I'm interested in the time, place and manner in which some historically important computers were introduced to the world. For example, the Macintosh was presented in January 1984 by Steve Jobs, first at the Apple shareholder meeting, then at a meeting of the Boston Computer Society.

Commodore introduced some important products at conventions: PET at West Coast Computer Faire 1977, CBM 8032 at NCC 1980, C64 at CES 1982. What was the format of these? Was it just 'walk up to the booth and take a look, and an employee will run through some of the features for you' or was there anything more elaborate, along the lines of the Macintosh introduction?

The Amiga was presented July 23, 1985, at the Lincoln Center, New York. Did they organize an event just for that, so that they could stage a more elaborate show than they could at a convention?

How did that compare with the debut of the Amiga's main rival, the Atari ST, at the Winter CES in January of 1985? Was that a 'walk up to the booth and take a look' affair, less elaborate than the Amiga?

Edit: Okay, that's two people perceiving the question as vague, so I'll make it more specific.

The Amiga apparently was introduced at its own special event, whereas the Atari ST was introduced at a convention, the Winter CES. Is it the case that the introduction of the Atari ST was therefore just a 'walk up to the booth and take a look' affair, whereas the Amiga could get a more elaborate stage presentation of the kind Steve Jobs liked to arrange, and this is why Commodore spent the extra money and risked the extra political capital on the special event?

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    This is way too broad. There are hundreds of computers that were launched, all in their own way. What constitutes "historically important"?
    – Chenmunka
    Nov 29 '17 at 11:41
  • @Chenmunka I listed five and asked about those specifically.
    – rwallace
    Nov 29 '17 at 11:48
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    I agree this is too broad: even with five computers, you’d end up with five stories (in all likelihood). Quite a few books about the ST and Amiga mention launches; they tended to be quite varied: from big events to mere press releases, and in between, demo booths at shows, invitation-only presentations to selected journalists (often in a hotel room next door to a convention), etc. The juiciest parts of course are all the shenanigans leading up to the launches, and the demo short-cuts necessary to live up to promises with what was available at the convention... Nov 29 '17 at 12:36
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    With the current edits, I think this is really just a question about the Amiga launch versus the Atari ST launch. The mention of other computers just sets the context and clarifies what exactly is being asked. I think it would be appropriate to edit the title to clarify this.
    – Ken Gober
    Nov 29 '17 at 13:12
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    I remember some event featuring Andy Warhol (drawing Debbie Harry, who was there too, using ProPaint) for the launch of the Amiga, in 1985. warhol.org/exhibition/warhol-and-the-amiga Apr 3 '19 at 12:34

This question is a bit misleading as it seams to imply that a presentation at a trade show is always done in a 'small' booth somewhere hidden in a crowded hall. Maybe the originator never went to such? So the question may be rather:

Why do companies sometimes choose separate events over trade shows?

(Still not really Retrocomputing related)

'Boothes' on a trade show may be quite large. Sometimes companies fill whole convention halls with their single 'booth'. They are quite often way larger than any separate venue of the same company would be, as they transport communication over a longer duration as a single show and to a wider direct audience.

In addition, trade shows offer stage rooms/halls. This is where companies do such presentation events. Ofc, the machine will be also shown at the booth, regardless of size, after all, that's what a trade show is about. The stage events do the 'official' introduction. Such a stage show may be 'just a press conference' or again outclass any separate event in size as well as in style.

So doing an introduction within a trade show or separately is a marketing decision, and doesn't tell anything about the way it was done. It's all about how a marketing director sees the bigger chance to reach the target audience. Go with the convenience of a trade show and have a guaranteed crowd and a coverage among all trade publications and maybe beyond if show (and product) seems important enough for mainstream media (good PR preparation may help).

Conclusion: It's all about what goal marketing wants to reach

While Atari did go with a small presentation at Winter CES and a surprise introduction at Comdex, as they did not have any money to go beyond attending at all, hoping that the usual trade media would do the bidding, (New) Commodore did decide to go with a separate event targeted at main stream media and using showbiz glamour to attract them.

...and what budget they have :)

(Fun fact, a year later, in 1986, the Atari booth at CES was huge, while Commodores stand was quite small - Source: Compute! 75 in 8/86)

  • Right, I have been to a few trade shows, but they were much smaller scale affairs, that were about small booths in crowded halls, so I didn't realize what the big ones involved; that does answer my question. Thanks!
    – rwallace
    Nov 29 '17 at 21:17
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    @rwallace sorry, that comment wasn't ment to set you back in any way. It was just my impression. Here are two pictures from the 1985 CES stand of Commodore - the one where they focused on the 128 and VicII series. It got even a second floor with a roof (thats rare). The same years where Atari only had a small stand way off showing the first ST prototypes. c128.com/sites/default/files/field/image/scan0001.jpg hackadaycom.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/scan0013.jpg
    – Raffzahn
    Nov 29 '17 at 22:12
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    @raffzahn Wow! You can see a sign for the Commodore LCD there...what I would have done to go there as a kid back in the day!
    – PhasedOut
    Nov 30 '17 at 18:28

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