[...] operating systems including PC-DOS for $40 or CP/M for $240. Customers looked at what appeared to be essentially equivalent products, looked at the sixfold price difference, and we all know the rest.
Keep in mind that it was also about a new machine with a new CPU. There was no existing software base, except for conversions, usually offered for both OSes. In the 8080/Z80 World CP/M was (almost) a monopoly, buying anything else would have needed a very special reason - only vendor lock in like with TRS-DOS did feature a limited market.
The Z80 version of CP/M, which did not have such competition, was much more popular. What was its retail price? Was it also $240, or a different figure, or was a separate deal with a separate price made for each hardware platform?
The later one. Or more correct, CP/M was available in two flavours.
Als a 'pure' package from DRI, targeted at system builders (and thus hobbyists), with just the OS and a sample BIOS in source to be adapted to whatever machine the buyer had (in mind). This version came with several binders of documentation.
As a machine specific version sold with a computer. Documentation was, if at all, rather specific.
Well, maybe one can include a third, intermediate one:
- A version preconfigured for rather standard configurations often sold with a floppy controller that needed just minor changes.
By flipping through several 1979 issues of Kilobaud a price rage arround 300 USD for a genuine CP/M can be found, while machine specific CP/M can be as cheap as 50 USD. Generic versions sold with floppy controllers ranged around 70 USD.