Our Friend the Computer

The Coleco Adam

December 13, 2022 Our Friend the Computer Season 1 Episode 14
Our Friend the Computer
The Coleco Adam
Show Notes Transcript

Camila and Ana discover the infamous story of the 1983 failed Coleco Adam home computer and uncover the 1985 home computer crash, Ana learns the difference between Cabbage Patch Kids and Sour Patch Kids, and we all lose a $500 college scholarship voucher.

Follow us on Twitter @OurFriendComp
And Instagram @ourfriendthecomputer

Main research for the episode was done by Camila. Ana audio edited.
Music by Nelson Guay (SoundCloud: fluxlinkages)
OFtC is a sister project of the Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  

- “Adam Coleco Vision Family Computer System (Boxed)” Nightfall Crew June 22 2015. https://www.nightfallcrew.com/22/06/2015/adam-coleco-vision-family-computer-system-boxed/
- Anderson, John J. “Coleco.” Creative Computing vol 10 no 3, March 1984 https://www.atarimagazines.com/creative/v10n3/65_Coleco.php
- Atwood, Jeff. “The Cult of Coleco Adam.” Coding Horror Blog, March 6 2006. https://blog.codinghorror.com/the-cult-of-coleco-adam/
- Bishop, Liz. “Cabbage Patch Dolls, ColecoVision: The rise & fall of a toy company with local ties” CBS 6 Rewind, September 28 2022. https://cbs6albany.com/news/local/cabbage-patch-dolls-colecovision-the-rise-fall-of-a-toy-company-with-local-connections-cbs6-rewind-jobs-unemployment-electronics-video-games-amsterdam
- “Coleco ADAM Adventures.” Youtube, uploaded by Vintage Geek, November 12 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msI9HrQ1izY
- “Coleco ADAM, the Computer That Could Have Been - First Look.” Youtube, uploaded by Newsmakers Tech December 3 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQHUSjsRvMs
- King, Andrew. “Joystick: The Untold Story of Ottawa’s Coke-Fueled 1980’s Video Game Industry” Ottawa Rewind, December 2018. https://ottawarewind.com/2018/12/02/joystick-the-untold-story-of-ottawas-coke-fueled-1980s-video-game-industry
- Noble, David. “The home computer is dead, we said in 1985. Oops.” Australian Financial Review Classic, March 21 1985, reposted January 18 2022. https://www.afr.com/technology/how-the-afr-called-the-death-of-the-home-computer-in-1985-we-were-wrong-20220117-p59oyn
- Potts, Mark. “Coleco Pulls Plug On Adam.” The Washinton Post, January 3 1985. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/business/1985/01/03/coleco-pulls-plug-on-adam/e6ecdba7-a479-4b5d-a67e-e92e12341ece/
- Sanger, David E. “Coleco Gives up on the Adam.” The New York Times, January 3 1985. https://www.nytimes.com/1985/01/03/business/coleco-gives-up-on-the-adam.html
- Schrage, Michael. “Computer Industry Slump is Broad, Deep.” The Washington Post, June 30 1985. https://www.washingtonpost.co

Hello, everyone. Hello to our friend, the computer. My name's Ana, and I am Camila. Hi. Thanks. Should we? Yeah. I mean, you know, we've been trying to work out what our little tagline is. I made a new alteration to it. We explore niche computer histories focusing on society and politics and alternative narratives to the popular story about the evolution of computers and the World Wide Web. So the thing I changed is that normally we say we focus on non-U.S centric stories, but today is a U.S. centric story. So I just removed it so that could we have to do an alteration for every single episode, because I feel like they're going to be quite veried. But before we start, we have really fun news. We're now a sister project of the Media Archeology Lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Yay! Queue confetti, confetti, confetti. We're very excited. Founded in 2009 by Dr. Lori Emmerson, the Media Archeology Lab is a place for cross-disciplinary experimental research, teaching and creative practice, using one of the largest collections in the world of still functioning media. They're our dream collaborators. So smart, so fun. I'm excited. I'm excited for the future. Yeah, I'm really excited and everyone over there seems really nice. Yeah, I can't wait to kind of, like, build it with them. Yeah, we're so brainstorming and kind of working out how this partnership will look, but we're just very grateful that it will allow us to keep making this podcast for you and to sort of expand our research further and keep going. And yeah, so be great. I have this dream of going to Colorado and doing like we got to do it or something with like maybe the material that they have or the things that they have in the lab or with some of the people working there. Yeah, last time I went to London and we went on excursions and this time you can come to the U.S. and we can go on vacation here. Yeah. So tell me about the research that you have made for this episode. I want to know. So it's accidentally really long, and I'm sorry. I mean, I look, I was doing episodes about hypertext and still doing them, but I got really excited about your microcomputer Apple Clone episode, and I started to look at home computers, early home computers, and I discovered this like the seed of this idea through the previous episode we did about the neighbor network in Canada. And I saw it was really funny and I wanted to do it. There's something in this story about like, you know, like the how the way we position computers, like having changed so of computer as tech object versus game or toy business computers versus home computers. And just kind of those early days where we were navigating what our relationship to computers is and the role that computers were to play in our lives and the way