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View Full Version : MS-DOS, Centrino, what's next?



NathanAllan
December 9th, 2003, 09:56 AM
I was talking with a coworker the other day about how micro$oft took and made a winner an inferior machine, namely pc-based dos boxes while there was superior thing sout there, like Commodore, Amiga, etc. At the time I remember people have=ing their Atari computers, their Commodores and thinking, "Why the heck would anyone want a 286?" Since the graphics were yech, and their capabilites were for advanced programmers, while all I had to do was stick in a cartridge/disk/chip into my Atari/Commodore/Tandy. I have known lots of people, even a friend of mine has an Atari 520ST wioth 128 MEGS of ram (no, not Kilobytes). Trips me out. Anyway. MS took that inferior product and made what we know now.

Now here comes Centrino. There are things out that are better. LinkSys and others 802.11b wireless networking was already out when it came along, and all the reports I saw say that Centrino was not as good as those. I have no wireless anything but a remote to my VCR and I like it that way. But the rest of the technological world sees things differently, I know. So Centrino is not dead, but it is not suffereing either. Are we having a historical repeat here or is it just me?? Somebody please update me if I am wrong.

Nathan

Unknown_K
December 9th, 2003, 12:26 PM
The PC platform wasnt inferior in 1 important aspect. Everything about it was standard off the shelf parts that anybody could design software and hardware for. While closed systems can be technically better then an open system at any given point it costs alot to stay ahead in the long run compared to 1000's of companies improving the open standard. Atari, ti, commodore, and apple couldnt keep up and either went out of buisiness or adopted the hardware of the PC.

Erik
December 9th, 2003, 12:28 PM
It's probably another repeat of old history but it may be too early to tell.

The bottom line is and always has been the bottom line. Superior technology doesn't always make it and sometimes the blandest stuff does. There's often no telling what people will buy or what marketers will be more successful at selling.

Look at the Beta versus VHS situation as an example.

Erik

Thomas Hillebrandt
December 13th, 2003, 01:15 PM
The PC platform wasnt inferior in 1 important aspect. Everything about it was standard off the shelf parts that anybody could design software and hardware for.

This seems to me to be a modifiably truth. True, the IBM PC was expandable, and eventually was open. But it seems that wasn't so for the beginning. Even IBM couldn't make proper IBM-compatible stuff! At least, that's what I've understood - my experience on the field is somewhat lacking.

I think the fact that it was IBM, contributed by Billy's software, made it a thing to be reckoned with for sufficiently long for it to become the standard.

CP/M User
December 21st, 2003, 12:40 AM
Just studying the Subject line, I thought that
perhaps the El Crapo will follow, but I feel
that it already has! ;-)

Cheers.

CP/M User
December 21st, 2003, 12:43 AM
"Erik" wrote in message:

> Look at the Beta versus VHS situation as an example.

My familys first VHS VCR was back in 1983, when
it costed us some $799 to have. A cordless remote
was an extra 100 bucks. At the time, I believe that
Beta's were about $1500! ;-)

Cheers.

Unknown_K
December 21st, 2003, 08:12 AM
The problem with VHS over BETA wasnt quality of recording it was recording time. BETA tapes were 1 hr long max while CHS could do 2 hrs. So you couldnt fit a movie on BETA while you could on VHS. VHS ended up being the standard at movie rentals because of this problem.

CP/M User
December 21st, 2003, 11:56 AM
"Unknown_K" wrote in message:

> The problem with VHS over BETA wasnt
> quality of recording it was recording
> time. BETA tapes were 1 hr long max
> while VHS could do 2 hrs. So you couldnt
> fit a movie on BETA while you could on
> VHS. VHS ended up being the standard
> at movie rentals because of this
> problem.

Perhaps in the early stages of BETA, but I
don't agree to that statement fully. One of
the very few BETA tapes I actually saw,
was a BETA tape of the James Bond movie
'Never Say Never Again' which if you know
your movies, is quite long! ;-)

Cheers.

