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42

The situation with the 386(DX) v. 386SX is similar to the situation with the 8086 v. 8088. The big issue isn’t the data lines (although they do have an impact on complexity and cost when routing a whole motherboard), the issue is mostly the cost of support components: motherboard chipsets (whether integrated or discrete), memory, etc. By going back to a 16-...


32

Cost, both in manufacturing and design. The basic metal cases are simply that -- basic. Even modern PC cases are pretty simplistic being a metal box, with a plastic facade. For home computers of the time, they're essentially self contained unit with "no user serviceable parts inside". They were not designed to be opened by the consumer, instead having ...


22

Injection molding has a costly tooling cost but very low per-unit costs. This makes it cheaper to build a large number of cases. Metal cases have a lower tooling cost but higher per-unit cost. This makes it cheaper to build a small number of cases.


22

So that indicates extra data lines were very expensive; the difference between a 386SX and 386DX computer came to hundreds of dollars. Not really. Sure, they need to have some room and routing - and thus more thru hole connections, but over all, doing a 32 data lines instead of 16 isn't a big deal. It wasn't the data lines themselves, but rather the ...


15

It's not just how many data lines, but where you have to route them. While the PPU on the NES does have its own independent RAM, it is connected only to the PPU. To update the tile RAM from the main CPU, all accesses must go through the PPU. This limits the extra 8 data lines and 11 address lines (for a 2 KB address space) to a small area of the board, as ...


14

There are a few improvements that made the 800 more valuable Candy Coleen (400) (800) RAM (original design 1979) 4 KiB 8 KiB RAM (first delivered 1980) 8 KiB 16 KiB Maximum RAM (48) KiB 48 KiB (*1) RAM (later models 1982) 16 KiB 48 KiB ROM Slots ...


13

Sinclair certainly competed vigorously on price, and designed their machines to achieve as low a price as possible. The ability to sell a computer for less than £100 was one of Clive Sinclair's goals with his earlier ZX machines, for example. One example of this influence on the Spectrum line was their membrane keyboard, another was the fact that they were ...


12

I was designing computer housings back in "the day". Plastic cases were comparatively cheap in volume, but challenging to bring to market. The technology of choice was structural foam. It was strong but thick, up to about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. In the basic form, it required painting, but there was a co-extrusion process that would inject at the ...


11

PC Magazine 11/1984 was first reporting about the PC/AT 5170. They quote a price tag of 3800 USD for the low end configuration with 256 KiB and 5800 USD for the high end configuration with 512 KiB RAM and 20 MiB HDD. PC clone manufactures to produce 80286 based AT compatibles would have taken at least until 1985. You can try to find the first ads in PC ...


10

I did find some prices in BYTE: November 1975, page 91 2107 4Kx1 Dynamic: $19.95 (0.49 cents/byte) 2111 256x4 Static: -- not listed 1101 256x1 Static: $2.25 (0.89 cents/byte) April 1976, page 89 2107 4Kx1 Dynamic: $19.95 (0.49 cents/byte) 2111 256x4 Static: $7.95 (0.77 cents/byte) 1101 256x1 Static: $2.25 (0.89 cents/byte) Byte ...


7

When was the 286 first available for purchase by end users Well, this of course depends a lot on the values of 'Available for Purchase' and 'End User'. Is the question about the chip, boards with a 286, or polished turnkey systems including some IBM compatibility? If it's about general availability of working boards, it may be as early as late 1982/early ...


7

My firm designed microcomputer boards in the late 1970s to early 1980s, and we often had discussions about whether a particular design was going to use static or dynamic RAM. When you say "static RAM, because it's quite a bit easier to get to work", you also need to remember that the refresh circuits cost design time, chips, and board space. (No surface-...


6

The Atari 800 allowed a maximum of 48k of RAM, vs the 16k maximum in the Atari 400. After 1980, both models shipped with maximum RAM - so you were getting three times as much memory with the 800. (Details are on Wikipedia.)


6

[...] 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 ...


