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Old 14 June 2021, 12:25   #501
Thomas Richter
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Originally Posted by Gorf View Post
But they did support their competitors: "Sally" the 6502B for the Atari 8-bit family of computers, was also produced by MOS Technologies (among other vendors).
But this probably goes back to times before MOS became the CBM semiconductor group?
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Old 14 June 2021, 14:33   #502
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But this probably goes back to times before MOS became the CBM semiconductor group?
No, also CSG parts where used.

Which was smart, since the part was available from many sources - so Commodore was not granting any favors, but just earning some money that would have gone to other companies. Especially after the first two big years, the C64 sales started to go down ...

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Old 14 June 2021, 15:08   #503
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But this probably goes back to times before MOS became the CBM semiconductor group?
A near as I can tell, after the purchase of MOS in 1976, only existing orders from competitors were filled and it's very hard to find MOS chips in any post-1977 competing products (the latest I've found is in 1978 Atari VCS light-sixers). This goes for other MOS components like the 6522 VIA.

Since nobody wants to buy from a single-source vendor unless you have no choice (modern CPUs), MOS gave production licenses to other companies. Most competing products from Atari, Apple, etc. seem to use chips from Synertek and Rockwell. Since these were licensed, however, I assume Commodore got a portion of the proceeds.

Either way, what really interested Commodore initially was the vertical integration -- being able to roll their own chips as they pleased. There was not a lot of spare production capacity at CSG during the good years -- whatever slack they had they used to cut down on 3rd party parts in their computers.

EDIT: I should also add that I've seen Atari-specific MOS parts with date codes as late as 1981, but I don't know what their provenance is.

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Old 16 June 2021, 02:03   #504
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Let's be honest - if all you wanted to do was run "spreadsheets, word processing and the like" a PC was the obvious choice, and having a slow phosphor green screen with (at best) 1 bitplane graphics and PC speaker 'sound' was not a big turnoff for you. And you wouldn't buy an Amiga anyway because those "spreadsheets, word processing and the like" only ran on a PC.
That's a bit of a straw man. My dad, who certainly was tech savvy believed the Amiga would be a superset of anything the 8bit computers could do plus do graphics and audio.

It's not that he wanted to just run a spreadsheet or a word processor. It's that, as a practical matter, the Amiga as it shipped in 1985 couldn't do those things. Sure, the programs came to exist (I have a number of them) but the 640x200 display was a real downer for that kind of work.

It's kind of baffling that the Amiga didn't even have a 640x400 non-interlaced monochrome mode.

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But some of us wanted a machine that was compatible with broadcast TV standards to do video titling etc.
Not in 1985. Sure, later you get things like the Video Toaster. But in 1985, you weren't buying an Amiga for that.


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But what if Commodore had decided to build a flicker fixer, drive controller, and faster processor into the machine? Well they did with the A3000. So did it turn the business world on to the Amiga? Of course not. Too expensive! Not IBM compatible! Meanwhile A2000 owners continued adding the latest accelerators, hard drive controllers, RTG graphics cards etc. to their venerable machines that cost much less.
By then, of course, it was too late. IBM compatibility wasn't a major issue in 1985. The most popular computer at the time was the Commodore 64. The Mac was able to thrive on poorer hardware by choosing a niche.

The Amiga, in effect, had a niche -- home computer/game machine. But over time, dedicated game machines ate that part of the market and the economies of scale allowed the PC to eventually do everything else to the point that even the Mac barely held on.
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Old 16 June 2021, 14:33   #505
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It's kind of baffling that the Amiga didn't even have a 640x400 non-interlaced monochrome mode.
No, it's not baffling at all.

My first experience with a 'real' computer was the Intertec Superbrain, a CP/M machine with 64k RAM, twin floppy drives and a built-in screen with 80x25 character display. The character matrix was 8x8 with 2 separator lines for a total of 250 scan lines.

I don't remember what they were used for on the training course I was attending, but I do remember buying a book of BASIC programs which we typed in during our free time. It was wonderful to have such a sharp display with so many characters, and none of us had any complaints except for one thing - no bitmap graphics.

In those days 80x25 was the 'gold standard' that only expensive business machines had. Poor hobbyists had to settle for less. My first 'computer' was an 1802 based board called the HUG1802, which was designed and manufactured in New Zealand by Kit Parts (and yes, it was a kit that you had to build). Like the RCA COSMAC it only had 64x48 block graphics and was programmed in HEX. Then I built a machine of my own design using an MC6847 display controller, which had 32 characters by 16 lines and 256x192 graphics! After that I got a ZX81 and then a ZX Spectrum - which was a wonderful machine but still only had 32 characters per line.

