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damanloox

Why was 7800 discontinued

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The reality is that by the time the 2600, 7800, and A8 line were killed off in 1992, the 8-bit era was well and truly dead and had been for around three or four years at that point.  And no, the XEGS (as many have pointed out) was never a replacement for the 7800; it was part of a separate line of computers - not consoles - being manufactured simultaneously.

 

Had Atari got the 7800 out in 1984 (with AMY for sound in 7800 games and still retaining 2600 compatibility), that system could have carried them to about 1990, at which point they'd need to be launching their 16-bit console.  That machine could have got them to 1994 or 1995, when they would have had to jump to 32-bit, and so on.  The Jaguar does not happen in this timeframe.

 

Rather than an XE line, 1985 would have introduced a 1400XL and 1400XLD with a 65C816, AMY, and MARIA (in addition to POKEY and GTIA) which could have been Atari's gateway drug to get 8-bit users interested in the capabilities of 16-bit computers and, ultimately, the ST line.  On this timeline, the A8 models would have been axed around 1989.

 

The ST, TT, and Falcon would have had a lifespan that lasted from 1985 to around 1998, when it all transitioned to Intel.  By 2005, Atari would have exited the home computer / PC end of the market entirely and been concentrating solely on consoles, either as hardware, software, or both.

 

That's about as much what-if as I can entertain playing.  Getting into what the Tramiels did or did not do, or could have done, isn't something I really care to get into; there's nothing new to say there.

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

And no, the XEGS (as many have pointed out) was never a replacement for the 7800; it was part of a separate line of computers - not consoles - being manufactured simultaneously.

 

They pitched it in ads directly against the NES.  It was called the XE Game System.  It was a console and sold as such.

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If you compare the games between the XEGS and 7800 it is pretty clear that the XEGS is step down from the 7800 graphically.

The XEGS was dead long before Atari offically pulled the plug on it, while the 7800 was still limping along.

 

Mitch

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

 

They pitched it in ads directly against the NES.  It was called the XE Game System.  It was a console and sold as such.

That depends on which part of the world you were living in.  We didn't even get advertising for it, though the 2600jr. did in both print and on TV.

 

And yes, they called it a game system.  It was an A8 inside.  If you want to split hairs and/or believe otherwise, fine, that's your prerogative.  But you're unlikely to find a lot of support for your point of view here because ultimately it was just a computer with a detachable keyboard.

 

Just because I can hit CTRL-F1 on my 1200XL and turn off the keyboard doesn't make it a game console anymore than unplugging the keyboard from an XEGS does.  The internals on both are still A8.

Edited by x=usr(1536)

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1 hour ago, x=usr(1536) said:

That depends on which part of the world you were living in.  We didn't even get advertising for it, though the 2600jr. did in both print and on TV

 

Good point.  The 2600 Jr.  got nada over here from what I can remember.  They really carpet bombed the kids cartoons with XEGS ads for a little while.  If you dog them up on Youtube, they're hilarious.  They were trying to go line-by-line against the NES and show how much more "advanced" the XEGS was.  Oooooooh!  Flight Simulator II!  Can NES do that?  Really comical in retrospect.

 

Clearly, nobody was biting, but it worked on me in the 80s.  I wanted that thing in the worst way.

 

1 hour ago, x=usr(1536) said:

And yes, they called it a game system.  It was an A8 inside.  If you want to split hairs and/or believe otherwise, fine, that's your prerogative.  But you're unlikely to find a lot of support for your point of view here because ultimately it was just a computer with a detachable keyboard.

 

Yeah, it's an A8 inside.  So was the 5200.  Was that a "computer"?  And the 400/800s were intended as game consoles before Atari decided computers were the new thing and stuck a keyboard and SIO port on there.  Were they "game consoles"?

 

It's not splitting hairs.  It's what the machine was designed to do.  All the XEGS branded software were games.  They sold it in toy stores next to the NES and SMS.  They pitched it, to kids, as a games machine, not as an "educational" machine that also happens to play games.  The keyboard was there simply because games like FSII required it.

 

If you can find me evidence that anyone who bought that damn thing in the 80s used it to run SynCalc, or cruise BBS, or do anything other than play Ballblazer and Donkey Kong, I'll personally eat a booger.  Therefore, I conclude it was a game console.

