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SUCCESS
January 27th, 2010, 01:08 PM
Hi people,
I saw a nice report in the History Channel, which talked about the 80"s technology.
In the report they underlined the labor of Apple and Intel. The image of the 80"s computer which Histoy decided to show to our today"s young people was the Apple II and the IBM PC.
Ok, they were icons, but what about the CBM computers ?
The funny thing was, during the documental, a C64 (with a missing F7 key) appeared a lot of times. Also, the blue screen and the CLI of the Basic V2 interface.
Was this a joke ?. They used a C64 to show how a 80"s computer look like, but they didn"t tell anything about it.
They definitely tended to promote Apple, they kept showing the different Apple gadgets, both old and new.
They only mentioned the PET as an "school computer".

Then, they talk about the CD and said that it was developed by Sony with a "LITTLE HELP" of Philips.
Ok, saiy what you want. Just you launch google and you will discover the PHILIPS HELP was as not as little as they think.

IBM PC and Apple work in the 80" arena was impressive. But don't forget CBM !!!!

Thanks History !!!

mikerm
January 27th, 2010, 01:13 PM
I used to have GEOS from Commodore 64, was a pretty cool OS.

dave_m
January 27th, 2010, 01:30 PM
Thanks History !!!

I missed that program, but my other hobby is the American Civil War and I have noticed how badly The History Channel sometimes gets its "facts". I think they are producing programs so quickly that errors are creeping in because of a lack of scholarly review. Thanks for pointing it out.
-Dave

cgrape2
January 27th, 2010, 07:42 PM
I used to have GEOS from Commodore 64, was a pretty cool OS.

I did as well,I used to call it "Windows 85".
cgrape2

Mr.Amiga500
January 28th, 2010, 09:28 AM
Just think... the people who actually make these "history" documentaries probably weren't even born in the 80's - or if they were, they were too young to know much about 8-bit computing. Most of their information would come from research and they would research what they know of - computers that are still around today - Apple and PC.

I think anybody doing these kind of documentaries should read issues of Byte magazine from late 70's to late 80's. They'd see the whole real history of computers - not just the simplistic "Apple versus PC" (or "Apple versus Microsoft") view of computer history.

Chuck(G)
January 28th, 2010, 09:46 AM
In the report they underlined the labor of Apple and Intel.

And completely ignored Motorola and MOS Technology? How strange. Apple put the parts together to form a personal computer, but it was the work done at Motorola and MOS Technology that created the 6502 and later, the 68000 used in the Lisa and Macintosh. Apple had nothing to do with the development of either.

carlsson
January 28th, 2010, 10:52 AM
the people who actually make these "history" documentaries probably weren't even born in the 80's
Well, I am sure anyone who makes a documentary about life in the 19th century also was born long after, and will have to base their facts on what they can look up through existing sources. For that matter the computer documentaries could be made by 60 year olds who completely ignored computers until ten years ago, so one's age has relatively little to do with it unless a person acts like an expert with first hand knowledge.

SUCCESS
January 28th, 2010, 01:20 PM
Ok,

but, could you explain me why a C64 appeared several times to show how was the 80's computing ... the CLI from the BASIC V2 appeared many times.
And yep, the MOS developments in silicon were incredible,not only the features they put inside the chips, but the short development times. And yes, the Apple ended using the 6502
And what happen to the microprocesor market when the 6502 appeared. Do you remeber that a 6800 cost about 125 dollar when a MOS6502 only 25 ?. Wasn't a real revolution ?
And the achievement of a cost effective solution, while giving the biggest pack of features. The silicon production driven by CBM kept the costs as low as they needed, even the gates and other 74LS simple IC'S had a MOS part.
We can sit hours talking about the SID and the VIC, and the short times in they were designed. And forget about the modern tools that exists to make logic design today ... many VIC and SID parts were drawn on paper !!! and other in early logic design programs.

Ok, it wasn't a revolution ... the best seller computer ... I forget about it, what was its name ? ... google help me !!! Tell History about the C64 please !!!!


Just think... the people who actually make these "history" documentaries probably weren't even born in the 80's - or if they were, they were too young to know much about 8-bit computing. Most of their information would come from research and they would research what they know of - computers that are still around today - Apple and PC.

I think anybody doing these kind of documentaries should read issues of Byte magazine from late 70's to late 80's. They'd see the whole real history of computers - not just the simplistic "Apple versus PC" (or "Apple versus Microsoft") view of computer history.