I learned about the Amiga in 1985 when it was reviewed in Byte magazine, then I was given a copy of the hardware reference manual. It seemed to have everything I would ever want and more, including the ultimate in text displays - 80 columns by 25 lines. However at that time they were not available in New Zealand, so I bought an Amstrad 664 with the green screen to get the 'holy grail' of 80 column text (actually a graphics mode like the Spectrum, but with 640 x 200 pixels instead of 256x192).

I loved that Amstrad to death, but of course this was before I discovered the PC. Only then did I realize what crap all those other computers were for not having non-interlaced 640x400!

Actually the first PC I owned was an IBM JX, which had a maximum resolution of... 640x200.

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Not in 1985. Sure, later you get things like the Video Toaster. But in 1985, you weren't buying an Amiga for that.
What would you be buying then, a Quantel Paintbox? Because if you wanted to put computer graphics onto video a PC couldn't do it (not that you would want to with CGA or EGA anyway), and the Amiga was the only home computer that could be genlocked to overlay computer graphics onto live video or a recording. Back in those days producing home videos was a popular hobby, and the Amiga was uniquely placed to be a part of that. Considering that the A1000's debut emphasized its video capabilities it's hard to believe that nobody considered buying it for that purpose.

As for 'later you get things like the Video Toaster', the A1000 and later models were designed to take a genlock and many were produced, including Commodore's own internal card for the A2000 (I played with most of them at one time or another). A local TV station here was run for many years on nothing more than an A1200, a genlock, and a video recorder - which the A1200 controlled in real-time. The on-air video was coming directly from the A1200!

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By then, of course, it was too late. IBM compatibility wasn't a major issue in 1985. The most popular computer at the time was the Commodore 64. The Mac was able to thrive on poorer hardware by choosing a niche.
You have to be joking.

New Zealand Bits and Bytes Magazine, April 1985:-
"One of the key elements of success in today's market is "IBM compatibility". Any manufacturer who cannot claim at least some compatibility has little chance of making a significant impact"
"But why go for CP/M when there are now well over 100 US companies joining the rush to IBM PC compatibility?"
The C64 was a joke - but cheap, and had lots of games. It was mostly treated as a games console because that was all it was good for. Tramiel cut the price to the bone to kill the competition, then sold them in department stores where parents would buy them for their kids. Of course IBM compatibility wasn't a 'major issue' in this market. But it was a different story for proper computers that cost real money.

Apple chose a niche and pushed the Mac for all it was worth, but still had one foot in the grave by 1995. Which is hardly surprising considering they were largely underpowered and overpriced, with a totally closed architecture.

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The Amiga, in effect, had a niche -- home computer/game machine. But over time, dedicated game machines ate that part of the market and the economies of scale allowed the PC to eventually do everything else to the point that even the Mac barely held on.
Over time the PC trampled over everything else not because it could do everything but because it was everywhere. But not everyone was satisfied with being told "If a PC can't do it, it can't be done". So the Amiga actually had other niches - in video production, kiosks, computer art, industrial uses etc. NASA used them extensively:-

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Because of its flexible and integrated video-friendly hardware as well as its tight, efficient multi-tasking operating system, Amigas can be found driving things such as stadium scoreboards, interactive kiosks, agricultural irrigation systems and the flight schedule displays at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport...

"We then looked at the PC, but the hardware architecture was really as bad then as it is now. So Hal was the first one who brought out one of the Amiga 1000s and we played with it."

Hal Greenlee added; "I brought it out and showed it to Dave Brown, and not more than about a month or two later, Dave had one of his own, and we were both saying to Skip, "We need to get some of these babies, and find out if we can make them work for this job"."

Gary Jones replied; "And Commodore was easy to work with back then. When we asked for documentation, they sent us a stack of documentation about four feet high. They were willing to tell us everything about their machine. Since we had to design some custom hardware to go inside, it really helped to know exactly how everything worked."

"It just turned out that it was a good machine. The things that make a machine good for playing games also tend to make it good for processing and displaying data, because you've got some of the same problems. You need a very efficient, very fast operating system, and the Amiga has that and very little overhead too. That's what makes it nice; we don't load down the system running the overhead; we can just process the data."
The Amiga officially died in 1994. At that time PCs still couldn't do some things the Amiga was doing, but by then the answer to every problem was "a PC!" even if it wasn't the answer - because there was nothing else. In the end there could only be one, and IBM fans had convinced the general public that 'personal computer' and 'IBM compatible' were one and the same.
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Old 17 June 2021, 03:13   #506
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In those days 80x25 was the 'gold standard' that only expensive business machines had. Poor hobbyists had to settle for less. My first 'computer' was an 1802 based board called the HUG1802, which was designed and manufactured in New Zealand by Kit Parts (and yes, it was a kit that you had to build). Like the RCA COSMAC it only had 64x48 block graphics and was programmed in HEX. Then I built a machine of my own design using an MC6847 display controller, which had 32 characters by 16 lines and 256x192 graphics! After that I got a ZX81 and then a ZX Spectrum - which was a wonderful machine but still only had 32 characters per line.
Sorry to go off topic.
Hi Bruce.