that is reflected or was reflected in the market. Yeah, I think even in the last episode we kind of talked a little bit about the launch of the first Mac and how that was the failure to Apple and that relationship between having a home computer as either a toy or something that is more practical was like that line was very ambiguous in the early days. And I mean, still is, but now we're sort of used to that ambiguity. Whereas before, in terms of it being sold as a product, it wasn't that didn't help. I mean, even early home computers that weren't necessarily made for games or entertainment purposes, but just introduced lots of new designs or ones that would do many diversions to initiate new systems would largely be dismissed as toys, even though they weren't, you know, gaming computers. So the early home computing period had this very popular affiliation with seeing computers as toys in one way or another. Yeah. And I mean, it does totally come from video game consoles like the late seventies, early eighties. Like that was the like video or like computer thing that was marketed to the home versus there was like this real distinction between home market and business market. Yeah. And so when you write it, like when there was that shift into computer computers moving into the home, the only other real experience of technology of that sort of technology in the home was television and video games As we sort of navigated while a computer was in the home. They were kind of our only example was to that point. Yeah, because early, early computers were you would have to navigate them with command lines and you'd have to use a terminal and you'd essentially have to be a programmer and have some kind of like basic knowledge of programing to be able to use early computers. So once that was taken away, like with the first Mac hobbyists that were used to computers, saw that as a toy because you weren't able to program on it and you weren't able to like compile files. It was just like too easy and dumb to use. So that was their definition of like a toy computer. And I think these early, like the computer's just before that moment, which is what we're looking at. They had programing capabilities with basic, but it was it was simple programing. It was that shift from like like they they also just had like a writing program on start up. So it is sort of that moment where it shifts between and we'll look at we'll look at that. So we previously had this episode about the Neighbor network in Canada. This was an early computer network that was really focused on gaming. It ran through a cable TV network and was kind of the first online subscription streaming service for games. I was going to say that it was like Netflix before games, but now that Fox is moving into the subscription gaming market a little bit. So really, I like that. Yeah, I feel like it just goes to show that everything sort of ends up full circle. Yeah. So the hardware system used for gaming on this network was the Calico Vision video game system from the company. Calico. Calico was originally set in the thirties and the name was an abbreviation of the Connecticut Leather Company through various company acquisitions that moved into plastic goods and swimming pool manufacturing. And by the eighties, it was a company focused on children's toys. It had begun making small, handheld electronic games in the seventies and a console pong style game. But by the early eighties, it had developed the Coleco vision system. This was released in 1982 and came bundled with the first home version of Donkey Kong, which gave it a like a really big sales boost. It also boasted arcade level graphics, which was which was much better than the Atari 2600, which was also popular at the time. So this was a really interesting time for Calico. The calico vision was selling pretty well, but 1983 brought the start of the video game crash the video game recession On, which lasted from 83 to 85, largely in just in North America. And while they were actually riding this wave reasonably well, they were looking for ways to both branch out from gaming and sort of also use what they had with the calico vision to create a new product. They did this in two ways. One was that they started making Cabbage Patch Kids. But you as you don't know what a Cabbage Patch kid is, no Cabbage Patch Kids, come on. It's like they're these like dolls that kind of, like, pudgy, cute dolls. And I didn't grow up with them, but I was, like, aware of them. And they I think there's, like, this whole story where they just, like, a grown from cabbages and then the farmers take them and then you can adopt them and you get, you get like a little adoption certificate or something. I think that's I think that's the story they look like because I've probably seen them. I mean, I think over the years they changed what they were made of, but I feel like they have maybe a hard head and a soft body and they've got like chubby cheeks and they're in like rompers. That's hilarious. Oh, yeah, I've seen them, but I've never seen one IRL. I've never seen one. And it's true environment. They're cute. Yeah, but they became super, super, super, super popular. It was like a wild market. In 1984, they sold 20 million Cabbage Patch Kids. There were even Cabbage Patch riots where parents got into violent fights in retail stores trying to get all that. The only like the next toy that had that happen was the Tickle Me Elmo. This is like the precursor to that market, that toy market. So they were doing this on one side. They, like