Is anyone into "retro-computing"?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by IndyColtsFan, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. erikistired

    erikistired Diamond Member

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    one of the first "online" games i ever played (not counting bbs games), used to love this game, remember it fondly. played it on dial up, which was a chore to even get going because nobody had cell phones back then, and not everyone had two phone lines. wish someone would do something with mechs again.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. JeepinEd

    JeepinEd Senior member

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    Anyone remember the Commodore CDTV?
    I also remember messing around with NeXt computers. Those things were pretty cool.
     
  3. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Lifer

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    Yep, I remember the CDTV and the CD32. By that point, I think Commodore was flailing and grasping at anything to get some sales.
     
  4. coloumb

    coloumb Diamond Member

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    Started with TI computer at my mom's workplace - back when 5.25" floppies were the norm. I entered data in a clunky spreadsheet program and I think I played a few games.
    "Convinced" my parents that an Atari 2600 would be the best xmas present ever - I think I eventually ended up with about 35 cartridges.
    Sold off the 2600 and purchased the 5200 - what an awesome system that was.

    About 1982ish - parents bought me a Ti/994a with the speech synthesis module for Parsec. I wrote a couple games in basic and sent them off to a publisher who then told me no thanks but keep at it. Oddly enough - I later read that J. Carmack lived in the same city as me [we're about the same age]. I often wondered what would've happened if I did keep at it. /huge regret. :(

    High school - apple computers of course. Took a class on programming pascal and played games after school. Software stores were places to meet people to "Trade" games. Met one guy who had a similar setup to David's [Matthew Broderick] computer in the movie wargames. He could dial up a # or 2 and instantly have a crack for any game.

    Left home for the good ole USAF and found myself with a C64 - BBS's and "game trading" parties. I was instantly hooked on Quantumlink - how awesome it was to chat with people across the country [and to meet a few of them in person] :)

    Then I moved up to the Amiga 500. I actually purchased Dungeon Master a few weeks before purchasing an A500. I had the idea - if I buy the game, then I have to buy the computer. :)

    Moved back in with the parents [for financial reasons] after the USAF to find that my parents purchased a 486DX2. Crappy graphics compared to the A500, but at that time was the viable option for something called the "internet". I woke up my parents at 10pm to show them - they of course were not as impressed. Due to the extremely slow speed, I kept to the local regional BBS [where I met a lot of great people at the local dive bar - lots of good times].

    After graduating from DeVry with job offer in hand, took my A500 and settled down in the Bay area.

    Used the A500 up until Windows95 was released. I jumped Amiga ship [sold off all of my hardware/software] for 3 reasons: [1] DOOM, [2] Windows 95, [3] PC's were cheaper to build/modify than buying a A1200 [I wanted one simply to play the new 3d AGA games].

    With a brief 6 month time frame of using the tv tube imac, been using/upgrading PC's ever since. I did purchase "Amiga forever" program a few years back to see how the emulation was working [I think they hadn't managed to get AGA graphics working].

    I honestly think Commodore screwed the pooch with the Amiga - from what I recall, they wanted it to be a business machine and of course failed miserably due to pricing.

    As for today and retro computing - I just can't bring myself to play longer than a few minutes unless it's on a portable setup [Nintendo DS, Crackberry, etc].
     
  5. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Lifer

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    I can't count the number of ways Commodore screwed the pooch. The Amiga was, by far, the best computer available in 1985 and probably even until 1990 or so. Here are a few ways they screwed up:

    1. Lack of platform advancement -- until the A1200 and A4000 were released in 1992, the platform was effectively the same platform that had been released in 1985. Sure, the A2500 and A3000 came with faster processors, but the custom chips were effectively the same with the exception of a couple of tweaks to make the ECS chips. What about network cards and TCP/IP? What about CD-ROMS?
    2. Lack of focus and therefore, targeted marketing -- Commodore didn't understand what it had with the Amiga and didn't know how or to whom to market it.
    3. Tying up resources in stupid projects, especially the A600 project. CDTV looked like a stupid project at first, but you can at least understand what they were trying to do there.
    4. Canceling the projects that had a chance to push them on top again -- namely, the AAA chipset.
    5. Lack of platform standardization -- I am still amazed at all the nuances of Amiga hardware and the revisions, subrevisions, etc. that you need to know in order to get some things to work. Sure, as a hobbyist, it might be fun but it was certainly no way to gain business with average users.
     
