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XOR patent ended CD32, and Commodore-Amiga (1994/2005) (xcssa.org)
112 points by gokhan on July 25, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments

I generally don't agree or like RMS, but if founding the FSF is going to help a single little bit into avoiding charades such as this, I'm backing it up.

Thankfully, the situation is not as bad in the EU, but there's a lot of pressure to the Commission (mainly from US/JP corporations - Fujitsu & Microsoft are some recent examples) to promote additional laws that ease patent issuing and enforcing them.

I think you missed the point, it's issuing and enforcing the software patents that is bad for anybody but the biggest companies.

I'm sorry, how is that different from what I wrote? Did I somehow imply that patents are "good" for any one of us? I don't think so, but then again I'm not a native English speaker.

If clarification is needed, I'm a firm believer of "information must be free". I think we could agree that giving the right to lawyers to make profits out of decent people's work and ideas is not part of that. :)

In my opinion the main problem that EU regulations brought to Europe is exactly that it's now much easier for big companies to push through new laws which are good only for the mentioned big companies and which then get applied by all the members.

And sorry, I falsely understood that you believed that the easer issuing of patents which is probably coming in EU is what's "better" in EU than in US. Now I've read more carefully -- I'm the one who overlook the "but" in your sentence.

> In my opinion the main problem that EU regulations brought to Europe is exactly that it's now much easier for big companies to push through new laws which are good only for the mentioned big companies and which then get applied by all the members.

Any specific examples of this?

I live in Europe and the press is here full of such examples. Before, the corporations had to lobby the politicians of every state and some things would simply never get through as the attempts would induce reactions from opposition and the media attention. Now corporations simply lobby the bureaucratized "representatives" decisions of who are almost never covered by media -- cheaper, simpler, and almost always works. Try discovering how GM food got allowed in EU.

I'm European too and I haven't seen the many examples in the press that you refer to. In fact the EU seems to be relatively good at resisting laws pushed through by big businesses compared to, say, the US.

From what I remember, GM food was allowed in the EU because there wasn't sufficient reason to disallow it. Not that there wasn't lobbying pressure on both sides, of course, but those in favour were mainly from farming lobbying groups who wanted to grow it.

Software patents often harm the really big companies too, due to the existence of patent trolling companies which exist for no other reason than to horde patents and sue big companies.

Actually this helps big companies. They can afford to pay off the trolls and continue but bogus patents can kill off their smaller competitors who don't have money for lawsuits.

That's why Microsoft, for example, pays off billions in patent lawsuit winnings and then hires expansive lobbyists to keep them coming. It's peanuts to big companies but the freedom from upstart competition they get is priceless.

If a patent is transferrable in some form, and has some value, then there will be a market for it - one can hardly fault someone for exploiting this to commercial advantage.

The patent system itself is broken..... let's fix that...

As an engineer, I'm offended by the fact that some lawyer has control over the types product I can design. We keep on hearing how patents harm innovation, now hopefully something is done about it.

The US was never a major market for Commodore Amiga, and CD32 wasn't a great success in any of the Amiga's major markets (albeit better than the CDTV and the Phillips CD-i). So it's unfair to blame their failure on the patent.

While I'm sure most people here agree that software patents need fixing, saying they were to blame for the Commodore Amiga's failure is inaccurate.

Yeah, Amiga was very strong in Europe. Although, it does demonstrate how risky it can be to sell to the US market.

Agreed. I loved the Amiga. Owned 3 of them. But due to it's unique video architecture, the Amiga was in trouble once VGA displays became mainstream on PCs. Only the high-end Amiga 3000 was capable of a non-flickering 640x480 display as standard and you were still limited to 12 bit colour. There was no networking, only 8 bit sound and the vast majority of machines sold had no hard disk. What had been a groundbreaking platform in 1985 was looking decidedly long in the tooth by 1990. The day I saw Wolfenstein 3D on a friend's 286, I knew it was all over for the Amiga as a gaming platform too. That was the "last nail" I recall.

I bought the sx-1 extension to the amiga cd32, to make it into a beast of an amiga. I really loved every bit of it, and it's sad that this is what brought it down. Someone should really pay.

Since Hyperion and Amiga Inc finally have agreed that the os can be enjoyed on other hw now, maybe I can get that feeling back.

Don't you just hate lawyers and greedy people messing up a consumers right to have fun? Great post, I always thought I knew everything about this story.

You'll be chasing that feeling forever, friend..... about all you can do is go buy some old amiga gear and/or emulate and play your old games and whatnot. That magic you remember was a combination of the times, place, market, and age of computing when you had that equipment, and I pine for it daily :)

The thing is... the stuff we have access to now is enormously faster and more powerful in all respects - so what do we need to get that magic feeling back?

I'm not buying it. The patent involved is substantial; the blinking cursor is not. They could have implemented a blinking cursor without XOR. However, if their entire graphics strategy was essentially a duplicate of this patent, then that would be a problem.

I really, really don't like software patents, but solving this problem (flicker in animation) in 1978 may be one of the cases that would be worth it. Link to patent courtesy of pvg http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1545347

Can we get more specifics? The patent number would be a nice info to have


That's the patent. Commodore was already in difficulties, both due to both problems of their own making and strong competition. The patent issue can't have helped but it's unlikely it's the primary or even a major factor in their demise.

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