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Why was 7800 discontinued

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I have only a handful of games for the 7800 and not very much play time on the console.

I do plan to expand my game play on the console sooner than later.

First impression was not great.  I had a commodore 64 back in the day and played a lot of one on one.  This is one of the first 7800 games I got.

It was pretty awful in comparison to the c64.  Now, I know 1 game does not make a console...  I just don't have many to judge it by.

I know it also has winter games.  This will be my next game I try to play.  Again, lots of c64 time on this game.

 

I never had one of these... But I think Vectrex was going down a good path.

 

Again, never had one.. But it was 3x4 (I believe) matching arcade orientation of the time.

Had the potential of playing some cool vector games also.  But Atari had most of them.

 

If Atari had put out a system like this and a raster graphics version also ( better yet in the same machine if that is/was possible? )

You could create games that better matched the arcade.  Flattened versions looked strange to those of us that played the actual arcade games.

And simply could not faithful recreate the original versions.

 

Some games translated fine.  Popeye, Frogger etc.

But Donkey Kong was so wide and missing rows of girders etc.

 

I am also a fan of the vector games...  Asteroids, Gravitar, Lunar Lander, Star Trek etc.  I think Atari would have had the muscle to have a more powerful version, a bigger display and of course arcade games they created!

 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours 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.  
 

Bill Wilkinson was a real person. He died on November 10, 2015 of multiple myeloma.  His son posted on Atariage as Microby in 2015.

 

I discovered OSS stands for Optimized System Software.  Optimized System Software  was founded in 1981 and defuncted in 1988. 

 

Here is proof that he was a real person:

 

https://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/antic-interview-7-the-atari-8-bit-podcast-bill-wilkinson-oss

 

He is listed as one of the founders of Optimized System Software here:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimized_Systems_Software

 

Proof of Bill's son confirming his dad's death:

https://atariage.com/forums/topic/229656-interview-questions-for-bill-wilkinson/?do=findComment&comment=3379121

 

 

 

Edited by 8th lutz
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29 minutes ago, 1980gamer said:

I have only a handful of games for the 7800 and not very much play time on the console.

I do plan to expand my game play on the console sooner than later.

First impression was not great.  I had a commodore 64 back in the day and played a lot of one on one.  This is one of the first 7800 games I got.

It was pretty awful in comparison to the c64. 

 

Give Karateka a go.  You ain't seen bad yet, fella'.  Impossible Mission is actually broken on 7800.  There were good games on the system.  Tower Toppler is a fine port.  Some of the 7800 originals were quite cool at the very end.

 

But other than Food Fight and Xevious, the only thing differentiating the system from other arcade port-heavy consoles were these late conversions of A8/C64 games.  The arcade stuff was marginally better, but the computer parts were definitely inferior.

 

So, to the original point, even if Atari were trying to perpetrate this flim-flam as the "successor" to the 7800, one could not really blame them given that a good chunk of the 7800 library was actually better on the XEGS.

 

47 minutes ago, 8th lutz said:

Bill Wilkenson was a real person although I did not hear of him either before doing internet searches on him. He died on November 10, 2015 of multiple myeloma.  His son posted on Atariage as Microby in 2015.

 

Anybody can edit Wikipedia and make forum posts.  

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

Anybody can edit Wikipedia and make forum posts.  

That still does not explain the podcast. You can not do a podcast without a real person. That meant the person existed when the podcast was made.

 

You have another problem. People on Atariage actually heard of Bill Wilkinson including a couple people who posted in this thread that were not named Zipp.

 

Amazon also has Bill's books. Here is Inside Atari DOS with Bill listed as the Author:

https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Atari-DOS-Robert-Lock/dp/0942386027/ref=sr_1_14?dchild=1&qid=1617236580&refinements=p_27%3ABill+Wilkinson&s=books&sr=1-14

 

Here is Atari Basic Source Book Bill being listed as the compiler for the book according to Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0942386159/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

 

 

Edited by 8th lutz
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3 hours ago, MrTrust said:

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

Not a great metric; how often would someone save old productivity software? Why would an old computer store want old productivity software? If a game is fun it’s going to be fun yesterday, today, & tomorrow; productivity software is usually replaced by the next, more advanced version.

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58 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

Anybody can edit Wikipedia and make forum posts.

OK, now I know you're trolling.

 

Oh, and fuck you for dragging a dead man into this.

