Does the price really matter (that much)?

Schlowski

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Sep 24, 2019
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I know, the 8bit guy argued that an 8bit computer which cannot do more than a raspberry pi should not cost more that a raspberry pi.

But let's be honest, we have a totally different audience here. I think (but maybe I'm totally wrong) that most of us 8bit enthusiastics are old guys (mostly male, some female) which have used 8bit computers when they where young. So nowadays this is an elder audience which tries to relive their youth with at least some money at hand for our hobby.
And when I look at some of the hardware products which are sold for old computers nowadays and the uprising prices for old computers on e-val bay I come to the conclusion that the price is not the most limitating factor - as long as it stands reasonable. That would be the 200-300€ range for me. I know that's a lot of money for a lot of folks, but realistically hobbies are always expensive. And this is way cheaper than say a 1967 Ford Mustang :)
 

emptybits

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Sep 25, 2019
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I agree. If the price increased for a "good" reason then I'd probably still buy one. Examples of a "good" reason IMO: using a 65816 CPU if it doesn't mess everything up.

Raspberry Pi has to compete in a mainstream market of Beaglebones and a ton of other awesome ARM SoCs all with very similar capabilities and does not need to play to any aesthetic or romantic or retro rules. High performance, high capacity, and modern ISA/GPU/boards/fabrication are what that crowd wants. More GHz, video, GPIO, etc.

OTOH, if I understand David's motivation, I share it ... I want something that probably could have been done in the early 1990s but wasn't, and one that encourages fun and creativity *because* of its arbitrary tech constraints.
 

cml37

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May 19, 2019
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I agree, with one small caveat: there may be a portion of the retro community where a high price may put things out of reach for some folks. Which, like you noted, isn't any different than what we are seeing on eBay... and eBay's prices definitely prove your point and that you are 100% correct!!

I've actually been pretty surprised at the number of teens that I have seen who have really dug into vintage computers! Never would have expected it. That said, yes, the older population still outnumbers the teens probably 10:1

I suppose that those who find a Commander X16's price out of reach could share in the experience through using emulators. Isn't software great? :)

I guess in my case, I never really got into anything much before PC compatibles (with the exception of some Apple II stuff in elementary school), so I would't buy it at any price really. Not sure if I can say that out loud and still keep my moderator status here, haha!
 

GregZone

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Sep 29, 2019
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From my observations there appear to be two distinct markets for the X16.
  1. Those reminiscing their own 80’s experience with the early days of 8bit computing and the fun of coding on something that provided full access to, and understanding of, the raw / register level hardware.
  2. The newer generation who were brought up on modern programming challenges (and frustrations), who are intrigued by the fun, excitement, and learning experience of 80’s microcomputing, that they missed out on.
Personally I think both of these markets would include a reasonable level of "budget limited" folk (me being one of those, in the reminiscing camp).

In this regard I think price really does matter. In fact I’m hoping that with all this talk of fancy keyboards and cases, that a budget kitset version and/or board only option does not fall by the wayside, in favour of a full “retail like” pre-packaged product.

I think if the original focus on low / accessible cost availability is put aside, then this will not only significantly limit the market (and ultimately the user base), but it will also significantly detract from the potential educational & satisfying experience (for many), in putting together their first 8bit computer!

ps. I'm also hoping for the 65C816 CPU to be the standard, to extend the "more fun" experience. Noting that the 65C816 is perhaps only $1 more than a 65C02 chip, and that it powers up by default in 65C02 mode (and could still just use the same 16bit addressing space already established for the X16).
 
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qbradq

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Sep 14, 2019
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@GregZone Great comments! In the latest YT video I think David mentions the address bus multiplexing was going to add to the complexity of the design, so they were leaving it out for now. I need to re-watch the video again for context I guess.

Also, price point is very important to me. But I fully understand the issues of scale. I will buy a kit no matter how long I need to save because this is my dream 6502 SBC :)
 
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Swift34

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Umm...price matters....price it too high....and the 16 people who say price isn't an issue would be the only ones who own one...and that would be a shame. I've also been waiting to see if a machine like this would ever make it into reality...I'm patient...Hopefully I can contribute some how.
 

Schlowski

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Sep 24, 2019
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...and the 16 people who say price isn't an issue would be the only ones who own one...and that would be a shame
I agree, I too hope that the X16 will be successfull.
It seems that my assumption of "price does not matter" was a little bit too optimistic - or too egocentric.
 

qbradq

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Sep 14, 2019
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Hopefully I can contribute some how.
Discussion on this forum and the FB group helps build the community. Reporting bugs in the emulator also helps :) And if you have coding skills creating software for the machine can help build interest.