6

Not sure about 1980, but in the early 80's my first job was with a small software company that wrote an accounting package that ran on Unix and MS-DOS systems. Our preferred terminal for the Unix systems was Liberty Freedom 110, 200, or Freedom ONE terminals. The Freedom terminals emulated several different terminals, such as Wyse 50, ADM 3A, and its own ...


6

Chiclet keyboard. (But the full travel keyboard had been considered cheap enough for the Vic-20.) That was not only at a different price level, but also a different time. After the ZX80 (and ZX81) was introduced, the US home computer industry was in shock. The VC-20 was introduced in 1981 at 300 USD where the ZX81 was just 70 GBP or (at that time) roughly ...


6

In this document there is a mentioning of half a million dollars spent for designing the Z80.


6

Most PDP-series machines of this era were built using a large number of cards (with soldered components) connected by a wire-wrap backplane and a series of cables. I think the cables were mostly used to interface major components together, such as the CPU to the RAM, storage drives, terminal multiplexers, etc. The cards were considered standard components ...


5

The incremental cost, or "BOM cost", of the original 128K Macintosh was approximately $750 at the time. This answer is trivially determined from the 1982-83 Apple Computer Inc. public financial results, along with the historical account provided by Andy Hertzfeld. Historical Apple Computer Inc. financial results indicate a Gross Margin of 50.6% in 1982 and ...


5

I don't have exact figures, because as pointed out in the comments it will vary massively between different production lines, machines, and times, and manufacturers weren't eager to publish this kind of information. However, it's likely to be less time than you think. Wave soldering makes assembling an entire board very quick, and was starting to become ...


5

The Vic20 was not the last consumer product to use static ram on the main system board. In the mid 90's a Socket 3 (486 class) motherboard was created by Ocean Technology octek.com - defunct. The HIPPO-DCA2 motherboard which required at least one 4MB 72-pin SIMM of something called DynamiCache RAM in the first 2 slots. DynamiCache was a built from high ...


4

For a set of 8 not realy cheap, already way above what I remember as street price for that time frame. In this case I got personal memory, as I was searching search for acceptable priced 4116 for my Apple II in spring 1980. The dealership I bought the machine did quote me 120 Mark (~75 USD back then) for a set of 8. The cheapest local parts dealer was only ...


4

As is usually the case with manufacturing, the selection of a component/construction type (the keyboard, in this case) is not so simple as just knowing the cost per manufactured unit. This is because the cost per manufactured unit is impacted by the scale of production. Generally speaking, larger volume production leads to lower per unit cost. A corollary ...


4

To the question in the title ("How much...?"), the answer is $1395 for a DEC VT220 in 1983.


4

Using the many helpful comments given, and reviewing dealer pricing of the Apple II and II Plus in old issues of Byte magazine from 1979/80, I've come up with what I think is a reasonable explanation and timeline. The most important factor affecting the price of both Apple II models during the transition period of late 1979 and 1980 was the rapid decline in ...


3

No CIA6526 chips either. These must have been a few $ per piece internal price. The power supply was much smaller and cheaper. The C64 "doorstopper" must have cost at least $5 to manufacture. I also think the price difference is against the original C64, which wasn't as highly integrated.


3

The Lear-Siegler ADM-3a was extremely popular for folks who didn't have much money for equipment (like my university in the 1970's). The ADM-3a was $995 (about $6K in current dollars).


3

These might not qualify as authoritative, but they do claim to be based on the original X68000 catalogs (over a few years): The Giant Bomb page on the X68000 says it launched at 369,000¥, approximately $2,500 (US) at the time; GameSX has a price list which confirms this figure. Two adverts show pricing information: an ad for the first X68000 model, ...


3

The original Apple II case was designed before the FCC started enforcing Part-15 consumer product RFI emission rules. Atari used a metal shell inside a plastic case for the 400/800 because they thought the FCC rules would be enforced more strongly. Apple instead switched to plastic with a conductive coating inside and lots of gaskets instead so the Apple ...


3

Another reason: Simple home computers used relatively slow (both in risetime and in clock frequency) circuitry which was also contained in a relatively small area (making the wiring a less effective antenna), so the chance of becoming an EMI nuisance due to a a partially-shielded/unshielded plastic case was smaller. Also, some home computer systems were ...


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