This article is from the Apple II Csa2 FAQ, by Jeff Hurlburt with numerous contributions by others.
Computer Wars I did not pick a winning manufacturer; it did pick a winning, standard platform: the "PC AT or compatible". Just look at unit sales, the quantity, quality, and range of software releases, peripherals variety, and newspaper/magazine advertising. The clincher is a pattern of plummeting prices, increasing performance, and rapid adoption of cutting-edge technology. It all adds up to the same thing: a 'standard computer'. Today, when you say "computer", everyone knows you mean "PC". As of summer 1990, the 'typical PC' is an 8-16MHz '286-based machine with 640K-1MB (zero wait state) RAM, 1.2 MB 5.25" floppy, and 40-60MB hard disk. Featuring VGA color and Ad Lib sound, the system also includes "enhanced keyboard", VGA monitor, and cards for serial & parallel I/O, disk controllers, clock, and joystick ports-- all for about $1400. (33MHz '386 versions sell for roughly $2000). If current trends persist, by late fall prices will have dropped 10-15%. Where does this leave II users? As of this spring, IIgs users sat atop a large, divers software base. As of summer, very little has been added. While you can reasonably expect continued releases in such areas as utilities, languages, and education, the outlook for productivity wares is rather poor. As for major vendor entertainment releases, don't ask! Just take last summer's predictions and slap on a "You are Here" sticker. Though loyal, literally, to a fault, II users are not likely to long tolerate a situation which not only saddles them with sub-par performance, but also shuts them out of the major vendor software stream. Mainly, you 'won't take it any more' because you don't have to. Look at the economics: As a IIgs owner you are probably looking forward to a speed/graphics upgrade and the addition of a 40-60MB hard disk. Well, at normal Apple stuff prices (and assuming a graphics upgrade becomes available) your planned outlay comes painfully close to the total cost of the "typical PC AT"! This much seems clear, by next summer many (perhaps most) II owners will also be PC users. Doom? Gloom? The 'end of forever'? Not at all. In fact, the gruds may have delivered what Apple only promised: practically unlimited II continuance. One of the ironies of the present situation is that the very forces which make taking the PC plunge so appealing (e.g. low prices) also make dumping your IIgs stuff unattractive. Even as the junior partner in a two-machine installation, your IIgs is worth vastly more to you than it is likely to sell for. (Besides, all of your records are in Appleworks files; little Suzy just started "Dungeon Master", etc., etc..) So long as II's remain in the hands of skilled users there will be no lack of interest in performance enhancements, peripherals, and new software. The gruds may be dancing in the streets, but the biggest winner in Computer Wars I is the computer user. Proprietary fiefdoms and semi- monopolistic pricing are being swept away; and, for the first time, we can look forward to a unified software base spanning home, school, and business users. Granted, this was a conflict that ended, not with the clash of cymbals, but the toot of a kazoo. The big name manufacturers, assorted publications, and many others will, naturally, try to pretend that it's 'business as usual'. It isn't. Computer Wars I is history. Computer Wars II is a whole new ball game!