It seems that my assumption of "price does not matter" was a little bit too optimistic - or too egocentric.
In my case price matters in so much as that I am poor. But I would be willing to pay pretty much anything for a 6502-based machine with modern I/O interfaces and a capable video chip. I have been chasing this whale for a long time, and I, like David, do not have the skills to do it myself :)
 

BruceMcF

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May 19, 2019
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From my observations there appear to be two distinct markets for the X16.
  1. Those reminiscing their own 80’s experience with the early days of 8bit computing and the fun of coding on something that provided full access to, and understanding of, the raw / register level hardware.
  2. The newer generation who were brought up on modern programming challenges (and frustrations), who are intrigued by the fun, excitement, and learning experience of 80’s microcomputing, that they missed out on.
Personally I think both of these markets would include a reasonable level of "budget limited" folk (me being one of those, in the reminiscing camp).

In this regard I think price really does matter. In fact I’m hoping that with all this talk of fancy keyboards and cases, that a budget kitset version and/or board only option does not fall by the wayside, in favour of a full “retail like” pre-packaged product.
Price definitely matters to me. If the Stage 2 board breaks $100 I may still be able to stretch my "disposable income aside from gifts for grandkids" budget to cover it, but there's no way I can stretch my budget to what the kit buildable board and customized case and top end keyboard would run.

ps. I'm also hoping for the 65C816 CPU to be the standard, to extend the "more fun" experience. Noting that the 65C816 is perhaps only $1 more than a 65C02 chip, and that it powers up by default in 65C02 mode (and could still just use the same 16bit addressing space already established for the X16).
They've been very definite ... if they try the 65816 and it can be made to work in the board, they may go with the 65816, but in any event it WILL be using the 16bit addressing space. They are past the "tinkering with the memory map" stage ... the memory map is the memory map, the only thing really up in the air is exactly how many I/O register spaces will be built-in resources and how many will be expansion slots.
 

GregZone

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Sep 29, 2019
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They've been very definite ... if they try the 65816 and it can be made to work in the board, they may go with the 65816, but in any event it WILL be using the 16bit addressing space. They are past the "tinkering with the memory map" stage ... the memory map is the memory map, the only thing really up in the air is exactly how many I/O register spaces will be built-in resources and how many will be expansion slots.
Yep, I'm totally onboard with that... Lock in the current 16bit address map!

I'm only interested in the 65C816 for the 16bit registers / 16bit ALU / instruction & addressing mode enhancements / direct page register etc.

ie. All of the things that add convenience and enhance the "fun" of old school microprocessor coding, and take away some of the coding "frustrations" that came with the 8bit register limitations of the earlier 6502.

Again, my views are based on my own personal 70's / 80's experience of initialing coding for the MC6800 (which did at least have a 16bit Index register & two accumulators), then the most awesome MC6809 8/16bit processor, before feeling the frustrations of coming back to coding for 6502 with my first color computer (the C64).

So I'm viewing the 65C816 (over the 65C02), as simply expanding on the X16's potential appeal and an enhancement to the coding "fun" aspect. :)
 

LRFLEW

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Sep 23, 2019
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From my observations there appear to be two distinct markets for the X16.
  1. ...
  2. The newer generation who were brought up on modern programming challenges (and frustrations), who are intrigued by the fun, excitement, and learning experience of 80’s microcomputing, that they missed out on.
Yep, I'm in category 2 here. I do think price is kind of important... but maybe not in sense of performance. While I have a passing interested in retro tech, paying $200-$300 for an 80's computer, before any of the software and peripherals required to really utilize it is kind of hard to justify. With something like this, the cost is generally lower after peripherals and cartridges, the community is (hopefully) more active, and you are guaranteed new parts/components that are more likely to work (not 100%, but close enough). These advantages mean that the device actually has a lot more value. It doesn't need to be "less than a Raspberry Pi", but it does need to be low enough to avoid overshadowing or minimizing these advantages. I think the 3-step plan laid out in the Part 2 video is good.