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29 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

Good point.  The 2600 Jr.  got nada over here from what I can remember.  They really carpet bombed the kids cartoons with XEGS ads for a little while.  If you dog them up on Youtube, they're hilarious.  They were trying to go line-by-line against the NES and show how much more "advanced" the XEGS was.  Oooooooh!  Flight Simulator II!  Can NES do that?  Really comical in retrospect.

 

Clearly, nobody was biting, but it worked on me in the 80s.  I wanted that thing in the worst way.

I can remember seeing them in the local main Atari retailer, and I seem to recall that at least one person in our users' group had one.  There just wasn't any real reason to choose them over, say, a used 800XL or 130XE.

29 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

Yeah, it's an A8 inside.  So was the 5200.  Was that a "computer"?

You may want to look more closely at the 5200's hardware spec compared to A8s.  There are significant differences; off the top of my head, the only ones I remember clearly are that the 5200 has no PIA and that the OS ROM is 5200-specific and reduced from 10KB to 2KB, but those are the two most significant.  Software compatibility is another issue; modifications ranging from minor to extensive can be required to port software between the 5200 and A8s (and vice-versa).  Sure, there are similarities between the two, but they're not the same.

29 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

And the 400/800s were intended as game consoles before Atari decided computers were the new thing and stuck a keyboard and SIO port on there.  Were they "game consoles"?

No, because that's not what they were positioned or sold as in the market.

29 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

It's not splitting hairs.  It's what the machine was designed to do.  All the XEGS branded software were games.  They sold it in toy stores next to the NES and SMS.  They pitched it, to kids, as a games machine, not as an "educational" machine that also happens to play games.  The keyboard was there simply because games like FSII required it.

Given that the ad you mentioned earlier refers to the keyboard being used for "advanced computer games", I'd say that Atari was straddling both sides of the line on this one.

29 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

If you can find me evidence that anyone who bought that damn thing in the 80s used it to run SynCalc, or cruise BBS, or do anything other than play Ballblazer and Donkey Kong, I'll personally eat a booger.  Therefore, I conclude it was a game console.

Like I said, you're welcome to view it however you see fit.  But don't expect a lot of agreement on the subject.

 

My interest in this subject is also waning; it's not something I really care to go around in circles on.

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7 hours ago, MrTrust said:

It's not splitting hairs.  It's what the machine was designed to do.  All the XEGS branded software were games.  They sold it in toy stores next to the NES and SMS.  They pitched it, to kids, as a games machine, not as an "educational" machine that also happens to play games.  The keyboard was there simply because games like FSII required it.

 

If you can find me evidence that anyone who bought that damn thing in the 80s used it to run SynCalc, or cruise BBS, or do anything other than play Ballblazer and Donkey Kong, I'll personally eat a booger.  Therefore, I conclude it was a game console.

This matches my experience seeing the ads on TV back then, which clearly marketed the XEGS as a video game system competing with the NES (they specifically mention the NES [in so many words] by name in their ads)—that was also capable of playing "disk based games".  Regardless of the fact that there's an actual full blown computer under the hood, none of the marketing for the XEGS itself focused on much of anything other than games, games, games.  They had the XE series of computers that they marketed as, well, computers.

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Seems Atari did a lot of repackaging of tech they developed in the late 70's. And it didn't really matter if the 5200 was the same (or not) as the home computers. The software looked the same. And it was "common knowledge" that it was a stripped down 400. And that's all us kids needed to know.

 

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Warner Atari’s first big failure was to wait too long with a VCS successor and then botching it with the 5200‘s analog sticks. Corporate management did not understand that the VCS would not sell forever (and who could blame them given the whole business of cartridge-based videogames was quite new). The 7800 got snagged in the takeover and lost valuable time, plus those managing it failed to make sure their would be more attractive software for it. A generation of kids for which arcades were not necessarily their first contact with videogames was ready to take up a fare beyond arcade conversions, however good they might be. 

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

You may want to look more closely at the 5200's hardware spec compared to A8s.  There are significant differences; off the top of my head, the only ones I remember clearly are that the 5200 has no PIA and that the OS ROM is 5200-specific and reduced from 10KB to 2KB, but those are the two most significant.  Software compatibility is another issue; modifications ranging from minor to extensive can be required to port software between the 5200 and A8s (and vice-versa).  Sure, there are similarities between the two, but they're not the same.


