The Single Button Joystick

Tag: Australian Dollar

Hardware Prices in the last 30 years.

by on Apr.02, 2012, under Amiga, IBM and Compatibles, Modern, PC, Retro

On a more serious note, I want to talk about just how far we’ve come in the last thirty or so years with computing.  Broadly speaking, while being a PC gamer has always been more expensive than a being a consoler, the gap has narrowed so much, I often wonder why the PC has fallen away so much as competition to the major consoles. Since  my experience in the early years was with the Amiga, the pricing I experienced (uhh my parents) was probably somewhere between the consoler and PC gamer of the day.

Is consoler a word?

A Solid Gold Commodore 64. Yeah, you were paying for it!

From the early 80s, what we now know as the personal computer box has steadily decreased in price, both in real terms and raw dollar cost. Some offshoots (The Apple family) remain expensive as they always have, but even so they are well within the realms of affordability to even the most gross hippy. While even the term ‘affordability’ is contested it think it is fair to say that if you want something and can generally put away enough money for it in three months without it breaking you bank, it is affordable. Oh, forgot the quotations.

I don’t think the receipt for our Amiga 500 exists anymore, but I remember the price quite well. $899. A quick check of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s interest calculator reaveals this to be… $1,668.07. Not nearly as much as I had expected! But this does not take into account the increase in raw dollar terms of wages in those twenty three years. There are some other interesting qualifiers with this Amiga price. It did not come with a monitor but did have an adaptor so you could easily connect it to most of the televisions of the day. For our family, it wasn’t really a satisfactory solution and a few months later we managed to get a 1084s, stereo monitor. It was definitely worth it.


The real game changer with our old Amiga was the 512kb of expansion RAM. This so-called ‘SlowRAM’ brought the Amiga to its generally accepted full capacity. Quite a few games wouldn’t work without

Yesterdays prices.

the full 1mb of raw power, especially in the later years of the Amiga’s life. What really makes the mind boggle is the scale increase in power, The Amiga at full power ran 1mb of ram and a processor at about 8mhz.  Using the crude logic of mathematics, my current PC rig is four thousand times more powerful. Not only is it more powerful, but much more affordable

As you can see with these two invoices, even in raw dollars not accounting for inflation, things have become much cheaper. That invaluable 512kb of RAM was $200! 8gb of RAM today will probably set you back no more than $70. Again, using the same simple, crude but in this case more correct method RAM today works out to be 47,000 times cheaper than twenty-two years ago. Both the current and past example are using Australian dollars, without factoring in inflation. This would probably bump it up another few thousand times. Yeah, big numbers.

$60 1995 dollars

Needless to say, storage has gone a very similar way. A 200mb Hard drive back in 1991 cost more than ten times the price of a 2012 ONE TERRABYTEhard drive. Yeah rough working out is about the same as the RAM. 50,000 times cheaper.

Monitors and other peripherals are harder to judge, since some things weren’t in common use at the time or conversely have gone out of use (the Joystick for one). I think though that such extras are roughly the same price, including inflation. I did a little story on the prices of games last year, and those have not changed very much in the last twenty years.

$499 for a printer?

Yikes, 1990.



As an aside, these invoices are from the same computer shop. The assistant bought the shop from the old owner ‘Kev’ in 1991, changed the name and has owned it ever since. Pay a visit. It’s a great little shop and my parents and I bought nearly every Amiga product we owned from there.

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Ports of Call

by on Dec.17, 2011, under Amiga, Retro

Gentleman, when I first started Reynholm Industries, I had just two things in my possession: a simple dream, and six million pounds. Today, I have a business empire the like of which the world has never seen the like of which. I hope it doesn’t sound arrogant when I say that I am the greatest man in the world.

Denholm Reynholm,


Check back here often, or you get robbed.

