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Old 16 May 2013, 15:15   #1
lordofchaos
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Amiga's Downfall?

I'm sure this topic has been discussed ad nauseum... But If you could pinpoint one key moment in Amiga's history that was most responsible for it's decline what would it be? I'm curious to what others think.

Personally I think it was Commodores choice of sticking with Motorola microprocessors, being more expensive to mass produce than it's rivals but i'm guessing it goes further back than that. Or maybe it was its failure to establish a permanent foothold in the office..?
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Old 16 May 2013, 15:43   #2
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Don't know if it could be called a key moment, but IMO it was diverting funds for R&D into the pockets of Irving Gould and Baba Ali or w/e his name was.
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Old 16 May 2013, 15:56   #3
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IMO it was diverting funds for R&D into the pockets of Irving Gould and Baba Ali or w/e his name was.
Wow, well that's news to me. I hadn't heard that before. I've never read any books relating to Commodore so my knowledge is patchy.
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Old 16 May 2013, 16:15   #4
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I don't think it's something you can read in a Commodore Book of Facts or anything, but there seems to be a general opinion that Gould being the big investor and Ali being the managing director were responsible more than any for Commodore's demise.

What I meant was there were clearly too little put in R&D, and I don't think it was because they wanted to see the company go under or because they were incompetent, but because they could somehow profit from squandering funds, and raising their salaries perhaps. Maybe they were clever and saw the end coming long before anyone else.

Maybe Dave Haynie or some of the other last employees have a better idea.
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Old 16 May 2013, 16:18   #5
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Happy

I guess many people are expecting this to be posted, so:
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=62851
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Old 16 May 2013, 16:32   #6
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Basically C= 'milked' their machines for too long instead of developing something that was way ahead. When their 'cashcow' C64 went down the years of relying upon its sales and not pushing Amiga advertisements and development made it hard for the company to get something viable. I'd say the A500+ marked a turning point. It was a half-hearted try to improve on the 4 year old A500 which totally failed. The A600 and A1200 did some things right, but on the other hand offered too little improvements compared to the PCs at the times. Basically like Leffmann said C= and its management are to blame that they manoeuvred themselves into a deadend situation way before 1994.
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Old 16 May 2013, 16:45   #7
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I'd say the A500+ marked a turning point. It was a half-hearted try to improve on the 4 year old A500 which totally failed.
Yeah this makes sense too, I'd say they had a slight buffer with the success of the A500 but sadly squandered by lack of foresight and complacency. The A500+ was the first sign of true panic setting in for me.
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Old 16 May 2013, 17:20   #8
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Don't know if it could be called a key moment, but IMO it was diverting funds for R&D into the pockets of Irving Gould and Baba Ali or w/e his name was.
+1

I do not know either if there is a certain date or event. The A600 was the final economic sailnail. I read somewhere that AGA was ready for one year and the management was forced by the sale people to get it out. The problem was, Commodore had a lot of A600 ready already and those were a financial armageddon because noone wanted to buy them anymore after A1200 was announced. But basically it was the incompetence of the management and not investing in their own products wasting the advantage amiga had at the start.
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Old 16 May 2013, 17:23   #9
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But basically it was the incompetence of the management and not investing in their own products wasting the advantage amiga had at the start.
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Old 16 May 2013, 17:50   #10
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There were a bunch of machines around almost at the same time with almost the same technical data. A500+, A600, CDTV, A2000. I am not aware of the correct time-line when which machine came up, but lots of machines with 68000 and 1mb chip memory were around and so people thought, O.K. so were is the difference? And all this machines caused fix costs I guess.
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Old 16 May 2013, 17:55   #11
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There were a bunch of machines around almost at the same time with almost the same technical data. A500+, A600, CDTV, A2000. I am not aware of the correct time-line when which machine came up, but lots of machines with 68000 and 1mb chip memory were around and so people thought, O.K. so were is the difference? And all this machines caused fix costs I guess.
I think the A600 came around about 1991 and people were very disappointed because they expected real progress. Then (under the pressure of the sales department) they published A1200 and A4000 and then all went down (what I already wrote). The basic problem since 1985 to AGA (1992) they did not improve much, they even saved money at R&D (propably not at the "management").
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Old 16 May 2013, 18:03   #12
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A500+ was in 1991 and then only one year later the A600 was released (and the A500+ stopped...). Basically it's the same machine, but in a smaller case with a lot of useful extras, but the A500+ was just plain pointless to release as there must have been plans for the A600 already. Given that the most common use for the A500 was gaming and the A500+ with the kickstart refused to start quite a few of them... C= simply shot itself in the foot with this machine.
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Old 16 May 2013, 18:12   #13
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Originally Posted by lordofchaos View Post
I'm sure this topic has been discussed ad nauseum... But If you could pinpoint one key moment in Amiga's history that was most responsible for it's decline what would it be? I'm curious to what others think.

Personally I think it was Commodores choice of sticking with Motorola microprocessors, being more expensive to mass produce than it's rivals but i'm guessing it goes further back than that. Or maybe it was its failure to establish a permanent foothold in the office..?
The problem for Commodore wasn't Motorola. The problem for Motorola was Commodore. Had any of the 68000 based machines of the 80's really taken off, Motorola would be where Intel is today.