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1 hour ago, pacman000 said:

Not a great metric; how often would someone save old productivity software? Why would an old computer store want old productivity software? If a game is fun it’s going to be fun yesterday, today, & tomorrow; productivity software is usually replaced by the next, more advanced version.

 

Beats me, but they do.  People in 2021 have bought old copies of Lotus 123.  Maybe they want to open old files or something?  I don't know.  The point is that, for the most part historically, when you'd come across these things being unloaded, it was in a big box with all the stuff the owner had with it, and for the most part, it was all games.

 

Notice, for instance how many XL units you see for sale without a disc drive and no wear on the option key, indicating the previous owner never had one.  If you didn't have a disk drive, really what were you doing with it?

 

Imprecise metric I know, but what else can one go by?

 

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

OK, now I know you're trolling.

 

Oh, and fuck you for dragging a dead man into this.

 

Ooooh, can I feel your muscles, you big strong white knight of the Atari forum you?  The initial comment was what we Earthlings like to call a fucking joke.  If I hadn't had a bunch of ridiculous answers trying to "prove" to me a person, that nobody has any reason to think was made-up, in fact actually exists, I wouldn't have resorted to sarcasm.

 

For a guy who's so above this whole conversation, you sure seem to feel the need to have the last word on it.  I've tried several times to return to the original topic, so if you don't have anything to contribute to that, maybe you should follow through on your promise to be done with it.

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13 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

Ooooh, can I feel your muscles

 

Mine are bigger.   Settle down, or poof.

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Posted (edited)

Baleeted.  Not worth it.

Edited by x=usr(1536)
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On 3/30/2021 at 7:41 PM, 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.

 

I don't think anyone is denying it's an Atari 8 bit inside, but how many people bought it as a computer with a detachable keyboard when Atari didn't even include a keyboard (unless you opted for the deluxe set)?

 

I'll admit I was heavily into my Tandy 1000EX at the time, and the NES wasn't even a blip on my radar back then let alone something like the XEGS.  Why do you feel people looked at the XEGS as more of a computer than a game system?  There's no denying it was marketed as a game system (GS is right in the name) and stores had it placed with the game consoles, but is there a reason that someone back in the 80s would have chosen it over the 65XE?

Possibly price point?  I don't know what the price of the 65XE was in '87, but if the XEGS was substantially cheaper, I can see people buying it as a home computer instead, especially if that point was brought up in magazine articles.  Although I would have paid extra to not have the Fisher-Price pastel buttons. :)

 

5 hours ago, MrTrust said:

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?

 

It's not an Atari or Commodore thing; pick any system (including IBM) and games probably outnumber productivity software 100 to 1.  And when you did upgrade that home finance program, did you really want to keep the old one to revisit and enjoy later on?  Personally, I didn't need dozens of different word processors, editor/assemblers, communications programs, spreadsheets, etc.

Often the real estate was worth more than the data, and Commander Keen was going to take up residence in the floppy once lived in by Lotus 1 2 3.

 

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The "knock it off" was for everyone.  Quit stirring up shit.

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1 minute ago, Turbo-Torch said:

I don't think anyone is denying it's an Atari 8 bit inside, but how many people bought it as a computer with a detachable keyboard when Atari didn't even include a keyboard (unless you opted for the deluxe set)?

Which is a fair point and question.  What's weird is that of the very few I saw when they were current (which probably numbered as much as a half-dozen), all had keyboards.  Then again, that was outside of North America.  Things may have been (read: were very likely) different here.

1 minute ago, Turbo-Torch said:

I'll admit I was heavily into my Tandy 1000EX at the time, and the NES wasn't even a blip on my radar back then let alone something like the XEGS.  Why do you feel people looked at the XEGS as more of a computer than a game system?  There's no denying it was marketed as a game system (GS is right in the name) and stores had it placed with the game consoles, but is there a reason that someone back in the 80s would have chosen it over the 65XE?

Definitely not arguing that Game System was in the name.  But I think I may know why I see it as more of a computer and less of a game system: console gaming simply didn't have the same foothold in Europe that it did in North America at the time.  That's not to say that there weren't consoles, but home computers took off around 1982 / 1983 and managed to hold the market until about 1995.  That's when I remember the PC seriously taking off, along with the PS1.

 

Anyway, the point I was getting to was that an XEGS minus the keyboard may have been an unsaleable proposition, so our local Atari retailer might have only sold it with the keyboard.  That part is speculation on my behalf, but given the trends of consoles vs. computers at the time, it makes sense.