What's your background? Are you an electrical engineer? Do you still have this HUG1802 and could you take photos of the mother board?

thanks

When ECS was released they didn't really push the productivity mode, 640x480 is sore on the eyes compared to 640x400 with a 8x8 font. Well maybe on the A3000 they did with the flicker fixer built in.
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Old 17 June 2021, 11:41   #507
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What's your background? Are you an electrical engineer?
I was trained as a telephone exchange technician, but have been doing electronics as a hobby since I was 15 (1972).

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Do you still have this HUG1802 and could you take photos of the mother board?
Sadly I do not have it any more and did not take any photos (all I have now is memories...). I can't find any photos of the HUG1802 on the web either. It was similar to the ETI-660 (which was developed from it) except it had a separate square hex keypad. The kit came as just a bare PCB with the keypad and chips to install. I built a wooden case with sloping front panel to house it and the power supply. I also installed a solenoid operated cassette tape mechanism for loading and saving programs, and made a circuit that 'pushed' the required key sequence for '1 button' loading. Later on I used this machine as an EPROM programmer for other computer projects.

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When ECS was released they didn't really push the productivity mode, 640x480 is sore on the eyes compared to 640x400 with a 8x8 font. Well maybe on the A3000 they did with the flicker fixer built in.
I think the problem with ECS 'productivity' mode was it came too late. It could have been useful in 1 bitplane (like the Mac and ST) with a 31kHz mono monitor, except by this time all Amiga software expected to have at least 4 colors available, and the flicker fixer made it practically redundant. If they had included it in the original A1000 it might have become more popular, especially if Commodore had offered a mono monitor as an option. But they would have had to design WorkBench to work well in 2 colors from the start - and that wasn't what the Amiga was about.
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Old 17 June 2021, 11:56   #508
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I can't find any photos of the HUG1802 on the web either.
Did it look similar to one of these?
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Old 18 June 2021, 12:34   #509
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Not really (the keypad on the one your upper link looks similar, is all).

I don't know how many HUG1802's were sold or if any still exist.

I have been thinking about making a reproduction, but the video chip seems to be unobtainable too (none for sale on eBay). Might have to do it in a CPLD...

Another idea I thought of is to make the Dream 6800, which was a similar design using an MC6800. I still have the 6800 CPU from the computer that I scratch-built back in 1981! The case design of this one looks similar to mine (I might have been inspired by it).

I wonder how much of this early DIY home computer stuff has been lost because the owners didn't think it was worth keeping. A friend recently gave me their Talking Electronics TEC-1A which they had put in a nice wooden briefcase style box. This one will not be thrown out!
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Old 24 June 2021, 04:01   #510
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Ah thanks for that info Bruce. I had a mate who used to work for Telecom and was trained in the copper lines but got out because of the change to fibre.
Was that a 2 or 4 year course?

It would have been interesting if the Amiga shipped with a 31khz screen mode. I wonder if Commodore would have just mass produced multisync screens to bring down the cost. I also wonder how it would have worked with the multiple screens in front of each other and if it would have encouraged more system friendly programming techniques, or would it have resulted in plenty of broken screens with pranksters feeding the copper chip bad values to fry the screen.

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I was trained as a telephone exchange technician, but have been doing electronics as a hobby since I was 15 (1972).

Sadly I do not have it any more and did not take any photos (all I have now is memories...). I can't find any photos of the HUG1802 on the web either. It was similar to the ETI-660 (which was developed from it) except it had a separate square hex keypad. The kit came as just a bare PCB with the keypad and chips to install. I built a wooden case with sloping front panel to house it and the power supply. I also installed a solenoid operated cassette tape mechanism for loading and saving programs, and made a circuit that 'pushed' the required key sequence for '1 button' loading. Later on I used this machine as an EPROM programmer for other computer projects.

I think the problem with ECS 'productivity' mode was it came too late. It could have been useful in 1 bitplane (like the Mac and ST) with a 31kHz mono monitor, except by this time all Amiga software expected to have at least 4 colors available, and the flicker fixer made it practically redundant. If they had included it in the original A1000 it might have become more popular, especially if Commodore had offered a mono monitor as an option. But they would have had to design WorkBench to work well in 2 colors from the start - and that wasn't what the Amiga was about.
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Old 24 June 2021, 17:39   #511
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It would have been interesting if the Amiga shipped with a 31khz screen mode.
In 1985 it would have been peculiar because IBM didn't introduce VGA until 1987. Until then nobody was thinking 31kHz. The Amiga, like practically every other 'home' computer of the time, was based around television standards. This gave it the advantage of being able to work without a special monitor, enabling it to be sold at a much cheaper price - just like the IBM PC with CGA but in PAL as well as NTSC.

