Both the PL/I version on the 8080 and the C version on the IBM PC are now converted and running, needing some amount of work before release. The Victor version will be running soon. Without any optimization or division into overlays, the 8080 version has 4K bytes of memory left over, and runs as fast as the 9900 version.
The discussion of marketing went very roughly as follows.
John Owens has sold perhaps 20 copies of the 9900 version through his ads in Byte, and has had lots of people ask why it isn't on the 8080. He might sell as many as a hundred in a short time if we turn him loose.
There are some large markets for an 8080 MicroCad. Scion is selling enough Microangelos to support a color ad in the front of Byte every month, though there's very little software available. A version using the Microangelo with a light pen would be a completely standard product that would run entirely on Scion's graphic equipment and might be something they would want to market. There are other markets further along, like Apples and the incredibly cheap Sinclair. Again, it might be easily converted to Univac PL/I, running on an 1100 with Tektronix graphics.
On the other hand, since we could ship out copies and sell a few almost immediately, there are marketing decisions that must be settled immediately. What do we do about Beta testing? Do we sell a pre-release? How do we price it? What do we know of the reactions of live users of the 9900 version? The only people in the company who have spent any time using it are computer fanatics who know the internals and are not well qualified to judge user interfacing for a large market.
It's clear that getting some copies into the field and getting information back from end users will be invaluable in developing the product. Getting some actual money into the company is also important.
Fears of getting a hostile review on an early release were dissipated by the observation that it's extremely hard to get reviews when you want them. A product that's selling at most a few hundred copies is in little danger of any reviews.
The consensus reached was this: The 8080 version will get a driver for whatever plotter John Owens currently likes to sell. Stephanie Nydell, who has done documentation and support for larger graphic systems in the electronics business, will write up suggestions for making the user interface more friendly to completely unsophisticated users. She will also make minimal changes in the current manual to make a preliminary version that we can send out with the early release. We'll tell Owens that the product is coming, and he can sell it to his 8080 prospects. On Wednesday, August 25, we want to send this version out.
There will be a Victor 9000 version for Mike Ford to demonstrate by the end of September.
The initial list price will be the same $1,000 as for the current 9900 Interact.
Once we have this product out the door, we demonstrate to Hewlett-Packard and pursue our other contacts. Work will start then on a new manual and will proceed as we exercise the program and get feedback from users.
Editor: John Walker