Author Topic: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar  (Read 1136 times)

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Online Gryzor

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From Popular Computing Weekly, August 9 1990 (with huge thanks to @ComSoft6128 ).

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Offline ComSoft6128

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Online Gryzor

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #2 on: 20:53, 27 January 21 »
Yeah, nobody clued him in, apparently.
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Offline eto

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #3 on: 11:29, 28 January 21 »
Let's face it, Sugar was not a visionary. He was a "me too (but different)" inventor. And I don't mean it in a bad way. I honestly really like this and I sometimes see that as a role model when doing (professional) decisions. Very successful and a genius in identifying profitable niches that nobody has addressed before, based on already existing technology, just put together in a new way to git that niche. In that niche he had kind of a monopoly - and sometimes the niche turned out to be pretty big, like with the CPC or even bigger, the PCW. But afaik he never entered a market where there was already competition.

That's why we didn't see a 16Bit Amstrad. There was already an established, cheap 16 bit, the ST. There was no niche anymore.

Also the Gameboy was already cheap. Creating something similar would have meant to do a huge investment in a market with already big competition.



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Online Gryzor

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #4 on: 11:37, 28 January 21 »
Nobody ever called AMS an inventor - he was a merchant and a solution provider. But that doesn't excuse calling the handheld market 'a fad' :D

As for the competition, like what you say about the 16 bitters, that was the exact case with the 8-bits as well so I'm not sure it stands as an argument.
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Offline Maniac

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #6 on: 11:58, 28 January 21 »
See now that's just plain stupid. Why would he bet the iPod would be dead? It's not like it was the first portable digital audio player either - not a new market. Weird.
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Offline eto

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #7 on: 14:10, 28 January 21 »
Nobody ever called AMS an inventor - he was a merchant and a solution provider. But that doesn't excuse calling the handheld market 'a fad' :D

As for the competition, like what you say about the 16 bitters, that was the exact case with the 8-bits as well so I'm not sure it stands as an argument.


I call him an inventor. And that for a reason: By academic definition, an invention is something somehow new that has success in the market. There are 3 types of "new" and one of them is "combination/reusing of existing aspects that are combined in a new way". And that's exactly what he did. So yes, he is an inventor, but (as I said) not a visionary one who brought us something completely new but a combination which is new.

For 8bits, it was an invention as he was the first (successful) one to bring together a few aspects that opened a niche. IMHO this would be:
- like with his stereos, the CPC (unlike Speccy, C64, Atari,...) is no longer a messy combination of many components, but an easy to setup system
- it has the price of a home computer, but looks almost professional
- the games were good enough for kids to accept it as their computer (thanks to the acceptable hardware AND the genius idea to provide games by Amsoft from the start)

I remember that my parents were really reluctant to buy me a C64, but then the CPC showed up and it got that semi-professional touch, the neighbours' dad, an engineer, got a CPC and there were discussions like "yes, this is not just for games, it's a real computer"... and that convinced my parents to support my wish to get my own computer. That was the niche - and it was a huge one. It was brilliant to identify that niche and it was the invention to leverage existing technology and bring it together in a new, unseen way. Not totally different, I agree, but different enough to open a big market.

But if any of that would have been missing, I bet it would not have been such a success. Otherwise 1984 would have been just too late for another 8 bit machine.

2 years later, the Atari ST and later the Amiga already have filled that niche for 16 bit, there was just no market, where an Amstrad 1024 would have sold.

But as I said, he was not a visionary, so I am not surprised by his opinion about the iPod or Gameboy. He didn't see what will be big in the future, he just saw very clear and bright, where he can NOW earn a lot of money. Sometimes even more than he originally expected, as for the CPC, they expected to sell in the 10000s not on the millions.
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Online Gryzor

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #8 on: 14:33, 28 January 21 »
As a marketing professional, I'm longing for the day when I'll discover a huge niche, take advantage and retire :D

AMS served as mainstream an audience as there ever was one.

An invention doesn't have to be a success, but it does have to be something new, that hasn't been done before. So:

-all-in-one, easy to set up? Definitely not the first
-cheap and good looking? Definitely not something 'new'. Pricing and product design are parts of an invention, but do not constitute one.
-good games? A company-owned software distributor? Ok, not even going to touch this one ;)

Much as we love our CPCs, there was nothing inherently new in them. Sugar's success was a combination of market and design factors that appealed to a much larger audience (inversely, to a much less niche clientelle) than his competitors, but he invented little, if anything at all.
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Offline eto

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #9 on: 16:09, 28 January 21 »
An invention doesn't have to be a success, but it does have to be something new, that hasn't been done before. So:


Argl! I meant innovator! Sorry, innovation is new AND successful. Second language mistake.

If you take everything on my list on its own, I agree, it's of course nothing new. But he combined these three - and that was new - and successful. Innovation is not necessarily sexy or impressive or a big step forward. And what he did was clearly more than copying and making it cheaper.

Regarding my list you changed what I said slightly but enough to change the meaning -  but I did not say "good looking", there are also other computers that looked good, definitely. Personally I think the 464 does not look good (and I know that many think different, but that's just personal preference). I said "looking professional". Not a breadbox like the C64, not looking like a toy. Looking almost like a professional computer. And I also didn't say "good dames", I said "good enough". They were "good enough" so kids were interested in the computer. Which then, after being successful, opened the doors for really good games.

Regarding all-in-one, easy to set-up, I honestly don't know which home computer did have that before. What would be the e[size=78%]xample for this? [/size]
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Online Gryzor

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #10 on: 16:20, 28 January 21 »
Oh ok, innovation is more like it :D Though again, all-in-one, easy to set up home computers already existed. Think PET for instance. The thing is, within his specific market (UK/Europe), AMS re-introduced the already existing concept with a high degree of success.

Yes, I know I kind of simplified what you said "good looking", but essentially that's what he did ("good looking" doesn't necessarily or only mean "pretty").

As for all-in-one computers, the Alto and Star were two very early ones (though by no means home computers), the Apple II to some extend, the Lisa and Macintosh come to mind.
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Offline ComSoft6128

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #11 on: 08:36, 29 January 21 »
Inventor - no.
Innovator - yes


I was 26 when I purchased my first 6128 and I bought it for word processing and games - it was the only computer on display in Dixons (with the possible exception of the Einstein) that fitted the spec of "All round home computer" with a disc drive(!), and as a bonus had it's own dedicated HQ (mode 2) monitor.


So the components might not have been new but the Amstrad 6128 on the shelf was relatively cheap and filled a gap in the market missed by Amstrad's competitors - the serious home user who liked to occasionally kill aliens :)


As for the 464 (and this might whiff of heresy around here) - it was just another games machine in the same league as the Spectrum and C64.
« Last Edit: 09:15, 29 January 21 by ComSoft6128 »
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Online Gryzor

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #12 on: 09:43, 29 January 21 »
Nooo come on, my neighbour did his PhD on a 464! Admittedly, with an external drive, but still :)
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Offline ComSoft6128

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Re: The Ineffable Judgement of the Infallible Sir Sugar
« Reply #13 on: 09:59, 29 January 21 »
Indeed, the 464 with an external drive was a practical machine for serious work.
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