Chuck(G)
January 28th, 2010, 01:46 PM
And yep, the MOS developments in silicon were incredible,not only the features they put inside the chips, but the short development times. And yes, the Apple ended using the 6502

And what happen to the microprocesor market when the 6502 appeared. Do you remeber that a 6800 cost about 125 dollar when a MOS6502 only 25 ?. Wasn't a real revolution ?


Note that I said "MOS Technology" (capitalized), as in the company that brought out the 6502, not the generic term. There probably would have been an Apple and a C64/VIC or whatever without them, but they wouldn't have used the 6502. Maybe the 6800? (The original Apple I could use one).

I suspect that the $25 show offer was a move of desperation from MOS Technology--they had been sued by Motorola and the whole operation was likely to collapse if they couldn't get market share. Two years later at Wescon, National Semi was handing out free PACE chips, complete with manuals. Didn't do them a bit of good--I tried to get a TMS9900 at the same show and couldn't.

Mr.Amiga500
January 28th, 2010, 01:56 PM
Well, I am sure anyone who makes a documentary about life in the 19th century also was born long after, and will have to base their facts on what they can look up through existing sources. For that matter the computer documentaries could be made by 60 year olds who completely ignored computers until ten years ago, so one's age has relatively little to do with it unless a person acts like an expert with first hand knowledge.

Well, I am sure that people who make documentaries about life in the 19th century who were born long after also get lots of facts wrong. If you weren't there and didn't experience what something was actually like, it's easy to get it wrong.

Even a 60 year old who completely ignored computers would have had more exposure to them and their era (things that were happening at that time) than someone who didn't even exist back then.

carlsson
January 28th, 2010, 02:04 PM
Dunno. Ask my mother. She is 65 years old this year. Me and my brother grew up with VIC-20 and C64, me later on Amigas. Still she probably would not know a single thing about it, doubt she even knows the colours of the start up screen. Sure I could teach her or she could read up, but then it is all a matter which sources she uses.

I agree the Commodore 64 was a great home computer, a lot of value for money. Still I don't see it as any major breakthrough in computer history, unless you can prove a lot of people would not have bought a computer at all if it had not existed. From a business perspective, I must admit both Apple and even more IBM play the leading roles of the 1980's. Although there was a number of decent business software packages for the C64, it would mostly be looked down upon as an advanced game computer by companies back then. Perhaps if it had come with a built-in, high definition 80 column text mode but still at the same price things would have turned out differently.

Mr.Amiga500
January 28th, 2010, 02:21 PM
Dunno. Ask my mother. She is 65 years old this year. Me and my brother grew up with VIC-20 and C64, me later on Amigas. Still she probably would not know a single thing about it, doubt she even knows the colours of the start up screen. Sure I could teach her or she could read up, but then it is all a matter which sources she uses.

You have a point there. I wouldn't trust any computer documentary made by a 65 year-old woman. ;)

Chuck(G)
January 28th, 2010, 02:37 PM
I used to have a Commodore Watch (got it at Mr. Calculator in San Jose) and a good friend of mine (half of a set of twins) programmed Commodore's first scientific calculator (her sister worked at GE and developed the "Jello" microwave oven test). This was before the Pet.

My point being that most documentary makers, unless they were around, tend to have tunnel vision.

Fallo
January 28th, 2010, 03:47 PM
The History Channel nowadays isn't good for much of anything. It's largely devolved into tabloid programming and bad reality shows.

Most computer histories are almost 100% Apple, IBM, and Microsoft centered. One example was "Fire in the Valley", an otherwise decent book that largely brushed over Commodore, Tandy, Atari, and other major names of that time.

SUCCESS
January 30th, 2010, 01:41 PM
By MOS, I mean the CBM company that made the integration and the logic design
Motorola"s pirces were a lie. The could make a best effort, but they were alone . in mid seventies.
But, when the competitors appeared ... the things changed.
Freescale cannot lie prices anymore. Texas and Microchip Tech are very competitive, and excelent value

I"m using a UC that uses a 8051 core, with 5MIPS, 64KB flash, 7KB ram, LCD drivers, 56DIO, two UARTS, 2 ADC imputs
and tons of features. This chip cost only 1.3 dollar.
It"s made by a known brand, as not as big as Motorola ... try to find an equiv Freescale part and tell me the price
THe twice, as cheap. I mean, they can make a best effort ..... and they could in the 70"s ....
Perhaps 25 dollar for a MOS6502 was very cheap but not cheap enough to drive MOS to the bankruptcy ..