  6. zzuupp

    zzuupp Lifer

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    & it seemed like they could never capitalize on the 'video toaster' 3rd party add on

    that was the closest it had to being a killer app

    nintendo & sega owned the game/toy side

    ibm & clones were the business market

    apple was able to hold onto a niche with desktop publishing, and MIDI control
     
  7. Iron Woode

    Iron Woode Lifer

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    I am trying to remember the name of an Apple emulator for the C64 back in the day. It was a hardware thingy.

    All this retro "stuff" is bringing back mixed-up memories.
     
  8. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Lifer

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    Well, I think they did capitalize on that -- or more specifically, Newtek did. The Toaster was the main reason the Amiga found acceptance in Hollywood and at broadcast stations around the country. The problem is that even that audience is a small, niche audience compared to what they needed.

    True, but I did read something interesting about CD32. It was selling like gangbusters but because of a legal issue preventing Commodore from selling it in the US combined with component shortages, they weren't able to meet demand. I saw an estimate that had Commodore met the holiday demand, they would've survived another 6 months. Would that have been enough time to put a plan in place to survive longer? Doubtful, but it is fun to imagine.

    And that was one of the big problems. Commodore introduced the Amiga as a business machine but didn't have big software makers behind them. What Commodore DID do was build IBM compatibility boards and kits. Now, don't get me wrong, those kits were technically very impressive. But they were too expensive and too slow. The A2000 was released in 1987 and I believe at the time, two Bridgeboards were introduced either then or within a year: an 8088 board and a 286 board. The 286 board was probably good enough, but IIRC, it was still relatively expensive. Cheaper than a PC, but combined with the cost of the Amiga, it put the total price near a PC. Why not just get a PC and avoid the compatibility headaches?

    There was an interesting article I read about Commodore's CEOs. I'll see if I can find it later today, but this article provides a 10,000 ft overview. Around the mid 80s, they started having financial issues. In 1986, Thomas Rattigan was hired as CEO and started righting the ship, so much so that they were profitable again in 1987. Inexplicably, in 1987, Rattigan was fired by Irving Gould, the venture capitalist who was chairman and puppet master of Commodore. No one is quite clear why this happened; Rattigan says it was a personality conflict and Gould was mad Rattigan was getting credit for the tournaround. Gould later said that he fired Rattigan because even though they were now profitable (mainly due to Europe), their business in the US continued declining and that wasn't acceptable. I suspect Rattigan was telling the truth and the Gould's reason, while probably also true, was not the real reason he was fired.
     
  9. Linflas

    Linflas Lifer

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    Jack Tramiel resigned from Commodore and ended up running Atari. I seem to recall that some of the guys involved in the original development of the old Atari 800 ended up going to Commodore and working on the Amiga. There was a product called Magic Sac that plugged into the cart port of the Atari ST's that would allow them to run the Macintosh 128 bit ROM OS. The guy that marketed that followed it up with a product to run the Mac Plus ROM's. He even had a device that would allow the Mac disks to be read on the Atari which was quite a trick given that the Atari used the standard IBM 3.5 disk format and my understanding is the Mac used a variable speed format on their 3.5 floppies.
     
  10. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Lifer

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    You're correct -- Amiga was an independent company at one point composed (IIRC) of ex-Atari employees like Jay Miner. They had a vision of creating the ultimate gaming machine and in order to sustain themselves during that effort, released peripherals like the Joyboard and a few other things. When they ran out of money again, Tramiel (then at Atari) gave them some money with some very onerous conditions on the loan (can't look for a link now). Just as the bill was about to come due, Commodore swooped in, bought Amiga, and paid back Atari's loans. Atari, IIRC, sued Amiga and a legal battle ensued, eventually being settled out of court.

    One ironic note about the purchase was brought up on the Secret Weapons of Commodore site which I linked to earlier in the thread. The acquisition of Amiga effectively killed a Unix workstation/server program Commodore was undertaking. (In fact, if you look at the Commodore 900 Unix workstation photos on that site, you probably recognize the case -- that basic case design became the Amiga 2000). So, imagine for a moment that Commodore sacrifices Amiga to Atari and continues on its Unix workstation/server program. If they had done that, it isn't out of the question that they might still be here today. I think it is interesting that from one point of view, them acquiring the most advanced hardware of the time (the Amiga) may have actually been the catalyst for killing their company.

