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AuthorTopic: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga  (Read 3203 times)

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Offline Argo

How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« on: November 11, 2011, 08:18:08 PM »
Greetings,
   I found this posted on Google +. It is a brief history of the Amiga and how the patent for the XOR Cursor stopped the sail of CD32s in the USA. Weakening the company to the point of bankruptcy.

Read it here:
https://plus.google.com/110412141990454266397/posts/dbipY1GJoGv
 

Offline EDanaII

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2011, 09:05:20 PM »
I find this a little suspect...

Was there no way around this patent? I think we're either missing some details on how this might have destroyed Commodore, or, assuming they couldn't find an alternative, Commodore truly was very stupid.
Ed.
 

Offline agami

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Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2011, 10:59:27 PM »
Sounds like 'the straw that broke the camel's back'.
People strive to find simple answers, it allows for closure. Given everything else that was wrong at Commodore at the time, if this patent dispute wasn't there it would have just prolonged the eventual demise.
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Offline ajlwalker

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 11:17:29 PM »
Quote from: agami;667477
Sounds like 'the straw that broke the camel's back'.
People strive to find simple answers, it allows for closure. Given everything else that was wrong at Commodore at the time, if this patent dispute wasn't there it would have just prolonged the eventual demise.


I tend to agree with you.  However, who knows what could have happened?

The CD32 sold very well in the UK and literally owned the CD-ROM sales charts.  90% of all CD-ROM sales were on the CD32 format.

If Commodore could have emulated that in the US, it could have perhaps kept them going.

I suspect the Amiga would have been forgotten about and they'd have proceeded with a console based on the Hombre chipset, which I believe was almost as powerful as the Playstation 2, but years and years earlier.

Perhaps nowadays we'd have Commodore, Nintendo and Microsoft fighting it out and Sony would be licking it's wounds after a failed Playstion.
 

Offline actung_bab

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2011, 11:24:37 PM »
well apprently sony designed the orginal playstation 1 for somone esle i forget who
i think was atrai chould be wrong and only sold themselves after other company didnt want it
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Offline ajlwalker

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2011, 12:40:36 AM »
@achtung bab

Yes, it was a joint project with Nintendo for a CD-ROM add on for the Super Nintendo.

Somewhere along the line they fell out and Sony carried on the R&D for what would become the Playstation.
 

Offline maw2k

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2011, 01:20:36 AM »
its not a news, its written on http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiga_CD32

Quote
In den USA durfte das CD³² aufgrund eines Lizenzstreites offiziell nie  verkauft werden und so blieben die Geräte in den Fabriken in Asien  zurück. Einige Händler aus Asien verkaufen seit 2006 noch einige  Restbestände mittlerweile über ein bekanntes Auktionshaus. Das CD³² war  eines der letzten Hardware-Produkte, das die Firma Commodore  veröffentlichte, bevor sie Konkurs anmelden musste.
some dealers got hardware over the Canadian border but not in such a big amount to save Commodore :(  you can even see today sometimes dealers from Asia with brand new CD32 on ebay

Quote
Patent #4,197,590 covers the concept of an "XOR cursor". In the early days of windowing systems (especially with bitonal displays), it was common to represent your cursor as a small bitonal bitmap. When you want to display the cursor, you exclusive-or (XOR) it into the pixels of the desktop. This insures that the cursor is always visible: the cursor is black on white, or white on black. And when you wish to hide or move the cursor, you XOR it again, and the original image is restored. Fairly obvious. But if you write the code, you are in violation of patent #4,197,590.
source: http://www.horrorseek.com/home/halloween/wolfstone/Logistics/logpat_StupidPatents.html

http://www.amiga.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-25333.html  :)
« Last Edit: November 12, 2011, 01:26:47 AM by maw2k »
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Offline weirdami

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2011, 09:38:11 AM »
What is a XOR cursor?
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Offline itix

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2011, 11:10:41 AM »
To have different angle to this debate: Commodore was stupid enough to steal someone's intellectual property.

It is stupid that patents like this can damage Commodore's revenue stream but you have to play by the rules. Commodore had some silly patens, too.
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Offline gertsy

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Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2011, 01:20:21 PM »
I have another angle on this debate.  I have never heard of it before. I think it's crap. Or loosely based on fact.
The us was a big market for CBM but not the be-all.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2011, 01:23:41 PM by gertsy »
 

Offline billchase

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2011, 03:19:33 PM »
Why would this patent only affect sales of the CD32 and not the other Amiga models that sold in the US?  I am not saying the patent had no impact, but something does not add up.
 

Offline vidarh

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2011, 03:27:21 PM »
Quote from: itix;667525
To have different angle to this debate: Commodore was stupid enough to steal someone's intellectual property.


First of all you can't steal "intellectual property" because it's not property in the first place. That's why patents and copyright are created through separate laws and not covered by property law at all.

Secondly, this patent came totally out of left field and nobody thought there'd be any chance in hell it'd be enforcable, because it fails on every aspects of the legal requirements for getting a patent: It's obvious to someone trained in the field, and there was plenty of prior art.

Most likely it would've been invalidated if the court battles around it had gone  to completion.

What it illustrates is how completely ridiculous the patent system is, and how badly it needs an overhaul - it's the largest *threat* to innovation we have.
 

Offline Matt_H

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2011, 03:31:02 PM »
If I remember things correctly, what happened was that Commodore couldn't bring the machines into the US. But dealers could, and did - my CD32 was from CEI in Florida. Still, the legal nonsense disrupted the whole supply chain. I think it was only the dedicated Amiga mail-order dealers that tried to get the machines. I never saw one at retail anywhere or advertised by a non-Amiga reseller.

Another part of the question: Dave Haynie wrote in Deathbed Vigil that Commodore might have survived with 400,000 US sales - could they have made that many sales without the supply problems?
« Last Edit: November 12, 2011, 05:18:49 PM by Matt_H »
 

Offline ajlwalker

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2011, 06:33:22 PM »
Quote from: billchase;667546
Why would this patent only affect sales of the CD32 and not the other Amiga models that sold in the US?  I am not saying the patent had no impact, but something does not add up.


The patent would have affected the other models.  However, there were tens if not hundreds of thousands of these machines already in the supply chain.

Commodore in anticipation of bringing CD32 to the US market ramped up production and had hundreds of thousands of CD32s sitting in a Philippine factory.

When you put it in that context, they effectively bet the farm on the CD32 and then couldn't sell it!
 

Offline ajlwalker

Re: How a Stupid Patent Killed the Amiga
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2011, 06:38:40 PM »
Quote from: Matt_H;667553

...Another part of the question: Dave Haynie wrote in Deathbed Vigil that Commodore might have survived with 400,000 US sales - could they have made that many sales without the supply problems?


I would say it was doubtful, but there WAS a chance.

So far as I recall the CD32 sold 100,000 units in the UK in short order.  Probably a similar amount in Germany and the rest of Europe.

The US market is, what, six times bigger than the UK?  However, the Amiga wasn't the popular games machine in the US that it was in the UK/Europe.

I reckon they'd have matched the UK sales at least, and if they got some momentum and good titles out there, word of mouth could possibly have done the rest.

I maintain though that if CD32 would have been a success, then Commodore may have dropped the Amiga computer and carried on with the game console market.