got the rights from whoever made them originally. And this was their big thing, making a lot of money. But on the other side of that business, they had this calico Vision gaming console. So what they decided to do was to adapt this as a way of entering the hot new speculative space of home computers. And this computer would be called the Calico Atom. It was sold as a standalone system, but also as an expansion of the calico vision. So if you already had it, you could get like a smaller version of the computer that clicks in to your video game system. Okay. Yeah, it's funny talking about the like the name of Calico and the fact that it came out of the name, what was it, Connecticut Leather. Leather. Yeah, Connecticut Leather Company. And then it started doing like, you know, synthetic products and plastic products and remember, we talked about like the name of Silicon Valley and sort of how that came about and how it was literally just like built on the fact that it was a chip manufacturing space and yeah, yeah. So this also kind of like has a connection to a plastic, you know, it's got that like plastic background connection, but it's not because it's been making chips, it's because it's been making toys and then it's been making computers. Yeah, yeah. No, you're right. So that's quite funny. But it already has the kind of plastic like heritage in a way that the Calico Adam I think is a really funny name because it's like the first man, like the first computer or something. And it's also, I think, interesting to think about. Like to me, when I first had this story, the the Cabbage Patch Kid Dolls and the computer seemed so different. But there is, I think, something in because because I think that's like the Cabbage Patch dolls. It's also a bit like it's like birth creation. I mean, I don't know how they're conceived, but like immaculate conception. I don't know what happens in the Cabbage Patch, but there's something in those in those kind of two figures as well. Yeah, like the Garden of Earthly Delights was just, oh, patches. So they had these two things going on, the dolls on the computer. Michael Bay, who works for NABU in Canada, is quoted in an Ottawa Rewind article as saying to the calico suits the atom and the Cabbage Patch doll with the same thing, just sausage. So essentially they were building the next stage of that business. And these are there to like big bets, but like, what's the, you know, their products, their products, What's the difference? You know, just sort of just product, just sausage. So this computer, it was going to be a game changer. It was a full home computer system that cost around $600 or about $1,350 today. It included 60 4K ram, a tape drive, a keyboard games and software and a letter quality daisy real printer. This was the first computer printer bundle and the price at the time was about the same as like the cheapest letter quality printer on its own. Nice. I want it already. That's not a bad price. Apparently the box was really, really big and really, really heavy because it just included everything in the same boat. Yeah. The smart ride of printer could work as an electronic typewriter, which was like, you know, a normal typewriter where you type letters and they printed as you type them. Or the atom also had word processing software. So it would, as you're typing, it would save your work and then print when you were finished. So the clicker atom was introduced in the same year as the Cabbage Patch Kids. It was announced in June 1983 at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. They were promising so much of this computer that at this point it was still a prototype. The computers that they had at the Consumer Electronics Show were handmade and not all the parts worked. So they employed a tricky trick, which was to put them behind tinted glass so that you weren't able to fully see the hand, hold edges and not actually look able to work the machines. I'm going to use that trick for things. Yeah, I'm not finished. They were tinted, tinted glass, Kasey, anything can touch it. But it's just that just me testing of it, they were really confident. Another quote from Michael Bay, the sausage guy said at the CBS show in Vegas in the summer of 83, Kaleka had one of those three story pavillion booths. They were pushing the atom as the most sophisticated headed home computer ever created. And their spokesman made that point by climbing up on the podium and taking each of the competitors units and into an Atari 2600 r a Sega, and he'd stick it in a toilet with a flushing sound effect. And a quote from an exec at the time said, We move with blinding speed. They were really, really selling this guy. Yeah. This announcement kind of sent the industry into a bit of a spin. Other companies like IBM and smaller companies started to develop cheaper home computer models and computer printer bundles. But the atom should have been first to market. However, yeah, I mean, it sounds like they were pretty confident, you know, from the quotes that you took and also just from the name like insinuating the first man that they would be the first one on the market, I would guess from the product name, that that was their whole marketing strategy. Like the fact that it's like the first, you know, the first computer, the first man, and that just the whole business model was that everything will go well as long as they are the first to come. I could imagine they would push this regardless of like good quality, especially when their prototype was so underdeveloped