've all seen the posting of certain users recently).

 

I guess the exception that proves the rule when you look at the barrier to market entry in the UK was the Amstrad range. They didn't appear until late '84 but were very successful in the UK and in parts of Europe and went off like a rocket and zoomed up and took 3rd place for themselves until the 16bit computers took over. They eventually outsold everything on that list above in the UK/Europe (probably), except the Spectrum, and C64.

 

Of course, this is just a snapshot and the picture changes over time and machines exit and new ones come in the picture. 

 

Sorry nothing on the consoles, I never gathered any data on the pricing trends there as it wasn't useful to my research (or I'd have probably used it when discussing the XEGS and NES/SMS debacle!).

 

Anyway, that's all very off topic, but I thought it interesting to share.

 

Edited by Muddyfunster
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2 hours ago, Muddyfunster said:

In my experience, the XL was really scrapping for that 4th berth in the UK with BBC Micro/Acorn Electron/MSX and others, well behind the established and entrenched Spectrum, C64 and Amstrad, in that order.

Exactly how I remember it, though with one caveat involving Amstrad and others.  More on that a bit further down.

2 hours ago, Muddyfunster said:

A lot of the other brands were already dead or going out of business, Tangerine (Oric), Camputers (Lynx), Dragon Data (Dragon - similar to the TRS80CoCo) or they just failed to have any kind of success and failed to get a critical mass. I'd have guessed the A8's were closer to that than many of the other "also rans", but a good indicator is software support. Most of the big houses in the UK had dropped the A8 years before. Ocean, Elite, Gremlin etc.

That was the thing with the A8 range - they were good computers and did have software available, but a) price and b) the general lack of software houses in Europe publishing titles for them left them very US-centric in a number of ways.  From the standpoint of the machines' design, that didn't really matter - but for everything else (including software and support availability) it very much did.  This also affected the Apple ][ range, TRS-80 / CoCo, TI-994/A, etc., and in a way MSX machines as well though from a different angle.

2 hours ago, Muddyfunster said:

I guess the exception that proves the rule when you look at the barrier to market entry in the UK was the Amstrad range. They didn't appear until late '84 but were very successful in the UK and in parts of Europe and went off like a rocket and zoomed up and took 3rd place for themselves until the 16bit computers took over. They eventually outsold everything on that list above in the UK/Europe (probably), except the Spectrum, and C64.

Coming back to Amstrad: you bring up a good point regarding their 'parts of Europe' success.  They did well in the UK, France, and Germany, but were basically nonexistent on the Irish market.  Ditto the BBC Micro and its Acorn counterparts, and almost everything else on the list you posted that wasn't the ZX Spectrum, C64, or Vic-20.  Atari stayed in fourth place with no other real contenders in the ring to worry about.

 

What, IMHO, really helped Amstrad to reach the point in the home computer market that they did - despite their relatively late entry into it - was their acquisition of Sinclair.  That gave them access to expanded manufacturing facilities and sales and support channels that they didn't previously have, and really enabled them to give their name a jump-start when they moved into computers.  Note that I'm not implying that all was rosy for them in those regards once they had full visibility into how Sinclair had managed those relationships, but it did at least give them something of a leg up they wouldn't have otherwise had.

2 hours ago, Muddyfunster said:

Of course, this is just a snapshot and the picture changes over time and machines exit and new ones come in the picture.

Absolutely, and this is something that is important to keep in mind.  The sheer amount of flux in that market between about 1981 and 1988 or so while it found its footing was absolutely staggering.

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8 hours ago, x=usr(1536) said:

That was the thing with the A8 range - they were good computers and did have software available, but a) price and b) the general lack of software houses in Europe publishing titles for them left them very US-centric in a number of ways.

BITD, I borrowed an A8 from a mate at school. I lent him my +2, I had his 800XL for the weekend. I remember the tape loading was way longer than the Spectrum. That said, I thought it was a nice computer with great graphics and sound.

 

Now I have a pimped 800XE in my collection and I've loved exploring the library, games, demos etc in more detail as well as fantastic homebrew releases. I've always felt the A8's especially the XL's onwards, were under-rated in the UK and probably didn't see the success that they deserved. Many reasons behind that, that we've both mentioned.

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On 9/14/2021 at 11:15 AM, beoran said:

Interesting! I think those go to show that for Atari, their 8 bits computer lines where what they were promoting, and the 7800 was perhaps nothing but a "budget" version that you couldn't even program. So in a sense the 8bit computers of Atari might also have contributed to the lack of interest in the 7800. An important thing for companies is not to make products that compete with their own products, which Atari definitely did.

 

This never really happened, as explained above Atari was going for 3 step strategy in each region except Japan where they had only two

 

7800 was never there to gain ground in Europe, the XE game machine was. 7800 was there for extra money, 2600 was entry step, XE was the big one and it did its job expand interest in 8bit computer for a few years longer. XE machines were mostly made from parts of unsold XL and XE parts they did produce a small original batch but most shipments were those, by 1990 production stopped and all was left were leftover unsold inventory, idea was to move console players to computer because of computer domination. XE TV console would have been more successful if they continued but they ended up gaining more out of computers.

