[Coco] Fresh new retro computing article!

Boisy Pitre boisy at pitre.org
Tue May 28 01:17:26 EDT 2019

Hi all,

I’ve been unsubscribed to the list for over a year or so, mostly due to lack of time and focusing on pursuits, but given the last few posts, I have re-subscribed for the time being.

I have put about as much energy into this as I want to give, so please pardon this long post. Quite simply, my name has been brought up and I need to respond, since no one should speak for me except for me.

So... the back story is I wrote an article on vintageisthenewold.com (VITNO): https://www.vintageisthenewold.com/stepping-on-toes-addressing-duplication-of-hardware-in-the-vintage-computing-marketplace/

It’s an opinionated article inspired by a number of recent and not-so-recent events related to competition in the CoCo market. It’s a topic worthy of a larger audience, which is why I decided to post it on VITNO — to reach and affect a wider audience.

It’s not written in an accusatory manner. It’s not a “hit piece.” It doesn’t names names, or call for beheadings or burning at the stake for perceived offenders. It calls for what I think is a reasoned approach to coordination between hardware vendors who put time and money into making products, and even offers a positive example.

As I expected, this article got some traction and struck a chord. Discussion ensued on Discord and on the comments section of the article itself.

Part of the Discord discussion were pointed and specific questions about my stance from D. Bruce Moore, which I tried to answer to the best of my ability. Looking back on it, I’m not sure if this was an honest attempt to get clarification on my views or a coordinated attempt to catch me in an inconsistency in order to discredit me and my article. Given some of the comments expressed about my article from others, I have to wonder. In any case, from my article, I am quoted as saying:

        "Of course, free markets are just that: free. That means the freedom for anyone to create anything and sell it in any marketplace. I am not proposing that a vendor should “own” a particular segment of a market."

And from the conversation on Discord with Bruce:

        Bruce: "I like the idea of coordination between vendors but there appear to be pragmatic issues with it.  Who goes to who?  Vendor A who is first to market should be consulted by Vendor B who wants to make a similar product? How do you go to someone if they haven’t announced a product intention? Poll all the existing Vendors and give away your idea?

        Me: “I agree, it can get thorny. For existing products, it's quite clear. For ideas in the making, it's not as cut and dry.”

It’s not a great answer, and I can see where it might be confusing. So let me clarify:

- No vendor should “own” a particular market. By “own” I mean cordon off a product line and say to anyone else “you can’t make something like this.” It’s not just anti-competitive, it’s impractical to enforce. You cannot tell people what to do.
- In a smaller sized market, I am advocating for a deferential approach when it comes to producing a product that is identical or nearly identical to one that already exists. Instead of putting effort into duplicating an existing offering by another vendor, focus on something novel and new. If a vendor is considering an unannounced idea, it’s more difficult to decide what to do.

I’m advocating for a middle ground, which is still somewhat nebulous, admittedly, but something in between “hey get off my lawn” and “I’ll make a product just like yours and sell it for less and make it harder for you to recoup your non-recurring expenses.”

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