I fondly remember my first Apple //c. I got it in early 1984, soon after its debut and, to me, it was quite a step up from my first computer, a TI-99/4A (though in several ways the //c was less advanced, but that’s another story…). Shortly after the //c hit hit market, IBM rolled out the PCjr, a “homier,” low-end version of the standard IBM PC aimed at stealing away some of the popular //c’s thunder. Though the PCjr was not a particular success, the battle was heated and never more so than during the 1984 Christmas season.
I recently stumbled across a great find, entitled “Christmas 1984: The Great Apple //c vs. PCjr Battle,” posted by Charles Eicher over at his blog, Disinfotainment. Charles was a salesman at a ComputerLand (a large business computer retail chain popular in the 80s) in LA during the //c vs. PCjr showdown at the end of 1984 and his story provides a gripping account of the holiday retail battle and his own personal role in helping IBM open their eyes and see the error of their marketing ways.
Spending his 70-80 hour work weeks pushing machines out the door, Charles picked up various techniques for increasing his sales and taking advantage of the sales person incentive program that Apple offered as a means of sweetening the pot for sales people. After winning Apple’s top sales prize of an Apple //c and a cash bonus several times over by early December, it became clear that he was an expert at moving these machines. In response to frequent requests for advice from other ComputerLand employees, Charles put together a colorfully written, five-page document on how to master the art of moving the Apple //c. That document is now available on Charles’ blog as a PDF file.
This really is a unique glimpse at a time when the home computer was becoming a fairly standard fixture in households across America. It’s great that Charles has preserved this info and shared it on the web. Well worth a read.