When 31kHz did become a thing the Amiga was already a 'finished' design that was not easy to change just to accommodate yet another scan rate that had just been introduced (with no indication that it would become an industry standard).

One could argue that IBM's design was better because it decoupled the display from the motherboard and OS, allowing for continual upgrading without having to make major design changes. OTOH it made the base machine more expensive because it needed bus slots and a big case and power supply. But Amiga also had that with the A2000, which could have taken a graphics card just like the PC if owners so desired. So why didn't they? The Amiga's base graphics were good enough that most owners didn't want to 'upgrade' if it meant losing the Amiga chipset's unique properties.

However Commodore had put into the A2000 a feature that provided another solution - the video slot. In 1988 Microway introduced the AGA-2000 flicker fixer, which allowed A2000 owners to display all the Amiga's standard graphic modes on a VGA monitor. That meant they could use all their existing software without having to 'upgrade' to new versions designed for a different scan rate. Commodore then built a flicker fixer into the A3000 and released their own card based on it.

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I wonder if Commodore would have just mass produced multisync screens to bring down the cost.
Commodore never made their own monitors, but relied on the expertise of manufacturers such as Philips to provide what they needed.

Multisync monitors were more expensive because they needed a lot of extra circuitry to support the different scan rates, including expensive high voltage parts and lots of presets to adjust the screen geometry and alignment for each mode. Even then, most multisync monitors were not able to display all scan rates at full screen size, such was the difficulty of forcing the scan coils to work at widely different frequencies. This is why VGA 'emulates' CGA and EGA, because it simplifies the monitor design and avoids geometry issues.

I got an AOC multisync monitor with my A3000. Sadly it later developed a fault that I couldn't fix, so I replaced it with a 17" SVGA monitor which was all I needed anyway on the A3000. The AOC was a good monitor, but it was wasted on the A3000 because the flicker fixer made its multisyncing capabilities redundant.

I still have an NEC Multisync 2A which I acquired at some point. This used to be the 'standard' for working with IBM machines because it was one of the few that could do CGA and EGA as well as VGA, and was well made with excellent resolution for the time (many other PC monitors were junk in comparison). But it was also expensive and had a very complicated circuit. Mine has developed an intermittent fault that sometimes causes it to rapidly switch back and forth between screen modes, and despite having the service manual I haven't managed to track down the cause.

But even if my NEC Multisync didn't have an annoying fault I wouldn't use it on my A1200. Why not? My LCD TV does an excellent job of displaying PAL or NTSC composite, even flicker fixing interlaced modes. My old eyes prefer the lower resolutions anyway, and I don't have to wear glasses when using it. On the NEC high scan rates look nice and sharp, but PAL and NTSC scan rates have big gaps between the scan lines which emphasize the lines and make the picture darker. At high scan rates the overall contrast is lower, which may be easier on the eyes for word processing but makes graphics look dull and lifeless. And finally the little 14" screen doesn't have the same impact as a 32" LCD TV (or even the 29" CRT TV that I used to have).

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I also wonder how it would have worked with the multiple screens in front of each other and if it would have encouraged more system friendly programming techniques, or would it have resulted in plenty of broken screens with pranksters feeding the copper chip bad values to fry the screen.
Displaying multiple screen modes and avoiding 'frying' the screen were issues that Commodore had to face when they introduced ECS and then AGA. This made the graphics system much more complex. Users might have VGA monitors that can't display PAL or NTSC, but the machine normally boots in one of those modes. Programs that open hard-coded custom screens need to be promoted to double-scan equivalents, but with all the possible resolutions and overscan sizes etc. it's hard to get it right. So adding high scan rates turned turned out to be a Pandora's box.

Other machines of the day attempted to solve the problem with the default screen mode set with switches or held in battery-backed RAM. That didn't always work out so well either. I have an Acorn A3000 that so far I haven't managed to get booting in VGA mode - very frustrating as this is supposed to be one of its advantages over the Amiga!

PC's eventually solved the problem with the VESA monitor ID system, where the monitor has a small EEPROM in it which the video card reads to find out what resolutions are supported. But even modern systems can have problems. LCD screens often blur the pixels in lower resolutions, and some have trouble syncing their pixel clock to certain modes. Others get around that problem by not bothering.

