For technical reasons, business computers of the late '70s usually had little multimedia capability. There have been modern claims (e.g., in the comments on this video) that such capability was considered a net negative: that it caused a computer to be thought of as a games machine, and therefore not a business machine.
Was this actually the case at the time? In the late '70s and '80s who said this (explicitly or implicitly) and what reasons did they give? Were these computers disqualified solely because of the multimedia capabilities, or were there other strong reasons for disqualification anyway (e.g., lack of an 80-column display, slow mass storage, etc.)?
This question is looking not for your opinions, but for historical evidence of the opinions of businesspeople and others involved in the IT industry at the time, so answers supported with citations and quotes will obviously be more convincing.
By 'multimedia', I mean graphics and sound capabilities in excess of those considered necessary for business computing in the seventies and early eighties (roughly speaking, anything beyond 80x25 monochrome text with a few box characters, and beeps).
It is a fact that business computers of the late seventies generally had little multimedia capability. There were good technical reasons for this. 80-column text was important, and it was very difficult to get that and color at the same time, for reasons of memory, bandwidth and sheer lack of availability of high-resolution color picture tubes (the ones used in color TV sets, being really better suited for 40 columns). They typically did have sound, because the ability to beep is useful for heads-down data entry, but more sophisticated sound would've been unnecessary, therefore a waste of money, therefore omitted.
But it is occasionally said that multimedia capability in the seventies and eighties was actually considered a net negative, that it caused a computer to be thought of as a games machine, and therefore not a business machine. This sentiment has been expressed a few times in the comments discussion on this video (the video itself is good, even though I don't entirely agree with the claim it makes, and the comments are much better than average YouTube comments):
The original Apple II was regarded as a business machine, with its (often bundled) monochrome monitor, primitive graphics hardware and a "sound system" which could produce clicks and beeps. The competing C64, with the standard monitor being a frivolous color display, having hardware-accelerated graphics and a sound chip which could play music and produce a wide range of sounds, was considered a game machine. Schools often bought the "serious" Apple II instead of the "video game" which had half the price...
Um. It's true that American schools often bought the Apple II whereas the C64 could have done the job for half the price, but I don't really get the impression they did this because the Apple II had inferior graphics and sound. On the contrary, I get the impression the US school system made an explicit decision to standardize on the Apple II in part because its color graphics were infinitely better than the competition at the time the decision was made (i.e. it had color graphics, and the Commodore PET and TRS-80 didn't), and by the time the 64 came out, the decision was already made, many schools already had their computers, the ecosystem of educational software was already standardized around them.
Same for the Commodore Amiga. With its image as a game machine, it never took off in corporate environments (even though AMIX ("Amiga UNIX") appeared by 1990..that was at a time where UNIX was a contender for the desktop market and Microsoft Windows was not yet established at all). In 1990, in my first job, I was working via dumb monochrome VT220 text terminals on a UNIX workstation. I suggested that an Amiga running a terminal emulation would be cheaper and more capable and not break every few months, but I was dismissed with the comment that the Amiga could only play games (and must therefore lack the capability of sending keystrokes via a serial line and display green ASCII letters).
Okay, but people's stated reasons for a course of action, are often very different from their real reasons. I conjecture the real reason was something along the lines of 'maybe the Amiga would work, maybe not, it would be hassle finding out, probably work out around the same price, and Commodore is a downmarket company with a bad reputation, so if it doesn't work, I'll be blamed for choosing a dodgy supplier; it's not worth the hassle'. And put on the spot, the individual didn't articulate all that in the timescale of less than a second on which spoken communication expects replies, so just blurted out something about it being a games machine. I doubt it was really the Amiga's gaming capabilities that disqualified it.
Heck, even by 2000, manufacturers of "IBM compatible" "business PCs" took great care not to have any sound capabilities on board (except the "beeper") as that would make the machine unusable for serious work. In fact, in some areas, PCs with sound capabilities would not be tax deductible at that time!
Okay, that's a much stronger claim! I was under the impression they just stuck with the beeper because there was no particular reason to spend money doing anything else. Is there any truth in the claim about multimedia-capable computers being ineligible for tax deduction?
The only law even vaguely related to such that I remember was the Spanish attempt to put an import tax on gaming computers but not business computers, and then they didn't distinguish by positive multimedia capability, but by a negative: the tax was applied to computers with less than or equal to 64K of RAM. (One cheeky manufacturer avoided the tax by putting an extra 16K of RAM inside the case but not connected to anything.)
And some of my reactions to the other claims are admittedly just conjecture. Though I will point to CGA as historical evidence that a color graphics display was not considered a net negative, or IBM of all companies would not have gone out of their way to make it available even as an option.
Is there any historical evidence for the claim that graphics and sound were ever considered an outright negative (as opposed to merely an unnecessary expense) for business computers?