Another of the games I didn’t understand, yet played for hours, Ports of Call was a real stayer in my early Amiga owning years, destroying many weekends I might have spent outside, avoiding vitamin D deficiency. The game is highly addictive for one very important reason; it feels like you’re making money! The premise?  You are a shipping magnate. starting small and hopfully ending in the big time. Perhaps I’ve become more practical (cynical) as I’ve aged, but you start the game with five million dollars in the bank so there’s no rags to riches story here. Spend money to make money!

Starting with that ‘paltry’ sum, you’re well advised to visit the ship broker immediately and buy your first ship. This was often problematic when I was young, since I didn’t yet appreciate the concept of a loan. Time after time, I’d avoid going into any debt and buy one of the crap ships. There were six ships on offer, from the highly advanced and expensives, right down to the rust buckets. Everything above the two rust buckets cost more money than you had avaliable, so a loan was needed. I didn’t like getting a loan, since I didn’t learn how to pay it off properly until much later (the interest would continue pilling up though) and that’d  leave me less money to purchase cargo and carry out repairs. Invariably I’d settle for the affordable, smaller cargo hold, slow speed and vulnerability.

Eventually, I realised (or was told) this was a shitty way to play. Rather than buying a crappy ship outright, it was much better in the middle to long term to go into some debt and shell out for one of the mid priced ships. These were still 2nd hand, but were probably only 10 years old, not 30+. By increasing your cargo capacity so much at this early point, your initial debts are easily paid off and you can set about expanding your shipping empire.

Never ever saved him, don't know how!

Eventually ships will require repairs, and depending on the distance, they will require refueling most trips. The prices of goods are generally fixed, with distances usually being the only factor. While the pay for goods scales ahead of the distance, the longer you’re at sea the more random events that can happen.

This is the part of the game that always made the game sag for me, even as a boy. As your ship or ships plow the trading seas, random events will crop up. These range from storms, icebergs, castaways and even pirates! Depending on what you’ve ran into, manual control of the ship is handed over to you and the situation must be resolved. Failure to avoid a reef or deciding to plow through a storm will result in damage to your ship. It’s risk/reward, plowing through a storm means your vessel uses less fuel and will arrive earlier.

The sections where you have to navigate the ship by hand are a chore and occur far too often. If you choose the same route (especially around the tropics) you’ll suffer storms and have to navigate reefs every few journeys.

Seemingly Tasmania free

The worst for myself was when the god damned tugs were on strike. This happened one in four or five times you reached port. Normally you spend $5,000 and have a tug take your ship into port at the click of a button. When they were on strike, you had to pilot your ship through another crappy manual control mini game, parking your ship in the designated zone. It’s so frustrating, becuase your ship has just completed a perilous journey, AND they throw one final hurdle in your way.

The action sequences, while not all terrible, happened far too often and detracted from the simulation aspects of the game. Dad and I would often lament the direction this game took, since it ends up wasting a lot of your time parking ships rather than getting on with the job of making virtual money. Another blow against the game is that you are continually robbed if you don’t check back at your office every few days.

I never really played this game multiplayer, even though there were provisions for 4 player continuous hotseat. Trying to find three other 12 year olds to sit around for 3 hours  building a virtual shipping empire was nigh impossible. I mean there were Ninja Turtles out there!

This is still a fun game to play, but the few failings stop it being a relaxing and enjoyable sim.

Keeper Garrett, taking a dip in the till since 1990.


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Another day, another 98 cents.

by on Oct.11, 2011, under Short updates

Pretty sure it is this man sends me the games.

Since video games are ridiculously overpriced in my country, importing is almost a must. If there is a catch, it’s that cheap video games come from overseas and this means currency exchange. Europe has cheaper games, but after paying for shipping the price advantages is mostly gone.

The USA should be a source of cheap games, but outside finding a shop on eBay for this, some of the major retailers do not ship to Australia, Amazon for a long time being the main culprit. Thankfully Hong Kong’s Play Asia had its services on offer.

Wonderful sweets, heart breaking movie.