 

Remember goal was for Europe to get computer Atari to profitability and it did. In US 8bit line was niche and couldn't be revived XE TV machine just took over from XE computers in the dying 8bit market sans c64.

 

Instead ST was surprise and ended up reviving Atari computers in USA. 7800 and 2600 Junior model nice success in US also, so they aim for two markets instead of one like Europe.

 

On 9/15/2021 at 11:10 AM, zzip said:

The turmoil at Atari due to the 1984 sale didn't help either.   For awhile that uncertainty caused a lot of developers to pull back and not release Atari 8-bit software.  This helped the C64 software library pull ahead.   Eventually when the dust settled, you started to see them release new Atari software again,  but it was always behind C64 from that point,  A better software library also influences what system people buy..

Honest truth is Atari was never in position to challenge the C64 in anything when it came out other than games - which was a no go in the US because consoles much cheaper and popular, and in Europe most game players had cheaper machines that parent also use for the education as well as games.

 

Even with no sale, C64 would have been dominant platform for game devs, even in US C64 was ahead. By early 1984 Atari 8bit was really nowhere it sell less than 1.5 million units world wide. Nothing they could do to find the spark imo, they had nice computers and good advantages over many other companies but they never took off. Sad but truth.

 

Best sales periiod for Atari 8bit computers was most likely when they were in US setting fire to prices, C64 was selling well before that even happened out the gate. With that they did maybe 10 to 1 what Atari did.

 

What you going to do? They tried everything. Tramiel did better job for a short time only but that was only time Atari computer was viable competition.

 

 

On 9/15/2021 at 10:19 AM, youxia said:

The moment C64 became cheaper, Atari 8-bit line was doomed. If an arguably more powerful - or at least ~on par - machine is 100$ cheaper, then it's a simple choice. And in 1984 C64 already had a substantial game library and was gaining momentum.

I think Atari was doomed from the start, never make money, most competitors sold better out the gate, and by time of 84 Atari managed only over 1 million in over 5 years, I don't think there was anything they could do even with price cut it only gave slight nudge. Never not just market leader but they were not even number 2 and for many years not even number 3.

 

 

 

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11 minutes ago, James Vontor said:

Honest truth is Atari was never in position to challenge the C64 in anything when it came out other than games - which was a no go in the US because consoles much cheaper and popular, and in Europe most game players had cheaper machines that parent also use for the education as well as games.

 

Even with no sale, C64 would have been dominant platform for game devs, even in US C64 was ahead. By early 1984 Atari 8bit was really nowhere it sell less than 1.5 million units world wide. Nothing they could do to find the spark imo, they had nice computers and good advantages over many other companies but they never took off. Sad but truth.

 

Best sales periiod for Atari 8bit computers was most likely when they were in US setting fire to prices, C64 was selling well before that even happened out the gate. With that they did maybe 10 to 1 what Atari did.

 

What you going to do? They tried everything. Tramiel did better job for a short time only but that was only time Atari computer was viable competition.

Atari seemed to be on top 82-83, when home computer market was smaller, but 83 was when the home computer market really started to take off,  but there were a few things that set back the Atari line:

1. FCC rules - one reason the 400/800 were built like tanks was to meet FCC RF requirements.  FCC relaxed these rules at some point.   C64 came out after these rules were relaxed, so they were able to deliver a 64K computer with full keyboard but with  a much lower build quality and cost than the Atari 800

2. Atari responds with the cheaper XL line, 800XL in theory should be competitive with C64,  but manufacturing issues caused the XLs to be in short supply during the crucial Christmas 83.  

3. Mid 84 - Atari sale- this threw Atari into chaos,  developers took a wait-and-see approach, new software becomes scarce.  800XLs and 1050s start showing up at retail at close-out prices (which might have signaled to consumers that Atari is getting out of the computer or at least 8-bit business)

4. 85 - Atari announces the XE and ST line which signals that the new Atari will continue the 8-bit product line.  The software situation begins to improve somewhat, but by this point Atari is far behind the C64

 

So I think the 8-bit line might have done better if the Atari had handled any of the above pivot points differently

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2 hours ago, James Vontor said:

7800 was never there to gain ground in Europe, the XE game machine was.

@James Vontor: this is not aimed specifically at you, but as you mentioned it I'm bringing it up.

 

Something that is important to keep in mind about the timeframe we're discussing: the EU didn't exist.  This meant that Atari (or any other computer / console manufacturer) had no pan-European sales or marketing strategy, typically operated mostly-independent offices in each territory in which they sold computers, and was facing the issue of production in one country leading to import duties and regulatory compliance considerations in every country in which their machines were sold but not manufactured.

 

As a result, I'm always wary of 'in Europe...' statements.  Things weren't the same everywhere (and still aren't, to a large extent), but the ability to merchandise goods on a relatively even footing in each country was practically nonexistent prior to 1992, and certainly took a few years after that to shake out to more or less where it is now.

 

The knock-on effect is that all of these restrictions played a significant role in shaping how home computing developed across Europe.  Each country had its own dominant machines, which may or may not be the same as in another country.  This is why generalising about the European computer scene of the time strikes me as something to not give credence to.

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