I really really liked the Amiga (and was a fairly regular contributor to the comp.sys.amiga newsgroup), I also interviewed for a job at Commodore HQ in Frankfurt (the actual headquarters of the tax shelter known as Commodore :-)). And one of the things that became painfully obvious was the Commodore was not set up to make Amiga successful, they didn't have the correct organizational structure nor the core corporate values that would make them successful.
At the time I was working at Sun, had joined as a reasonably early engineer, and watched how Sun had grown from a scrappy "start up with great pretensions" to something DEC and IBM started actually losing market share too. I saw the market for Amiga as coming up as a low priced workstation, not the bargain basement home PC. But it could be both, and for a while that path was making progress with the A500 and the A2000.
It was hard to do though, the workstation market really needed a "high resolution" flicker free display, the home market needed to look good on TVs. The architecture didn't have the display bifurcation line that was built into the PC or other workstations.
With out executive air cover to make the investments they needed to make in engineering, Commodore reverted to its roots of making things as cheaply as possible to add margin that way. "High end" systems that would have small markets were shelved, and even the commercial systems they were selling into the video post production market were starting to get a reputation for being cheaply made.
It took me a long time to get past my feelings of loss when we saw the future slip away.
I think that for many Amiga users, they've never gotten over their feelings of loss. Among retrocomputing enthusiasts, Amiga users are an extra odd bunch -- often making and selling commercial shrink wrapped software for years.
While it's not entirely unusual for people to put effort into a special game or whatnot for their favorite retrocomputer, and charge people for a special nostalgia filled limited run, Amiga users seem strangely tied to trying to make creating Amiga stuff a viable commercial venture  it's as quaint as it is bizarre these days.
1 - https://www.amigaos.net/
2 - http://entwickler-x.de/emotion
When it could no longer be denied that Commodore and the Amiga were dead, cold and buried, and it seemed the only alternative was a clunky, artless PC, I got so down on the whole thing that I left the field of computers entirely. I even went to university in a completely unrelated field.
I finally broke after many years, went back and got a computer science degree and has now been a programmer and systems architect for many years. But I have never forgotten my first love.
You wouldn't say that about an aftermarket for, say, vintage car parts, would you?
To be specific, if you buy yourself an original VW bus, you won't be on your own when you try to service it.
Amiga just might be the VW bus of retro computers (probably Commodore deserves this title better, but the analogy works the same way). It'll be alive for as long as the feelings associated with it are understood.
I mean, these companies must move what, tens of licenses per year? I would bet that many of them would do better just to give the software away for free (as in beer) and put a patreon link on the home page.
I honestly really admire the Amiga scene's incredible tenacity, but can't also help but find it just a hair amusing.
So yes, kind of quirky and bizarre.
Some niche products have such a following that they are recreated after the original producer stops making them:
History, if you're not familiar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polaroid_Originals
But yup, I agree with your point.
Zink is a Polaroid technology that powers many instant cameras. I own a Polaroid-branded one (Polaroid SNAP), and it's awesome: it never ceases to amaze people. And when I tell them that yes, they can keep it, and it's also a sticker, their eyes light up!
I've made friends with this new digital iteration of the technology. But when the Impossible Project was started, that tech was still very far from being mature; and many people still prefer the look and feel of the instant film. They are different products.
Still, it wouldn't be fair to say that Polaroid didn't try to stay relevant in instant photography. Ultimately, Zink is a success - although it's a separate company now.
When I was a kid they held the same affection for me as some kind "nerd football" team that you'd support out of all reason. I used to think "if they'd have just done this then they would have won!". With hindsight, as an adult, that seems so sweetly, childishly naive; I was a funny kid. :D
It convinced me though that you shouldn't tie your dreams to someone else's commercial organisation unless you're a major shareholder.
The happy ending for me was that Gnu/Linux and Free software nicely filled the void in my heart. No one can take it from you and it's never "finished". Cheers Mr Stallman.