Now who's "not going to find a lot of agreement"?  The 5200 being an A400 with the keyboard yanked off is pretty unanimously agreed upon around here in my experience.  For games that used 16k or RAM or less, porting A8 games is not much more than swapping addresses for GITA and POKEY.  But, you're right, they're not the same.
 

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

No, because that's not what they were positioned or sold as in the market.

 
Exactly.  Same is true of the XEGS.  They had a "different" product line for peddling low-cost, entry-level computers at the same time: the XE and leftover XL lines.
 

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

Given that the ad you mentioned earlier refers to the keyboard being used for "advanced computer games", I'd say that Atari was straddling both sides of the line on this one.


Or, you could read it "advanced computer games".  What it was, at root, was Atari trying to unload a bunch of old A8 hardware and game software with minimal investment.  It also was a tacit admission that the A8 line was, for all the tiny segment of the user base that did productivity stuff with them, or programmed advanced demos or whatever, were basically gaming machines.  Just like the C64 and all the other 8-bit microcomputers of the era.  Oh, sure, your uncle used his C64 to run CP/M and handled all the finances for his small business with it, but come on, the vast majority of what anybody ever did with these things was play video games.  

 

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

Like I said, you're welcome to view it however you see fit.  But don't expect a lot of agreement on the subject.


Couldn't care less if I do or not.  The facts of the matter are not contingent upon finding a lot of agreement.  All I was doing was adding contours to the other answers to the original question, which are generally correct.  The 7800 was not discontinued "in favor" of the XEGS, nor was the XEGS a "successor" to the 7800.  These terms are not really applicable to what was happening back then.  The model of release console, support it for 4-5 years, introduce new console while slowly phasing out the old one was something that only Nintendo did consistently until Sony and Microsoft game into the picture.  Through the 80s and into the 90s, companies were either dumping multiple machines onto the market at the same time, or putting out add-on hardware to extend the life of the existing machines.  So, trying to analyze these things through the lens of how we're accustomed to games companies doing it now doesn't make much sense.

BUT, in terms of which machine was positioned directly opposite the NES just as it was really hitting its stride, at least in the US, that was the XEGS and not the 7800, which seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye.  To some extent, this is a silly argument to have, since both machines were barely a blip in the market relative to what else was available at the time, but I guarantee you that if you canvassed all the 80s kids who grew up when "Nintendo tapes" were really big, they're more likely to vaguely remember seeing the XEGS on TV or at Kay Bee Toys than to vaguely remember seeing the 7800.  But, no, outside of the internet, I've never come across another person who actually had either one.

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

Rather than an XE line, 1985 would have introduced a 1400XL and 1400XLD with a 65C816, AMY, and MARIA (in addition to POKEY and GTIA) which could have been Atari's gateway drug to get 8-bit users interested in the capabilities of 16-bit computers and, ultimately, the ST line.  On this timeline, the A8 models would have been axed around 1989.

I don't think the ST exists in any world where the 1400XL and XLD do, and the 7800 releases in 1984.   For these to happen, I think the company doesn't get sold,  at least not to Jack.    Warner supposedly had a 16-bit computer prototype,  they had first dibs on the Amiga chips,  but who knows if they release an Amiga-like computer or use the Amiga chips in a game or arcade system down the line?   There's also a chance they decide early that computers are a dead-end for them, and they don't launch a 16-bit computer and focus on consoles instead.

 

10 hours ago, MrTrust said:

If you can find me evidence that anyone who bought that damn thing in the 80s used it to run SynCalc, or cruise BBS, or do anything other than play Ballblazer and Donkey Kong, I'll personally eat a booger.  Therefore, I conclude it was a game console

I remember Bill Wilkenson of OSS saying the XEGS was great for programming on because the wired keyboard could rest on your lap.   You can eat that booger now :)

 

1 hour ago, slx said:

Warner Atari’s first big failure was to wait too long with a VCS successor and then botching it with the 5200‘s analog sticks. Corporate management did not understand that the VCS would not sell forever (and who could blame them given the whole business of cartridge-based videogames was quite new).