Unknown_K
December 21st, 2003, 12:02 PM
Well VHS had tape later on that would do 2,4,6,8 hours with special modes and tapes, but these were not available during the first few years. The same with BETA tapes. Technology evolves, just because I have a 3.2gb laptop drive in my Amiga 1200 now doesnt mean one was available during its launch.

NathanAllan
December 22nd, 2003, 09:39 AM
I recall one thing about beta, that Sony patented it and expected people to pay royalties. This is from an old memory, but it ocurred to me after I posted and read. I would like to see where beta would have gone.

That brings me to think of the C-One commodore computer ("clone" comes to mind but it doesn't fit the perameters). It's a redesigned c64, but wouldn't computer evolution all gone in the same direction? A graphical user interface that a dummy could use? I like the thing, and am gonna get one when I can, but I think that the true development that would have gone on might have gone a different route.

Nathan

Unknown_K
December 22nd, 2003, 09:44 AM
The C64-C model came with geos in the box (a GUI) it just makes sense to use a GUI on a computer

CP/M User
December 22nd, 2003, 01:16 PM
"Unknown_K" wrote in message:

> Well VHS had tape later on that would
> do 2,4,6,8 hours with special modes
> and tapes, but these were not available
> during the first few years.

When we got our first VCR in 1983, there
was 3 hr tapes (the 180s), however that
was the most you could go for that time
I think. 4 hr tapes came in a few years
down the track & I even recall seeing a
5 hr tape, but I don't think the 5 hr tape
was all that successful since the tape
stretched & broke.

> The same with BETA tapes. Technology
> evolves, just because I have a 3.2gb
> laptop drive in my Amiga 1200 now
> doesnt mean one was available during
> its launch.

My point which you seemed to have
missed was directing towards how long
the BETA was in competition. If I recall
correctly, it wasn't in competition for
very long (a few years perhaps). It's
possible that technologies could have
advanced enough to the point where
movies were one of the products on
them, but I seem to recall around the
time we got our first VCR, there being
a number of BETA videos floating
around (since we were told to only
look out for the movies with VHS
stamped on the side! ;-).

But of course, you could even be
talking about when the BETA's first hit
the shelves, which I have no
knowledge, if you do know if it was
much earlier than 1983, then please
say so! :-)

Cheers.

CP/M User
December 22nd, 2003, 01:26 PM
"NathanAllan" wrote in message:

> I recall one thing about beta, that Sony patented
> it and expected people to pay royalties. This is
> from an old memory, but it ocurred to me after
> I posted and read. I would like to see where beta
> would have gone.

Only trouble with that is there have been many
interesting technologies, which we could all say
the same stuff about. Trouble is, it's like a TV show,
there maybe some good show you like, but the
channels scrap it because everybody else hates it,
in some cases being an Aussie, they show a great
deal of American stuff on commercial TV, but if the
Americans hate it, then they scrap it there & we
see no more of it! Technologies have to win the
way with the public & if it doesn't it's scrap for
whatever's left dominating the market.

Cassettes is one which I'm amazed is still going,
for recording material there great, cause I just
get the best Cassettes, but for commerical stuff
it's better just getting CDs, as record companys
who still put their material on tapes, it's just gone
down in sound quality Vs a CD.

Cheers.

Unknown_K
December 22nd, 2003, 01:28 PM
AFU White Paper: The Decline and Fall of Betamax

The story of Sony's Betamax (TM) format is not an isolated one, but it is instructive. It is also surrounded by legend and myth, so a closer look at it might be useful.

Getting To the Table

The story begins long before 1974, when the technology to record video data on magnetic tape was maturing. By itself, it doesn't sound like a daunting task, until the sheer volume of data is considered. There is a practical limit to the speed with which magnetic tape can be transported past the read/write heads of a record/playback machine; this limit was overcome almost a decade before Sony's home market debut by designing a head that turned past the tape, and wrote it's information on the tape at an angle.

If you've ever peered inside your VCR and wondered why that silvery cylinder back in there wasn't sitting straight, you know now that the basic technology hasn't changed in thirty years.

