Re: 8520/21

From: Nate Lawson <>
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2015 13:05:04 -0700
Message-Id: <>
> On Mar 6, 2015, at 3:31 PM, Jim Brain <> wrote:
> On March 6, 2015 at 5:28 PM wrote:
>> On 2015-03-06 23:23, Jim Brain wrote:
>> >> Presumably they just wanted a binary counter for the Amiga. The idea
>> >> that they made the 8520 and then the 8521 was an afterthought might be
>> >> true, too :-)
>> >>
>> > I suppose they did this is crazy way just because they had the
>> > capabilities to do so. But, man, what a waste of precious resources.
>> Have you ever worked in/with/for a corporation? Especially one that's 
>> been relatively large and has undergone some M&A, Jim?
>> My guess is not ;-)
> Actually, I have worked at 4 publicly traded corporations in my life, 3 above $2b, 3 of which are the product of significant M&A. 
> It's not the waste per se.  It's the waste in light of the rationale and personalities of the earlier crop of designers.  The stories I read noted that time was always short, and designers were always looking for shortcuts to deliver working silicon.  The early designs, at least, were filled with elegant (and something inelegant) repeats and such to finish a design using a minimum of space and design time.  Bob Yannes and his compromises he made to get the SID done, the tradeoffs in the various video ICs, etc.

I think of big corporations as oscillating between decisions made by committee that make no sense (Plus4 software) and single personalities bursting through the veneer to deliver their own odd/brilliant features. The C64 chipset was the latter — two people taking their own initiative to build something in isolation that happened to be just right. No market research or meetings, just individual effort.

On the downside of this, you have the C65 where a couple people got chips manufactured, prototype units built, and even a rough manual for something that would never fly.

Perhaps the 8520/8521 design decisions were made by one person working in a corner that just made their own choice how to build it without thinking it through. They were tasked with making something happen, and since it was a relatively boring product, had little oversight to optimize the process.

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Received on 2015-03-09 21:00:05

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