1 minute ago, Turbo-Torch said:

Possibly price point?  I don't know what the price of the 65XE was in '87, but if the XEGS was substantially cheaper, I can see people buying it as a home computer instead, especially if that point was brought up in magazine articles.  Although I would have paid extra to not have the Fisher-Price pastel buttons. :)

I kinda like the pastel buttons ;)  What I do recall is that it was too much of a 'more of the same again' machine, and a used 800XL or 130XE was a better bet, at least in cost terms.

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From what I remember reading, the XEGS cost more than the 65XE. That was kinda the point; Atari’s marketing department took a survey of retailers & found out they could sell an 8-bit computer for more money if they rebranded it as a game system.

 

Atari Corp wasn’t the only company to figure this out; Commodore & Amstrad tried it too. Atari’s offering sounds better tho, since the XEGS had a keyboard, & some games required a keyboard.

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56 minutes ago, Turbo-Torch said:

It's not an Atari or Commodore thing; pick any system (including IBM) and games probably outnumber productivity software 100 to 1.  And when you did upgrade that home finance program, did you really want to keep the old one to revisit and enjoy later on?

 

No, but once the thing reaches the end of the line, whatever was the latest version of that program, you'd expect to go with it.  That's my experience anyway.  But that's just an example, obviously.  You also had things like Jumpman Jr. Why make a cut-down version of a popular game just so you can put it on the more expensive cartridge format if there weren't a substantial number of users that didn't have disk drives?  You wouldn't.  Cassettes notwithstanding, an A8 without a disk drive can do what besides play games on a practical level.  Again, just an example.

 

I really don't think this is that controversial a statement.  Yes, they were home computers and you could do a lot of other things with them, and still can, but these machines were not the 5150 or the Mac; they were mich better for games than pretty much anything else, and generally speaking, people used them accordingly.

17 minutes ago, pacman000 said:

From what I remember reading, the XEGS cost more than the 65XE. That was kinda the point; Atari’s marketing department took a survey of retailers & found out they could sell an 8-bit computer for more money if they rebranded it as a game system.

 

That's news to me, but I believe it.  People moght have thought games were silly in the 80s, but for a lot of people, a computer seemed like the ultimate useless thing.  What would you ever do with that?  Common refrain.

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10 hours ago, MrTrust said:

That's news to me, but I believe it.  People moght have thought games were silly in the 80s, but for a lot of people, a computer seemed like the ultimate useless thing.  What would you ever do with that?  Common refrain.

I can't think of a more uncommon refrain in the 80's. Really. Like - this is so off the mark, it's not even funny. I mean - maybe the "greatest generation" folks who fought in world war I and II who were in retirement age thought this in the 80's. But Boomers and Generation X (the majority of people) made home computers go from being a rarity to commonplace in the 80's.

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Here's where I got that bit about the XEGS being more expensive than the 65XE: First Look Inside the XE Game System (atarimagazines.com)

 

Quote

Atari executives asked the heads of several major toy store chains which product they'd rather sell – the powerful 65XE home computer for about $80, or a fancy new game system for about $150. The answer was, "You can keep the computer, give us that game machine!"

 

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1 hour ago, John Stamos Mullet said:
12 hours ago, MrTrust said:

 

I can't think of a more uncommon refrain in the 80's. Really. Like - this is so off the mark, it's not even funny. I mean - maybe the "greatest generation" folks who fought in world war I and II who were in retirement age thought this in the 80's. But Boomers and Generation X (the majority of people) made home computers go from being a rarity to commonplace in the 80's.


Ah, yes, Boomers, that notoriously tech-savvy generation.  Just ask any Millennial with a Boomer parent that owns a computer.  But seriously, what are we considering commonplace?  By the end of the 80s, the apparent explosive decade of growth in computer adoption, around 15% of households in the US had a computer.  Even the UK was only about 17%.  Granted, you're starting from just about 0 to get there, but that's still not any larger a rate of growth than the decades that followed.  85% of people don't have a computer in the home, and that's commonplace?  I would not say so.  Twice as many people had VCRs, and they were still considered an expensive luxury at the time.  It wasn't until the turn of the century that even a majority of households had one.  Yes, I suppose you could argue that people still used them at home or at work, but for most 80s kids, "computers in school" meant The Oregon Trail and a typing trainer.  For a lot of adults "computers at work" was a POS system.  This is pretty peripheral interaction with computers.  Yes, Gates and Wozniack were Boomers.  Hell, Jay Miner, Philip Estridge, and Tramiel were Silent Generation even.  They gave us the computer revolution, but they did represent a small minority within their cohort.  And for all the 80s were a bonanza decade for computers, we're still talking about a very small minority of the population when we're talking about computer users in general, let alone hobbyists or people who were using them for things other than amusement.