We bought an HP tablet with Windows 10 to replace the laptop we were using to control a drone. But the text on the smaller screen was hard to read outdoors, so I tried to change the screen mode to make the text bigger. No dice, the tablet only had one resolution and refused to change it. "No problem, I'll just use Windows 10's text scaling function" I thought. But that didn't work because the program didn't scale the rest of its imagery to match, resulting in texts running into each other making a mess. As of today that machine is sitting in the cupboard gathering dust.
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Old 27 June 2021, 11:35   #512
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Even in 1985 to be honest the Amiga was mostly doomed, and the Mac to a lesser extent. The business niche was almost entirely controlled by IBM at that point because they started from what had been a dominating position. Businesses had been begrudgingly buying CP/M micros, Apple IIs, TRS-80s, and even PETs to run desktop business software (notably Visicalc on the Apple) simply because IBM hadn't entered the market yet. Once IBM was in the game, well, no purchasing manager would want to go with some weird upstart company when they could buy from IBM.

Commodore and Apple both found their niches after the business market was lost, and they were both very successful. The difference is one of profits. Even when Commodore made up the majority of computer *unit sales*, IBM was raking it in with fat profit margins selling to companies that were willing to pay the premium for the respectability. Apple went the government route with their education contracts (and their profits only waned when they started to lose that market). By 1985 Commodore was about to lose their volume advantage.

Sure no mortal could afford a VGA card in 1987, but enough corporate customers were willing to buy them that they could at least exist and be available to develop for -- the same year C= just rolled out new OCS computers that were from a software perspective almost identical to the 1985 A1000.

It's important to remember that the rise of the clones did not coincide with IBM's fall. IBM still had many customers who were not willing to buy from a company with a dumb name like Compaq or Dell. (That's why Compaq went with the portable route for their first product -- offering something IBM wasn't). These whale customers were effectively the R&D budget for IBM compatibles as a whole. Maybe people at home could only afford a Tandy 1000, but VGA graphics cards still existed in large numbers. The whales established the standard and provided a starter market, which the clones could then pick up on a few years later.

Apple had their war chest saved up from education profits, so were able to weather the storm until Jobs returned and redesigned Apple into a fashion brand that made tech. Commodore had no such war chest, and what little it did have got looted by Gould. They only held on in markets niche enough that IBM didn't want to bother to address them, and in markets so price-conscious that Commodore's slim margins and vertical integration still offered a price advantage to the consumer.

Commodore could have won the battle against Apple by taking the primary education market, since there was no entrenched incumbent. That might have kept them alive long enough to pivot the way Apple did. There was no way to beat IBM because IBM had the power to hold the high ground for a decade even if the ultimate Wintel victory depended on IBM shooting itself in the foot.

The only way for Commodore to still exist is if IBM had used its own OS and did not license it, thus keeping themselves priced out of the home market. Even then, Commodore still probably would have had to have beaten Apple to the education market in the late 70's and early 80's with high-markup sales -- and not just have Tramiel's obsession with making super-affordable widgets for people. And EVEN THEN that would just have given Commodore a tenuous extended victory in the home market, not utter domination.

In the end to survive you need enough mindshare to convince rich people to pay too much for your stuff (IBM with corporate drones, Apple first with educational institutions and then social-status-seekers), and then you need to own and defend the IP and not care who makes the hard product (and in the end Microsoft won because they owned the IP -- IBM did their mindshare work for them).

The only large non-niche market Commodore ever had great mindshare with was the same market targeted by Sinclair -- i.e. people with not enough money to matter.

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Old 27 June 2021, 18:33   #513
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@AmigaHope

This is a such good piece of text and sum up of the situation you wrote here.

Do you think, if the Amiga would have been launched without the flaws discussed in this thread, "the perfect Amiga" for its time (let's say a machine with equivalent VGA resolution and a good spreadsheet/words processor available at its launch in 1985) and yes, a visionary management at Commodore, do you think the Amiga due to its technological advance, would allowed Commodore to overtook IBM or no matter what?
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Old 28 June 2021, 03:25   #514
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@AmigaHope

This is a such good piece of text and sum up of the situation you wrote here.

Do you think, if the Amiga would have been launched without the flaws discussed in this thread, "the perfect Amiga" for its time (let's say a machine with equivalent VGA resolution and a good spreadsheet/words processor available at its launch in 1985) and yes, a visionary management at Commodore, do you think the Amiga due to its technological advance, would allowed Commodore to overtook IBM or no matter what?

Short of some magical tech from the year 2000 dropping in Commodore's lap (and kept secret), there was no way to stop IBM from the way things stood in 1985.

Remember, the Amiga was already several years ahead of its time at the price point it was selling at, with the lead shrinking gradually into the early 90's, parity being somewhere around 1990-1992 depending on what country you lived in and if you were looking at high end or low end performance. The only thing the Amiga could boast at that point was a more advanced base operating system, and Windows 95 blew up that final advantage.