As to comment on the 65C816, if they can make it work, then sure I'd be down to work with it. However, it does feel like the project has been designed too far around the 65C02 to make the switch now. Sure, all the code would be compatible, but I suspect everything in the ROM (Kernal, BASIC, etc.) would want to be rewritten around the new CPU for efficiency, which would delay the project significantly. I would be happy to get the 16-bit ALU, but I won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen.
 

jdifelici

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Sep 24, 2019
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As to comment on the 65C816, if they can make it work, then sure I'd be down to work with it. However, it does feel like the project has been designed too far around the 65C02 to make the switch now. Sure, all the code would be compatible, but I suspect everything in the ROM (Kernal, BASIC, etc.) would want to be rewritten around the new CPU for efficiency, which would delay the project significantly. I would be happy to get the 16-bit ALU, but I won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen.
As the ROM will be flash-able, they could do the upgrade over time. And since the 65816 code is usually smaller, they may be able to squeeze more functionality into the BASIC and ROM, etc. in the same 8K/16K space. That would be nice.
 

Schlowski

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Sep 24, 2019
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But hopefully they do not go that "one more feature before release" lane as seen so often on other projects. I really want to get my hands on a real X16 machine as soon as possible. Flashable ROMS and after market updates seem fine to me as long as the hardware is finalized.
 
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BruceMcF

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But hopefully they do not go that "one more feature before release" lane as seen so often on other projects. I really want to get my hands on a real X16 machine as soon as possible. Flashable ROMS and after market updates seem fine to me as long as the hardware is finalized.
I lost my concern that they would fall into that kind of trap when they pulled the plug on all of the nifty features and brought out the 64K "this pin in the VIA drives that pin on the flash ROM" memory map. At that point I figured they'd do what it would take to actually ship a board.
 

jdifelici

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Sep 24, 2019
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Well, I hope we don't see a new Kernel revision each week. But if they were making updates that were backwards compatible, and making the code smaller and faster by using 65816 instructions, and maybe even adding some forward features (new Basic commands, Kernel routines), and these came out once/twice a year, that would be fine with me. Especially if they were 100% backwards compatible in functionality -- if someone is calling the raw direct Kernel routines, then they may have to change modes/addresses, but I'm fine with that.
 
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BruceMcF

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Well, I hope we don't see a new Kernel revision each week. But if they were making updates that were backwards compatible, and making the code smaller and faster by using 65816 instructions, and maybe even adding some forward features (new Basic commands, Kernel routines), and these came out once/twice a year, that would be fine with me. Especially if they were 100% backwards compatible in functionality -- if someone is calling the raw direct Kernel routines, then they may have to change modes/addresses, but I'm fine with that.
That sounds right. You need some time with the new revision in Beta for thorough Beta testing in any event.
 

qbradq

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Sep 14, 2019
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Yep, I'm totally onboard with that... Lock in the current 16bit address map!

I'm only interested in the 65C816 for the 16bit registers / 16bit ALU / instruction & addressing mode enhancements / direct page register etc.

ie. All of the things that add convenience and enhance the "fun" of old school microprocessor coding, and take away some of the coding "frustrations" that came with the 8bit register limitations of the earlier 6502.

Again, my views are based on my own personal 70's / 80's experience of initialing coding for the MC6800 (which did at least have a 16bit Index register & two accumulators), then the most awesome MC6809 8/16bit processor, before feeling the frustrations of coming back to coding for 6502 with my first color computer (the C64).

So I'm viewing the 65C816 (over the 65C02), as simply expanding on the X16's potential appeal and an enhancement to the coding "fun" aspect. :)
I am not experienced with the 65x816. Can you hold the processor in legacy bus mode while still using the 16-bit ALU and registers? If so then I would say this would be the best option. It would only add $1 to the total cost of the board at quantities of 100, and only $2 or $3 for sample quantities.

At the same time you can easily argue that - because the 65c816 is pin-compatible with the 65c02 - upgrading to the 65c816 would only cost $7 and a bit of your time de-soldering / re-soldering.
 

BruceMcF

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I am not experienced with the 65x816. Can you hold the processor in legacy bus mode while still using the 16-bit ALU and registers?
"Legacy bus mode" is just not reading and latching the bank data that is put on the data bus during the PHI2=1 part of the clock cycle.

The issue is whether that bank mode will cause contention on the data bus that causes problems.

At the same time you can easily argue that - because the 65c816 is pin-compatible with the 65c02 - upgrading to the 65c816 would only cost $7 and a bit of your time de-soldering / re-soldering.
It's not pin compatible ... the pin compatible 65802 version is no longer in production. But if you are not using some of the less often used pins of the 65c02, there's very few modifications to make ... eg, you need to put a pull up register on a 65c02 clock output pin that become an active low input pin, might need to put different lines to the extension boards for slower devices to be able to slow down CPU reads.