personal history of personal computers

dwight dkelvey at
Mon Jan 4 15:31:55 CST 2021

There was a little known 68K machine. It was the Canon Cat. Although, it was generally not intended as a development machine, in its short life, several applications were developed.
It was primarily sold as a word processor ( quite powerful one at that ). It had Forth running under the word processor. One could do both assembly and other things once one understood how to access the Forth.
If you should ever get one, don't use the disk drive until you talk to me.
It has a common problem that if you don't understand it will destroy the drive.

From: cctalk <cctalk-bounces at> on behalf of Fred Cisin via cctalk <cctalk at>
Sent: Monday, January 4, 2021 11:35 AM
To: General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts <cctalk at>
Subject: Re: personal history of personal computers

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

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