And even then, I think if the Amiga had some magical capability, business customers still demand it be "IBM Compatible" by hooking the Amiga up as some sort of slave device to be controlled by software on the IBM. That's what happened with the Video Toaster. The Video Toaster could do stuff that required studio hardware that cost 20x much thanks to the standard Amiga chipset handling video features that common IBM graphics cards did not --- except some customers would not buy a "computer" that wasn't IBM compatible as a matter of policy, so Newtek sold A2000s with C=/Amiga badges covered-up as "video devices" that would connect via serial cable to an IBM compatible, where a port of the VT control software would run.

Business types are THAT set in their ways. It took them many years to even trust "IBM compatibles" and even though the PS/2 was considered the fall of IBM as market leader, it was more the market for IBM compatible personal computers had grown larger than that of large corporate buyers, and IBM still sold a ton of PS/2s to large institutions. (Whereas the downmarket PS/1 did diddlysquat and the clones ate their lunch there)

I can think of maybe six barely-plausible alternate history ways for Commodore and/or the Amiga to survive a bit longer.

1) An alternate history where IBM waited for the 68000 that they originally wanted for the PC. IBM writes their own CP/M clone instead of hiring Microsoft. IBM then buys Commodore/Amiga in 1985 (or preferably earlier if more funding could speed things up a year) and announces the Amiga platform as their new IBM PC to compete with the Macintosh, with legacy code running inside a console process like Windows 95 did with MS-DOS (and in a VM in NT kernels). IBM crushes Apple in the education market in the mid-late 80's the same way they did in real life. IBM never conquers the low-end market and instead something like Sinclair or Atari rules the home and small businesses -- or IMHO more likely the MSX standard takes over, and the market is bifurcated for another decade, potentially more. Apple runs out of money and either goes bankrupt long before Steve Jobs returns, or survives as a zombie company long enough for Jobs to buy them at a bargain price. Jobs still creates the iPod/iPhone market but Macs are no more. At home we're using MSX 10+s, but Apple is squeezing them out of the home with iPads for home applications. At work you run IBM AmigaOS 10. There are some cool games for it but a huge chunk of them are , and many games still have boss keys to hide that you were playing them at work.

2) IBM buys Microsoft and clones don't happen and home/business markets stay bifurcated. DR/DOS tries to enable clones but lawsuit to crush Digital Research is still drawn out. IBM spends $100 million fighting lawsuits while it deploys OS/2 as industry standard around 1986. API now too complicated to clone effectively, so now we all use IBM OS/2 boxes at work. There is a burgeoning market of illegal clones from Asia and IBM lobbies hard to block their distribution. Home computer market is a mess of competing forces. Eventually it settles down to the "poor man's" home computer, maybe the Amiga, and the "rich man's" home computer, the Mac. Apple eventually dips its toe into the low end with undesirable models and starts to gain market share at home. Eventually the two surviving brands morph into smart home appliances as the games market gets more and more absorbed by consoles. As fast internet becomes more available, IBM releases thin clients to connect to OS/2 machines from remote, but with strict licensing. People create third-party software clients for home computers that are able to connect too but this is strongly discouraged and IBM breaks this ability with upgrades periodically. Whatever non-Apple home computer competitor survived (Atari? Commodore?) is eventually bought by Apple in 2012 and continues to be run as a low-prestige brand running MacOS. IBM Clones are finally legalized in 2030 after a massive anti-trust lawsuit against IBM, which slowly begins to exit the hardware market, decades later than it did in real life.

3) Starts similar to #1 except IBM goes to Commodore instead of Microsoft and just licenses their tech to IBM, i.e. the same mistake IBM did in the real world. Commodore then licenses their CBMDOS out to clone manufacturers and essentially the same thing happens except today we're all running Commodore AmigaOS 10 instead of Windows 10. Apple is still around in the same form it is today. Commodore would essentially have to agree to give up the hardware market from day 1 for this to happen (except for standards/designs) since otherwise IBM wouldn't even consider it.

4) Commodore's PET is better marketed and crushes the Apple II in the North American educational market in 1977. By 1984 Educator 64s are in almost every single school, with C64s at home. The Amiga happens and survives for a while but C= can't milk schools at as high a price point as Apple could in the real world (since Apple had no C64 department store-priced equivalent). Commodore soldiers on longer and can afford better R&D and is able to hold on until maybe 2000 as they can't maintain their vertical integration. Jobs buys the husk of Apple for a pittance in 1990 for sentimental reasons only intends to use it a prestige brand for marketing new consumer products. iPad still happens and it ships with an Apple II emulator as a symbolic gesture.

