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The appeal of the PC

It was so kludgey, so.. unfinished, and it drew us. I remember the feeling: "I can make it work, it's like an unfinished work of art, I can breathe life into it". I can "complete" it. It's going to be beautiful.

(From what I hear) the Mac was "perfect". It stood there, like a supermodel, perfect and complete, looking in another direction. You can't do anything with a supermodel -- you can't date a supermodel, and you can't improve a supermodel. So "thanks but no, thanks." I want to feel superior, thank you very much.

So, gazillions of applications for the PC ==> more demand for PCs ==> more gazillions of applications for the PC. PCs rule.

Monday, August 02, 2004

I think there is a lot to your thumbnail analysis.

The PC platform initially sucked for development, but it was an open architecture and everything was documented. There were a few expensive C compilers and assemblers available for PC DOS in the early 80s. And yeah, that feeling of an unfinished work was definitely there.

The Mac didn't (from my understanding) have readily available SDKs or development tools available in the early years, so most users just used the built in applications and I don't recall a lot of developer interest until the late 80s. The initial selection of third party applications for Macs was very thin. And Apple marketed the MacIntosh as a complete solution out of the box, which it was for many people, so as you said, the Mac didn't inspire a lot of developer interest until application development info was widely available.

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The way I saw it Apple simply hit the wrong pricepoint, everything else was secondary to that.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

As developers we tend to see things from a developers point of view.  The success of the PC over the Mac had nothing to do with the fact (disputable) that developers preferred it.

The PC won because it was IBM and nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Clones outsold IBM PCs within two years of the first release.

It wasn't so much that it was for IBM but that it was simple for most ISVs to convert their existing CP/M software to run on the DOS architecture.

Apple was a closed box.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Prices were fairly astounding relative to what you can buy now. In 1981 I built an S-100 bus system with a Z80, 64Kb RAM, 2 floppies, running CP/M, for between $5-7K. I had an assembler, Basic and Fortran IV. There were no networking utilities. I had to write an FTP program in 8080 assembly to start just to get my programs down from a VAX and start developing.

A couple years later a PC XT with about the same configuration was down to $3K and it had a lot more utilities and compilers available. Pascal, Fortran, Basic, C.

Of course the VAX or IBM Mainframe we were porting our code from cost in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, so we thought a few thousand was a steal.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Yes, price was the key to the IBMs success - it was expensive but still a lot cheaper than anything else.

There was also a lot of snobbery in the early days also - the requirements to become an Apple dealer were a lot higher than those to become an IBM/clone dealer, that kind of approach did not help Apple gain market share.

Chris Peacock
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

In the early days, Apple would deal with mail-order companies.  But you pick up a copy of Computer Shopper and find ads for a zillion companies selling IBM clones.

OJ bin Laden
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

correction:  should be "would not deal with mail-order companies"

OJ bin Laden
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I seem to recall that apples were very common, and people bought them over IBMs because apples were a lot cheaper?

Plus apples had colour, decent graphics, and better sound...

So what happened between apples and macs???

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

"The way I saw it Apple simply hit the wrong pricepoint, everything else was secondary to that."

Amiga did hit the pricepoint, but never made a dent in the commercial world and died a slow death, but a lot of the tech used was way ahead of its day.

Eat Me
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

>> The success of the PC over the Mac had nothing to do with the fact (disputable) that developers preferred it.

Most developers who knew about such things preferred the non segmented flat address space of the 68000 family processors.

However, Apple was not friendly to small ISVs. I recall that obtaining developer's documentation for Macs back in the early 1980s was kind of a trick.  So you didn't see a lot of applications for MacIntosh except for high end products like DTP.

Bored Bystander
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

What happened between Apples and Macs?

From context, it looks like you mean Apple II, right?

High-resolution graphical displays (by the standards of the time) and huge memory requirements (again, by the standards of the time). The Mac was overkill for most general business apps. That, and it was only early adopters who had any kind of PC on their desks. These pioneers were prepared to put up with a little clunkiness and even read the manual.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The Mac was expensive, the cool UI took way to much of the system's resources to run, didn't have enough memory or any way to upgrade it, and to top it off, was buggy as hell. It had 128K and no hard disk, if I remember correctly.

I remember my college roomate almost throwing his Mac out the window when it crashed at 5 in the morning as he was working on a paper.

But, they had Moores law on their side and with faster cheaper proc and sufficient memory, it became a winner.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Apple didn't have VisiCalc, or Lotus.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

VisiCalc was on the apple II long before the IBM pc got the spreadsheet.

VisiCalc was written for the Apple BEFORE the IBM pc was released!

In fact, VisiCalc was responsible for selling a LOT of apple computers.

And, in fact, you can even still download the Original 1981 copy of VisiCalc for the IBM pc. The whole download of the spreadsheet is less then 32K (less then most web pages these days!).

You can find more info about the product here:

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Albert D. Kallal
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I thought like everything else it was video games & porn that lead the way for everything else.

Or are you talking about success in the business environment?

From my perspective, even today, it's the software that's available. I have no clue what's out on the mac that's the same as the stuff I have on the PC.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Think Pascal and Think C were pretty good dev environments at the time.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

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