that they had to, like, put it behind tinted glass and still want people to charge what, a grand and 300 for it. Yeah, I guess it was Calico at the time. There was like the business computer market, which was more expensive and this was kind of the start of the home computer market. So the you know, and they were already in the house with the calico vision. So it seemed like an easy thing to sort of shift those customers into the home computer market. And it was I think it was largely advertised to teenage boys and like their dads. And it was a lot to do with homework. A lot of the I watched some of the ads on YouTube. It was like a lot about like getting my homework done in time, you know, that kind of thing. Interesting. Yeah. Gamify homework. Yeah. Yeah. So the first item was released in October 83, but pretty much straightaway started having issues. The main problem was that the printer wasn't reliably working. This was not just an issue of a lack of printing capability, but for some reason the power supply for the entire computer system ran through the printer. So if the printer didn't work, the computer didn't work. Hmm. It was also having issues like it would start printing letters on a slant, so you'd have to send the printer off for repairs. And in the meantime, you couldn't use the computer. Oh, Adam had bad handwriting. Oh. Oh, no. Very good homework, then. No. So they had to temporarily stop production to fix this. But there were many other issues, too. One of these was a power surge that would happen when you turn the system on. And if you had a software cartridge in the machine, which they called a digital data pack, it could potentially ruin it. It would like erase it could erase the content you'd been working on. But the manual that came with the Adam, I believe, actually instructed the user to have the software cartridge in the machine. When you turned it on. So the manual was confusing, just giving wrong information. Yeah. Uh huh. Adam's for return at a higher rate than all the other comparable computers at the time. Some stores reported that five of every six were returned for technical problems, and returns ended up costing Calico over $100 million. Jesus. Jesus. Adam. Jesus, Adam. To me, this feels a little like a failed Kickstarter campaign or something. Like they announced in June. They got preorders, started shipping in October. Immediately had to stop. Yeah, it sounds like a classic Kickstarter Fyre Festival situation. They all do this. Adam and all I got was this really bad cheese sandwich. Yeah, where am I? So, I mean, Cabbage Patch Kids. There's an article in Atari magazine from the time that said, in August 1983, Greenberg claimed Coleco would ship half a million atoms by Christmas. Then the deadline started slipping by. He said they would begin shipping September 1st, then September 15th, then October 1st and October 15th. They'd leaves fell. On November came. Pinkerton did not return and the atom did not ship. Is Pinkerton is that a madame Butterfly reference? No idea. Yeah. So this continued so much that they missed the entire 1983 Christmas buying season. In 1984, they were forced to drop the prices to under $500. They also began including an incentive of a $500 college scholarship bundled into each purchase, which would pay out $125 for each completed year of college. That's so crazy, isn't it? Sometimes you're reminded of like, how Christmas is such a deadline for businesses, and if they don't hit that deadline, they are just going to go possibly bankrupt. Like there's so much revenue pressure on Christmas. I mean, it's such an obvious thing to say, but it's just. Yes. Sometimes I'm reminded by how just like capital is just like turned due to like this Christmas deadline constantly over and over again every year. I mean, even I've been feeling that like I was going to I have like some prints that I've made recently and I was like, Oh, I'll sell them. And it's like 3rd of December. And I'm thinking if I, if I won't be able to do it this weekend, like if I do it next week, is that enough time to ship? Have I left it too late? Should I just hold off and do it later? Like after Christmas? It's hard. Yeah. Yeah, it's hard. Yeah. And then also, obviously because like it is in so many places, people just take time off for Christmas as well. So there's going to be a delay in procurement if you don't get it in time for Christmas or before Christmas. So yeah, got stressful. So the clicker. Adam ran software by two cassette players in 1983. Most games in software were on cassette, but by the time the item was being shipped, the floppy disc had started to come in and quickly superseded the cassette. Part of The Joy of the Atom was that because it included a click vision system or an upgraded or existing one, you could play games on it as well. But outside of clicker vision specific games, only around 40 games were published for the Atom cassette and there was some like, you know, not going to super go into it, but there was sort of a lot of control and restriction that they had on manufacturers of software for the Calico Atom, where they would make them sign really intense contracts. And if Calico didn't like the software, they would make them destroy it all. And like, it was sort of I think that's what restricted the the software of the game, right? Yeah. So the Cabbage Patch kids were the thing keeping Calico afloat. Well, so is there like an association with Sour Patch kids here? Because I don't really understand, like, these U.S. cultural references. I did. I