personal history of personal computers

Fred Cisin cisin at
Mon Jan 4 13:35:15 CST 2021

On Mon, 4 Jan 2021, Liam Proven via cctalk wrote:
> I suppose that the 68K only trickled down to the home/consumer market
> after about 5 years. The original Mac was circa $2.5K and the Lisa was
> around $10K -- *not* home computer prices for most people, even in the
> USA.

And yet, . . .
I remember an Apple Lisa ad that showed a toddler playing with it on the 
living room rug.  (Probably rolling the mouse around and making "VROOM! 
VROOM!" noises, pretending that it was a car)
Similar ads for Macintosh and IBM PC.
The marketing people TRIED to portray them as home computers.
You can place an infant on a Cray Couch; that still doesn't make that a 
home computer.

YES, a fully loaded IBM PC, complete with buying a full suite of software 
from IBM WAS comparable in price to a complete Macintosh.   However, the 
ENTRY point was lower.  You could buy a minimal machine and expand it 
My first TRS-80 was $400, because I used my own monitor and cassette.  And 
then later, my own disk drives.
My first 5150 was less than $1500, because I used my own monitor, memory, 
disk drives, and printer.

Segmented memory was a kludge, and not the only kludge.  Remember that a 
DMA transfer could not straddle a 64K boundary!  Many programs, even 
MS-DOS, failed to take that into account adequately!  It was not hard to 
handle that particular one - just test for it, and rearrange your larger 
data structures accordingly.

BUT, by building through a series of kludges, it was truly trivial to port 
software as the machines progressed.  At time of release, IBM had 
pre-planned to have VisiCalc and Easy-Writer.
Porting Wordstar to the PC was fast and easy; it took them longer to edit 
the documentation (using a word processor?).
Porting SuperCalc (a major VisiClone) was very quick.

The opposite approach, of NO KLUDGES, resulted in much better product. 
But, it took longer, AND, it meant a serious delay for software, since 
any low-level software would then also need to be rewritten from scratch. 
To avoid the PR nightmare of a machine with no software, Apple decided 
that when the Macintosh would be released, it would come with four 
significant software packages.  It ended up being scaled back to the four 
being Mac-Write, Mac-Paint, Mac-Write, and Mac-Paint.  But, it came with 
some usable software. 
It took a long time before after-market software, even spreadsheets, were 
available for the Macintosh.

Grumpy Ol' Fred     		cisin at

More information about the cctalk mailing list