(That's so naive of me; I must be a funny adult too. :D )
How ironic, considering that exact same thing is the bane of my existence: for someone like me who skipped the primitive, clunky, derided PC and jumped straight onto Suns and SGI's, Linux and GNU are a terrible, utterly depressing regression compared to HP-UX, Solaris and IRIX. I lost all will to work on computers because of GNU and Linux. It's that terrible when I compare it to AmigaOS, HP-UX, Solaris or IRIX.
I miss the fault management architecture.
I miss ZFS without having to jump through all kinds of hoops to get / filesystem on it.
I miss the no memory overcommit without having to jump through hoops to system engineer an image with it turned off.
I miss the advanced runtime linker which can check version dependencies.
I miss the brutal speed of Solaris on the same hardware when compared to Linux.
I miss the advanced features of SGI's inst(1M) and AT&T's SVR4 packaging.
I miss Solaris zones, especially the sparse zones, dearly.
I miss mdb.
I miss SMF.
I miss the strict adherence to standards.
I miss the working, reference implementations of NFS and fiberchannel.
I miss JumpStart™️ provisioning and Flash™️ compressed OS imaging technology.
I miss clustering software which isn't buggy as hell and which actually works.
I miss IPFilter.
I miss Crossbow, the network virtualization technology.
I miss the fanatical application and driver interfaces' backwards-compatibility.
Brutal speed of Solaris? Compared to what, SunOS 4.x?
This article is a few years old but I doubt the situation has improved much: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=oracle_s...
Implementing tools within other tools for convenience is stupid, as it kills modularity, which is the UNIX®️ philosophy: I don't need that kind of "convenience" since I know UNIX®️ and therefore which pipes to use to which commands to get the same effect. grep -r replaces find + xargs + grep and therefore goes against "do one thing and do it well" as well as against "design tools to interface with other tools". For example tar is a tape archiver, therefore it has no business implementing compression - that's what dedicated compressors like bzip2 or xz or 7z are for - they know best how to (de)compress and how to handle their own formats. Therefore, the GNU approach of convenience is stupid beyond retarded.
Resources where limited and hacks where abundant to make them perform miracles (in their day). Tinkering gave way to homogenization and the whole landscape got sterile. I felt the same loss as I did with Amiga when Symbolics started to fade from the landscape, then there was DEC, SGI, Atari, etc. etc. The era almost took Apple and NeXT with them. Some burnt out longer than others but they all started to die then and there. It really was an epoch shift in computing and I think that is what we all truly miss. We pin it on our favorite tech of the time, but in the end, it was just a cooler time to be in computing.
Man you are so right. I reluctantly moved to the PC hoping till the very end that Commodore/Amiga would somehow survive the late 90s. That was a really bitter era when one had invested so much time and joy in the machine and its OS.
Commercial software is still available (though not as much of it as was available in the past), and sometimes the prices are downright silly given the size of the market and the lack of maintenance on said software.
That is correct and my pain born of that loss has increased over the years. First Sun and then SGI provided some alleviation but when they both lost the pain came back in full force, since both ended up opening an old wound which had never fully healed.
Nostalgia drives things like some guy puts together an order for Amiga logo keycaps, and sells them for barely more than cost price and maybe a couple of people feel the quality isn't as good as they expected. That's not a scam.
But the Amiga will also have a company that says it's going to sponsor a new sports arena for so much money it'll be named the Amiga arena - when there isn't any money. That's not an imaginary example by the way, it happened: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/amiga-fails-to-del...
Ten years ago one of the Amiga companies told potential customers it would ship them a new multi-core PowerPC Amiga, within the year, with a new OS version that supported using multiple cores. A huge breakthrough. It didn't ship that year, and when it did ship it came with a "preview" that lacked support for the multi-core processor, and you will not be surprised to learn that almost a decade later those customers are still waiting for their "final" version with working multi-core.
But in many ways being heavily down-voted shows exactly why this works. Amigans are sure that if they are insistent enough that it's not a scam then it won't be. They just need to have faith, click that downvote, tell people they're wrong, if I scream loud enough that I can fly surely gravity will just have to believe me...
