1984

The year 1984 was one of the most eventful years in homecomputer history. Many computers were introduced in that year and a lot of computer manufacturers left the market because of fierce competition.

Apple Macintosh

On 9th January 1984 Apple introduced the second attempt to create a computer with a graphical environment: The Apple Macintosh which is even today a synonym for the user-friendly computer. A little 10" b/w display was integrated in the case together with a 3,5" disk drive. The Mac used the 68000 a 16/32 bit processor manufactured by Motorola. Although Steve Jobs was celebrated as the "father" of the Macintosh, he was not a great supporter of the machine.

The first ad for the product was quite legendary: a short film which was fitting to the "year of Orwell". Essentially, the Mac broke the rule of the almighty "big brother" in the ad spot. The ad, directed by Ridley "Blade Runner" Scott, was aired at the SuperBowl and won a couple of prizes.

Jack Tramiel leaves Commodore

On Friday the 1st January Jack Tramiel left Commodore after a heavy dispute with the main owner Irving Gould. He was paid with severall millions of dollars. Only a few days after him four top manager and later the C64 hardware designer Shiraz Shivji. Alwin Stumpf who made Commodore Germany successfull followed him along with some hardware designers.

Timex quits

(February) Sinclair had a partnership with Timex which allowed them to sell modified versions of Sinclair computers. Unfortunately, Timex was not very fast bringing Sinclair computers to the US market. Therefore their machines were always inferior compared to other computers. In an last attempt to gain market share, Timex developed a heavily modified ZX Spectrum, the TS2068, which had an advanced Basic and a 3 channel sound chip (which was also used in later revisions of the Spectrum). Timex never managed to make a QL clone and left the homecomputer market in 1984.

Jack Tramiel took over Atari

In the meantime another legend suffered from great losses. Atari who became one of the biggest growing US companies during the first videogame era lost millions every day. The founder Nolan Bushnell sold the company in 1982 to Warner Communications but the new owner was not very lucky in the home computer market. The Atari computers were not as successful as the C64 and dozens of prototypes which were never released costs much money. Although Atari was not a healthy company they still behaved like a successful company and had a great car park.

Atari was nearly history as Jack Tramiel decided to take over Atari. He defined business as war and he took his booting out quite personally. Therefore he "declared war" against Commodore and later, the rest of the computer world. After he bought Atari from Warner he fired most of the employees and expanded the hardware development section. The prices for the 8 bit computers were reduced which brought a short revival for the 800XL. The prototypes like the 3.5" XL disk drive and the expansion box were finally abandoned.

He realised that only a new generation of computers could beat the C64 and tried to buy the small company Amiga. But Commodore paid a higher price for the former videogame system so Tramiel gave the order to develop an Amiga without custom chips in just six months. The Atari ST was the result.

Oric Atmos

Tangerine Systems, der Hersteller des Einsteiger-Computers Oric, stellt den Nachfolger Oric Atmos im Januar vor. Dafür muß der Oric-1 jedoch weichen.

Commodore introduced new computers for beginners

So everyone tried to kick the C64 from it's throne and Commodore reacted by presenting new low-cost home computers. The two machines were called C264 and C364. After a long delay the C264 was available under the name Plus 4. Its little brother, the C16, was designed to be a replacement for the VC20. The computers had a difficult start: they were compared with the C64 and although they had a few advantages the disadvantages were more obvious: no sprites (movable objects used for games), a bad sound chip and a lack of software support. The Plus 4 featured one of the best keyboard a Commodore home computer ever had and there were even built-in software programs. But they weren't good enough to satisfy more experienced users. C16, C116 and the Plus 4 were soon given up by Commodore.

Bad year for journalists

Some computer journalists were having a bad year: both announced homecomputer standards weren't much of a danger for the established home computers. MSX was only succesfull in Japan and the Netherlands and the PCjr was a disaster for IBM.

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