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400/800 not a real computer, apparantly


ilaskey
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I know the guy will be biased because of who he is but seriously, VIC20 was the first home computer? Atari 800 was apparently a games computer and TI99/4 wasn't 'fully featured'

 

https://www.facebook.com/michael.tomczyk.90/posts/1915406888484108?comment_id=1917577321600398&reply_comment_id=1918394684851995&notif_id=1524626645879039&notif_t=feed_comment_reply&ref=notif

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I've come to understand he is controversial even among his former colleagues, so dismiss him as you like. But I think I know what he means, that the VIC-20 was the first really affordable home computer with colour, sound and I/O. The Atari 8-bits were great, the TI-99/4 less so, but both also priced quite a bit higher. It was no coincidence that Commodore pitched the VIC against the 2600 instead of the 400. Over in Europe, Sinclair had the even cheaper ZX-81 but it lacked colour, sound, a real keyboard and more.

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I've come to understand he is controversial even among his former colleagues, so dismiss him as you like. But I think I know what he means, that the VIC-20 was the first really affordable home computer with colour, sound and I/O. The Atari 8-bits were great, the TI-99/4 less so, but both also priced quite a bit higher. It was no coincidence that Commodore pitched the VIC against the 2600 instead of the 400. Over in Europe, Sinclair had the even cheaper ZX-81 but it lacked colour, sound, a real keyboard and more.

 

I understand what you are saying but the man should have enough skill in the market he was in to pitch the right reasons it was what he says, fully featured does not equate to cheap, in fact normally its the opposite..

 

People need to have the ability to see beyond their past loyalties..

Edited by Mclaneinc
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To be honest, in May 1981 the 8K version of the Atari 400 was discontinued while the 16K version was lowered to $399, though BASIC cartridge now sold separately. That is only $100 more than the launch price of the VIC-20, which had a full travel keyboard, built-in BASIC but less than 1/3 of the RAM, simpler graphics and sounds. In June 1982, Atari further lowered the price on the 400 to $349 in order to issue a rebate in December that supposedly dropped the price below $200, though that isn't mentioned in the FAQ at Atarimania. Of course Commodore by the end of 1982 had lowered the price on their VIC-20 some as well, though the real price wars didn't commence until spring-summer of 1983.

 

So yes, the property of being affordable is fresh produce as the market conditions change all the time. I didn't account for TI-99/4(A), Acorn Atom, ZX-81 or any other manufacturer above.

 

http://www.atarimania.com/faq-atari-400-800-xl-xe-what-is-the-history-of-atari_92.html

http://oldcomputers.net/atari400.html

http://oldcomputers.net/vic20.html

Edited by carlsson
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I myself owned a Vic20 and loved Omega Race etc but to just make it the kings ransom of home computers (basically because he developed it) is daft...Other computers were out and yes the Vic may have been deliberately designed to be cheap to construct and sell but its not as he claimed..

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I've come to understand he is controversial even among his former colleagues, so dismiss him as you like. But I think I know what he means, that the VIC-20 was the first really affordable home computer with colour, sound and I/O. The Atari 8-bits were great, the TI-99/4 less so, but both also priced quite a bit higher. It was no coincidence that Commodore pitched the VIC against the 2600 instead of the 400. Over in Europe, Sinclair had the even cheaper ZX-81 but it lacked colour, sound, a real keyboard and more.

Also the ZX80 before that.

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Yes, I was about to mention the PET, the TRS-80 and the Apple ][ though it depends on the reader what is a home computer, what is affordable, what is fully featured etc. I'm sure there may be a few Japanese companies wanting to claim the title "first home computer" too, like Sharp MZ-80K/80C (1979), NEC PC-8001 (1979), Hitachi MB-6890 (1980), Fujitsu FM-8 (May 1981) etc.

 

Actually I have read/heard that Commdore's inspiration for the function keys came from one of the NEC computers, which must've been the PC-8001 since the PC-6001 didn't arrive until 1981 by when the VIC-1001 already was launched. Of course they may just as well have copied the Help, Start, Select, Option, Reset layout from the Atari computers, just renamed the keys F1 - F8.

Edited by carlsson
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Michael was Jack's assistant and was very loyal to him.

 

He said in an interview that Commodore regarded the Atari 8 bit systems as game machines because of the way Atari marketed them. What really hurt Atari's sales was the mindset of Warner which would threaten to sue any company if they wrote software for the 800. Meanwhile you have Steve Jobs at Apple and their users are getting the most out of their machines with great applications such as Visicalc.

 

The VIC 20 was regarded by Commodore as "The first full functional affordable home computer", Commodore wanted to get away from membrane style keyboards that everyone else was putting out at the time and although the 800 came with a real keyboard & had great colour and sound, it really was not affordable compared to the VIC 20.

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The VIC 20 was regarded by Commodore as "The first full functional affordable home computer",

 

The more qualifications you put on something, the easier it is to call it "first". But the more qualifications you put on something, the less relevant that "first" is.

 

I could easily say my Packard Bell 486 was the "first computer to come with a CD-ROM, 512KB of VRAM, a 170MB hard drive and a 486SX/25 processor", but who cares about that? It's meaningless.

 

You may as well say the VIC-20 was the first (affordable, full functional) home computer available in white.

Edited by spacecadet
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Kind of silly for him to suggest the Vic-20 was anything other than a games computer. What sort of serious (or otherwise) work could you do on a 22 column display with 3K of RAM? I'm sure someone, somewhere wrote their dissertation on a Vic-20, but c'maaaaaaaaannnn....

Edited by Laner
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What sort of serious (or otherwise) work could you do on a 22 column display with 3K of RAM?

 

For many years - almost to 1990 if I recall correctly - the local paint and wallpaper store had a demo kiosk with videos about how to redecorate your home and other forms of home improvement. It all was run by a VIC-20 connected to some sort of VHS tape recorder and probably more hardware, that would either change VHS tape depending on which video you wanted to watch, or at least wind it forwards or backwards to the correct starting position. The first time I saw it in action, I was stunned as it was a couple years past the VIC was discontinued but hey if their system still was working, why upgrade it to new technology that wouldn't do a better job, only cost more money and time to get it running?

 

I also know the VIC was popular among RTTY people and generally it was considered easy to interface with various electronics and lab equipment, more so than the C64 with its more complex memory layout. I'm sure you can name a number of other inexpensive computers that were equally easy to interface, but supposedly the VIC-20 found its place in a few such applications where a 22 column display was not a problem and RAM could easily be expanded on the back for at least 27.5K, up to 38.5K if you squeezed a lot.

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