He also was nasty toward (IIRC) Epson during final negotiations for a large deal for the Japanese market. Later, the deal was revived and he insulted them a second time.
Medhi Ali was responsible for gutting Commodore engineering and replacing with mostly cheaper PC people. Which led to the cost-cutting A600 that actually turned out more expensive to produce than the 500 it was supposed to replace. Dave Haynie had a lot to say about that era, all of it free of compliments.
Ali and Gould were drawing more than the CEO of IBM in Commodore's declining years.
How does this happen and why is it allowed to?
Are these kinds of CEOs the designated cleanup people who get sent in after a company has been decided to get killed off and they're the [insert butcher analogue for stripping the leftover parts of a corpse]?
They had to "upgrade" the product name when it turned out they couldn't make it as cheaply as hoped.
She used to have a lot more, but deleted most of them. You can probably find them on the wayback machine though.
If one wanted to read observations about specific things Sun did effectively in this process, from either an organizational, strategic, or execution perspective, where would one look?
Are you referring to Commodore or Sun here? Because both had excellent technology that died at the hands of terrible management.
I wonder if there's any chance of a new major architecture becoming successful today.
At best, we might see an open source contender gain some traction, but there's not really the same lineage to draw on there either. Linux at least had a few decades of Unix software and UI (including text consoles) going for it. An open source competitor to iOS or Android will either be copying what they do, or making it up as it goes along, which is unlikely to yield major advantages they haven't already taken advantage of, IMO.
The same was said for anyone versus IBM, then anyone versus Microsoft for almost 2 decades after that.
Each time a new challenge was able to enter and stay in the fray, it was by capitalizing on a paradigm shift; mainframes -> home computers -> smartphones..
I think the next frontier may be ubiquitous, always-on AR/VR. If a new company makes that happen before Apple or Google do, they might have a chance.
If we got some dark horse contender that wasn't taken as serious for long enough to let it gain an advantage and/or was established or large enough that there wouldn't be a lot of pressure to sell, maybe. Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft are the current contenders for that in my mind based on that criteria (with Microsoft actually aggressively pursuing it). Any other company that makes a good showing is likely going to be someone else's next meal.
Post-Jobs it's doing fine.
Sun approached Commodore offering money to license the A3000UX as a low end 680x0 Sun workstation. It could have done wonders for Amiga's serious market and visibility outside games.
Medhi Ali turned them down. Twice, if memory serves.
You're not alone. I had mine around 12-13 I think. I remember how cool and modern it looked compared to the C64 I had before. There were all the great games, but also so much to learn programming wise. We had rather limited resources available at that time (esp. in a small european town), mostly computer magazines, older friends... It was a really different approach to learning.
What got me was how easy it was to do, yet a large company like Commodore was not doing that I did at home.
500KB original memory and 1.5 MB of memory piggy-back to the chip memory, 1.8 of high speed static memory, designed myself and install a CPU speed doubler, a gray composite (used analog colour signals) to drive a high persistence monochrome monitor, a Zorro bus to IBM ISA bus adapter, external triple floppy drive array.
All this was very easy to make, I don't know why Commodore could not do the same things.
I never could afford an Amiga when they where in sale so this memory is 3 years later when the family bought a PC.
: I and two of my brothers saved money and managed to buy a used C64 somewhere around '92.
I've played with the Amiga a lot via emulation, and it's still impressive to me; a home operating system with preemptive multitasking in the 80's?! With something like that, whomever was in charge had to work pretty hard to ruin it.
It’s really sad how much public hagiography is made over the Mac when almost no middle class family I knew of could afford it, certainly not with a LaserWriter.
The Commodore 64 was way more affordable and got a legion of kids interested in computing and coding, who later went on to adopt Amigas.
Even today if you look at the home brew, hacker, and demo scenes, Commodore dominates. Hardly anyone is doing stuff on old Apple 2s or Macs.
