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Why so much Apple? Need a Commodore Fan's PoV

Eudimorphodon

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The IIc guy was the rich kid, wasn't he?

One of the things you do have to admire about Apple is they had an absolute genius for being able to charge premium prices for objectively the most stripped-down hardware. Going back to the disk drive subject, well, here's what's inside the disk drives for the three "Trinity" manufacturers:

Commodore PET 2040: A pair of modified Shugart (or compatible) mechanisms, two custom circuit boards, a motherboard with *TWO* 6502-related CPUs, RAM, an IEEE-488 interface... it's basically a complete computer "networked" to the host PET.

Tandy Mini-Disk drive: Completely bog-standard Shugart or compatible disk unit, packaged in a case with a power supply. The controller, provided with the purchase of the Expansion Interface, was an off-the-shelf WD 1771 reference design.

Apple Disk ][: An utterly stripped Shugart-compatible mechanism wrapped in metal. The incredibly simple host card inside the Apple drove the drive mechanism directly using minimal hardware and a blob of software running the host processor.

Commodore tended to solve problems by throwing massive amounts of silicon at them (which I guess they thought they could get away with because they owned MOS), Tandy just used whatever the "industry standard" parts were and bought them in bulk to save money, and Apple would bend over backwards writing arcane software in order to use the absolute minimum of silicon to get the job done. It's probably no wonder that it's Apple that survived instead of Commodore; in 1984 Apple got away with selling the IIc for $1295 while a C64 plus a disk drive (at around, what, $400 or so for a system unit and a 1541?) almost certainly should have been the more expensive of the two just going by how much silicon was inside. When you can get people to pay you three times the money for less actual product you must be doing *something* right...
 

Caluser2000

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Never had much exposure to earlier stuff but when I looking around for a computer in the late 80s for kids I settled on a second hand C64. Did this mainly because they seemed to, at the time, to be readily available complete with a couple of disk drives along with a printer at a reasonably price. You could still buy C64 titles and peripherals at one of our local computer shops into the early 90s. Some of the schools in this area had Apple ][s or Acorn machines in their "labs" with PC clones used in administrative duties.
 

Unknown_K

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The IIc guy was the rich kid, wasn't he?

He wasn't rich, parents divorced and living with his mother. But his father was well to do driving a Porche 911 back then owning his own company, and I assume purchased the computer for his son on Christmas.
 

Eudimorphodon

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Ah, yes, the highly coveted "I still love you son, I swear, and it's totally not your fault I left you and your mother and I'm going to spend more time with you soon, honest!" big-ticket Christmas present. Kids love those.
 

Tor

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The Apple II *may* have grabbed a disproportionate amount of "mind share" back in the day because it was possibly the most "interesting" of the original Trinity (it was color, after all, and the company had its great "out of the garage" story behind it) but even if people wanted the Apple II back in the beginning it's not what they bought.
No question there - but how much the various computers sold isn't really what it's about when it comes to Apple's place in history. Not really. I mean, the ZX80 and ZX81 sold to huge numbers, but I was never interested. I didn't want one of those at home, and I couldn't do anything useful with one at work. Sales numbers aren't that interesting in that sense (except that if the Apple II hadn't sold, then history _would_ have been different). When it comes to the TRS-80 though there's a different issue - it appears that many are not at all aware about the fact that so many were sold (although not in my part of the world, except for a few Color Computers). The Apple II is important because it did a lot of things right. It was not cheap, but that's not all there is to it.
 

Eudimorphodon

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Let's imagine an alternate history where instead of Steve Jobs being fired from Apple in 1985 the board had stuck with him, and through a series of increasingly erratic decisions and spectacular product flops Apple had gone out of business in 1990. (This was a real possibility; no one remembers it now, but the Macintosh introduction was actually turning into a disaster by 1985; if it wasn't for the revenue from the Apple II business the company would have been in serious trouble and they'd already weathered several previous public failures, like the Apple III debacle and the Lisa's tepid reception. Had Jobs stayed at the helm there's a real possibility that the "next Mac" would have been a mostly incompatible-with-the-original UNIX based machine and might have come so late that the decline in Apple II sales would have put them in the red before it hit the shelves.) Show of hands, who *really* thinks that the Apple II would be getting so much credit in the history books today?

The early days of personal computing were positively riddled with colorful characters and improbable origin stories. It's, uhm, nice that we have one company left today (besides Microsoft) that can directly trace its corporate ancestry to that period but seriously, it's pretty disappointing that all those other amazing stories are getting lost in favor of this lazy and inaccurate pop history that gives all this undo attention to a company that was for all practical purposes a bit player until 1982.
 

ashbash

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Never got this either, although I speculate it's because of it's legacy as one of the first companies starting the microcomputer trend of the late 70s/early 80s.

I do like Apple computers, but I much prefer Commodore - especially the C64 and Amiga.
 

deathshadow

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"that gives all this undo attention to a company that was for all practical purposes a bit player until 2001"

There, fixed.
 

billdeg

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Never got this either, although I speculate it's because of it's legacy as one of the first companies starting the microcomputer trend of the late 70s/early 80s.

I do like Apple computers, but I much prefer Commodore - especially the C64 and Amiga.

Allow me to kindly advise / correct....That's the stereotype and the underlying point made by the original poster, people today think that Apple had a lot more of an influence on the development of the personal computer than they really did. In this thread even, there are Apple people chiming in with the standard "why not more pod casts, Apple invented the computer after all, didn't it?"
 
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