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Old Yesterday, 18:35   #61
MoonDragn
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It was all about money. The original Amiga would have succeeded, they had every advantage in terms of graphics, processing power etc. The original IBM pc at the time was just text, and very very expensive. It would have never beaten an Amiga even in word processing. The original IBM only had 640x200 at max same as an Amiga but with only 16 colors. It wasn't until later that it caught up and eventually had better graphics due to third party graphics cards. The sound was a dinky speaker inside the box. Lightyears behind the Amiga. As for multi-tasking, it couldn't. The pc could basically only do one thing at a time while the Amiga could format a disk and play music at the same time without affecting each other.

So what was the real reason? Money. Commodore simply didn't want to put more money into it. So while the Amiga was ahead of its time in hardware, it was eventually caught up by the other companies. With proprietary hardware and software, the hardware was expensive and stayed expensive.

In the meanwhile in the pc world, hardware got cheaper and more advanced every year. The software caught up and surpassed the Amiga OS. Windows as crappy as it was, still offered a more user friendly experience.

The nail in the coffin was the Commodore Bankruptcy. With that, there was no real confidence in the market for Amiga computers amongst the business community. But it still had a huge following in the general public. Unfortunately, without support, it became what it was today. Motorolla stopped improving the 68000 series chips and the power pc and other ideas were just x8086 in emulator box.

Now there is a new hope with the Vampire V4 with its new FPGA chip it is significantly faster than the old Amigas. However, it is still way behind the current technology in terms of processing power and performance and the graphics are still behind what a pc with a gforce or radeon card can do.

So the way forward is to find a way to improve on the Vampire design for the next generation and get a chip company to make it into a real chip and cut down costs. Get it compatible with graphics cards and interfaces like PCI express etc and keep up with the PCs. Look at the popularity of a Raspberry pi, Amiga can be just as popular with even more possibilities.

PS: The other thing I forgot to mention was portability. The Amiga was a compact little machine all contained inside a big keyboard shape. The IBM was a big clunky metal box with a separate keyboard and mouse. I remember doing a term paper in college and lugging my Amiga to class to do a presentation. It definitely would have been harder with a IBM PC. I owned an IBM xt at the time and yes, all of my term paper was still written on the Amiga word processor.

In terms of visiting friends with your computer, the Amiga won at the time. Nowadays look at how popular it is to have a portable computer. Laptops, smart phones, and little lan gaming boxes. The V4 standalone really is a good start with a tiny little box like those mini-pcs.

Last edited by MoonDragn; Yesterday at 18:43.
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Old Today, 02:28   #62
Frogs
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This is really an enjoyable thread. The 15khz vs. 31khz monitor element is something I genuinely didn't understand until this discussion.

I think in the long-term, the IBM PC compatibles were going to win simply because they had so many companies with a vested interest in its success due to the "open" architecture. There's some really interesting (to me anyway) comments in this thread that make a pretty compelling case.

My dad's thoughts from 1986 were coming directly from an Apple II / DEC Terminal (he didn't get a PC until the 90s) was that the Amiga didn't let him do common computer work (spreadsheets, word processing) because the Amiga didn't support a text mode (and no, a 640x200 graphics mode that manages to jam 80 characters per line is not a text mode). He doesn't "misremember" having to go back to his Apple II to get word processing and spreadsheets done in 1986.

Not having a text mode is only a mistake with the sheer benefit of hindsight and who knows what compromises it would have required. It is worth noting that the C-128 did have a text mode AND a 640x200 graphics mode and could be connected to a CGA monitor.

I have a working Amiga 1000 with a working 1084 CRT monitor and Word Perfect 4.1. No, you would not want to do any real work on it. Heck, even running an Infocom game on an Amiga was painful (every played Zork on an Amiga 1000 OCS? The Commodore 64 did it better because it had a TEXT mode).

From reading the comments and my own recent research, it appears these were all trade-offs for dealing with the 15khz CRT displays of the time.

The Amiga was able to gets its own niche for awhile until the commodity driven PC's got hardware that overwhelmed the specialized chipsets of the Amiga.

Perhaps the only path for Amiga longevity was as a "game console"+ where instead of say Sony or Nintendo we might have had Amigas.