Commodore gets the short shrift in the Twitterati retelling of the personal computer evolution, and today’s millennials completely fixated on Jobs and Apple and ignore most of what was really happening in the 80s with home users.
Part of the late '80s/early '90s revenue strategy for Apple was to sell into the educational market. The people who fondly remember the Apple computers of this period do so not because they had one at home, but because many of them were young children at this time, playing games on those Apples in school computer labs.
Our teacher had almost no idea how it worked and there was no manual or instructions, so basically we sat in front of that green screen confused. I managed to make a star in logo, that was about it.
I still loved playing with it anyway, this machine that you had control of through arcane commands. It felt like you could make it do anything if you only knew the magic command.
So the "Twitterati retelling" critic still applies.
The Amiga was an entirely different class of machine, designed by and for engineers, and it was a bit rougher around the edges UI-wise but it did far more in terms of real, concrete advancements in the state of the art.
I didn't realize just how weak the Mac APIs were for building actual applications until I tried writing one. You NEED a framework like PowerPlant in order to contend with the very primitive primitives Apple supplied. And even then, you don't get nice things like preemptive MT.
I'm an Apple guy now but I will never get used to a one button mouse - it's too retarded, especially when one comes from UNIX where three buttons are simply phenomenally super awesomely useful: I love the mark with the mouse and paste with the middle mouse button - it's the best. I cannot figure out why others haven't implemented that - it's so natural and intuitive - I love that I don't have to explicitly cut and paste - marking is enough.
Its a shame that both Commodore and Atari forgot what their niche was.
The worst you could possibly do was destroy a program stored on disk or a cassette.
Well, I would guess that would teach a lesson, but probably not the one they wanted.
The Spectrum was insanely popular, though the development of a new machine also coincided with difficult times. (The Sam Coupe.)
The Commodores genuinely were something special for the era.
So you've got the original Apple ][ which a C64 would have been a much better machine than with the benefit of 5 years and super aggressive cost cutting. However you've also got the Apple iigs in that family.
I think I'd see that as a much better machine than the C64 (but obviously much more expensive too).
Reading the specs doesn’t give you much of a story. As the article talks, around 1986, software availability became the prime driver of platform sales. That meant taking a different approach to designing hardware. It takes a long time to figure out how to work with custom chips well, which is why the Amiga is still popular in the demoscene, but also a contributing factor for why there was not as much software available when it came out.
Macs and PCs are pretty boring by comparison. A CPU, some memory, interrupt controllers. But they had software. Macs had educational discounts back then (and still do, but not quite as dramatic).
Isn't that just because they had no actual impact on the industry? The Apple II was first as a mass consumer microcomputer (they even showed a prototype to it to Commodore years before the PET, when Tramiel still thought calculators were the thing). The Mac inspired every popular GUI that came after it (they all look more like the Mac than Xerox).
You could say that Commodore inspired a generation since they were so cheap and everyone had one, but you could also say that about Dell and Gateway 2000. The Amiga had amazing hardware, but so did the Sharp X68000 - still the whole concept of proprietary chips that software had to be written exclusively for has never had a long-lasting impact on the PC space.
Of the PCs and smartphones we're using today - how much of it can be traced to Commodore? The price? The method of vertical integration maybe?
Apple computers weren’t Personal Computers because precious few people owned them at Home, they were time share systems you got to use at school labs or the office.
What impact did Commodore have? An entire generation of engineers who went on to work on graphics software and hardware you use today were hacking C64s and Amigas as kids.
Do you think Linus Torvalds got started on Commodore hardware or Apple? You can directly trace a lot of the modern hacker ethos of the internet to the kids who grew up in the 80s on non-Apple hardware.
If you want to credit long lasting inventions that are part of software and hardware today, you can look at Alan Kay, and thank him for Smalltalk (which Brad Cox based Objective-C on)
Or you can look at Kerrigan/Richie/Pike.