But I think the moment that was most responsible for the Amiga's decline, if you're going to pick just one, was Atari's decision to rush out a cheap 68000 machine to submarine the Amiga. Of course there were plenty of missed opportunities for Commodore later on, but I think they felt under attack right from the start and this caused them to think about their short-term survival.

Had the A1000 taken off as predicted, they would have had the capital to put into R&D. Instead they found themselves fighting for survival before even officially releasing the machine.

Jack Tramiel's purpose at the time was to kill Commodore and he eventually succeeded.
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Old 16 May 2013, 18:16   #14
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Old 16 May 2013, 18:18   #15
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...
Jack Tramiel's purpose at the time was to kill Commodore and he eventually succeeded.
He wanted to kill Atari as well and succeeded in doing that too. What a man.
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Old 16 May 2013, 18:32   #16
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I'm surprised to not hear more about the importance of the office/business factor, PC managed to get a foothold in this area which I believe gave it massive breathing space to slowly build on it's success as a more flexible machine in the long term, to me the Amiga never felt like it got that strong foothold, fingers in too many pies maybe? The PC model was dull and boring in comparison but it seemed they either lucked out or had a better long term strategy. Combine all this with poor management and you have the titanic in waiting.
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Old 16 May 2013, 19:38   #17
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He wanted to kill Atari as well and succeeded in doing that too. What a man.
I bet he was sponsored by Intel
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Old 16 May 2013, 19:43   #18
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I bet he was sponsored by Intel
Yeah he was the Intel "inside" man for the job
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Old 16 May 2013, 19:56   #19
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It was a number of factors.

Firstly, Commodore never really knew what they had in the Amiga and hence didn't know how to market it - it was the first affordable multimedia computer but back then no-one really understood the impact that high-resolution colour graphics would have in the future - hence it was generally dismissed as a games machine.

Secondly, they (the management) couldn't decide on a direction for the machine - initially they tried to pitch the A1000 as a business machine but when that (and moreso the A500) took off for gaming, they seemed content so long as the Amiga was selling - they never really encouraged high-quality office/creative applications on the machine which allowed the PC to quickly overtake the Amiga in business use.

That lack of direction spilled into hardware development too - the A600 was originally supposed to be a 'cost-reduced' Amiga 500 (or, the A300) - it ended up costing them as much to make as the A500 did. The AGA chipset was intended to be more than a graphics update (for the 3000+) but in an effort to reduce costs Commodore planned to release an A3200 and A3400 using ECS instead - this was scrapped because none of the regional distributors wanted another ECS machine and AGA was quickly (un)finished and bundled into the A1200 and A4000.

Commodore also dabbled in the PC marketplace for a while making their own PC clones (in fact, the A4000 desktop case was designed for their PC line) - this lost them a pile of cash they should have been investing in the Amiga. The CDTV was a huge and costly mistake too - Commodore even tried to distance it from their computers by not mentioning Amiga in the branding and advertising.

Hidden in the OS of the first A500 was a message from Jay Miner and the rest of the Amiga team: We made Amiga, they f**ked it up - it proved more prophetic than they ever could have known...

*Edit* here's some (edited for length) quotes from Dave Haynie:

Quote:
I was working on a thing called the Amiga 3000+, which was the A3000 as you know it, with an AT&T DSP3210 coprocessor, 16-bit CD-quality audio, the Pandora (aka AA, aka AGA) chipset, and a few other things things.
Quote:
Parallel to this was a system we had dubbed the A1000+... an intermediate machine between the A500 and the A3000. A 25MHz Amiga with fast RAM for under $800, separate keyboard, CPU upgrade option, and two expansion slots... I think we could have sold millions.
Quote:
Mehdi Ali turned his sights on Engineering - he pushed Jeff Porter and Henri Rubin aside - the management team that delivered every Amiga other than the A1000, to date. He brought in Bill Sydnes who immediately set out to sabotage everything currently in the works. Politics, and stupid ones.
Quote:
There wasn't much of a way to sabotage both the A3000+ and A1000+ and still deliver them for April. So Syndes dreamed up an alternative: release stripped down versions of the A3000: no AA chips, no 68040, etc. Strip out SCSI, maybe a few other things. Still got ECS. They did a super simple gate array to lower the cost of the crazy A3000 bus buffering. This was going to be two models, a 2-slot machine dubbed the A3200, and a 4-slot machine dubbed the A3400.
Quote:
No one ordered a single unit of the A3200 or A3400. Since 1988 they had been waiting for better graphics. They needed AA... they wanted AAA. None of these machines were produced, and Sydnes' went crazy and rushed the A4000 out the door... A crippled version of what we wanted to do, but at least it was a crippled version of the A3000+ (no SCSI, no DSP, the really bad PATA bus).. and Scott's cheap '040 module.. the original A4000 motherboard didn't even have a CPU on it.
The full interview here

And a wonderful 'history of the Amiga' article

Last edited by Aegis; 16 May 2013 at 20:32.
 
Old 16 May 2013, 20:26   #20
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Thanks for sharing this Aegis, makes for a very interesting read
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