By the 1970s there were several Japanese industry giants poised to deliver home video taping equipment. These machines had to be orders of magnitude more reliable than the clumsy existing professional machines, and Sony was the first to consider their efforts market ready. According to James Lardner, author of _Fast Forward_ (New American Library), Sony invited Matsushita and JVC to license the Betamax technology in December 1974. [1]

Sony's Morita was apparently not aware that JVC was almost ready to market their own machine, so may have come as a rude surprise to him when JVC and Matsushita declined the offer. JVC believed it had a better product, and didn't see that the Betamax offered anything new. Moreover, Sony's overbearing attitude in this meeting may have made a definite impression on JVC's engineers.

Upping the Ante

In any case, for a year Sony had the VCR market to itself, selling 30,000 Betamax VCRs in the US. [2] But when JVC came out with the VHS format VCR in 1976, the stage was set for the format wars. JVC had a machine that already doubled Sony's recording time of one hour, and that difference would prove crucial.

By January 1977, JVC was joined by four more Japanese electronics manufacturers to build and market VHS format VCRs. Then, in February, Sony abandoned its long-standing policy against OEM deals and joined forces with Zenith.

Matsushita struck back by attempting to recruit RCA. RCA indicated that the VHS recording limit of two hours should be increased to three or four, and six weeks later, a prototype was ready. In March RCA joined the VHS camp.

Bidding for the Customer

While price later was less of a factor, in 1977 the VHS manufacturers, led by Matsushita, got into the trenches. VCR prices dropped as they became cheaper to make. RCA led by dropping prices $300 below the Sony machine, which caused an avalanche of follow-on price cutting. Eventually even Sony was forced to drop its price by $200. By 1982 the price war was in full swing, and Sony was offering a $50 dollar rebate as a "Home Improvement Grant." [6]

The comments from the sidelines were fairly equinamous. In September 1977, the Saturday Review declared that "Eventually, the public learned to live with two record speeds [33 1/3 and 45 rpm], and doubtless it will also resign itself to two videotape systems."

If nothing else, these comments showed that industry observers themselves hadn't a clue about the technology involved in the VCR.

An Unexpected Joker

Few bits of USAn history are complete without involving lawyers. In 1979, a suit brought against Sony by Universal Studios and Disney was getting into final arguments. At stake was the question if manufacturers of VCRs were infringing on the copyrights of producers of movies and TV programs.

The suit, which named only Sony, eventually left Universal and Disney with no recourse except to consider how to make money from the new technology. Sales of VCRs were apparently unaffected by talk of the legal procedings.

However, even as late as September 1980, the word "Betamax" was used by many as synonymous with "VCR." [3] It is possible that the court case had consequences on Sony's marketing that have never been considered. This is particularly notable when combined with the fact that Sony's share of the VCR market had sunk to 19.1% in 1978, compared to RCA's share of almost twice that at 36%.

Who's Stuck With the Old Maid?

As Sony's market share declined, the manufacturers of prerecorded VCR tapes began to adjust their product lines. Already in January, 1981, Betamax format VCRs accounted for merely 25% of the entire market, and consumers were being warned that the selection for VHS would be "slightly broader." [4]

The Finessed King

Technologically, the two formats were each other's equal. True, except for the recording length, Sony pioneered most of the improvements over the years, but the VHS manufacturers caught up to each improvement, usually in less than a year. So, for instance, within a month of Sony's announcement of Beta Hi-Fi, JVC and Panasonsic announced VHS Hi-Fi formats. Interestingly, the two VHS formats were incompatible with each other. [7]

Comparisons between VCRs with similar features showed no significant differences in performance. In fact, most of the differences could only be seen with sensitive instruments, and likely would never show up on most consumer grade television sets. [5] In particular, the qualitative differences between the two formats were less than the differences between any two samples from the same manufacturer. [8]