5) Gould is less of a vampire/asshole and Tramiel is less salty. Tramiel never gets fired. Commodore buys the husk of Atari for brand recognition and to try to absorb the 8-bit userbase. Tramiel realizes he was smoking crack when he started the TED project and axes it and instead releases the C128 as a replacement for the C64. Doesn't bother to include Z80 but does make 1-chip Atari 8-bit which is included into C128 to bring in Atari 400/800 users with compatibility. New C128 kicks ass and actually gets some decent software by virtue of being able to combine C64 and Atari chipsets for multiple playfields with advanced graphics. It's kind of a pain to program for but it's a good last hurrah. Atari ST never happens and Tramiel runs a crash-course release of the A500 in early 1986 (budget models were his thing). Amiga market is stronger due to lack of meaningful competition in its market segment, gets better software earlier due to no ST ports, earns C= more money. AAA+ happens instead of AGA because it's the chipset in the new Atari Jaguar CD32. The A4000 and A1200 ship with this in mid 1991, with the A1200 becoming a smash hit in Europe, and Jaguar CD32 has a lot of interest but it only is barely released in time for Christmas 1992 and supplies are hard to get. It sells reasonably well starting from Spring 1993, but can't break into Japanese market. Less than 2 years later Sega Saturn and Playstation crush the console market and Commodore is left with a million unsold units. PC clones start dominating in the US market around this time too and soon after in Europe. Commodore is forced into chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1998, and then closes down its hardware divisions. Commodore renegotiates its debts and comes out of bankruptcy, renaming itself to Atari, and focuses entirely on software for other platforms. Apple is still Apple, the Pippin still sucked, and Macs are still expensive.

6) Commodore Japan, impressed with HAL Laboratory's VIC-20 work, acquires them as their in-house dev team. In 1981 they hire a promising designer named Satoru Iwata, who joins the dev team for early MAX Machine titles. HAL provides input for more ergonomic designs for the MAX machine and requests better sprite capabilities in the VIC-II and a slightly higher-clocked 6502. Iwata convinces CBM Japan to partner with an arcade game and playing card manufacturer in promoting the newly-renamed FamilyMachine. They quickly trademark this name (and its abbreviation FamiMa, narrowly beating out a newly-established convenience stor). The partnership blossoms and it takes Japan by storm, and later in the US with the hit game Super Tramiel Bros. A bright new chipset called "Lorraine" from ex-Atari engineers is looked at by Commodore HQ, but not considered good enough by CBMJ. Eventually with the merger with the playing card company, however, CBMJ gains more influence. Eventually a deal is reached where the Lorraine will become the development system for the new Commodore Super Famima, but a new Japanese-designed sprite and tile engine chip will have to be added. The new "Amoeba" computer is very successful in Europe, and somewhat successful in the US. The Super Famima is incredibly popular in Japan, which does drive sales of Amoebas in Japan as well, but worries of piracy keep them incompatible, with lockout chips appearing as more cracked versions of cartridges are squeezed onto floppy disks by European sceners. RAM expansion sales for Amoebas in Europe skyrocket to allow 16 megabit cartridges to be run in memory without disk loading. Finally, with more and more sales coming from the console side, CBM of Japan acquires Commodore International from Irving Gould. Ami the Schoolgirl (a cute high school girl that can have squirrel ears pop out of her head) becomes the worldwide mascot of Commodore. The Amoeba line fades into obscurity as IBM clones begin to dominate the market in 1996, with the new 64-bit Commodore 64 being incompatible with newer Amoebas without an expensive expansion card. Commodore finally kills the Amoeba line of computers with the release of IBM-compatible dev cards for the upcoming Commodore Pii in 2011.

----

Note that all of these diverge in timelines BEFORE 1984, and none of them end with Commodore/Amiga surviving long-term as an independent hardware company. Commodore's low-end focus meant it never had the money or cachet to be a prestige brand like Apple, or the respect to even think of challenging IBM in the business market.

Also note that scenario #6 is actually one of the more realistic of the bunch, as HAL Labs was basically Commodore Japan's software-development arm for the VIC-20 (VIC-1001 in Japan) but Commodore preferred to keep them as contractors rather than acquire them. HAL's last jobs for Commodore were the launch lineup for the MAX, and these carts became the launch lineup for the C64 in the US. Satoru Iwata's first coding gig was contracting at HAL for Commodore on the VIC-20. The MAX Machine was a flop, partly due to being slightly underpowered and partly due to its horrible ergonomics and aesthetics which were butt-ugly by Japanese standards. The MAX flopped, HAL became largely an exclusive developer for Nintendo, and Iwata eventually became Nintendo's president.