This thread inspired me to pay around on my Amiga 2000 today (it's upgraded to ECS so I can do 640x400 with 4 colors non-interlaced). It was so far ahead of its time in so many different areas. The multitasking alone is just insane. However, I have forgotten how to boot from the floppy drive when you have a hard drive. lol.
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Old Today, 03:28   #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogs View Post
because the Amiga didn't support a text mode
80 columns != textmode. As I wrote, your dad was stuck in the old. Perhaps more Americans were. GUI was clearly the future as we all can conclude now, some embraced it quickly, others were slow. Amiga and Mac launched with GUI, everything was suddenly old. People that were old would just have to change, if the future was to come. They all did change, eventually, and were happy for the change.

Jobs limited users as he always did, but there was no such thing with Amiga. Amiga opened up everything including bus, expansion cards, even cards to run Mac OS better than Mac. Higher resolution than Mac, and in color, and any size screen you want, and it doesn't even have to be the one built into the computer. Computers with built-in monitors were common in the 1970s. Jobs just wanted a nifty plastic case with a handle to lift the computer. Silly. Amiga was serious.

There was also a PC card that probably emulated text mode and some clunky old software. It was probably no good. I don't care, because PC represented the old.

Again about text mode: Just no. If Amiga did text mode at launch, it would have been dead in the water.

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This thread inspired me to pay around on my Amiga 2000 today
It's very expandable, with expansions being made for it still and some coming up on online auction sites at increasing prices as they sell out.
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Old Today, 03:31   #64
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Thank you for starting this thread! I'm enjoying reading all the posts while troubleshooting my Amiga 500. This one just stopped working and just the red light on the keyboard keeps blinking.

Anyway, the story of Amiga being lost to the PC is like the story of Dreamcast who lost to Playstation although they were both ahead of their time.
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Old Today, 03:56   #65
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Quote:
80 columns != textmode.
Correct. That's what we keep telling you.

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Perhaps more Americans were ["stuck in the old"]. GUI was clearly the future as we all can conclude now, some embraced it quickly, others were slow. Amiga and Mac launched with GUI, everything was suddenly old.
No one is disputing that. However, the Amiga couldn't do reasonably high resolution GUI, the Mac could.

If you're going to be graphics mode only you either need it to be high enough resolution to do work on (if you want people to do work on it) OR you need to provide a text mode until the tech (say 31khz) becomes cheap enough.

The problem with the Amiga (1000) is that it only included the graphics mode but wasn't high enough resolution to do work in graphics mode.

Quote:
As I wrote, your dad was stuck in the old.
Heh. My dad was working on cutting edge at the time. His Amiga was literally one of the first ones they made that he got because of his work at DEC. He knew some of the hardware engineers over Los Gatos. He loved his Amiga and recognized the power.

I am not understanding why you think someone opining on why they think the Amiga didn't survive in the way the PC and Mac did as meaning he didn't like the Amiga. He liked his Amiga. He still has it. But he couldn't do certain types of basic work on it in 1985 for the reasons previously articulated.

In short: If 640x200 is your maximum non-interlaced resolution then I think you need to include a text mode if you want the machine to be used for word processing and spreadsheets which were the primary thing people used computers for at the time. I'd be very skeptical to hear someone say that they actually used Word Perfect 4.1 on an Amiga back in 1986 and thought it was a good experience.

Edit: I'm not sure why someone would think that having a text mode would have killed the Amiga at launch. The Amiga was capable of not just quickly switching between resolutions and modes but could actually do multiple resolutions on screen at once.

Last edited by Frogs; Today at 04:01.
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Old Today, 06:36   #66
Minuous
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Quote:
However, the Amiga couldn't do reasonably high resolution GUI, the Mac could.
Amiga could do 640 pixels across (more if using overscan), whereas a Mac was limited to 512 pixels.
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Old Today, 07:15   #67
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Amiga could do 640 pixels across (more if using overscan), whereas a Mac was limited to 512 pixels.
The 640 isn't the crucial number as much as the vertical. 640x200 isn't really usable. The Mac was 512x342.
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Old Today, 10:21   #68
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In the USA at least it was the lack of fight/advertising for, "Industry Standards"
Microsoft and Adobe owes alot of their recognition to higher education institutes deeming their software as, 'Industry Standard.' Once a program or platform is deemed, 'industry standard' Universities preach their word to students but also give students large discounts on the program or hardware being taught.

I drove a professor dead pissed at the world after telling him SoftImage and 3DS Max suck. I was pro 'Lightwave' back then.

Commodore Amiga had its chance in the 90s to become, 'industry standard' bin NTSC video production but didn't act on it.