did look this up because I was intrigued. I hadn't really thought about. I see them as different things that like I always thought Sour Patch Kids is such a strange name. It is. And then to hear it in this context is like maybe there is like some story behind this. Well, the Cabbage Patch kids are a toy in the Sour Patch. Kids are a sour candy. But I looked it up because I had like it is weird that they have the same style of name, but apparently the Sour Patch kids in like the seventies were called Mars Men because I guess they look like aliens or something. And there was like this whole interest in space and exploring Mars. But then when the Cabbage Patch Kids craze happened in the eighties, they just decided to change their name. So there's not like a connection, but they did steal the name from the garage. Just kind of like. Right, that phrase. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. So they were still doing really, really well with the Cabbage Patch Kids and, you know, an L.A. Times article from 1985 said that the games and clickers, while conventional toys have become minor items in comparison to the Cabbage Patch Kid dolls and related items which Calico said accounted for more than 500 million of its estimated$800 million in revenue. In 1984, The New York Times estimated that that that was one for every child between ages three and eight in the United States and Canada. So they're lucky that they have the cabbage patch. Yeah, right there is saving the whole tech industry back then. Yeah, at least little kids. So at the same time as this Cabbage Patch Kids boom, there was talk of the death of the home computer industry in January 1985. Kaleka is president and Chief executive Officer Arnold C. Greenberg, who we heard from earlier, said, We continue to believe that the home computer explosion will happen. The most exciting part of the industry is yet ahead. But as is the case in most industries in the early days, there can be confusion over technology and overproduction that can produce chaos in the marketplace. Texas Instruments, Mattel and Timex had already gone out of the home computer business. Calico, Atari and Commodore were left at the lower price point. Consumers seemed more interested in more complex machines like the IBM PC Junior, which was announced in late 1983 after the atom. But by this point it would come a lot cheaper. So I was like, That was under $1,000. And there was sort of in a similar market price point. I really like this quote from a New York Times article from 1985. The enthusiasm just exceeded the reality. The first question people asked about home computers is, Do I need it? And a lot of companies just didn't have an answer. Yes. So is that I think part of like home computers or what? What's the point? Just like in the last episode, I feel like there was a very similar emotion running through over at Apple headquarters at the same time when the campaigns really hyped everyone up in the industry and then suddenly there was burnout. And yeah, it didn't really like the kind of hyping up of this product never really correlated with what people had felt or needed, like the buyers. And that's why I think these endeavors were before like microcomputer boom. It was mostly a success when they were introduced by the state rather than by like private companies, because people were introduced to them as something that they could kind of opt in with no major consequences. And it was more of a choice rather than something that was like necessary. And it just kind of like was there to, you know, make life easier, like public transport and things like that. And there was just like no major risk. Are you talking about like when when we were doing our video techs. Video techs, Yeah. Episodes. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah. And, but then once like private companies start introducing tech, it's more of like they'll start marketing it as a thing that people need to be able to run more successful businesses or to have happier kids or smarter kids. And that pressure is suddenly there. So when you used a computer for the first time with these kind of states product, it's like the pre network computers that we talked about, like mid-table and, and presto, your expectations were really that high. And it wasn't because it just wasn't a necessary purchase. You're totally right. Like when I was researching this, there was a lot of kind of discussion in that era around what software people could possibly need for the home. I just didn't know because for businesses you can be like, okay, I need budgeting, I need whatever, whatever. But for the home, it's like, well, what what are you doing in the home that you need a computer for? But you're right that like those video tech systems were just kind of digitizing things that people did like to connect with the state or to connect with like the bank and things like that. But this is like individual software that you use for your own stuff. It's not necessarily like networked. Yeah, yeah. You're not connected to the Internet. You're you're like, How can I type up my know my recipes or my Christmas cards as opposed to like, how can I buy train tickets? Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. In January 1985, Calico discontinued the atom and left the computer business. They had sold less than 400,000 atoms in the 18 months of its life. It was hoped that by dropping the failing atom and focusing on the Calico vision game system and the Cabbage Patch kids, that the company would finally be profitable again. But after a difficult 1985, they discontinued the Calico Vision system in October and it was too little, too late. And Calico filed for bankruptcy in 1988. Really, even with the Cabbage Patch Kids. Wow, that's sad. And they'd been around for some of the kids. Yeah. Yeah, totally. Like, went through this huge evolution and then some me as soon as like, oversaturation of the tech industry came about, it just like got knocked over. Wow. Something I found interesting was that there's like $500 college scholarship vouchers that were given away with the atom. It seems like they never paid out on them. They closed before people could cash in. I found a comment from someone on like a blog post that said the selling point for the system was the $500 college scholarship that was being given away by Calico. When you purchase one of these, I've never seen a dime of that. And then like dollar signs, I remember being some type of class action suit over it at some point, but it's hard to get blood from a stone. Yeah, people must have been mad because it was only a couple of years later that they folded. Oh my God. Angry parents as well. Because of the advertising. Because it was looking often looking at like helping your kids do homework or do better at school. So, like, that's why they bundled the college scholarship. So it's like, we'll help you now and we'll help you in college. Yeah. And then they they did neither. There were a lot of great lines in news articles from the time two of my favorites were from Atari magazine. The atom seems to have fallen from the Got It without even getting a bite out of apple or a kiss from Eve that left the people unsatisfied. Yeah, and there was one from a Washington Post article about the impact of Adams failure on Calico stuck. The Bears were yelling that the atom bomb was going to make coleslaw of the cat out of the cabbage patch. Well, I don't really. I don't get the is there is the like and the bears and the the bears and the bulls. One of them is like people that like a bearish market or a bullish market with stock market actually like a bearish market is one where like you're not buying much like you're being a little conservative. But then a bullish market is when you're like buying lots of stock and feeling really good about it. So it's like the Bears were yelling at the atom bomb. Like the atom, Yeah, is going to make this cabbage patch. It's really good. Like, oh they said yeah. So I all these analogies and like you know that the right I was so proud of themselves. Yeah. There's like three puns in there while Calico blame the atom for their downfall. Really. It was a mix of the 1983 video game crash and what could be seen as a home computer crash in 1985. A Washington Post article from June of that year titled Computer Industry Slump is Broad, Deep Details Mass layoffs and losses of flat profits at many companies, including Apple, Intel and IBM. This extended across the industry. A quote from that article says Some experts argue that the computer slump reflects a fundamental change in the industry, that the pace of new computer technology has been too fast for America's industries to absorb that. The hardware and software to link computers into productive networks has been too slow in coming, and that personal computers can't deliver the power and performance that produces have promised. And that's sort of interesting. You know, like the atom could have been, I think if it had worked, it would have given home. Home users the computer that they wanted and needed. But the technical errors made it impossible to use. And so it never got past like one year of of production. Yeah. No. When you talked about the kind of capabilities of the atom computer and the kind of possibilities in what it was marketed by, I it was very like, I sound great and it sounded fun and it sounded like cheap and easy to use. And they knew their market. They'd be in the home for a really long time. And I think, you know, the of Vision was like, we're going to give you everything. And it was because it came with like gaming. If you didn't have a calico vision, the atom was like it had joysticks, it had a keyboard. It came with games and then it also came with like word processing software. So, so cool. Yeah. I want to see one face to face, first of all, to come face to face with an atom with an atom. So contributing to this home computer slump was oversupply, oversaturation of the industry and a strong US dollar, which led to more imports. The home computer crash also eventually extended overseas, such as PRISM R, X and Claire and ACORN in the UK, all going under. In 1985. A report from 1985 said that in 1983, worldwide sales of personal computers increased 76%. But in 1984 the increase was only 19%. And in 1985, analysts were predicting that sales growth would slow to about 4%. The number of American computer makers had declined from over 150 to about 40, with a similar drop among software developers. So for me, this story brings up two things. One is the question of what is a toy, what is a computer and who is being marketed, those things. And then also like this history of the discovery of what is the role of a computer in the household? Yeah, it was a very messy realization. I mean, not even realization because I don't think we've fully come to realize the role of it yet, or whether there are lines to be drawn between the kind of what are the boundaries we need to and as well, or just like the kind of whether it should be like, you know, an entertainment