Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss
Atari was fundamentally a game console company. Commodore was essentially a pocket calculator company. Apple was not taken seriously by business people. Texas Instruments? Radio Shack? Don't make me laugh. Even by the standards of the day, these were pretty sad efforts, mostly directed at hobbyists.
These were all competing computing platforms with significant sales in the personal computing
market. if you're going to discount the home market then you might as well ignore Apple even today. The number of enterprise deployments of the Mac are tiny.
IBM did consider this home market significant and competed with the PC Jr.
That you discount Commodore as a "pocket calculator company" highlights your ignorance of computing in the 80s. They dominated the education market (PET). They were the first company to sell 1 million computers (VIC-20). The Commodore 64 is the best selling single computer model of all time.
TI was a major manufacturer of technology and the TI-99/4 was the first 16 bit computer. TI pioneered the plug and play architecture in PCs.
The TRS-80 was a successful small business (and home) computer. The Model 16 launched in 1982 ran Xenix (Unix...from Microsoft) in addition to TRSDOS ad handled a lot of accounting and other business needs. Visicalc, Multiplan (spreadsheet) and custom COBOL business apps were popular apps. It also ran databases and eventually Informix offered a real RDBMS for that platform. I actually learned Z80 assembly on the TRS-80 Model III.
Their laptops were popular too with folks that needed to write on the road. Journalists liked them and they did well against other IBM/MS-DOS based portables of the period. Here's the specs:http://www.trs-80.com/wordpress/trs-...ine/model-200/
Not a shabby set of business apps built into ROM.
These factors seriously limited the appeal of the computer products they made beyond casual home use.
These computers were not inferior to the PC in capability and many surpassed the PC in compute power. In fact the TRS-80 was
a successful small business computer.
When "big blue" came out with a desktop computer, that was an automatic game changer. The maxim that "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" wasn't coined for nothing. Unfortunately for IBM, they lost control of the hardware platform and had farmed out the operating system, which left them holding a bag full of air.
Microsoft never designed to "decouple" anything. Dominance was handed to them on a silver platter because of blunders made by IBM. Had this not occurred, the personal computer industry, which was just taking its toddling steps during the early '80s, could have evolved into a far more competitive market. Instead, it was dominated.
Again false. Gates deliberately did not transfer copyright to IBM and structured the relationship that way. IBM lost control of the hardware not due to a "blunder" but because clean room reverse engineering of functionality (in this case BIOS) is legal and because Gates, as part of the very inexpensive licensing to IBM, retained rights to sell DOS to other companies. With the clean-room BIOS there were lots of companies without the requirement to port that OS although he did sell MS DOS to a bunch of clone makers that were MS-DOS compatible (as opposed to IBM PC compatible). Sanyo was one of these and I worked at a store that sold those.
Gates was proactive in retaining these rights. It may have been a "blunder" on IBM's part to do so but it was one "blunder" that Gates instigated.
The market was very competitive given that IBM DID lose control through all the clones. Had IBM retained control computers would have remained expensive (in the $3K range) and locked into single vendors that used vertical integration. Instead we had clones from Xerox, HP, Digital, Sanyo, TI, Tulip, Wang, Olivetti running MS-DOS.
(As a note, the TRS-80 Model 16 and Tandy 6000 were not cheap. About $5K)
But that's not really the meat of it. The important question is whether your "balkanization" argument makes any sense. I am arguing that it doesn't make any more sense for the technology market than it does for any other market, where we count on competition to drive innovation and lower prices. How many operating systems and hardware designs do we have for cell phones today? Would you argue that we'd have been better off with just one? That one design would drive innovation faster and prices lower?
The cell phone OS was dominated by Symbian. 72% as late as 2007. The difference was that the major symbian variants were largely incompatible with each other. This lead to a lot of issues with software development and why folks today talk about Android fragmentation.
If domination cannot move technology forward pray tell why the closed ecosystem of the iPhone OS is so successful in driving app innovation? Multiple OS and hardware designs tends to retard software advances because it takes away critical mass and productivity in maintaining ports for all the different platforms. At least half the technological innovation occurs on the software side of the equation (if not more).
You don't understand balkanization because you don't understand the unix market that preceded the PC market (or evidently the PC market itself) These were all "unix" systems and mostly incompatible with each other despite interoperability "standards". There was a distinct reason for companies to do this: vendor lock in. With an installed base of very expensive software designed to run on one platform it was cost prohibitive to move from SunOS to HPUX or AIX. In theory you could simply recompile for the other unix os. In practice it was a royal pain in the ass.
Moving from one hardware architecture to another also meant you lost many of those expensive peripherals that didn't work on competitor systems due to interface mechanisms.
Using your arguments the Unix market should have been far more successful than the PC market, especially in business, because of all the "competition". The exact opposite was the case despite product lines from big iron down to personal workstations. Despite the fact that business critical software ran on those systems.
Microsoft should have completely failed in entering the server market against such tough competition. It did not. Instead SGI is gone, AIX and HPUX nearly abandonware (in favor of linux) and Sun sold to Oracle. Today the most successful unix of all time is OSX.
Why? Because these vendors were still using the vertical integration model and charging a huge amount of money for everything. Sun NEVER should have allowed MS entry into the low end server market but because they elected to charge $700+ for SolarisX86 during those critical years where NT Server was trying to gain traction they allowed MS into the server rooms using commodity hardware. Hardware they were not locked into by Sun, HP, IBM, or SGI. They could easily source hardware from Dell, Compaq or whomever whenever they wanted to make a switch and keep their installed base.
Apple is hugely successful today but only with a business strategy of catering to the upper end of the market. Even as successful as it is, it will never command very large market share because it simply cannot at the price points it needs to be profitable.
I say, good luck with that argument. It is completely counterintuitive, and it's not supported by the history of any product, let alone computers.
Your lack of knowledge of computer history is not the same as that history not occurring. Other than handwaving, you haven't provided any supporting evidence that your position is correct and mine is as impossible as you state.
Not one of your "facts" were correct about early personal computing history.