How they got there was mostly a misunderstanding of the nascent business. Read more
From time to time, I see the phrase “Commodore stock scam” or something similar come up in discussion or in books. Commodore, in case you don’t know, was a high-flying computer company in the 1980s that was literally making computers as quickly as they could sell them while Apple struggled for its survival, and was in the enviable position of being the main supplier of chips for its competitors. Imagine if Intel sold computers at retail next to HP and Dell, while still selling chips to Dell. That was Commodore in 1984. I don’t have 1984 figures, but in 1985, Commodore had 38% of the computer market all to itself. IBM and its clones, combined, had 49%. Apple had 13%.
But a decade later, Commodore had squandered all of that away and was out of business. That’s why Robert X. Cringely sums up Commodore as Irving Gould‘s stock scam, then goes back to writing about Apple.
The real story is more complicated than that. More interesting, too.
Here’s a treasure trove for retro computing enthusiasts. Archive.org created the Byte digital archive. It’s exactly what it sounds like: A collection of digitized issues of Byte magazine available online, free.
Numerous archives of vintage computer magazines exist, many of which are of questionable legality so I’ll refrain from saying anything specific about that.
GEM was an early GUI for the IBM PC and compatibles and, later, the Atari ST, developed by Digital Research, the developers of CP/M and, later, DR-DOS. (Digital Equipment Corporation was a different company.) So what was it, and what happened to GEM?
It was very similar to the Apple Lisa, and Apple saw it as a Lisa/Macintosh ripoff and sued. While elements of GEM did indeed resemble the Lisa, Digital Research actually hired several developers from Xerox PARC.
DRI demonstrated the 8086 version of GEM at COMDEX in 1984, and shipped it on 28 February 1985, beating Windows 1.0 to market by nearly 9 months.
I just saw Phillipe Kahn (not Khan) in a Best Bait-n-Switch commercial, introducing himself as the inventor of the camera phone.
But that’s not my favorite Phillipe Kahn story.
Numerous tributes appeared today as word of Commodore founder Jack Tramiel’s death spread. Read more
Some stories floating around are suggesting that Commodore is still around, and they just released a new, overpriced Amiga.
Well, there’s a company slapping “Commodore” and “Amiga” labels on PC cases that look kind of like Apple Mac Mini cases and stuffing off-the-shelf components in them, but they’re Commodore Amigas in name only. Read more
There’s a nasty rumor floating around that in Walter Isaacson’s bestselling biography, Steve Jobs, Jobs alleges that Commodore copied the Apple II when making its first computer, 1977’s PET. Here’s the story of Steve Jobs and the Commodore PET.
The book doesn’t come right out and say it, but it insinuates it. I know how the PET came to be, and the PET would have happened whether the Apple II ever existed or not.