And, really, for most people, there really wasn't that much that you could do with computers that was practical.  Oh, gee whiz, you could write a BASIC program that would help you learn semaphore or tell you a user's year of birth from their current age.  Wheee!  That's not to belittle those books and software exchanges that put that stuff out there; everyone had to learn somehow, but for day-to-day functionality, computers of the 80s were not terribly useful for the vast majority of people.  Paul Krugman famously remarked, in 1998, that "The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in ‘Metcalfe’s law' becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s..."  Now, in retrospect, that's a silly thing to say, and he's still getting made fun of for it, but he was expressing a sentiment that was still not uncommon even that late into the 90s: computers were eventually going to be playing a marginal role in human affairs, again, for most people.  That's not some fringe luddite figure; the man was a prominent Nobel prize winner.

I'm sure that, to people who were hippies in the 60s, it feels like everyone was scarfing down LSD and listening to Strawberry Alarm Clock records while they occupied the college dining hall for peace or whatever, and if you look at the media that talks about the time period, you might not blame them for the impression.  In reality, though, more people were listening to The Righteous Brothers and going to church socials, and it wasn't until many years later that the broader culture actually reflected their version of events.

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

Ah, yes, Boomers, that notoriously tech-savvy generation.  Just ask any Millennial with a Boomer parent that owns a computer.  But seriously, what are we considering commonplace?  By the end of the 80s, the apparent explosive decade of growth in computer adoption, around 15% of households in the US had a computer.  Even the UK was only about 17%.  Granted, you're starting from just about 0 to get there, but that's still not any larger a rate of growth than the decades that followed.  85% of people don't have a computer in the home, and that's commonplace?  I would not say so.  Twice as many people had VCRs, and they were still considered an expensive luxury at the time.  It wasn't until the turn of the century that even a majority of households had one.  Yes, I suppose you could argue that people still used them at home or at work, but for most 80s kids, "computers in school" meant The Oregon Trail and a typing trainer.  For a lot of adults "computers at work" was a POS system.  This is pretty peripheral interaction with computers.  Yes, Gates and Wozniack were Boomers.  Hell, Jay Miner, Philip Estridge, and Tramiel were Silent Generation even.  They gave us the computer revolution, but they did represent a small minority within their cohort.  And for all the 80s were a bonanza decade for computers, we're still talking about a very small minority of the population when we're talking about computer users in general, let alone hobbyists or people who were using them for things other than amusement.

I remember the user groups of the 80s having mostly boomers as membership (30-50 year olds), and some of them were very tech saavy.     However, outside of that kind of setting, the level of tech phobia in the general population was off the charts!   I had to coaching business people at work who were intimidated by GUI interfaces (that were supposed to be user-friendly!).   I saw this even among youngish professionals well into the 90s who had only the most basic of computer skills and were afraid of doing anything else.

 

I think what really changed things was the availability of the Internet in the mid-90s.   Suddenly I started getting asked a lot by regular people to help them get a computer, and after few years, I stopped getting the basic newb-type questions.

 

Quote

I'm sure that, to people who were hippies in the 60s, it feels like everyone was scarfing down LSD and listening to Strawberry Alarm Clock records while they occupied the college dining hall for peace or whatever, and if you look at the media that talks about the time period, you might not blame them for the impression.  In reality, though, more people were listening to The Righteous Brothers and going to church socials, and it wasn't until many years later that the broader culture actually reflected their version of events.

 

Generational stereotypes are usually exaggerated.   Most Boomers did not go to Woodstock,  just like most of us X's were not flannel-wearing slackers that talked like Wayne & Garth.   (looks down)  OMG!  I'm wearing flannel!   Noooooo!

Edited by zzip

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1 hour ago, MrTrust said:

By the end of the 80s, the apparent explosive decade of growth in computer adoption, around 15% of households in the US had a computer.  Even the UK was only about 17%.

