What if PC ..... never existed?

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By PingPong

Prophet (3459)

Аватар пользователя PingPong

30-10-2019, 16:52

Hi, all.
Just wondering what could have happened if IBM PC was not developed. Of course in MSX prospective.
The msx had some points in common with the IBM PC.
- A standardized architecture relatively "open"
- Multiple vendors can create IBM PC and the same is for MSX models
- M$ was involved in both
- Some kind of linkage with the CP/M world
- The Disk Operating system and FAT format are similar.

It was rumoured that, expecially in USA MSX failed because of the interest of Bill Gates to flavour PC vs MSX.

of course, the MSX was aimed at home usage and pc was a businnes usage.
But i think IBM PC as the Big Brother of MSX.
BUT: What if IBM PC never existed?

Could the MSX had some benefit ?
Will today, our desktops have a MSX model on it? maybe with a powerful successor of a z80 / VDP inside?
Was in your opinion a possible scenario?

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By zPasi

Champion (473)

Аватар пользователя zPasi

30-10-2019, 17:46

Quote:

- Some kind of linkage with the CP/M world

Early MS-DOS / PC-DOS was only little more than CP/M (unofficially) ported to x86. Very, very similar under the hood.

Quote:

It was rumoured that, expecially in USA MSX failed because of the interest of Bill Gates to flavour PC vs MSX.

Quite possible. At the time, there was much more money involved in the office "business machine" market.

Quote:

BUT: What if IBM PC never existed?

Maybe MSX had survived longer. And Apple would be even bigger than it is!

By NYYRIKKI

Enlighted (5396)

Аватар пользователя NYYRIKKI

30-10-2019, 17:58

I think there is no reason to believe that MSX would have survived better... I think the situation might have been even worse. MSX-BASIC is based on PC version of BASIC. It might have been worse from start because of lack of IBM money.

Probably Steve Jobs would have been the most rich person on earth because Apple would have kept the early adopter position... Maybe Amiga would have lived a bit longer, but I think Acorn would have still died and MSX would have died after MSX2 if not earlier due to lack of compatibility with any generally used formats. (We would be most propably using CP/M "compatible" format) For sure there would have been more competition, but there is way too many possibilities to even speculate this in a reasonable way.

By snatchertas

Supporter (9)

Аватар пользователя snatchertas

30-10-2019, 22:17

If you ever have the time to do a little archaeology by digging into the magazines and book archived in the various archival sites you will find out that the MSX standard was never meant to be a dominant standard. It pains me to say that there was never the intention, much less a chance, for the MSX standard to be something more than what it achieved.

The reasons stated by the very inventors of the MSX standard were various and I will try to enumerate them

1) The MSX was underpowered in comparison to the other computers of the time. When it appeared the Japanese market was already served on the high end by the likes of NEC PC88-98 and other offerings by Sharp and Fujitsu. Everyone was also getting ready for the 16 bit era to arrive, as it did 2 to 3 years after the launch of the MSX.

2) The MSX was not a gaming powerhouse as it lacked obvious gaming features like scrolling that the NES offered at about the same time. The SEGA SG1000 with almost exact MSX specifications was no match to the NES either, cementing the fact that the TMS 9918 chip (a 1978 product) was well past its expiration date.

3) The MSX standard was envisioned with many applications, few of which could carry it into mainstream status:
3a) Cheap computing for the low end that leverages compatibility and interoperability - This goal was achieved. MSX was popular as a home computer for the low end, successful in the education industry and the software library maximized the potential that standardization offered.
3b) The MSX wanted to be the Arduino of its time, offering a cheap computing platform with easy programming and an open expansion bus standard. In fact, upon release of the MSX, home automation was one of the first application demoed in various tech shows. As you could guess, it was 35 years too early for the IOT industry to take off.
3c) The MSX also wanted to be the Java like standard that would be baked into every appliance imaginable, similar to the current SmartTV abilities and other Smart features. There were a few appliances that ware based on the MSX for their computing abilities but, again, there was never a good case to use the MSX as the brains for many devices and manufacturers turn to cheaper and better solutions that were soon available.

