Part of the issue with the XM debacle is that due to how long the development on it has been, they run into hardware issues with availability of the components they wish to use....
The main issue is, there was never a clear idea of what this thing was supposed to be. How many times have the specs changed? How many times has the board been revised? Originally it had 16K and a POKEY, along with the High Score cart hardware built-in. Then when someone mentioned the Xboard - which has128K RAM and a POKEY chip - the spec changed to 128K RAM. Then the POKEY was supplemented by a Yamaha chip (well, if he didn't order several hundred POKEY chips back then, they currently cost about $30 each these days, so that's another huge expense he'll have to eat...).
You mention the compatibility problem inherent with the 7800 console, and that's always been a huge problem with the console. Look at how many different hardware variations there are of it, and all the various VCS carts that have problems because of it:
Add-on devices always sound like a good idea on paper, but they've never been successful enough in practice to justify themselves, and ultimately they're viewed as a stop-gap for a next-gen system (Starpath Supercharger and Sega 32X to name 2 examples). Same with all the different keyboard devices that were mentioned (VCS, 5200, 7800). By the time they became a reality, home computers became cheap (due to Tramiel's price war). There were plans to turn the 7800 into a computer early on, which is something Vendel originally wanted to do as far back as 2001:
http://www.atariage....omputer-add-on/ - 2001 got specs on programming 7800 computer
http://www.atariage....ms/topic/80490- Dec 2005 – back to work on 7800 computer “finally”
http://www.atariage....s/topic/145566- June 2009 - back to work again on 7800 computer (that project was 8 years old at this point at well), but decides to start up the XM project…
History has shown the correct approach is to include such hardware enhancement upgrades in the cartridges themselves. All the major companies at the time did that with their VCS carts:
The Xboard was basically that for the 7800, except it was a mod:
But it was superior spec-wise to the original XM design. Someone else basically recreated that in cart form, which allowed for games up to 256K in size. So the correct solutions have been available for years. But the majority of owners preferred having a huge plug-in device - reason being, all the cost would be upfront with the module, except... I never saw a thread that discussed what the XM carts would cost! With the Supercharger, the games were like $12-$15 each, so you'd start saving money after a few purchases (the Supercharger was $70 when released, but less than a year later, it was $45). Maybe it's me, but I can't see AA selling XM carts for $15.
As for the XM, here's some threads I found detailing the first 6 years:
June 2009 - XM announced in conjunction with a 7800 computer. Original specs – high score cart, 16K RAM, and POKEY chip.:
He asks if anything else should be added, and the first reply mentions the Xboard.
July 2010 - XM going into production:
One month later, and already proposing 2 different designs:
Next month, pre-orders start. Late Nov ship date announced:
Here's some photos of some parts and a fake box:
Ship date slips to December 10th. Still a lot to be done yet:
Back from vacation (?). 2 months past original ship date. Finally get a detailed account of the status fo everything, and the only thing 'done' is the manual:
This thread goes for 50 pages over 2 years. More shipping dates are announced and delayed. More specs are added (SIO port, keyboard, etc). Talk about batch #1 being assembled. Needs to check which carts won't fit the new cart guides (!?)
Sept 2011 (nearly 1 year past original XM ship date) he talks about wanting to make a new 2600/7800 system (AKA 3200):
Oct 2012 - People are rightfully angry with all the excuses and delays. Others chime in to talk about problems with his new joysticks. Vendel finally replies 2 months later to explain why he changed his company name from Legacy to Szygy, and threatens no more projects after the XM, and to throw all the XM materials in a wood chipper:
May 2013 - He's thrilled he fixed a test unit:
June 2013 - Sent a broken XM to programmer Bob C.:
March 2014 - Hoping to keep things "under the radar" and ship them out on the anniversary, but the "natives are restless, so there you go". Thread get's locked after 13 pages:
There's more threads, but you get the idea. Basically, the XM is talked up, there's delays, there's changes, and then there's silence. People start speaking up, Vendel goes on the attack, and disappears or the thread gets locked. A year goes by, and it starts all over again. When you stand back and look at the whole picture, it has all the earmarks of a scam. It's eerily similar to what I've seen on the Pinside forums with various, independent pinball "companies" popping up to announce a new pinball game and taking thousands of dollars in pre-orders, only to have photos of designs and artwork and various parts.... and not one order fulfilled, and not even one complete prototype in sight. Only difference is, most of those cases don't go for 8 years before someone ends up in court. There were plans to initially sell 300 XMs, and there were anywhere from 150-250 pre-orders (I've seen different numbers thrown around), so we're talking anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 that people paid. This project is now over 8 years old (same as the 7800 Computer project prior to the XM). If anybody still feels this XM is 'legit', and don't see a problem that the person behind it would rather announce yet another new project, and create a new website for it, complete with mockup photos, and talk about taking pre-orders for it... then as the saying goes, 'a fool and his money are soon parted.'
Edited by Scott Stilphen, 05 October 2018 - 11:43 AM.