Note that I said "MOS Technology" (capitalized), as in the company that brought out the 6502, not the generic term. There probably would have been an Apple and a C64/VIC or whatever without them, but they wouldn't have used the 6502. Maybe the 6800? (The original Apple I could use one).

I suspect that the $25 show offer was a move of desperation from MOS Technology--they had been sued by Motorola and the whole operation was likely to collapse if they couldn't get market share. Two years later at Wescon, National Semi was handing out free PACE chips, complete with manuals. Didn't do them a bit of good--I tried to get a TMS9900 at the same show and couldn't.

geoffm3
February 8th, 2010, 01:01 PM
I agree the Commodore 64 was a great home computer, a lot of value for money. Still I don't see it as any major breakthrough in computer history, unless you can prove a lot of people would not have bought a computer at all if it had not existed. From a business perspective, I must admit both Apple and even more IBM play the leading roles of the 1980's. Although there was a number of decent business software packages for the C64, it would mostly be looked down upon as an advanced game computer by companies back then. Perhaps if it had come with a built-in, high definition 80 column text mode but still at the same price things would have turned out differently.

Well, they did sell 21 million of the things. That reason alone makes the C-64 a major player rather than a footnote in computing history.

I agree for the most part that the Commodore 64 wasn't particularly groundbreaking.... with the exception of the SID chip. The guys that designed that later went on to start Ensoniq and that formed the basis of a lot of sound tech in computers. Definitely the most capable sound synthesizer put into a computer for a number of years.

Chuck(G)
February 8th, 2010, 01:43 PM
By MOS, I mean the CBM company that made the integration and the logic design
Motorola"s pirces were a lie. The could make a best effort, but they were alone . in mid seventies.
But, when the competitors appeared ... the things changed.
Freescale cannot lie prices anymore. Texas and Microchip Tech are very competitive, and excelent value.

I'm having a little difficulty following your line of reasoning, but here goes. MOS Technology was not purchased by CBM until they'd fallen on hard times--and it didn't take them long with their pricing. ISTR that CBM bought MOS Tech around 1976 (the 6502 came out in 1975).

Pricing isn't a matter "lying" or "telling the truth". If it were just a matter similar to selling turnips (Price = Cost of goods + Profit), we'd have thousands of successful semiconductor firms. The problem is that you have to build in enough profit so that you can fund future development--and reworking a fab is very expensive--without impacting your sales. MOS Technology severely missed that mark and priced their product too low. While they could make a small profit, they couldn't advance production and R&D to bring out a future competitive product. Add to that the collapse of the domestic market for calculators and watches and the combination was lethal.


I"m using a UC that uses a 8051 core, with 5MIPS, 64KB flash, 7KB ram, LCD drivers, 56DIO, two UARTS, 2 ADC imputs and tons of features. This chip cost only 1.3 dollar.
It"s made by a known brand, as not as big as Motorola ... try to find an equiv Freescale part and tell me the price
THe twice, as cheap. I mean, they can make a best effort ..... and they could in the 70"s ....
Perhaps 25 dollar for a MOS6502 was very cheap but not cheap enough to drive MOS to the bankruptcy ..

No, the basic engineering on your 8051 was done in the early 80's by Intel. Freescale has its own problems not related to pricing or technical issues. It was the target of an LBO by Blackstone and so has a huge debt burden, which affects their ability to raise further capital for R&D. Freescale is actually beating market expectations.

Target markets are another thing. Freescale appears to be concentrating on high-end applications, which your little 8051 chip can't touch.

Kludgy
February 8th, 2010, 04:22 PM
Dunno. Ask my mother. She is 65 years old this year. Me and my brother grew up with VIC-20 and C64, me later on Amigas. Still she probably would not know a single thing about it, doubt she even knows the colours of the start up screen. Sure I could teach her or she could read up, but then it is all a matter which sources she uses.

I agree the Commodore 64 was a great home computer, a lot of value for money. Still I don't see it as any major breakthrough in computer history, unless you can prove a lot of people would not have bought a computer at all if it had not existed. From a business perspective, I must admit both Apple and even more IBM play the leading roles of the 1980's. Although there was a number of decent business software packages for the C64, it would mostly be looked down upon as an advanced game computer by companies back then. Perhaps if it had come with a built-in, high definition 80 column text mode but still at the same price things would have turned out differently.

