DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

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Elminster
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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by Elminster » Thu May 02, 2019 9:44 am

Not looked at the sales figures for Dragon's. But I am assuming they either didn't sell that many, or they sold well in certain demographics, or maybe I lived in a bubble because back in the day I never owned or knew anyone that owned a Dragon. I don't even remember seeing it for sale in the local shops. It was just one of those names you saw on multi-format listing books or magazine (I had all the Input mags).

Edit: First ones I knowingly saw were years later in places like TNMOC and Cambridge Comp.Mus.
Last edited by Elminster on Thu May 02, 2019 9:45 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by RobC » Thu May 02, 2019 10:12 am

Elminster wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 9:44 am
...maybe I lived in a bubble because back in the day I never owned or knew anyone that owned a Dragon. I don't even remember seeing it for sale in the local shops.
I knew a few people with one when I was at school. A couple of my cousins had them too. However, that's probably not surprising given that they were made not far from where I grew up. Also, when my wife got one for Christmas, one of the main reasons for choosing it was apparently because "it was made in Wales" :)

Reading the history of Dragon Data, it seems they were fairly popular during the boom years of 1982 and 1983 but ran out of money once the market contracted.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by Richard Russell » Thu May 02, 2019 3:54 pm

Prime wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 9:28 am
Not suggesting anyone stole from anyone more a case of parallel independent development.
There was nothing particularly novel about a block-based format. Even if it was uncommon in those days for audio cassette storage on home computers, it was standard for data tapes on mainframes, floppy disks, Winchesters etc.

The tricky aspect was getting the code to do the right things in all the possible circumstances of rewinding-and-retrying, whether reading a file sequentially (OSBGET) or as a memory image (OSFILE). I'm pretty sure that despite the best efforts of Acorn and the BBC it didn't always work correctly in OS 0.1 (and maybe not even in the shortlived 1.0).
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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by algenon_iii » Sat May 04, 2019 6:25 pm

Elminster wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 9:44 am
Not looked at the sales figures for Dragon's. But I am assuming they either didn't sell that many, or they sold well in certain demographics, or maybe I lived in a bubble because back in the day I never owned or knew anyone that owned a Dragon. I don't even remember seeing it for sale in the local shops. It was just one of those names you saw on multi-format listing books or magazine (I had all the Input mags).

Edit: First ones I knowingly saw were years later in places like TNMOC and Cambridge Comp.Mus.
Could well be an age thing. Whilst in primary and secondary school I knew people who had C64s, Spectrums, Electrons, the Beeb and even someone who had an Aquarius. I remember VIC-20 and ZX-81 as well but they were already old and were upgraded to something newer at some point.

I knew of it but the first time I saw a Dragon 32 was in a display cabinet in the 1990s.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by mr-macrisc » Sat May 04, 2019 8:57 pm

Nah i agree... In wild i saw zx81, speccy, bbc, Amstrad, c64, electron, Vic, but don't think i ever saw or knew anyone with a Dragon.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by paulv » Sat May 04, 2019 9:18 pm

My friend had an Atari 2600 then he had a Dragon 32, then a C64. I had the Beeb at about the same time he had the C64. Then in around 1989, we both got Amiga 500's.

We played all sorts of games on his Dragon 32, I don't remember much else about it but then again, I was about 9 years old at the time. It is the only Dragon 32 I ever came across in the wild.

Paul

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by scruss » Sun May 05, 2019 1:07 am

There were a few Dragon users at my school. All of them went on to become Amstrad CPC users. One of the Dragon users, Alan Cook, wrote quite a few successful text adventures for the Dragon. I had a Dragon 64, briefly, but didn't do much with it.

The display looked terrible in the UK as it was pretty much a stock Motorola reference design for NTSC. The CoCo was a stock reference design: it was apparently unchanged from Motorola's application note. The Dragon had a few tweaks done to it, but it didn't really do anything that other computers did better.

There are a few rabid CoCo fans here in Canada. Apparently the last NOS Dragon sold in the USA just a couple of years ago …

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by BigEd » Mon May 06, 2019 8:33 am

The ever-informative nosher.net tells us:
Dragon had come from nowhere to briefly become one the UK's top-selling micros by the end of 1982, having shifted 50,000 units
and
...for a while, the Dragon was considered one of the UK's most popular micros, having sold 80,000 in the first 12 months of its release - Personal Computer News's September 15th "Top Twenty" chart had it at number 3, down from the previous week's number 2.
and finally
Premier Micro System's Mike Bedford acknowledged that despite the failure of the company, there were still 200,000 Dragon users around. He said "That's a large potential market. They aren't going to go out and chuck their computers in the bin just because the company has gone bankrupt".
...
[Dragon Data] managing director Brian Moore: "it is almost certain that somehow, somewhere, there is someone interested in providing 200,000 Dragon owners with continuing support"

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by BigEd » Mon May 06, 2019 8:45 am

That top-20 chart can be seen here.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by Commie_User » Mon May 06, 2019 11:56 am

Of course, the Dragon limped on for a few more years in Spain, while Sinclair had a go with a Spanish machine and the Amstrad CPC ended up king of the hill there.

