[Coco]: Tandy's biggest mistakes thread
alsplace at pobox.com
alsplace at pobox.com
Wed Apr 20 18:27:30 EDT 2005
I worked for Radio Shack during the final years of the CoCo. Back then,
the CoCo remained Tandy's #1 best selling computer every holiday, but
if someone could buy a Tandy 1000 TL instead, we'd make much more
commission. I sold CoCos where appropriate, preaching the fun of OS-9,
the more colorful games, etc. (CoCo 3 had better graphics, etc. than
the Tandy 1000 TGA 16 color screens had, for example.)
Radio Shack did not want the CoCo to suck away sales from the more
expensive machines, as simple as that. But, internally Tandy did have
bigger plans for the CoCo, some released, some not. For example:
1) Tandy made a hard disk interface for the CoCo, allowing it to use
the hard drives for the Model III/4 machines.
2) Tandy discontinued the disk drive for the CoCo (yes they did!) for a
short time, with the plan being to sell the interface and then let the
CoCo folks buy the same external floppy drive used on the Tandy 1000
RX. (Or was it the HX? The all-in-one PC.)
* This would have given the CoCo a 3.5" drive through Radio Shack. For
whatever reason, this did not happen and the FD502 came back.
3) At Tandy Tower, depending on who you ask, Tandy either had an
engineer who had repacked a CoCo in an 1000 RX case, OR there was a
CoCo prototype that had a disk drive built in, in a *similar*
case/design as the RX.
* Now that we've seen the CoCo 3 motherboard prototypes, with the
FD1773 controller BUILT IN, I no longer buy the "it was a repack" story
I've heard. Heck, the prototype has 512K, so maybe that was in the
original standard? But, would people buy a $500 CoCo w/drive that only
ran CoCo software, or spend a bit more for a full PC that ran tons of
new PC stuff?
4) Tandy adopted 3rd party express order HARDWARE as well as software.
I believe I bought my Disto Super Controller 2 (no halt floppy!)
through Radio Shack, if I recall. That was a rather high end disc
controller for the day. There were a few other items there that
indicate Tandy was open to promoting the higher end side of the CoCo.
Need we point out OS-9?
So, the real problem was probably twofold: 1) sales people could make
more money selling a PC, which was probably seen as a better choice
(more standard; the PCs killed off ALL 8-bits, not just the CoCo), and
2) Tandy could make more money too so had little reason to keep the
During the early days, you could get a COmmodore at K-Mart, Sears, etc.
while CoCos were only at Radio Shacks (not counting the TDP System
100). More "normal" people could find and buy a cheap C64 at the local
mall, while they may not have ever even set foot into a "nerd" store
like Radio Shack.
Radio Shack pioneered "buy, take home and use" computers. "The Biggest
Name in Little Computers", my CoCo 1 box says. But, that market --
early adopters -- was not a market to continue to survive.
The Tandy 1000 became the #1 best selling PC clone, and the first PC
clone to break $1000, but that didn't last. Even when Tandy moved to
"the next big thing in computers" -- PCs -- and dominated it (first
computer to have the Good Housekeeping Seal, for example), it didn't
last. THe market changed.
Yes, Radio Shack could have done more; and it seems they tried. After
all, the C64 was a $650 computer when I bought my CoCo for half that...
Would the C64 been a success if it had stayed at $650? They got the
volume up, and prices down...
Cheapness won ;-)
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