Don't be too quick to dismiss. We are now entering an age where the first IT workers are retiring! That has all sorts of interesting historical implications; many of our elders know a great deal that will be lost. I'm not saying that computers are the most important seed of history; WWII was horrible but it was also the kick in the pants for a lot of tech we now take for granted. You can trace the acceleration of computing technology back to this point.

The C64 is at least a very interesting study in aggressive competition and the burden of a market that takes on a life of its own. Tramiel was extremely aggressive, and this combined with the chip fab capabilities of mos and cbm to make him ideal for spearheading the early home computers at a minimal cost. The engineers were capable of holding their own while very quickly banging out designs. But Tramiel was no creative or farsighted genius-- something that becomes clear if you have the opportunity to talk with the original engineers. Overshadowing the C64 success was a thorn in the company's side for a long time.

carlsson
February 8th, 2010, 10:01 PM
Well, there is a big difference between someone in general who is old enough to have lived through the days of 8-bit computers and someone who was working in the computer industry at that time. If I recall correctly, there was a quote that anyone old enough to possibly remember the computers from yesteryear would be more trustworthy than a young person who just recently read up on computer history.

I am sure there are a lot of topics where we have a few major sellers that yet don't quite make up its industry's history. Look at the Volkswagen Beetle, 1100 series or so if I recall correctly. It might be the car that was in production for the longest time, mostly unchanged from late 1940's to early 1990's at least - can't be bothered to look up exact details. Yet in a documentary about car history and evolution, I think it would not play a major role. Perhaps it would get mentioned as the car the allied troops didn't believe in, and let the Germans produce it themselves. I am not saying the Commodore 64 is the VW Beetle of computing, just trying to make an example.

Kludgy
February 9th, 2010, 12:56 AM
This is true. I was born in '77, and what makes me feel old is that the birth of the home computer industry coincides pretty closely with my own birth-- going on some 35 years now. The time since the war and henceforth automobiles for the masses, commercial airline flights, etc., can scarcely be more than twice that. Wow.

To bring this back on topic, as museum pieces the dense proprietary Commodore 64 design, and much more so the Amiga + OS design pairings, are very important. A hobbyist will be able to rebuild a working Apple II out of stock parts for many years to come, but the C64 and Ami mark a turning point in proprietary chip fab, integrated design and miniaturization that cannot be naively reproduced. The designs that made these popular will also make them very hard to keep on into the future now that the home computer war is lost. At least the 64 has a firmer hold in history than the ami.

carlsson
February 9th, 2010, 01:27 AM
Out of curiosity, I went to the History Channel website. They have uploaded some short clips, but neither of those seems to match the episode discussed here. The longest clip is just over four minutes of which 3.5 minutes describe the history of computing from Blaise Pascal to the 1960's, only with short glimpses of modern personal computers so that can't be it. Probably it is an episode not available from the homepage. I haven't checked other video sites though.

Quite possibly this article could be relevant, although it doesn't seem to be written by folks at the History Channel. Of course if anyone producing a documentary based it on IBM, Apple, Compaq, Microsoft and a bit of UNIX, there would not be any room for Commodores. ;-)
http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=219014

Chuck(G)
February 9th, 2010, 08:06 AM
A hobbyist will be able to rebuild a working Apple II out of stock parts for many years to come, but the C64 and Ami mark a turning point in proprietary chip fab, integrated design and miniaturization that cannot be naively reproduced. The designs that made these popular will also make them very hard to keep on into the future now that the home computer war is lost. At least the 64 has a firmer hold in history than the ami.

The proprietary chip design was going on in the mainframe world long before CBM got around to it. Even in such stuff as terminals, custom gate arrays had found a home (custom logic ICs go back to the 1960s). What custom logic needs to be practical is volume--and the C64 and like were able to get it. Indeed, there's even custom logic in the IBM 5150 (take a look at the floppy controller board and IBM's hybrid ICs).

Nowadays, however, one can roll one's own custom logic thanks to FPGA and CPLD technology. Even the SID may eventually give way to duplication with mixed-signal FPGAs becoming more common. What's lacking are the original design documents.

Kludgy
February 9th, 2010, 09:18 AM
Good perspective. I am resonating with a later period.