Being an international seller, Play Asia uses the international currency, the American Dollar. Given the instability of the world economy of late, this has meant timing my various orders when the dollar is at its highest. It has been like a roulette wheel this last year, with the value of the dollar varying as much as 20%.

When things are good, I can buy games for 1/3 the local prices, when things are at their very worst, the planet explodes, destroying the human race.

I’m quietly confident I can avoid that scenario.

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Video Games Pricing: The Less Bad.

by on Nov.30, 2010, under Amiga, Retro

Last week I said it wasn’t all bad news with prices of games here!

I wasn’t lying! But that doesn’t quite mean you can ‘celebration’ yourselves just yet.

Prices of games in Australia have been an issue for many years, yet it’s only comparatively recently that there’s been any sort of public recognition of this. I think the World Wide Web has really helped with this, a shortening of distance means we find out what is going on in the rest of the world without the traditional gatekeepers. Now it wasn’t always a challenge to find out what the rest of the world was paying, as magazines from the USA or UK would almost certainly have their prices listed.

PC and Amiga games would cost in the area of $60-70 in the late 80s. Now PC games are in the area of $90-100. An increase for sure, but not in real terms!

For ‘reals’ terms is what really matters, not just in video games. A classic old person story is often along the lines of ‘what I could get for a penny in my day’. Ahhhh old man/woman you’re not taking into account inflation! Sure you could buy a launch PS3 for $2.40 when you were tiny person, but in 1932 most people were not on $800 a week. $69 is what a full priced Amiga game cost in 1990-91, using the Reserve Bank’s inflation calculator this works out to be $112 in 2009 terms.

As far as PC type games go then this simple result shows, we’re not paying any more now, then we were then. Console games are another disturbing story, these have fluctuated throughout time because of the changing of materials in the media that’s used. Cartridges were the most expensive form of ‘content delivery’ and this resulted in early 90’s prices of well over $100. That’s close to $200 in today’s money!

I hope I’ve been able to inform people that, although we do pay too much for the video games around here, it was worse once upon a time.

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Video Games Pricing: The Bad

by on Nov.11, 2010, under 16-bit, Amiga, Modern, PC, Retro

Oh what a cruel country to live in Australia is, if you’re a gamer type. Delayed releases are still quite common and sometimes games do not arrive in this country at all! I do recall much trouble with Rock Band 2 arriving here, and who can forget Super Paper Mario? (That game’s delay turned out to be a good thing!). So the lamenting on release dates will continue, probably until the Indo-Australian tectonic plate slides under the North American one to such a degree that we’re literally connecting Japan to California.

The wishfulest of thinking.

There’s another aspect to this issue, however.  Even more pressing than the issues of release delays is that of the pricing (incase you didn’t read the title).  This is THE problem.  New PC games at standard retail outlets are in the area of $80-$100 and new release console games are rarely lower than $90. This wouldn’t a huge deal if our currency value was floating around .60 to the US dollar. But as we know, not only is that rarely the case, but currently our dollar is MORE valuable than the greenback. The prices for video games of course don’t change. Just last week Harvey Norman were advertising on the radio their great price for Gran Turismo 5.

It was $119. $129 for the special edition.

Since then the price for the regular product has dropped to $77, which is a surprisingly fair price. EB games on the other hand will be selling GT 5 for the terrifying $118. A quick check of the USA EB site reveals a price of $59. It’s like a gate to Satan, only you have to spend TWO eternities with him since you’re Australian. Or something similar. There are simple ways around almost all of these problems.  Importing at times of a strong Australian dollar is highly recommended and finding a reputable store on the webs isn’t too hard.

The Play-Asia store is one I recommend without hesitation, as I would have the late great, Lik Sang. Bless Hong Kong’s free trade system!

So it’s an unfair world?

I’d have to agree with you if you said that, we do pay too much for games in this country, but just hold on a few days!

I have a few bits and bobs that should cheer up the average gamer type.

Australian Dollars


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