8-bit

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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

SV-328 Microcomputer - pickup / lot


I got myself a new system (SV-328) in a pretty complete lot. Mind you I was pretty tired when I filmed this so bare with me. Check out what I got.

Spectravideo, or SVI, founded in 1981 as "SpectraVision" by Harry Fox was a US based firm. SVI originally made video games for the VIC-20 and Atari 2600 consoles. They also made Atari compatible joysticks and many C64s actually were completed with a set of Spectravideo joysticks. Some of the later computers were MSX-compliant and some even IBM PC compatible. SVI folded in 1988.

The SV-328 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Spectravideo in June 1983. It was the business-targeted model, sporting a full-travel keyboard with numeric keypad. Making it look like a professional machine that could compete with the big professional systems out there. It has 80 kB RAM (64 kB available for software & 16 kB video memory). Other than the keyboard and RAM, this machine was identical to its predecessor, the SV-318.
The SV-328 is the design on which the later MSX standard was based. Spectravideo's MSX-compliant successor to the 328, the SV-728, looks almost identical, the only immediately noticeable differences being a larger cartridge slot in the central position (to fit MSX standard cartridges), lighter shaded keyboard and the MSX labels.

Mark Vergeer's picture

Mark Plays... Alpha Roid (MSX1, 64K)


Lloyd Alpha (? ROID) is a great little game produced by Pony Canyon in 1986. In it you have to destroy the evil forces of the Barugosu and repair the main computer. Well that is as elaborate as the background story of this shooter is going to get.

My European copy of the game comes with a nice cassette inlay but apart from a few lines of backstory there isn't any instructions on the gameplay included. The version I play here is the bare NTSC cart I also own. The Japanese version supposedly comes with more detailed instructions on how to play the game.

In my little gameplay (I didn't really know how to play this game) I didn't go into the holes (craters) that appear on the surface. And you are supposed to do so. Fly into those and the game turns into a little fighting game where you have to hit, kick, jump around to battle against those meanies. So there's more to this game than meets the eye. Check it out for yourself.

Here's a little clip of a guy who actually knows how to play this game and it shows the subterranean battling of the robots
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQL_fWcT0Pc

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.

Shawn Delahunty's picture

Retro-Repair Adventures, Part 3

"Doing the Shatner...""Doing the Shatner..."

Secrets of the Machine - A Roadmap on Paper...

Hello everyone! I hope that your Summer is beginning well, and that nice weather showed up with it for Memorial Day. In this third installment of "The Retro Repair Adventures", we're going to take a closer look at the truly AMAZING documentation which came with the VIC-20 right out of the box. Then I'll take you through some of the other programming books gifted to me on that fateful Christmas, so long ago. I will also explain in further detail how this documentation enabled me to effect a repair for the "glitchy characters" which my ailing VIC-20 displayed in the last episode.
This is a long one, so warm up your propeller-beanies, strap on your Steampunk geek-goggles, and read on!

Mark Vergeer's picture

Mark Plays... Some VIC-20 Classics (1hr extravaganza)


In this video I play quite a few of the classic arcade ports and well known games on the Commodore VIC-20. I grabbed the footage using a Pioneer HD-DVD-Recorder that allows me to grab the footage on the HD or directly on CD-R, DVD-R or DVD-RW. I use the latter so I can reuse the disc after I imported the files off the disc (a simple copy of the mpg stream) into

Okay it turned into an over an hour long extravaganza playing the games until the first game over and me babbling about the gameplay and the technology involved. Read more below...

Mark Vergeer's picture

Mark Plays... Android2 (C64, Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Gameboy Advance)


A little gem of a game originally brought out by Vortex Software on the ZX Spectrum, also ported to the C64, Amstrad CPC and even a remade version on the Gameboy Advance (as an entry in a demo competition). In this video I check out all the versions.

Shawn Delahunty's picture

The Retro-Repair Adventures, Part 1

Shatner & The VIC-20Shatner & The VIC-20

How to do "The Shatner Rub"...

Hello my fellow Armchair Arcadians! It's good to be back. Didn't mean to be gone so long again, but hey, Life happens. This time, I'm putting on my "Engineer Hat" (with the mandatory pocket-protector), and taking you on a Retro-Repair Adventure. In this first installment, we'll be delving into my own computing, programming, and gaming past. I'll take it easy to begin with, by giving you a close look at my very own, very beloved, and very much malfunctioning Commodore VIC-20. (We'll get to the nitty-gritty details of the electronics repair in my next posting.)

Shawn Delahunty's picture

Retro-ZAP! Redux: Part 3 of... um, 2.

In my last article, I wrote at length about my experience making Retro-ZAP! on my near-ancient TRS-80 Model III computer. As I described, the experience was a fun and interesting one. It provided a mix of both high- and low-points, all of which were fun to write about. What I did not expect however, was the level of attention that would be generated by a Space Invaders knockoff, written in interpreted BASIC.

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