system or whether it should be something that we should be working on. Because the fact that it's like the same hardware that we use for both purposes, it makes us work more for less, which is problematic, obviously. But yeah, I mean, it's also really funny because profit making companies, they tend to blur the lines of products for fun into necessary products, basically just for the expansion of of capital. And there simply are risks, risk factors that occur when that happens because it's also an obscuring of reality. It's a lie when like, when like a company tells you that you need this in your home, when actually you you just can have it in your home. Yeah, it's not true. So yeah, and I don't really know where I'm putting what we're saying with this, like with the eighties is that kind of how do we move, how to, how to market is find a way to make it unnecessary. Yeah. I think to have in the home and they were trying different things they didn't know what would hit on the first point about like the toy stuff. I found this quote in the Washington Post article from 85 that said this was not an area toy companies should have been in. In retrospect and now the last toy company is out of the game. When you come up with a $500 item or even a $250 item, you move beyond the realm of toys. These were toy companies playing in the area known as consumer electronics, because there were so many that a lot of like toy companies that were starting to make. But like I say, like this, you know, the evolution for Calico is that they were making handheld like single game things like machines in the seventies, they made a pong style console, then they made the click of vision, then they made the atom. And that what they were doing with that was bringing arcade style games which were really popular into the home. And so it's not so much of a leap for like I can see now what they were trying to do with, the atom, you know. So I think to say like they were, you know, playing in a different feel like they shouldn't have been doing that. Like, no, because it made sense at the time. I mean, in I guess it's like it didn't work out, but why didn't it work out for sure? And then also, yeah, like my second point about that, people just didn't know what the home computer would have. And this was like limiting the software that was being produced, which limited amount of people that wanted it in their home. It's really funny to read back articles from that time, from the mid eighties that are basically like, I don't understand this computer thing. I found this car. I found this article from the Australian Financial Review from 1985, though they reprinted it in like recent years because they were doing a series of like revisiting funny old articles. The reality is that while personal computers can take away much of the drudgery of office work, there is little application for them in the home except as an adjunct to business or for computer hobbyists. There is little advantage in storing recipes on a floppy disk. The average person does not write enough letters to justify the cost, and the person who cannot balance his checkbook with a calculator and pencil is unlikely to be able to do so on a computer. But they did know about logs. That's why I get all my rescues from 1995. Yeah, and it was a quote from Dave Norman who owned like a large chain of computer stores called Business Land. Where is he really to To Don Norman, who is the first Unix designer ever? I, I don't think so. I did look it up. I couldn't find any evidence of it, but Business Land did do a deal with Steve Jobs at some point to, like, have an Apple computer only sold through their stores. So there's some pictures of Steve Jobs and Dave Noonan and Dave sorry Dave and Dave Norman. Yeah together. But I don't I guess like normal kind of a normal name hahaha. The he was on his on this episode of a TV show called The Computer Chronicles and they did like a double episode in the eighties about the slowdown of the industry. And he said he was asked about like home computers because he mostly did. You know, he was his local business land. You must have business computers. And he said, well, we have never really been in the home marketplace and I have trouble understanding it. I guess my first response is I really don't see at this point where there's value to buy a computer for the home. In all honesty, it suddenly isn't worthwhile putting your menus in a computer, the home, and doing your budgeting. I don't think it's there yet. And then, yeah, there was in that show, there was also some discussion around like what use is it? And it was like it's full work, like, you know, work that you don't finish at your job and you want to finish it at home. It's for work from home, which they said was basically like your side hustle. Yeah, yeah, it was home. But yeah, children doing that I but also it's just like, well, once the World Wide Web came about, it just changed everything. It changed the placement of computers forever. Like I can imagine, I would have probably maybe had similar thoughts to if I, if I lived before, you know, 1991 or whatever, when the World Wide Web was invented. And it was about like video techs, the video techs that works like those computers or those terminals, like the first time people were using things like, yeah, for sure. But again, those were like mainly subsidized, but they were networked. Yeah, that's when it's useful. Yeah. Yeah. This is interesting that it's like the you get the computer first in this case and then you get the