|Two years in the making, the Panasonic JR-200 computer was officially
announced in January of 1983, with additional launch dates provided for
the computer and peripherals. The JR-200u received early and strong support
from two software publishing companies; Data-Most and Walt Disney Telecommunications.
Having the support of both of these companies, especially Data-Most,
was crucial in Panasonic's strategy to successfully market this computer,
as well as it's plans to have 30 software titles available by the official
launch in the spring of 1983. Additionally, Panasonic planned for an additional
24 titles to become available by mid-summer of 1983 by consulting with
other software developers.
From the start, the Panasonic JR-200u was never meant to be a cartridge
based machine. Panasonic had other plans for a cartridge based system
which never materialized. Initially, software was to be developed first
on cassette tapes, and later floppy disks.
The computer and all of it's accessories were to be sold as part of
Panasonic's marketing strategy in traditional channels and specialty stores.
Beyond that, Disney would market it to educational institutions as part
of its educational product line. Print advertising was set to begin in
February of 1983 with television ads set for the third quarter of 1983.
In March of 1983, Panasonic introduced the JR-200u into the United States
market with a suggested retail price of $349.95, along with a Panasonic
printer listed at $369.95. Rumored to be in the works for the summer of
1983 was a disk drive which probably never materialized. Also included
in the initial release was a new 2400 baud cassette player, Model RQ-8300,
which was four times faster than standard cassette players.
Having received positive reviews from Creative Computing Magazine in
May of 1983, the Panasonic JR-200u appeared to have all of the trappings
of a successful start. Two books were also in the works at this time,
Kids & the Panasonic JR-200, published by Datamost, and the Panasonic
JR-200 Ideabook published by Creative Computing.---the later never coming
By December of 1983, it had become obvious despite the early optimistic
appraisals, that the Panasonic JR-200 was finished in the American market.
Intense price pressures, fierce competition, and the great video game
crash of 1983 were all contributing factors to the demise of the JR-200u.
Sales results were so bad that Panasonic announced in late December 1983
that the JR-200u would be pulled out of the consumer electronics division
entirely and given to the business and industrial division.
Panasonic appeared to have problems penetrating the American market
according to assistant general major of Matsushita's Panasonic subsidiary,
Bill Kopp, who noted at the time; "My over-all impression is that
the U.S. market is very unstable."
Given the fact that the Panasonic JR-200 was only sold in high price
department stores like Macy's and Bamberger's, it is no wonder the computer
failed to sell. Many of the most popular discount retailers were ignored
in order to avoid direct competition with cheaper U.S. brands. Despite
efforts to drop the price of the JR-200 to $269 with software bundle included,
the computer never caught on with the public. By February 13th 1984, Panasonic
announced the discontinuation of the JR-200 computer, indicating an unwillingness
to match rock bottom prices of other manufacturers. Apparently $250.00
was the threshold price level not to be broke.
This history text comes from the Panasonic
JR-200U Purgatory Page website. Thanks to Mike for this!.