Except that comparing the US and UK as raw percentages in this context doesn't tell the entire story.  In 1990, the population of the US was approximately 250 million; in the UK it was roughly 57 million.  Taking the percentages of the population who owned computers in each country, that's roughly 37.5 million computers in the US v. around 9.7 million in the UK.  Computer literacy (as it was defined at the time) was no better on either side of the water, and I speak from direct experience on that point.

 

One other thing that's not accounted for: Americans have a greater percentage of disposable income compared to Europeans.  This meant that computers in the UK were selling more heavily on price than features, though I'm by no means suggesting that Americans weren't budget-conscious.  However, it does explain (to some extent) why the Apple ][ line and IBM PC saw adoption in the home in a way that they never did in Europe until the 1990s - by which time the Apple ][ was dead and the PC was gaining ground over home computers as it became increasingly commoditised (and therefore more affordable).

28 minutes ago, zzip said:

I remember the user groups of the 80s having mostly boomers as membership (30-50 year olds), and some of them were very tech saavy. 

Ditto.  And, realistically, for the timeframe we're talking about it's unreasonable to expect a wide familiarity let alone general proficiency with tech.  ATMs and screwed-up phone bills were about the most contact people had had with computers at the time.  They weren't the appliances they are now where even Wal-Mart sells them.

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40 minutes ago, zzip said:

I remember the user groups of the 80s having mostly boomers as membership (30-50 year olds), and some of them were very tech saavy.     However, outside of that kind of setting, the level of tech phobia in the general population was off the charts!   I had to coaching business people at work who were intimidated by GUI interfaces (that were supposed to be user-friendly!).   I saw this even among youngish professionals well into the 90s who had only the most basic of computer skills and were afraid of doing anything else.

 

It would be tough to substantiate this, but I suspect things aren't that different now.  People may be more willing to "adopt technology" now, but from what I observe, this amounts to being willing to own a smart phone and maybe a laptop or tablet, and learning how to do 4-5 things with it.  To this day, the Millennials I work with will bristle at having to switch applications for something, or even moving to a new version.  And actually getting a new piece of software, reading the manual, and toying around with it to see what it can do?  Forget about.  You still have to write out step-by-step, click-this-thing-then-click-that-thing instructions for them or they just shut down. 

 

But yeah, people hated the computerization of everything back when it was being introduced.  Do my home budget on a computer!?  If I did my budget on a computer, it would explode!  Remember that old chestnut?  Right up there with programming the VCR and talking to an automated phone system.   More people saw them as a burden imposed on them by weird nerds than as The Future.

 

56 minutes ago, zzip said:

I think what really changed things was the availability of the Internet in the mid-90s.   Suddenly I started getting asked a lot by regular people to help them get a computer, and after few years, I stopped getting the basic newb-type questions.

 

Surely.  Commerce, correspondence, and porn.  Same stuff that dominates computer usage today.
 

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

Except that comparing the US and UK as raw percentages in this context doesn't tell the entire story.  In 1990, the population of the US was approximately 250 million; in the UK it was roughly 57 million.  Taking the percentages of the population who owned computers in each country, that's roughly 37.5 million computers in the US v. around 9.7 million in the UK.  Computer literacy (as it was defined at the time) was no better on either side of the water, and I speak from direct experience on that point.


I don't doubt it.  I only brought up the UK to anticipate somebody saying "well what about Europe?" where platforms like the A8s and C64s were seemingly more popular than in the US, and where you had more machines to choose from, at least on the home computer front.  We didn't have the Speccy, or the CPC, or the BBC Micro, and so on.  But yes, the fact remains: not that many people had much of anything to do with computers in the 80s, nor did they want to.  Not until they actually made life easier for people with little to no proficiency or programming ability.

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37 minutes ago, MrTrust said:

To this day, the Millennials I work with will bristle at having to switch applications for something, or even moving to a new version.  And actually getting a new piece of software, reading the manual, and toying around with it to see what it can do?  Forget about.  You still have to write out step-by-step, click-this-thing-then-click-that-thing instructions for them or they just shut down.

This is a growing problem that no one seems inclined to address. Or even recognize exists. Are they that stupid where they can't merge concepts into a whole to achieve a desired outcome? Are they just lazy and balk at the thought of having to think for one iota? Instead just drifting away on single-click social media activities which induce even more incompetence.

 

I guess that's why Windows 10 got rid of local detailed help. I guess that's why we have pictorial quickstart guides instead of a real manual with text that has to be, OMG!, read and understood. I guess that's why manuals (if you can get one) don't have Theory of Operation or even Product Introduction sections anymore.

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