They knew this as soon as the VCS was released.  They expected it to last no more than 3 years.   So they designed the 400/800 to originally be a console replacement for the VCS.   It was ready in 79, but it ended up as a computer because it was too expensive to build and the VCS was just getting started.    Even when it released as the 5200, it was still expensive.   The competition was using more off-the-shelf parts and less custom chips than Atari was

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11 hours ago, MrTrust said:

 

If you can find me evidence that anyone who bought that damn thing in the 80s used it to run SynCalc, or cruise BBS, or do anything other than play Ballblazer and Donkey Kong, I'll personally eat a booger.  Therefore, I conclude it was a game console.

 

Never played Ballblazer and/or Donkey Kong on mine.   Flight Sim II and Eagle's Nest were my go-to carts.   My main jam, though, was using it to learn Basic, to the best of my ability.  I'd go to the library to get any programming-related books I could find, and see what I could learn.  I was too stupid to realize that not all books catered specifically to that version of Basic, so that caused more than a few head scratchers. 

 

No need to scarf down a booger, though, I don't have any evidence of any of that.  😄

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MrTrust said:

It also was a tacit admission that the A8 line was, for all the tiny segment of the user base that did productivity stuff with them, or programmed advanced demos or whatever, were basically gaming machines.  Just like the C64 and all the other 8-bit microcomputers of the era.  Oh, sure, your uncle used his C64 to run CP/M and handled all the finances for his small business with it, but come on, the vast majority of what anybody ever did with these things was play video games.  

Yeah, the 8/16-bit micros totally were just used for gaming, and basically were pointless console wannabes. In a parallel universe that is, not the one we inhabit. In which  that "uncle", plus countless other people used micros for productivity, various hobbies and as a gateway into coding, gfx/fx design, and hardware modding, with vast libraries of "serious" books and mags to accompany them. Trying to portray these people as a "tiny segment" is at best uninformed, because literally everybody I knew tried to do something more than just gaming with their micros, even if it was just writing silly BASIC programs.

Edited by youxia
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1 hour ago, zzip said:

They knew this as soon as the VCS was released.  They expected it to last no more than 3 years.   So they designed the 400/800 to originally be a console replacement for the VCS.   It was ready in 79, but it ended up as a computer because it was too expensive to build and the VCS was just getting started.    Even when it released as the 5200, it was still expensive.   The competition was using more off-the-shelf parts and less custom chips than Atari was

"They" was the techies around Jay Miner and @JDecuir. Apparently Warner sales had a a different take on it. Looking back it is very hard to tell if the US (or the world) was ready for a high-end console at a price a bit below the 400 but I tend to believe it would have sold, if not in the same numbers as the VCS.

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On 3/30/2021 at 8:42 AM, damanloox said:

My question has two parts and you're focusing on first part only. I know why they discontinued 7800. What I don't understand (and wanted to get other opinions) is why they discontinued 7800 replacing it with XEGS. Did they really think Atari 800 (in nicer shell) would conquer Nintendo...?

 

Again, they did not discontinue the 7800 & replace it with the XEGS. They marketed both systems at the same time.

 

They didn't think the XEGS would conquer Nintendo; they had a lot of extra XE stock to sell, & retailers favored a $299 game system over a $99 computer.

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2 hours ago, MrTrust said:

this is a silly argument to have

It truly is, and it's clearly something you feel way more strongly about than I do.  Nothing new is being said, and, as I stated earlier, I'm not interested in going in circles over the same arguments that have been cropping up for decades at this point.  I'm out of this end of the conversation.

2 hours ago, zzip said:

I don't think the ST exists in any world where the 1400XL and XLD do, and the 7800 releases in 1984.   For these to happen, I think the company doesn't get sold,  at least not to Jack.    Warner supposedly had a 16-bit computer prototype,  they had first dibs on the Amiga chips,  but who knows if they release an Amiga-like computer or use the Amiga chips in a game or arcade system down the line?   There's also a chance they decide early that computers are a dead-end for them, and they don't launch a 16-bit computer and focus on consoles instead.

Agreed.  I should have been clearer in what I meant by 'ST': a 16-bit line of home computers, not necessarily the ST as we know it.  It wasn't the best placeholder I could have chosen, I'll admit.

 

BTW: has anyone checked with the OP to see how he feels about his thread having been hijacked for all of this?  I'll admit my culpability in that regard, but getting back to his original question would be courteous.

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This is interesting discussion and exactly what I wanted :). 

I still think XEGS was (sort of) a successor to 7800 (technically they were selling both but it's XEGS that got the "hype" which to me clearly shows what they were interested in ie. selling scrap parts from 8bit line and not developing the platform).