I can easily imagine how Spain looked a land of promise in 1984-85, with a saturated British market standing in stark contrast to the comparative empty one in Med, to start with all over again. Losers here could win a while, while winners there could be potentially emperor.

What a cunning move on the
part of Sir Clive — launching a
128K Spectrum in Spain. with a
Spanish keyboard and some
Spanish firmware.

The timing is interesting, as is
the co-operation with a Spanish
company, Investronica.
According to the press release
which confirmed the rumours
that a Spanish 128K Spectrum
was on the way, the new
machine is "the result of a joint
programme undertaken by the
two companies over the last six
months".

It's not surprising, given the
grief handed Out to Sinclair
Research by the money men in
The City, that the company has
entered into partnership with a
foreign company. The Spanish- speaking world represents a
massive market for computers,
and Spain's eagerness to buy up the Dragon when no-one else
wanted can be seen as an
indication of the desire for
computer technology in Spain.
CRASH!, November 1985.
[/quote]

http://www.retro8bitcomputers.co.uk/Con ... -Nov85.pdf

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by Commie_User » Mon May 06, 2019 12:10 pm

algenon_iii wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:07 am
The BBC/government in the early 1980's understood something some computer companies didn't, the importance of standardisation. I didn't do GCSE Computer Studies (or O levels as they were back in the early 80's) but I can imagine the misery schools and exam boards would have if there hadn't been standardisation around the beeb. If an exam asked a student to write some code to do something, imagine getting code written in Apple BASIC, Atari BASIC, BBC BASIC, Commodore BASIC, Microsoft BASIC, Sinclair BASIC depending on what computer a school had and then marking it figuring out if the code was correct based on the nuances of the implementation of BASIC (esp. with things like random numbers).

Design Design had a miserable take on standardisation, at least with computers for pleasure. But then, their point of reference was the MSX.....
Simon walks to the window and turns
around. 'MSX is a terrible standard. It is
terrible,' he repeats emphatically. 'I'm
speaking as a designer. That's why I was
stressing I can design computers. Because
no one's gone on about the hardware
on the MSX. It's got a sprite chip. There are going to be a lot of companies
in the market who write sprite type games who will love that computer.'
Graham ioins in. 'Ocean, although they're not too keen on the MSX, think it's
reasonably good and they prefer it to the
Amstrad.

And the reason is because on
the Amstrad you've got a raster display like on the Spectrum. You can do whatever
you want with it. BUT you've got to think
about it and write software to drive it. On
the MSX you just do this pretty shape and
shove something out of a port.'
Simon taps the edge of the desk firmly. 'Let's get this straight. Sprites are fine, I'm
not anti-sprite. But you cannot have
ONLY sprites, and that's more or less
what MSX has done. Because you can't
get at the video display memory. I'm
seriously opposed to MSX. People are
going to fall left right and centre for MSX
because it suits their sprite games. But in
six months time, when everybody's tire of
sprite games. there's going to be no
alternative.

The software industry will go poomph!
On top of that,' he continues agitatedly,
'I don't think a standard is good for the
software industry. At the moment there
are lots of software houses who eke out a
living because they are very good in one
particular niche. If you've got a standard
for machines so you can write one game
for all computers on the market - suppos-
ing this horrid situation should ever arise then
the software houses who are best at
sprite games are going to crush everyone
else. It's not good for the British computer
industry to throw it all away to some
Japanese standard that isn't really a
proper standard anyway.
CRASH!, September 1984.

http://www.retro8bitcomputers.co.uk/Con ... -Sep84.pdf



Now any PC can make a brilliant job of anything with the right software and cards and interfaces, the idea of expertise crippled by single-standard central hardware seems absurd.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by scruss » Mon May 06, 2019 2:08 pm

Commie_User wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 11:56 am
Of course, the Dragon limped on for a few more years in Spain, while Sinclair had a go with a Spanish machine and the Amstrad CPC ended up king of the hill there.
Spain was quite special. There was an import duty on computers with 64 K or less (fewer, if you prefer), so the Spanish government bunged Sinclair a bunch of cash to produce the 128, as long as it could have >64 K and had some Spanish on boot up. I think Spain just really really didn't like Commodore or Apple.

The ultimate Spain-only hack was the Amstrad CPC 472. It had an entirely non-functional 8 K RAM chip on a daughterboard to get by the tariff. Yup.
Design Design had a miserable take on standardisation, at least with computers for pleasure. But then, their point of reference was the MSX.....
To be fair, Simon Brattel has a miserable take on many things. He may be a gifted low-level hardware and software developer, but playing well with others isn't really his thing.