internet later and you get that reality. Yeah, I talk further home particularly, you know. But you know, obviously all this was figured out in the end is I look at you on my computer and we're recording this focus across two countries. I've got two computers in front of me. So what occurred in 1985 was sort of a consolidation of the market. You know, we ended up with instead of all of these different companies trying stuff out, we ended up with large companies like IBM, Apple, who had previously been mostly in the business sector. And then they started taking up a much larger percent of the home computer sector. Yeah, I have this silly sentiment deep inside me that believes in like underdog products, especially in tech. And I mean, obviously that's just why we're doing this, this upset. I'm sure you can relate, but I have this Google phone that I've had for years and it's really bad. And but I don't want to like I don't want to give in to buying an iPhone just because for some reason in my head, I think that me having this Google phone is helping like maintain the kind of variety of phones, but that's just like completely untrue because it's a Google phone. Like it's good to variety but variety from what? Like Apple, from Google? Yeah, I don't know it's sad that are like inner need for encouraging diversity I guess has been quenched by not only a limited options but the ones that only consist of multinational enterprises. Yeah and it's like it ends up becoming this like one size fits all situation as opposed to kind of a, yeah, personalized experience of the technological world and you know I'm yeah like they even think about phones and how many different phones that were and how what phone you had like your Motorola Razr or your Nokia whatever was a different like different personalities had different phones. It's a little sad. You're right to think that like I'm an Apple phone person and it's just like, okay, when can I afford a new one? But it's all the same. It's all the same thing, you know? And I think for the large part, I think it's because, you know, because of this tech industry recession that you talked about in in 85, it's there was a consolidation of the market afterwards. It meant that only some companies were able to survive. I want to know if there was like a mobile phone. Recessions, recessions. Because I'm thinking about like when there were a bunch of different phones and even, you know, like you could buy ringtones. And there were so many ads for that because the thing is, with this 85 recession, it wasn't just the computer makers. It was like the chip makers and the, you know, the software makers like everything was affected. So I guess, like maybe when the iPhone came in other oh, even like M.P. three players before the like iPod iPhone came in, there was so many different sorts. Yeah. And then when it starts consolidating and we start just having one or two big companies making the main phones and they have control over what the ringtones are, what the, you know, we lose all of that other stuff around it. Yeah. All the other businesses that were popping up to kind of support phone users. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. I wonder if there was a phone dip from the flip phone phone. Flip dick? Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. That was the end. That was the idea. Calico As for video games, which had seriously slowed down in the U.S. of the 83 crash, they came back with a vengeance with the introduction of the Nintendo entertainment system in 1985. And for Cabbage Patch Kids, Hasbro took over their rights in 1988 after the Coleco bankruptcy, and they've continued to be produced under various companies to this day a.k.a Sour Patch Kids. Different things. I'm kidding. I I'm kidding. I've learned a lot from you. If the only thing you learned from this episode is the differences. So Cabbage Patch Kids. Oh, we have. We still do. Still didn't get that. But I understood everything else, you know, that was so cool. Fun little story. I wish our computers were just toys. At the end of the day, not stupid. Like vessels of work and depression. Are you okay? Yeah. This is definitely like, brighten my mood. The full story. Thanks for sharing that. Thanks for your contributions and listening. I'm just so intrigued about computers. Like we're so used to them now, but when they first came out it was like, Well, what were they? How do we market them? What? Who's it for? Who's going to use them? I'm just I would be so intrigued to know what if all the if the the home computer slowed down in 85 and that all the technical issues hadn't happened. Like what would that what would the atom have led to? This is a very I mean, I would have definitely bought one, that's for sure. Yeah. Yeah. I would have thought it was really cool. I would've thought the printer was cool. Apparently the printer was really loud, like crazy loud. The people would put, like, towels and blankets over it to stuff it. It was really slow. I mean, it's kind of a cool and a risky endeavor to do by a toy company is to build like a computer, like imagine all the money and time and labor and like knowledge you have to implement to make a system like that. That's kind of turning like perhaps a New York Times system into a computer. Exactly. But yeah, awesome. Thank you so much. Thank you. Maybe we'll do a little we'll do a little special over the holidays. Maybe we'll find some Christmas related topic. A Christmas computer. Not the atom, though. Baby Jesus. Computer. All right. Bye bye.