And I still think they would actually have a chance competing with NES - but they would have to spend some money on improving 7800 and not promoting XEGS... 

Again - my opinion only and (obviously) our view of what was happening at the time is most likely a lot different than what it actually was.

I think the topic can now be closed. Thanks all for input.

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Why close the topic? It's still interesting; I'm sure someone else has something to say that's related to the XEGS & 7800. 

 

Was it bad for Atari Corp to essentially compete against themselves? Could the XE or 7800 have made a bigger dent in the market if Atari had invested more into development? Which do you think had a better chance? If you could turn back time, take over Atari, & invest more into consoles, what would you do?

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My view is that inside Tramiel's Atari, they were betting on the ST.  Of course I don't really know, but I imagine Jack thought he'd come back to "the scene" with some of his big guns from Commodore and beat the industry into submission (again).  Then he could walk off into the sunset with the triumphant ST his swan song as he handed his hugely successful business off to his sons.

 

The 2600, 7800, and the XEGS (entire XE line?) were a sideshow to prop up their work on the ST.  Give them credit for getting the ST out the door because it actually did have an advantage for a while, but once it was clear that the ST would not be a market leader then Tramiel's Atari was about selling off old stock and trying to win lawsuits.  I think Jack was just tired of it all.  By the time we get to the Jag, the company was just different.

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2 hours ago, youxia said:

Yeah, the 8/16-bit micros totally were just used for gaming, and basically were pointless console wannabes. In a parallel universe that is, not the one we inhabit. In which  that "uncle", plus countless other people used micros for productivity, various hobbies and as a gateway into coding, gfx/fx design, and hardware modding, with vast libraries of "serious" books and mags to accompany them. Trying to portray these people as a "tiny segment" is at best uninformed, because literally everybody I knew tried to do something more than just gaming with their micros, even if it was just writing silly BASIC programs.


Sure.  I had a TRS-80 and wrote BASIC programs on it.  Did the same thing with an A8 and a C64.  We had Apple IIs in school, and when we weren't playing Oregon Trail, which was almost all the time, we learned typing and DOS.  I had the books.  We all know somebody who had the books.  And for every one of those guys, there were 10 other guys who twiddled around enough to write a Russian Roulette program and then let the books collect dust while they played games on it.  If you want to count that, fine.  My dad used to use his Sega CD as a CD player and an encyclopedia.  Doesn't mean the "multi-media" CD consoles of the 90s weren't used mostly for gaming, to the extent anyone used them at all.

We're on an Atari forum in 2021, man.  This is a self-selecting group who is going to be a little atypical, and yes, a small minority, though I admit to being US-centric in my perception.  Obviously, there were computer hobbyists in the 80s.  Obviously, they represented a bigger share of the user base than they do now, but we're still talking about a small subset of an already small subset.  

 

3 hours ago, zzip said:

I remember Bill Wilkenson of OSS saying the XEGS was great for programming on because the wired keyboard could rest on your lap.   You can eat that booger now :)


Never heard of him, and frankly, he sounds made-up.  Who actually liked the XE or ST keyboards?  Only some made-up person.  That is, unless you, the person reading this right now did, in which case, make sure to tell me that not fully 100% of users disliked it.  
 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MrTrust said:

Never heard of him, and frankly, he sounds made-up.  Who actually liked the XE or ST keyboards?  Only some made-up person.  That is, unless you, the person reading this right now did, in which case, make sure to tell me that not fully 100% of users disliked it. 

Oh definitely not made up!   He created Atari Basic,  Basic XL, Basic XE,  Action! and a bunch of other tools,  plus he wrote a monthly column in Compute magazine about Atari computers.    Since he programmed Atari software for a living, it only made sense that he would like a better keyboard experience.

 

3 hours ago, slx said:

"They" was the techies around Jay Miner and @JDecuir. Apparently Warner sales had a a different take on it. Looking back it is very hard to tell if the US (or the world) was ready for a high-end console at a price a bit below the 400 but I tend to believe it would have sold, if not in the same numbers as the VCS.

I think the mistake was underestimating the VCS shelf life, if they had taken a year or two longer to develop it,  by the time the world was ready for a VCS successor, they could have had something more current than 1979 tech.