    Mac emulators were great back in the day. There was another emulation product called (IIRC) A-max for the Amiga (I think there might have been an Atari version too) that allowed Mac emulation. The joke at the time was that an Amiga running A-max actually gave you a faster Mac than buying the physical computer.
     
  11. Linflas

    Linflas Lifer

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    Wasn't the Amiga based on the same Motorola 68000 that the Atari ST and Mac used? IIRC they ran faster because Apple actually ramped back the Mac speed a bit from what the 68K was actually capable of running at so when you used the "emulators" on an Atari or Amiga they actully ran at full clock speed. I put emulator in quotes because these things were unique in that they were actually using the Apple ROM chips so they were running the actual MAC OS, or at least that is how it worked on the Atari. When you booted with the Magic Sac plugged in you booted directly into the Mac OS, TOS was never touched.
     
  12. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Lifer

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    Yes, they were all 68K machines, but I believe that the Amiga's custom chips allowed it to emulate the Mac faster than an actual Mac and I believe you're also correct regarding the clock speed of the CPUs in each machine. I believe on the Amiga, A-Max actually ran the Mac in a window.
     
  13. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Lifer

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    Well, crap! There was an eBay auction for a mint condition Amiga 1000 and accessories and I got busy at work and forgot to snipe it. :(
     
  14. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Lifer

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  15. Linflas

    Linflas Lifer

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    I remember them coming in and demoing a NeXt system at NRL when I worked there. Some of the concepts were seriously ahead of their time, things like embedded audio and video in emails.
     
  16. Uhtrinity

    Uhtrinity Platinum Member

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    I have a running Apple II here in my computer lab. Makes a great visual aid when talking about computing history. Even better since it can be used. For example when teaching Excel I go into spreadsheet history and Visicalc which I have for the Apple. I can also pull out older games like Oregon Trail and Lemonade Stand which the kids can compare to their modern counterparts.

    We also have a late 80's Packard Bell 8088 that is fully functional, but we don't have the room to set it up. However its 5.25" 42MB hard drive makes another great visual aid.
     
  17. Jinny

    Jinny Senior member

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  18. dfuze

    dfuze Lifer

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  19. spacejamz

    spacejamz Diamond Member

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    I still have this...it works, but the video is still pretty fuzzy though...

    [​IMG]
     
  20. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Lifer

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    I think I am going to redo the mancave and build it into a combination Colts/retro computer museum. I need to get an Atari 2600 configured.
     
  21. dfuze

    dfuze Lifer

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    I'm jealous :D
    I've got a few 2600 cartridges, but still can't seem to get a working 2600 console. The one I have I've never been able to get it working.
     
  22. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Lifer

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    I have a 2600 in a box in my garage but I don't seem to have the power brick for it and have no idea if it even works.
     
  23. wgungfu

    wgungfu Junior Member

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    Hey all, just ran across this thread during a google search and thought I'd respond to a few statements made regarding the relationship between Amiga/Atari/Commodore et. al. I'm a professional industry historian and writer, and actually have access to the original court documents and many of the people involved.

    No, what he did was simply buy the Consumer Division and fold that in to his own company (TTL) which he renamed Atari Corp. Warner's Atari Inc. and Tramiel's Atari Corp. were two different companies and in fact existed during the same time (on paper at least as Warner kept the Atari Inc. legal entity going to deal with lawsuits and other legalities). The confusion comes from Jacking seeking to portray his company as the continuation of the Atari brand (which it was), sometimes just referred to as "Atari".

    Unfortunately, that's not accurate and the source is usually RJ Mical's old storytelling speech. RJ wasn't directly involved with the negotiations, and on the larger claims (like confusing which Atari was which) I'm not sure why those were repeated wrong.

    Tramiel never gave Amiga money. The Amiga deal (called the Mickey project internally) was with Warner's Atari Inc. Negotiations started that Fall of '83 and resulted in Atari Inc. giving Amiga a check that March of '84 as an "intent to sign the licensing agreement" payment. The check was not a loan, and was simply to guarantee Amiga's seriousness to pursue a licensing deal of Amiga technology with Atari Inc.

