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Change in computers as a hobbiest... 2844

Change in computers as a hobbiest... 2846
I began calling bulletin boards in 1985. I never called a BBS outside of Sweden, however, so my sense of what is common is naturally based on what...
Change in computers as a hobbiest
Carl Pearson The Norwegian-originated MBBS (from the creators of the GALINK or GLINK terminal emulator) was my original favorite...

Morten Reistad

80286 was released in 1982, MC68000 (which, IMHO, is a much more advanced product and thus better suited for a "real" operating system) in 1979. I have no idea of their relative prices at that time, and I'm not aware if there were other contenders worth mentioning.

According to Michael S. Tomczyk's book "Home Computer Wars", the first PET retailed at $795 in 1977. Customers had to pay the full price in advance, then wait the delivery for up to six months (!).

Change in computers as a hobbiest... 2848
Well, the author of CygnusEd was a regular at club meetings, so I might have slipped him a suggestion or two... Yup. There was a wide choice - plenty of room to get into editor wars...

The TI-994 was available in 1980, with the price tag of $600. Atari 400, likewise, retailed at $600 and had a cheap membrane keyboard.

Tomczyk writes: "As hard as it is to believe today, computers were not then thought of as an item for the home. No one knew what they could be used for. Personal computers were still the special domain of businesspeople, schools, and hobbyists, mostly because the prices were too high and they were too difficult to use. Personal computers cost over $1,000 all by themselves, and the price tag topped $5,000 if you added a dual floppy disk drive and letter-quality printer. And the machines were sold by specialized computer dealers or electronics chains like Radio Shack."

Vic-20 was introduced to the American public in 1981 (at CES), retailed at $299.95, and was sold in stores like Sears and K mart. It had color and sound.

Would it have been a feasible or realistic to create a home computer with a "real" processor and a proper operating system at that price, at that time? How much do you think people who had never owned (much less operated) a computer before would have wanted to pay for one?

Half a megabyte was a huge amount of memory in 1981. You couldn't have jumpstarted the home computer revolution with 512K machines - the price would have been way too much for an average household.

We were talking about the late 70s and the early 80s. GUIs were introduced to the common people in 1984 (heck, even X wasn't conceived sooner than 1984), and the Internet only became relevant (to the common people) at around 1994 or 1995.

Frankly, I don't really believe you could have envisioned common people using the Internet, mulbreastasking operating systems with memory protection, and GUIs at their homes in the late 70s.

That's like saying that modern cars are more comfortable, better equipped, and easier to drive than the cars 25 years ago. Of course they are. What's your point? :)

I like the current breed of Macs - now that they have done away with the cooperative "mulbreastasking", manual memory allocations and other nastiness, and slipped in a real operating system under the hood. I can't say I would have liked the Mac as it was back in the 80s. (The

Change in computers as a hobbiest... 2845
This may be a tad off-topic, but I'm curious which BBS systems you used and-or liked back then...

My point is that the concept of having computers at home had to be sold to the public in some way back in the 80s, or we wouldn't be even as far as we are now. Despite the technical shortcomings, a simple $300 color computer (that even kids could buy and experiment with) was a advanced system architecture (that most people wouldn't have bought as they didn't have a clearly defined need for a computer, anyway.) Jack Tramiel's motto was "Computers for the mbuttes, not the clbuttes" and I fully agree with this idea - you couldn't have started it with too expensive machines, however technically and architecturally neat.

Change in computers as a hobbiest... 2851
Charlie Gibbs I don't agree. First of all, most of us simply do not have the time or energy to gain...

It is unfortunate that the dominant system later became the Wintel platform (and MS-DOS at first), even at homes, but throughout 80s and the early 90s there was still enough breathing room for the alternative systems as well. (For example, I never really owned an MS-DOS-based system myself and totally skipped over Windows 3.x, too - jumping straight from the Amiga 3000 (a 32-bit mulbreastasking system) to a dual-boot Win95-Linux box (32-bit mulbreastasking systems) - so I never had to suffer through the darkest and kludgiest 16-bit age of the PC platform. Many other people I knew used OS-2 for years before Linux. The choice was there, you just had to make use of it.)

The situation may have been a bit different in the US, though. My understanding is that the 16-32 bit machines (such as the Amiga and Atari ST) were more popular, fared much better and lasted longer as general-purpose home (and even small business) computers in Europe than on the other side of the pond.

-- znark

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