The high school I went to had an a2000 w/VideoToaster for the AV class. The teacher teaching that course wouldn't budge on using the class budget for a 060 card and memory so, in my silent protest I spent the class time playing games on the Amiga.
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Old Today, 16:32   #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogs View Post
Edit: I'm not sure why someone would think that having a text mode would have killed the Amiga at launch.
Because they, like all future computers, were breaking with the old. It took a decade for the PC to leave the old.

Even if the Amiga had text mode, you wouldn't pay $2000 extra to get the same.

And as I said, buying a $2000 computer for 1 app wasn't invented yet.

This is why (since theories are a dime a dozen) as I wrote a theory must explain why early adopters didn't buy computer X.

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The 640 isn't the crucial number as much as the vertical. 640x200 isn't really usable.
Sure it is. Plenty of old text mode computers were 80x25 and those who used them ran word processors just fine.

The document will be much longer than 25 lines anyway, so the number of lines don't matter.
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Old Today, 17:41   #70
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Concerning 80-column text, I'm reminded of the Atari ST, which had two issues, as I recall:

1. Some help files were 40-column, some were 80-column, but you had to manually go into the settings to go to a higher resolution.
2. The high-res monochrome resolution actually used a different, more detailed font, for hi-res text, rendering the whole point of the higher resolution null.
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Old Today, 19:19   #71
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The 640 isn't the crucial number as much as the vertical. 640x200 isn't really usable.
NTSC sucks. Use PAL and get 720x283 using overscan.
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Old Today, 20:19   #72
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Originally Posted by Photon View Post
Because they, like all future computers, were breaking with the old. It took a decade for the PC to leave the old.

Even if the Amiga had text mode, you wouldn't pay $2000 extra to get the same.

And as I said, buying a $2000 computer for 1 app wasn't invented yet.

This is why (since theories are a dime a dozen) as I wrote a theory must explain why early adopters didn't buy computer X.

Sure it is. Plenty of old text mode computers were 80x25 and those who used them ran word processors just fine.

The document will be much longer than 25 lines anyway, so the number of lines don't matter.
Except, the Amiga didn’t have a text mode. So, yes, the 200 vertical resolution nattered.

Out of curiosity, when did you first get an Amiga?

Your posts really strike me as someone who never used an Amiga during this period. It was a $1,200 computer (in 1985 dollars) without a monitor. It wasn’t marketed as a toy but as a better, less expensive alternative to the Mac and PC. But you couldn’t use it realistically to do the things people wanted to do on a Mac or PC. Anyone suggesting otherwise almost certainly never owned an Amiga in 1985.
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Old Today, 20:30   #73
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Originally Posted by Bruce Abbott View Post
True. The PC was always business oriented - in price (out of the range of most home users), in 'modularity' (a box that could be customized for niche markets) and in 'killer' business apps. But this was the same market previously occupied by the Apple II and CP/M machines. What really made it take off was IBM's reputation.

Clones appeared instantaneously because IBM stupidly didn't patent any part of the PC hardware, while Apple was fighting cloning of their machines with proprietary chips that the cloners couldn't duplicate. Clone manufacturers switched to IBM because they could steal their IP and undercut them on price.

Having one 'standard' was great for lazy users who didn't want to be bothered learning anything technical, but in reality it wasn't true. The flexibility of the PC combined with no real standards meant that you never knew if a PC program would work on your 'PC' or not. I bought a ridiculously expensive serial mouse for my IBM JX and it wouldn't work because the idiot who wrote the driver assumed all PCs have the same baud rate generator frequency. If only they had gone through the BIOS to set the baud rate it would have worked fine, but the state of PC 'standards' at the time was such that you couldn't rely on a clone BIOS being fully compatible.

'Went to households' is not the same as being a 'home computer'. The majority of those machines were used primarily for home office use. IBM discovered this after they produced the PCJr, a 'home' computer that was a complete flop.

That's what happens when you let people steal your design. Apple had the same problem, but quickly learned from it. That's one reason why Apple products are still 'locked up' today, and how they continue to make money. It's also why genuine Apple products are so much better than clones and wannabes.

This was primarily a result of market size. Most clone manufacturers did very little of their own research, and a lot of that was just reverse-engineering or tweaking existing designs.