None of these original goals of the MSX would carry it to the top of the home computer food chain and targeting to the low end of the market doesn't allow you to do true innovation.
By the time the MSX turbo R came, there was the Sharp X68000 in Japan, the Amiga, Atari ST, Archimides and Apple IIGS as well as the PC and the MAC with the Megadrive and Super NES soon to follow in the gaming category.

No matter how far we would like our beloved MSXes to go and how much we upgrade them the truth remains that MSX designers knew the could use a 16 bit CPU and the MSX2 VDP for the 1st iteration of the Standard and didn't. They couldn't because they would miss the price point.

This does not mean that they failed. On the contrary, they achieved far more than they set out to do and this is why we are here. They could go for the High end but that would be replicating the already existing PC clone industry.

So there, these are my 2 cents and I would love to read your thoughts! Cool

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3092)

Аватар пользователя sd_snatcher

30-10-2019, 23:02

What-ifs are shows of speculation, but here we go. Smile

PingPong wrote:

Just wondering what could have happened if IBM PC was not developed. Of course in MSX prospective.

IMHO, it wouldn't have a significative difference for the home computers in general:

- As you pointed out yourself, home computers are a different beast from Personal (aka Business) computers:
a) They lived in *very* different price ranges. It's kinda like to compare a Renault Traffic van with a Renault Twingo. Ironically, people from North America also started buying those huge vans in the 90s to move their families around.
b) Home computers were also more like appliances, and their niche was exactly the same that tablets have today: a gadget cheaper than a full-fledged PC, that parents buy for their children to keep them busy so they can have some quality time for themselves. And, yes, there are tablets for all kinds of pockets just like there were some more expensive home computers, and there/were are some more professional software for both here and there. But they're still tablets and home computers anyway.

The absence of the IBM-PC would have made a huge difference in the Amiga/Atari-ST/Macintosh landscape, OTOH. Given how the business aspect had such a significant impact on the way history happened, I suspect that the clone wars would have chosen the Macintosh (or maybe even the Apple II) for their target. Commodore and Atari were always totally inept on dealing with the corporate/business segment.

Quote:

- A standardized architecture relatively "open"

I must disagree with this one. The IBM-PC was anything but open. They sued whoever they could, and only lost the battle because the copyright laws were way more directed to allow competitiveness and innovation back then.

Quote:

It was rumoured that, expecially in USA MSX failed because of the interest of Bill Gates to flavour PC vs MSX.

Gates played both sides, exactly because they were different niches. All his competitors kept their home computers for long after having released their bigger brothers, so why wouldn't Microsoft too? Market segmentation tactics were a huge thing in the 80s.

IMHO, the biggest responsible for the failing of the MSX in the US (and nearly all other English-speaking countries) was Jack Tramiel and his home computer war. He knew that the Japanese would avoid that kind of confrontation.

But yes, there was one point were the home-computer/Personal computer line started to blur. PCs started getting cheaper, and home-computers started getting more powerful. This wasn't instantaneous, but I would say that it started slowly around 1987, and from 1992 to 1995 it went wild. Nearly every other computer (be it small or bigger brothers) were killed in this period because of this.

And let's remember that the MSX3 was planned to be released in 1987. Upon seeing the specs, Bill Gates indeed might have had second thoughts about what kind of impact the machine could've had if released at the typical "< USD 1000" MSX price range.

Quote:

- The Disk Operating system and FAT format are similar.

This is where the biggest impact would have happened. MSX disks would be considered as alien and hard to read/write as those of the Amstrad CPC. ;)

Quote:

Could the MSX had some benefit ?
Will today, our desktops have a MSX model on it? maybe with a powerful successor of a z80 / VDP inside?
Was in your opinion a possible scenario?

I think that it would have made very little difference. A different US computer line would've been cloned and become the worldwide standard.

The MSX only had a chance in a timeline where Jack Tramiel home computer wars didn't exist. :)
Then it could've made the opposite path of the PC: to conquer the market from the lower segment, make money, and get more and more sophisticated until it got the bigger niche, exactly as the Japanese did with the automotive market.

By snatchertas

Supporter (9)

Аватар пользователя snatchertas

31-10-2019, 00:00

Let's see where the Z80 and the VDP ended up:

The Z80 went nowhere. The R800 was painfully unoptimized and by that time any other modern CPU architecture had better emulate the Z80 rather than keep compatibility with it in silicon. So that lineage is dead even though Z80 still exists as a microcontroller chip.