Cheap Tricks

Possibly because of Beta's unpopularity, Beta VCRs were much cheaper than similar VHS VCRs by the end of 1985. A Beta HiFi VCR could sell for half the price of a VHS Hi-Fi VCR in 1984 [9], and by the end of 1985 Betas were selling for under $300. [10]

The Fat Lady Sings

In 1987, Rolling Stone announced that "The battle is over." [11] On Jauary 10, 1988 Sony admitted to plans for a VHS line of VCRs. VHS players commanded 95% of the VCR market. [12]

In May 1988, Video magazine came out with an article entitled "Beta Survival Guide." [14] And in September Sony's first VHS recorders came off its assembly lines. [15] A year later, the Betamax share of the consumer VCR market had dropped to less than 1%. [16]

Today the format is still around. In 1994, Video magazine published another survival guide, explaining that the scarcity of blank Beta tapes has consumers buying up prerecorded tapes at fire sale prices, to record over them. [17]

Counting up the Points

Sony did not commit the sins ascribed to them by most of the pundits explaining the demise of Betamax.

Sony did not "refuse to license Betamax."
In its January 25 issue, Time explained that "While at first Sony kept its Beta technology mostly to itself, JVC, the Japanese inventor of VHS, shared its secret with a raft of other firms." [13] This is blatantly untrue. While Sony was decidedly behind in the licensing of its technology, it tried from the very beginning to sign on other manufacturers to the Beta standard.

2) Betamax was not too expensive.

Consumers buying a new VCR saw only minor pricing differences between the two formats. Those looking for the latest technology could apparently find Betamax machines for much less than comparable VHS machines. (Interestingly, one article [8] that makes this statement actually compares two machines where the VHS version is $600 dollars cheaper than the Betamax machine. Possibly the technophile streak that appears to be the curse of many Betamax afficionadoes influences buying decisions much more than price.)

3) There was no shortage of prerecorded Beta tapes

This at least was true initially. Only once the Betamax share had declined well below the VHS share, did prerecorded tape manufacturers try to decrease their inventories.

4) The Universal and Disney's suit against Sony had no determinable effect on Sony's standing in the VCR market. However, this issue is less than clearcut.

Even Sony today agrees that the difference in recording length was the difference that layed Beta low. [17] The other factor appears to have been the one factor for which no company can control: pure luck.

References

[1] "The Format War," Video Magazine, April 1988, pp50-54+

[2] "Whatever Happened to Betamax?", Consumers' Research, May 1989, p 28

[3] "The Betamax Blues", New York, September 15, 1980, p 43

[4] "Beta/VHS What's the Difference", Video Today, January 1981, p A8

[5] "VHS Meets Beta", Popular Electronics, August 1981, p 43

[6] "Even Sony Can't Avoid the Price War in VCRs", Business Week, September 6, 1982, p 33-34

[7] "VHS Hi-Fi: JVC Answers Back", High Fidelity, September 1983, p 65

[8] Stereo Review, April 1984, p 66

[9] "Tape Format Face-Off", High Fidelity, September 1985, p 45

[10] "To the Beta End", Forbes, Dec 16, 1985, p 178

[11] "Format Wars", Rolling Stone, Ja 15, 1987, p 43

[12] "Sony Isn't Mourning the 'Death' of Betamax", Business Week, Ja 25, 1988, p 37

[13] "Goodbye Beta", Time, Ja 25 1988, p 52

[14] "Beta Survival Guide", Video, May 88, pp 45-48

[15] "Video News", Radio Electronics, Sep 88, p 6

[16] "Whatever Happened to Betamax", Consumers' Research, May 89, p 28

[17] "Desperately Seeking Beta", Video, Feb 1994, p 42-44+

CP/M User
December 22nd, 2003, 01:46 PM
"Unknown_K" posted VHS Vs Beta:

Thanks for posting that interesting story about the VHS & Beta.

Cheers.

Unknown_K
December 22nd, 2003, 02:41 PM
"Unknown_K" posted VHS Vs Beta:

Thanks for posting that interesting story about the VHS & Beta.

Cheers.