Much of what makes modern PCs and smartphones what they are is invisible. There would be no iPhone without them no matter how important and revolutionary you think capacitive touch interfaces are, they stand at the top of a deep deep pyramid of inventions and innovations that did not come from Apple, and annoyingly, often isn’t credited by the historical retelling and hagiography.
There were few warts - AmigaDOS because of the BCPL roots as it was an extremely last minute addition when the planned CAOS never materialised, and icons were a pain to work with. Thirty years of working on other things and I still believe they got 95% just so. The plug and play of Win 95 was pathetic compared to AutoConfig (IIRC what it was called), in Zorro 1. MFM and IDE hard drives compared to SCSI on its own DMA channel etc etc. Stuff that took decades to arrive on Win.
As for a reboot - I can imagine an Amiga like OS experience on several platforms, but hardware? I find it difficult to even imagine how something could have the quantum leap that Amiga was compared to everything else on the market under $50k.
Or: if one were building a hobbyist OS today, what would be the key takeaways to pull from AmigaOS?
* file system assigns
* AREXX scripting of many/most programs
Actually recently I've started thinking about what it would take to create a toolchain to do the minimum to provide the pieces of AROS (for the uninitiated: AmigaOS "reimplementation" though it goes beyond the original in some respects) that might make sense on Linux and provide a compatibility layer to make it work.
AROS itself can run hosted on Linux, but not integrated well with Linux apps, but quite a lot of AROS relies on relatively small subsets of the AmigaOS API, and it'd be a fun experiment to e.g. bring data types to Linux, possibly combined with a fuse filesystem as a fallback to do on the fly conversions for apps with no support.
I'd love to see if some of those things could gain traction if suitably modernized.
What if we could make an OS with constraints, or an app store with a vetting process, or both complementing each other, to the effect that:
A widget pressed or touched or interacted with could always be trusted to respond in time - or fail in an understandable manner.
- No launching screens on touch interfaces suddenly being sluggish.
- No waiting for apps to download and install and can not be used during that time. (Solved by having updates installed quietly in the background.)
- No stutter or slowdowns, ever, no audio lags, ever.
the main thing should be that what you are interacting with must never feel like it's sluggish, no more than the water flowing out of a faucet starts to lag or freeze/unfreeze suddenly. The interface should feel so solid and "real", that if it stuttered you would be so shocked as if a thrown ball in real life stuttered in mid air.
: Give GUI code very high priority. This will have to involve putting some intelligence in GUI code, or the interface will appear to be unresponsive or do strange things when underlying IO or network is being slow.
: Focus on determinism and time budgets, not raw performance throughput
: Vetting of applications
: Constrain apps to hard RAM budgets
: IO budgets for apps?
: Have apps allocate and bid for network performance and available bandwidth
I have a feeling much of this would not need a ground up rewrite. Probably Android or Linux could be used as a basis for such a system.
Even a simple button involves half a dozen threads in AmigaOS between the drivers, the handlers "baking" raw events from the drivers into something higher level, the Intuition thread processing the button presses into events related to a specific button etc.. It affects total throughout but increases responsiveness.
I think that if the OS provides responsiveness, and some key apps do, people will demand it. That is what happened with AmigaOS. You didn't get away with making a system sluggish because you'd get compared to apps that were extremely responsive.
IFF standards. In today's world it would be an unthinkably open approach taken by open source only. Even more surprising it came from a joint venture between Commodore Amiga and EA! Every single graphics program understood, and via datatypes understood in a standard way, IFF graphics. Saving, processing or reading. They were so prevalent and expected that you would be hurting your chances to release something with a propriety only format. Same went for sound and no end of other things. Had the Amiga thrived there'd no doubt have been an IFF in place of many of the multimedia formats. With a standard OS level library call to decode them, etc.
The conciseness of approach, necessary in a system providing proper multi-tasking in 256K, meant all the services other platforms placed at least partially in the .exe were usually in the OS. There were system libraries you could rely on without the absurd version dependent dll hell of windows. I'm sure had the Amiga persisted there'd be some version annoyance, but I can't imagine it reaching the stupidity of now.