The Texas Instruments TI9918 evolution is an interesting story with 3 main branches:

1) The MSX branch sees the 9918 superseded by the MSX2 VDP that adds screen modes 4-8, increases palette to 512 and resolution to 512X424 (interpolated)
Then comes the MSX2+ VDP that adds proper scrolling and the compressed 19k color modes (9-12)
The MSX TurboR adds nothing as it misses the V9990 which eventually surfaces and ends the branch. It ads parallax and multicolor sprites.

2) The Sega branch uses the 9918 for the SG1000, and evolves it with the introduction of the MK2/Master System adding 64 color palette, 1 multicolor mode ala Screen 5 (most games) and a 2 layer tile mode (Golden Axe, Space Harrier) that uses tiles instead of sprites and only has choppy tile scrolling. There is also 1 game (F-16) that uses the Screen 2 mode and is a direct port of the MSX1 game.
Then comes the Megadrive VDP that adds 320X224 modes (and 320 X 448 interpolated, only ever used in Sonic 2). It drops the original 9918 modes 0-3 but retains the Master system modes. This is really the end of the line as subsequent addons and consoles by Sega used other architectures.

3) Texas instruments continued evolving the original 9918 separate of Sega and MSX and much improved models where used mostly in various Arcade games like Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam that used the TI 34010 which is a combination of CPU and VDP. The 34010 was also used in Graphic Accelerator cards in the Windows 3.0 era. It was also present in addon cards for Amiga and the final model was the 34020

Have fun learning about the TMS 34010!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5w3a5K6hbU

By T.R.

Rookie (24)

Аватар пользователя T.R.

31-10-2019, 01:01

I actually think the MSX would not have existed without the PC. Or at least, it would have looked completely different. Clearly, in terms of software, the MSX system was based on the PC, with its basic and DOS. The difference was that the hardware was much cheaper, precisely because it was intended for home use rather than office use.

Besides that, I don't think the MSX standard was developed with a serious future in mind. It must have been pretty obvious in '82 or '83 that the 8 bit Z80 was a dead end. If the MSX standard was meant to last, they would have chosen 16bit CPU, and preferably one with possibilities for a 32bit upgrade path. 16bit was already not revolutionary in '83, and even 32 bit wasn't, although that was still at the higher end (think 68K, DEC VAX). Thus, the PC had much better perspectives. Also I think it's important to realise that the MSX was a completely new architecture, unlike the PC which wasn't even developed by Microsoft. So, Microsoft could have chosen whatever CPU they wanted, but still they decided to use the Z80.

By gdx

Prophet (3083)

Аватар пользователя gdx

31-10-2019, 02:02

snatchertas wrote:

3) The MSX standard was envisioned with many applications, few of which could carry it into mainstream status:
3a) Cheap computing for the low end that leverages compatibility and interoperability - This goal was achieved. MSX was popular as a home computer for the low end, successful in the education industry and the software library maximized the potential that standardization offered.

I do not agree. MSXs were relatively expensive compared to other equivalent machines (but the material was of good quality). The MSX suffered from a lot of things like for example the TVs which were not enough evolved for the computers, etc, and MSX prices have really dropped only towards the end. ASCII felt that the monitors were not necessary despite the increasing demand. These are the two main points that have made the success of Amstrad (low price and monitor included).

By zPasi

Champion (473)

Аватар пользователя zPasi

31-10-2019, 10:55

gdx wrote:

ASCII felt that the monitors were not necessary despite the increasing demand. These are the two main points that have made the success of Amstrad (low price and monitor included).

Monitors? Nothing stopped the manufacturers making also monitors, and even bundling them with their machines. It must be something else.

By gdx

Prophet (3083)

Аватар пользователя gdx

31-10-2019, 13:05

MSX's VDPs can not support the resolutions beyond those of TVs. Only the V9990 started to do it.

By Wlcracks

Champion (326)

Аватар пользователя Wlcracks

31-10-2019, 15:01

Wammes Witkop would have talked about MSX and not about how great PC's are/where in MSX computer magazine.

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