Its a cut and paste, but I found it interesting.

CP/M User
December 22nd, 2003, 07:08 PM
"Unknown_K" wrote:

> Thanks for posting that interesting
> story about the VHS & Beta.

> Its a cut and paste, but I found it
> interesting.

Yes I realised that you cut & pasted! :-)

BTW, do you know much about these Video
disc players. I found this book made from
around 1979-1980 called the Personal
Electronics Buyers guide. The Video Disc
players they talk about in that book seem
to be much different from the later
VideoCD which describes the media used
is like a vinyl record.

But it also has a picture and small
description about the Zenith VCR & a crude
setup using JCV gear! :-)

Cheers.

Unknown_K
December 22nd, 2003, 07:32 PM
I think your talking about laserdisks (LD) that were the size of vinyl records but work like a cd.

They came out in the late 1970's

Here is a link with a picture:
http://www.gizmohighway.com/pages/history/laserdisc.htm

CP/M User
December 22nd, 2003, 09:57 PM
"Unknown_K" wrote in message:

> I think your talking about laserdisks (LD) that
> were the size of vinyl records but work like a
> cd.

> They came out in the late 1970's

> Here is a link with a picture:

I guess it could be a form of laser disk, though
the one on that web site has more of a CD look
about it.

I also forgot to note that when this book I have
came out, there were a couple of versions, which
were incompatable with one another, but basically
did the same thing.

One of the different ones shows a picture of one a
transparent disk. Still quite large, but unlike the
Vinyl version, would look to have a laser reading
element to the system.

One of the common things shown, is that it all
looks to be an idea from Asia.

Cheers.

Erik
December 23rd, 2003, 05:52 AM
One of the common things shown, is that it all
looks to be an idea from Asia.

I'm not sure about this idea in particular but I'd be willing to bet that the initial idea is not asian at all.

Very few new ideas come out of Asia. Most come out of labs in the deep dark recesses of huge American companies that can't seem to figure out how to perfect or market them. . .

The Asians then take those ideas and turn them into products.

That's how it usually seems to happen, anyway.

Erik

carlsson
December 23rd, 2003, 08:46 AM
Remember the MSX home computers from the 80'ties? They were built around the same specs (video/sound/memory/Basic/cartridge etc) but almost every brand included a speciality of their own; e.g. Yamaha had a downsized DX-7 synthesizer on board while Sony thought a calendar was enough goodies.

Pioneer's MSX computer was prepared to connect a laser disk peripheral (the Karaoke Entertainment system?) which could be controlled by the computer. I don't know if it also had some genlocking ability to mix laser disk video with what the computer generated, but it'd been cool if it did.

CP/M User
December 23rd, 2003, 01:15 PM
"Erik" wrote in message:

>> One of the common things shown, is that it all
>> looks to be an idea from Asia.

> I'm not sure about this idea in particular but I'd
> be willing to bet that the initial idea is not asian
> at all.

Well yeah, if you take a look at the website, you'll
see that it's based on an idea done in the 1920s!

> Very few new ideas come out of Asia. Most
> come out of labs in the deep dark recesses of
> huge American companies that can't seem to
> figure out how to perfect or market them. . .

True, however they might of had the idea of
re-introducing the technology. Like I said the
original idea came in the 1920s from a bloke
named John Baird (scottish). He could have been
in the US at the time (but who knows?!)

> The Asians then take those ideas and turn
> them into products.

Ahhh yeeessss & they could have read &
researched this idea & came up with a modern
day version of it too! :-)

You'd be amazed at how many ideas us Aussies
have come up with, only to see this idea sold to
other countries which are making millions by
using our idea just because the Govt is too
stupid or is putting their money into the other
countries to perhaps go & live in some day!

> That's how it usually seems to happen,
> anyway.

Incidently, I wasn't referning to the Asians
comming up with this idea, after all I do know it
was created from somebody else from way
back, I was trying to say that perhaps they
brought the idea back & had more luck with it
than back in Bairds time! :-)

Cheers.