SUCCESS
February 13th, 2010, 12:44 PM
I'm having a little difficulty following your line of reasoning, but here goes. MOS Technology was not purchased by CBM until they'd fallen on hard times--and it didn't take them long with their pricing. ISTR that CBM bought MOS Tech around 1976 (the 6502 came out in 1975).

Pricing isn't a matter "lying" or "telling the truth". If it were just a matter similar to selling turnips (Price = Cost of goods + Profit), we'd have thousands of successful semiconductor firms. The problem is that you have to build in enough profit so that you can fund future development--and reworking a fab is very expensive--without impacting your sales. MOS Technology severely missed that mark and priced their product too low. While they could make a small profit, they couldn't advance production and R&D to bring out a future competitive product. Add to that the collapse of the domestic market for calculators and watches and the combination was lethal.



No, the basic engineering on your 8051 was done in the early 80's by Intel. Freescale has its own problems not related to pricing or technical issues. It was the target of an LBO by Blackstone and so has a huge debt burden, which affects their ability to raise further capital for R&D. Freescale is actually beating market expectations.

Target markets are another thing. Freescale appears to be concentrating on high-end applications, which your little 8051 chip can't touch.

AJAAJAJAJ. I've never said that an 8051 core is likely to beat a 32 Bit Power PC or an automotive MCP555 with 2 TPUS.
But the 8051 I'm using is one instruction per cicle (80515). It's the improved Intel classic.
The MIPS througthput is superb for an 8 bit micro. And most embeed applications fits (at least have fitted) in 8 bit micros.
That's what I'm talking, and where the biggest portfolio is offered. I've worked in embeed apps and never seen a system using a 32 bit procesor/micro. So ... I don't know if working on high end micros is profiteable for a silicon company at that moment and thinking in the embeed market, of course. Computing is completely different thing.
I've used Freescale 8bit, Silabs 8bit, Microchip 14,16 and 18F and even the 32 bit MCP555 from freescale. Also with an ARM7 core from Atmel. Let me say that many people hate Freescale because it keeps discontinuing parts, turning old designs in sh*t.
If you wrote an app, you need to migrate to the modern equiv part. And they are not in the pole position rigth now ....
The new extreme low power micros are the trend ... and Texas started two years before its competitors ... Again, this are not high end micros

Perhaps your are rigth with MOS, that the low price caused a long term financial break ... Thinking in that way makes sense ... but still think that Motorola 6800 price was driven by it's market hegemony during the first time .. until other competitors started to appear.

Chuck(G)
February 13th, 2010, 01:32 PM
The new extreme low power micros are the trend ... and Texas started two years before its competitors ... Again, this are not high end micros

If you're talking about the MSP430, yes, it's a friendly architecture, but the von Neumann model puts it at a distinct disadvantage with a 16-bit address space. I can address 65K of RAM with an AVR and still have a pile of program space. All of this may be neither here nor there. I suspect that the ARM Cortex M0 designs will eventually take over where PICs and AVRs now live.


Perhaps your are rigth with MOS, that the low price caused a long term financial break ... Thinking in that way makes sense ... but still think that Motorola 6800 price was driven by it's market hegemony during the first time .. until other competitors started to appear.

The 6800 was never more than an also-ran. It would have died much earlier if it weren't for its microcontroller incarnations like the 68HC11.

mark66j
April 12th, 2010, 04:43 PM
I'm a software developer and did my first real programming (not counting one college course) on a C64, and I've met quite a few other programmers who cut their teeth there, too.

People often forget that the Apple II and the early PC were relatively expensive machines when they came out, more than many of us could afford. Commodore also had better technology in many ways, for instance the ease of connecting peripherals compared to the jumble of interfaces on the early PC.

I think one reason Commodore gets short shrift is that Jack Tramiel made a lot of enemies over the years...

MikeS
April 12th, 2010, 05:12 PM
I'm a software developer and did my first real programming (not counting one college course) on a C64, and I've met quite a few other programmers who cut their teeth there, too.

People often forget that the Apple II and the early PC were relatively expensive machines when they came out, more than many of us could afford. Commodore also had better technology in many ways, for instance the ease of connecting peripherals compared to the jumble of interfaces on the early PC.

I think one reason Commodore gets short shrift is that Jack Tramiel made a lot of enemies over the years......And IBM and Apple are the only ones still around with money to spend supporting TV programs...

They probably used the 64 because it was easier to find a working one than an old PC or Apple.