MSX was surprisingly good: a very solid BASIC with proper decimal floating point (written in the time that MS couldn't decide if BASIC should have decimal or binary FP: a few versions squeaked out the door with decimal, but mostly they stuck with the faster binary), good keyboards, solid displays, well documented hardware. Just terrible, terrible marketing outside Japan. Can one ever unsee Tony James of Sigue Sigue Sputnik's MSX hat? I thought not.

MSX 2 was even better: faster processor, better custom chips and MSX DOS was basically MS-DOS but on Z80.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by mr-macrisc » Mon May 06, 2019 3:08 pm

Surprised the c64 is so low on list cos next to spectrum that seemed to be the most popular home machine of era by a long shot. As an electron owner I can say c64 or spectrum was by far the most prevelant machines in mid 80's

Maybe dragons did well early and all got dumped by time i was in to games proper.
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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by Elminster » Mon May 06, 2019 4:06 pm

I think it is hard to pin down the figures based on local experience.

I remember one C64 owner (also had a vic20), one Electron Owner (me), one BBC owner (mate over the road) and everyone else was a Sinclair of some sort or other (the main reason I went from electron to a spectrum +2 with dual 3.5 inch floppies). No Dragons, no MSX, no oric, etc.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by Commie_User » Mon May 06, 2019 4:13 pm

scruss wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 2:08 pm
I think Spain just really really didn't like Commodore or Apple.
It appears that a Spanish electronics place persuaded their government to go all Trump and impose import tarriffs on foreign equipment, which was then rather sharply curtailed after powerful lobbying from manufacturers of that equipment. Interestingly, the import duty bodge only lasted a handful of months before being abolished anyway. What a waste of everybody's blood pressure.

https://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/472


And while I agree the MSX was conceptually sound, it didn't particularly look the best of anything. With MSX 1, the scrolling was choppy, the sound was rudimentary and it wasn't all that cutting edge generally. And even by MSX 2, it didn't look like it could beat the NES in graphics or sound. And if the C128 failed, I doubt the MSX range could have hoped to catch on in the face of the Amigas, Atari ST's and Archimedes' of the land.

And interesting that the Commodore was mentioned. Though for a computer that price in 1984, it was a high placing. If the Electron was as good, no doubt it would be there too. Though I'm half-surprised the BBC was No. 2, even though schools got them in droves. And obviously the Spectrum was top, as it was cheap, it was starting to get the inexpensive add-ons and it was versatile enough for reasonable utilities, straightforward BASIC programming and damn good games. It was the ubiquitous leisure-concept machine. Unlike the stock ZX81, regular people saw the point in having one.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by scruss » Mon May 06, 2019 4:52 pm

Commie_User wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 4:13 pm
It appears that a Spanish electronics place persuaded their government to go all Trump and impose import tariffs on foreign equipment, …
I still remember the UK tariff on imported disk drives and floppies. A box of 10 floppies was £50 back in the day.
I just remember swingeing limits on the amount of money you could take out the UK. I remember dad having to plead with authorities so he could take more than fifty quid out the country for a two week family holiday in Spain. Admittedly Franco was still in power, but …
I'm not old enough to remember the postwar import controls that went away in 1958. These controls meant that the UK had its niche technical industries that cloned high-tariff foreign products such as cameras. Before 1958, there were Leica clones from Corfield and Reid, and Linhof clones from M.P.P..

So import/export controls didn't just come in with the Orange Destroyer of Important Scottish Shoreline Habitats …

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by Commie_User » Mon May 06, 2019 5:32 pm

I'm more than aware of that, mind you. In Britain, it took no less a giant than Churchill himself to come back to power with his party to hammer down that bit of organised government planning, which also included the public being on half the wartime food ration that they had ten years after Hitler invaded France.....

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by 1024MAK » Mon May 06, 2019 5:46 pm

***Lets not drift into politics.***

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by Commie_User » Mon May 06, 2019 9:56 pm

I can't find a Dragon's Claw to get us back on topic.

But here's a piece of Dragon self-unawareness.....
download.jpg
download.jpg (20.59 KiB) Viewed 515 times

Dragon 32: There's only one thing harder than building a great computer. Building software to match.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by vanpeebles » Tue May 07, 2019 8:27 am

I have a megadrive joypad with the dragon logo on the box, did they(or related) move into other stuff?

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by Prime » Tue May 07, 2019 8:46 am

vanpeebles wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 8:27 am
I have a megadrive joypad with the dragon logo on the box, did they(or related) move into other stuff?
I have a USB -> IDE case with the Acorn logo on it in much the same way......

i.e. Origional company goes pop, someone buys the ip and uses the logo on their products.

Cheers.

Phill.

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Re: DRAGON USER gripes about the Computer Literacy Programme.....

Post by Kazzie » Tue May 07, 2019 9:29 am

vanpeebles wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 8:27 am
I have a megadrive joypad with the dragon logo on the box, did they(or related) move into other stuff?
Ironically, the Dragon used analogue joysticks, and wasn't compatible with Atari 9-pin derivatives like the Mega Drive controller.
BBC Model B 32k issue 7, Sidewise ROM board with 16K RAM
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