Michael Malak Posted October 20, 2022 Share Posted October 20, 2022 Yesterday, John Hancock compared the 1983 Parker Brothers Q*Bert to the 2021 rubyQ. ...wherein he states: "it just shows just the capabilities of what the original 2600 was capable of" But could have a 32KB cartridge have been made back in 1983? According to a forum post, the first 32KB cartridge made by Atari itself was Fatal Run in 1989. But could a 32KB cartridge have been made earlier than 1989? One way to look at the cost is by considering the so-called "Special Edition" cartridges from 1979: Video Chess, Superman, etc. It is said "Special Edition" means it had 4KB ROM, as opposed to the earliest cartridges that were mostly 2KB. Looking for a price for a 2KB EPROM, the 2716, we see on page 291 of the October 1979 a price of $20. https://archive.org/details/byte-magazine-1979-10/page/n285/mode/2up Now, ROMs are cheaper than EPROMs. So the $40 retail price of a Video Chess cartridge just happens to correspond to the $40 retail price for a corresponding set of EPROMs (two such 2716 EPROMs would be needed to make 4KB). So probably the cost of parts was only $10 using ROMs, assuming a 4x ratio between BOM (bill of materials) and retail price. But it's convenient for our purposes that we have a 1:1 ratio between EPROM cost and cartridge retail price. So the question becomes what would the price in 1983 be of a 27128 (16KB) EPROM? In the March 1983 issue of BYTE magazine, we see on page 526 the price is $26.95. https://archive.org/details/eu_BYTE-1983-03_OCR/page/n543/mode/2up We would need two such EPROMs, coming to $54. And using our 1:1 ratio of EPROM cost to cartridge retail price, a 32KB cartridge might have sold for $54 (which in today's dollars would be $160). So was it technically feasible to produce a 32KB cartridge in 1983? Maybe. Would it have been profitable? Almost certainly not. We can conclude that it wasn't merely a matter of programmers being lazy or not creative enough to push the 2600 limits at that time. 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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