Last edited by AmigaHope; 28 June 2021 at 03:37.
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Old 01 July 2021, 11:39   #515
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This is a lot for thought

But I think you made a good point about the buying. The Amiga would have thrive, Commodore would have been bought by IBM and the Amiga perhaps just put in a closet to kill it and migrated to OS/2. We need the exact timing of the different projects to try to extrapolate.

Or perhaps it would have been kept and developed but sold only as high end graphical stations to compete with Unix and Indigo ones, something like that.
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Old 02 July 2021, 13:00   #516
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This is a lot for thought

But I think you made a good point about the buying. The Amiga would have thrive, Commodore would have been bought by IBM and the Amiga perhaps just put in a closet to kill it and migrated to OS/2. We need the exact timing of the different projects to try to extrapolate.

Or perhaps it would have been kept and developed but sold only as high end graphical stations to compete with Unix and Indigo ones, something like that.
The thing is that high end workstations were a product of their time -- when consumer operating systems were lacking. AmigaOS stood alone as the only good OS that came bundled in a consumer device. By the time Windows 95 rolled around and finally matched or surpassed AmigaOS in most respects, you found a lot of the workstation market getting replaced by Windows 95 machines. With the release of Windows 2000 (actually a decent OS), this accelerated.

The effect of compatibility, whether in network effect or in software compatibility, is king. Everyone benefits. The unix market adopted POSIX to make porting easier, but that doesn't trump binary compatibility. This is why most high-end workstations today are Windows machines, despite its confounding internals.

AmigaOS could have easily become a better OS (and in the end it partly reached that point, AmigaOS 4 is pretty cool), but for it to thrive it needed to be able to reach market saturation. The only way for that to happen was for it to have a respected advocate in the business sphere. It's all about appearances. The only company with corporate mindshare that could have possibly challenged IBM was DEC, but DEC was focused on hardware and didn't build an all-encompassing environment for its products like Microsoft did for IBM.

Corporate politics are often just an extension of high school politics that people take with them when they get older. It's a popularity and respect contest. The popular kids can fall but only with great mismanagement on their part.
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Old 02 July 2021, 19:55   #517
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would it have resulted in plenty of broken screens with pranksters feeding the copper chip bad values to fry the screen.
The AMOS manual claims this can be done just by quickly toggling interlace on and off. I was never brave enough to try it myself to see if it was really true :-D
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Old 03 July 2021, 13:18   #518
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AmigaOS could have easily become a better OS (and in the end it partly reached that point, AmigaOS 4 is pretty cool), but for it to thrive it needed to be able to reach market saturation. The only way for that to happen was for it to have a respected advocate in the business sphere. It's all about appearances. The only company with corporate mindshare that could have possibly challenged IBM was DEC, but DEC was focused on hardware and didn't build an all-encompassing environment for its products like Microsoft did for IBM.

Corporate politics are often just an extension of high school politics that people take with them when they get older. It's a popularity and respect contest. The popular kids can fall but only with great mismanagement on their part.

Yeah, I agree, but I see the Amiga as an attempt to turn the table through the hardware side. In short: can the hard, by its capacities and advancement and accompanied by the soft, put enough pressure on the market to overcome the business established standard?

The question is finally "Could a computing revolution by the masses may have occurred?".

Could something such advanced and enough affordable and so reaching a public market saturation, may have infiltrated enough the business market to make popular kids shake and the glory illuminate a new one and cover him with a shape of respectability? The PS1 is a kind of example but the playfield was not the business market. I don't know if we have example in our history.

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Old 04 July 2021, 10:24   #519
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Could something such advanced and enough affordable and so reaching a public market saturation, may have infiltrated enough the business market to make popular kids shake and the glory illuminate a new one and cover him with a shape of respectability? The PS1 is a kind of example but the playfield was not the business market. I don't know if we have example in our history.
I had a PS1 and only used it to play one game. Hardly glorious, more just a tool to do a job. My PS1 is no more as the CD drive failed and I didn't know where to get a replacement - or was it just that I couldn't be bothered? Bought a PS2 a while later, and it just sits in the cupboard now.

What has been 'advanced and enough affordable and so reaching a public market saturation, may have infiltrated enough the business market to make popular kids shake'? Smart phones. Microsoft tried to muscle in on that market and failed. Imagine if Commodore had released this in 1995...
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Old 04 July 2021, 10:39   #520
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Commodore was a chaotic company. Irving Gould used company to leech assets to himself and his yes-men. The only good CEO Thomas Rattigan was fired because he had "too high profile". Mehdi Ali wanted company to sell PC clones and wasted money on that as they could not compete because company was seriously mismanaged. Deal with Sun was sabotaged. Transfer to a profitable PC company failed and Amiga technology was neglected and cut to death.

https://www.amazon.com/Story-Commodo...CNSGWWPC3JZ5SW
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