 

2 hours ago, pacman000 said:

Was it bad for Atari Corp to essentially compete against themselves? Could the XE or 7800 have made a bigger dent in the market if Atari had invested more into development? Which do you think had a better chance? If you could turn back time, take over Atari, & invest more into consoles, what would you do?

if I have the benefit of knowing what I know now--

1. Keep the 5200 alive, release new controllers, better games & slimmer models.  killing this off in just over a year in favor of the 7800 just angered some of their most loyal fans.

2. 7800 as we know it would be a no-go.    I'd have GCC refine the tech for an eventual 5200 replacement, no sooner than 1986.   The eventual console should have 7800-like sprite capability.  A MUCH better sound chip.   320w mode with more colors (160w won't cut it by this point),  more RAM and improved cartridge capabilities.

3. XEGS - I understand this was mostly for the UK market.   If my Atari had such a thing, I'd restrict it to the countries that wanted it and not release it in markets where it competes against my enhanced version of the 7800

4. What's more important than hardware is to have the right games.  I would put more focus on that than Atari did post-84

Edited by zzip
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2 hours ago, pacman000 said:

Why close the topic? It's still interesting; I'm sure someone else has something to say that's related to the XEGS & 7800. 

Oh, I wasn't asking to close it; I was just requesting it get back on track with the OP's original question.  He seems fine with how it's going, though, so all's well, it seems :-D

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1 hour ago, MrTrust said:

We're on an Atari forum in 2021, man.  This is a self-selecting group who is going to be a little atypical, and yes, a small minority, though I admit to being US-centric in my perception.  Obviously, there were computer hobbyists in the 80s.  Obviously, they represented a bigger share of the user base than they do now, but we're still talking about a small subset of an already small subset.  

I'm not really quite sure what your point is. Is it that I'm so nostalgia-fuddled that I can't see the wood for the trees? Okay, I might be just some rando on the internet, but no matter how much you mock these examples, they are reflected in reality and also in writing much more serious than my ignorant musings. If you feel like insisting that home computers were just about games and everything else was a domain of few nerds, fine, but: a) that's also just another guy's opinion b) luckily the historical record (which is the one that counts) is much, much different ;)

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1 hour ago, youxia said:

I'm not really quite sure what your point is. Is it that I'm so nostalgia-fuddled that I can't see the wood for the trees? Okay, I might be just some rando on the internet, but no matter how much you mock these examples, they are reflected in reality and also in writing much more serious than my ignorant musings. If you feel like insisting that home computers were just about games and everything else was a domain of few nerds, fine, but: a) that's also just another guy's opinion b) luckily the historical record (which is the one that counts) is much, much different ;)

 

Wow.  Take this stuff a little more seriously, guy.  Go search eBay for "Atari 800" right now.  What's going to come up, a bunch of productivity software or a bunch of games?  When you see a machine in a lot with software, what's it usually got with it, a bunch of home finance software, or a bunch of games?  When you get a big box of old floppies, is it a bunch of programs written by the previous owner himself, or is it mostly pirated games?  We know the answer.  Go to any 2nd hand store where these things show up, and you find the same thing.  Back when you found these things at garage sales, you found the same thing every time.  It's just the archaeological record, that's all.  You didn't see IBM and Apple spinning the 5150 or AII off into games consoles, did you?

 

2 hours ago, zzip said:

if I have the benefit of knowing what I know now--

1. Keep the 5200 alive, release new controllers, better games & slimmer models.  killing this off in just over a year in favor of the 7800 just angered some of their most loyal fans.

2. 7800 as we know it would be a no-go.    I'd have GCC refine the tech for an eventual 5200 replacement, no sooner than 1986.   The eventual console should have 7800-like sprite capability.  A MUCH better sound chip.   320w mode with more colors (160w won't cut it by this point),  more RAM and improved cartridge capabilities.

3. XEGS - I understand this was mostly for the UK market.   If my Atari had such a thing, I'd restrict it to the countries that wanted it and not release it in markets where it competes against my enhanced version of the 7800

4. What's more important than hardware is to have the right games.  I would put more focus on that than Atari did post-84


This, plus get out of the mentality that everyone prior to Nintendo was in of home games being inferior replications of arcade games.  Better and better fidelity every time, granted, but still not perfect.  What they needed to do was develop game lines for the machines themselves, that were different in kind from the arcades of the day.  This is what people were wanting then, and I don't think anyone but Nintendo really got it at the time.

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