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Welcome to PC World 1985—Jack Attack with the Atari ST

Updated 25 June 2022

The PC World conference in 1985 was a stunning milestone in the age of retro computing. 8-bit microcomputers had established the market for home computers and now the 16-but multitasking powerhouses started to knock on the door. Watch Jack Tramiel talk up the Atart ST, Amiga developers demonstrate true multitasking and basic programming.

I was going through a set of old computer conference vides and I came across this gem. PC World seemed to be at its peak in 1985. All of the main players are here, Jack Tramiel was it his finest—on the attack. Commodore was bumbling into another explosive boom with the release of the Commodore Amiga. Watch all the drama unfold in front of your very eyes. I will be giving you my commentary on this soap opera. Don't forget to tune in.

Database TV Show (June 1985)

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If you need proof that the computer industry was alive, well and kicking, then a visit to the Personal Computer World show in 1985 provides that reassurance. This is the TV show Data Base.

Things open with the so-called Mac-basher, the Atari ST. This solids machine delivers Power without the Price. This industry just couldn't believe that Jack's team could develop a machine so fast and with such a sharp price point. A classic Jack attack. Doubters were proven wrong when more than fifty software houses were developing for the Atari ST.

The Atari ST was released in the UK with a disc drive, mouse, monochrome monitor and a software bundle consisting of the programming language Logo, GEM operating system, GEM Paint and GEM Write. The release price for this package was 750 pounds so you can see that pencil was quite sharp. That monochrome monitor does really bring out the best of the Atari ST. This is a full multimedia system with color at its foundation.

Introduction to the Atari ST

The presenter prods Jack about the Commodore Amiga computer system. It must have torn a Jack's ego to be asked about the all-singing, all-dancing Amiga after Jack failed to buy the Amiga company that Atari helped with seed-fund. Ouch! Jack hits back that while the Amiga's graphics are probably 10% stronger, his machine is selling for a thousand pounds less. Jack certainly knew his territory.

We are still selling products for the masses. It seems that other companies only produce products for the classes.

There is even a promise of the brand new world of digital compact disc storage in the near-future. Philips is obviously the developer of the compact disc in Europe however Jack has very strong links with Japanese manufacturers and made reference to Japan Inc., presumably Sony.

Introduction to the C128

Jane tells that that Commodore is launching the attack with the Commodore One Two Eight. An 8-bit toy to compete against a 16-bit powerhouse. Trust Commodore to bring an underpowered machine to a Jack Attack party. Commodore brings true compatability contrary to claims by others in the past. Commodore needs to defend itself against the C16 and Plus-4 microcomputers that under performed and possibly just too ugly for consumers to buy. There, we said it... too ugly.

Jane then goes on to castigate the boss of Commodore for not making the Amiga available for the show or for sale in the UK. Complaints about supply issues mean that the Amiga won't get released for at least another six months. And in Jack's eyes, a thousand pounds more. No wonder Commodore were struggling through financial hard times.

Part 2 ❯ Part 3 ❯

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