800XL

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Bill Loguidice's picture

Why did the Commodore 64 succeed where the Atari 8-bit didn't?

Atari 800XLAfter seeing yet another topic on AtariAge about why the Commodore 64 (C-64), released in 1982, succeeded in both sales and software support, where the Atari 8-bit series, released in 1979, didn't, I thought I'd offer up my usual thoughts on the matter in a more formal manner. To my mind, it's pretty simple. While the Atari 8-bits had a roughly three year headstart, in those three years, Atari wasn't able to make much headway in the market despite having the best audio-visual potential of the time, bar-none. The missteps with the lovely, but initially flawed, Atari 1200XL, didn't do them any favors, and by the time the C-64 started picking up significant momentum in 1983 when its retail price started dropping to the point where no one was able to compete effectively with its value proposition and still turn a profit, Atari was already done, particularly since they lacked Commodore's supply chain advantages.

Certainly price was a factor in the C-64's success in the US, but in the rest of the world, particularly Europe, price was often the primary driver (e.g., long after the US standardized on reliable, but expensive disks and drives, Europeans were still using unreliable, but cheap cassettes and tape decks), making Atari's inability to produce a low cost 8-bit in a timely manner particularly devastating. The influx of talented European programmers to the C-64's software pool can't be underestimated as the Atari 8-bit line struggled to make it into homes there. It also didn't do Atari any favors that they had multiple models out in the wild with 16K - 64K of memory at that time, making it difficult to target the higher spec. We can't underestimate the value of every Commodore 64 having 64K from its first day on the market to its last, making ports to platforms without a significant user base of guaranteed 64K-spec machines less likely. [Read more]

Mark Vergeer's picture

Mark Plays... 'Left' cartridges on the Atari 800XL (50 minute extravaganza)


Ever since I got my Atari 800XL I've been slowly expanding on my 'LEFT cartridges' containing all sorts of arcade ports. It's a bit of a weak spot of mine to try to get all sorts of classic arcade ports on various machines I own. The Atari 8bit line is no exception. I play each cartridge until the 1st game over and this results in about 50 minutes of video. Hope you guys enjoy this one as well.

http://atariage.com/
http://oldcomputers.net/atari800.html
http://www.atariarchives.org/
http://atarihq.com
http://www.atarimania.com/index.html

I must say I just ordered a good microphone on Amazon.de, so things may be looking up on this end sound-wise.

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