I am also quite happy with how it's turned out, now (a few years ago I wasn't, but that was before the resurgence of interest in the Amiga). And I too would rather not have Amiga trying to take over the World and fail. But there's no chance of that now, so why can't we drop the 'Amiga was never any good PCs (or anything else) were always the best' nonsense and all just get along?

The great thing about the home computer scene was that every machine had its likes and dislikes, and no one platform dominated to make other users feel somehow inferior. We now have an opportunity to continue that inclusiveness, as people come to realize that you can have just as much fun (or even more fun) on a machine that isn't the 'latest and greatest' technology.

All this talk about the PC being better 'in every way that matters' brings back memories of what it was like for Amiga owners in a the 80's and 90's. Well here we are in 2021 still enjoying our 'worthless' Amigas, still browsing the web and downloading new stuff from Aminet, still buying exciting new hardware for our machines, still developing new games that push the Amiga's custom chips even harder, even getting updates to the OS. Good times!
I like how you support the Amiga but all those arguments, change nothing of the reality. What count for the mass market is what you cite yourself: what you get 'out of the box'.

And the PC and the MAC were more appealing from this point of view for a professional because of a more serious display appearance and quality for both.

The PC was the one with the professional austere line with green text display, the MAC was the one with the clean, net and sharp B&W display. The Amiga was the one with the orange workbench, Zzzz cartoon style cursor and Guru meditation messages ie a machine for hippies, children and eventually artists.

It's a matter of perception.
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Old Today, 21:20   #74
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I don't get this obsession with textmodes that the OP has: ugly, blocky, limited little things that can't mix with graphics.

When I think of textmode, I think of the BBC Micro's Teletext chip that was used for Ceefax and Oracle, and how horrid that was, even if it meant lots of information could be transmitted at once.
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Old Today, 21:28   #75
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Originally Posted by AmigaHope View Post
People had no trouble word processing on CGA 640x200 15Khz. For most MS/DOS apps, this remained the standard through the mid-80s -- even if you had an EGA card, most of your software worked in 80x25 640x200 CGA textmode. The Amiga definitely was not as good at this in 16 colors, especially if you had no fast RAM, but you could switch to monochrome or 4 colors and get nice performance.

The interlace argument though is false because of this. Most MS-DOS software was written to work in a 15Khz non-interlaced mode (even if it was run on a system that automatically switched it to a 31Khz textmode).

The "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM." was the real reason, as someone mentioned. It was NOT a cult though, it was simple business politics. When you are in middle management at a company, and you try to do something innovative, you get punished when something goes wrong. You do not get punished if you do what everyone else is doing and something fails, then it's either attributed to bad luck or a mistake by your suppliers.

In the IT departments of most major companies, the vendor they went to for computing was IBM. If you bought from IBM and something went wrong, you wouldn't be blamed for it. If you bought from Commodore and something went wrong, you'd be blamed for anything you did out of the norm. It's just how companies work. This doesn't go just for computers, it goes for any business process. Anytime you introduce change you are putting your career on the line. Success *might* lead to career advancement, but if it's in something like computers that upper management doesn't understand, they might not even notice. Keeping your job safe takes priority.

None of this applies to home computers, which is why Commodore was able to have such a huge presence in the home computer market. The difference is that the home computer era in the US ended sooner than it did in Europe. Once IBM-compatible clones dropped in price, there was more of an incentive to "take them home for work", and more of an incentive for people to write home software for them that might also be used at the office since the installed base was so large.

Since Americans had more disposable income, that price was starting to be reached around the time the Amiga was coming to market, particularly with Tandy's relatively affordable line of PCjr clones. By 1989 or so the home computer market was lost in the US, not because the IBM clones were better on a price/performance basis, but because of software availability. Back then I could still show people "Shadow of the Beast" and people would gasp and say "Your computer can do THAT!?", meanwhile there'd be no place you could actually BUY Shadow of the Beast for a hundred miles.

The price/performance gap being closed and exceeded was what caused the fall of home computers in Europe. This was driven entirely by the huge market share in the US allowing for incredible amounts of R&D that no one company could match.
All truth and if you want to change cards in the professional area, you have to bring a disruptive technology so everyone begin to move on it "to try" because it's so advantageous but finally adopt it. For example, at the time a lot of companies moved to Novell servers. Later there was the move to the hard drive compression software which I forgot the name.

For the Amiga it would have been perhaps possible to move lines if console roots would had been conscientiously erased, a more sharp display, a professional killer application and strong marketing. Very costly.
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