    It also bought Atari access to Amiga's engineers and such, with teams on the Atari and Amiga side working together to help Atari develop a prototype console based around the yet to be finished VLSI custom chips, which they did over the Spring. The licensing agreement, to be signed in late June upon the delivery of the chips would be the following: Atari Inc. would pay $500,000 for each of the three first run chips delivered ($1.5 million total). Atari Inc. would then buy 1,000,000 preferred shares at $3 a share. The licensing itself would then entail a royalty payble to Amiga of $2 per chip used in any console or computer, and $15 in any coin-op. Amiga stipulated that Atari would be able to use it in a console first (which Atari had codenamed Mickey and planned to release that Fall) and coin first, with the console allowed to be expandable in to a computer in Spring of '85 with the addition of a keyboard and peripherals. A full fledged computer would not be allowed until '86, to give Amiga enough time to release and their own computer (which was planned for that Fall of '84) and spend time on the market.

    Where the myth of Atari owning Amiga if they couldn't pay the loan back came from was this: After the signing of the initial contract and seed loan (which Atari didn't plan on seeing paid back), all documentation and later VLSI chip layouts were put in to escrow. Said documents were to be released to Atari upon signing of the licensing. If Amiga folded in the interim, they would get all the documents and full permission to manufacture said chips on their own without a license. The reason for this was because Amiga was in constant dire straights at the time and already had *4 other investors* by the time Atari did their small loan. They were higher in the que that Atari to split up Amiga's assets to recover their investments, and Atari simply needed someway to guarantee at least some recovery in that event.



    A bit mixed up on that. Commodore handed a check for $750 thousand to Dave Morse on June 28th, 1984 - who then took the funds and went directly to his contact/counterpart at Atari Inc. to hand deliver a check for $500,000 plus interest on June 29th with the claim they couldn't get the chips to work. His counterpart at Atari Inc. told him they didn't want the money back, he didn't even think he was authorized to take the check, and that if they (Amiga) needed more time it wouldn't be a problem. According to the sworn testimony, it had been a complete shock because they had just met with Dave at CES that early June where they confirmed everything was on track and both (Dave and his Atari counterpart) were celebratory over the pending signing. Unknown to his counterpart, Dave had been approached by Commodore who may have been interested at buying the company outright after evaluation, and during the interim (that June) got cold feet that the Atari deal may somehow screw it up. So he told Commodore he needed an advance to get out of Atari (making up some things about Atari to Commodore from what we found out, to make it seem dire) and then turned around and told Atari they couldn't get Lorraine to fully work properly and here was their money back.

    Interestingly, he even told this under oath that Lorraine didn't work and was chopped up for parts, which we now know to be a lie - Dale Luck has shown off Lorraine at the Vintage Computer Festival for years now.

    As far as the suit from Tramiel's Atari Corp., it was a counter-suit. Commodore launched a suit and injunction against Shiraz and two other engineers in early July, and had the injunction extended over the month. The injunction itself barred them on doing any computer work for Jack. The suit
    itself was accusing them on theft of trade secrets, since they had taken off with some documentation and backup tapes from a development system.

    Jack's son Leonard found the cashed $500,000 check during the end of the July evaluation period (they spent July going over and evaluating everything they inherited in the purchase - projects, facilities, etc.) He then contacted Warner and from that found out about the Atari Inc./Amiga deal (it had been brokered by and owned by Warner and was not a part of the Atari Consumer purchase), and seized the opportunity to strike back at Commodore who was at that time in fully public finalizations of purchasing Amiga . He got Warner to sign over the contract to him in early August and then launched his own suit at Amiga. They later added some patent infringements (something Jay had originally been worried about during the '83 meetings because the basic architecture and display concepts were similar to what he did with Atari Inc.'s 8-bit PCS's). Both companies settled their differences out of court, with Commodore paying Atari Corporation an undisclosed amount.



    Marty
     
    #198 wgungfu, May 23, 2011
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  24. IndyColtsFan

    IndyColtsFan Lifer

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    Cool! Thanks for the details.
     
  25. Linflas

    Linflas Lifer

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    That bit about the Atari 800 architecture and display concepts is pretty interesting as it somewhat matches the stories that circulated between the ST and Amiga folks that the Amiga architecture was the real follow on to the Atari 800 with a discreet blitter graphics chip etc and the ST was more Commodore like in it's initial design.