Windows had far more than glue code in the exe. If you needed to use a file requester, accept messages, have a window that could be resized etc there was tons of unique OS related code in the exe for all that etc etc. Update the OS and unless you update the source and rebuild the exe it will clearly and obviously be of the previous Windows release. Or as was so often the case buy the latest office and the look is clearly of the next, unreleased Windows. Amiga had it such that all that rubbish was nearly all external. Set up your structures, call the API, get woken up when there's something you need to care about. If you updated OS, all your window chrome, file requesters etc, would be of the new OS. No ridiculous dependencies on v 3.2.152 of MSVC.dll, and 3.3.x not being acceptable, meaning you end up with 12 different installed versions etc.
Only apps doing something clever - like CygnusEd with its hand written assembler scrolling that remains, 30 years later, my benchmark for "fast and smooth enough" editor scrolling. Essentially nothing has yet matched it, though Sublime is probably closest just without smooth scrolling. It was really difficult to come to accept - in some sense I still haven't - that I had to do so much of this OS housekeeping for myself each and every time, in every application for other platforms. I often used to wonder what Windows was, in fact, adding as it always seemed like I was doing everything myself. I gave up complete on Windows programming pretty quickly as a result. :)
AmigaDOS may have been a bit of a last minute, ugly addon, but in use it felt like a lightweight single user *nix. Proper filenames, priorities, comments, proper scripting and ARexx if you needed additional integration. Sure, it was far happier on a HDD, but what aside from DOS - more a program loader than OS - wasn't? :)
What hasn't lived on, of course is a concerted push for an ecosystem around tools for working with the underlying container format instead of the specific formats. This is what made the biggest difference in the Amiga: to a great extent when coming up with a storage format,the question was increasingly "which IFF chunk types are suitable" rather than a question of designing a format from scratch.
Nerdier trivia: Erlang's BEAM VM emits compiled bytecode files in an IFF format. (Which is a strange choice, honestly, since they could have easily chosen to use a purpose-made executable-binary container format like ELF, which would have made .beam files more amenable to analysis using standard compiler toolchain tools.)
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L41oIvre9K0
For those who never used CED on an Amiga, this is how it ran on now 30 years old hardware clocked at 8 MHz.
It's still experimental, but RedoxOS is really the only newish OS that I know of that does the Microkernel design.
Without that it wasn't hard or unexpected for an unstable app to take down the system. Used to happen reasonably frequently on 68000 Unix systems. Certainly for every time that happened you might expect a couple of caught core dumps, but before hardware protection it was still wing and a prayer...
If a Windows 3.1 process failed to yield, it could result in a nonresponsive OS. On Linux, an abusive process would have to try a bit harder to take down the system (fork bomb, hog a bunch of ram, etc). On AmigaOS, a process could just overwrite part of another process or the OS itself to cause a crash.
RISC OS (Acorn) had its infamous "Abort on data transfer" (or "Abort on instruction fetch" if you branched instead of LDR/STR'd). And if you were especially naughty and chased a null pointer, you got "ofla" -- which was the contents of the first four bytes of memory!
But, since arguably the Amiga is the only computer with a modern GUI and being super responsive, it really points out the absurdity of everything modern when you feel it.
It can't be gleaned from youtube videos, either. You must hold that damn old mouse in your hand and click something or drag a window. To the brain, there's zero latency. NOTHING. You ARE the computer. (I think that is one reason why it's so addictive, it's one of the truly cybernetic devices. My modern Mac comes close, but not quite. Scrolling on some phone apps come close.)
For a while, you could buy an Amiga at Montgomery Wards at an outstanding price. Software came from another end of the mall at Babbage's or EggHead.
Boxed software at retail was limited and expensive.
It required the invention of entire manufacturing pipelines to make the product happen.
Lots of blame and lots of reason to thing it might be different to take advantage of today's manufacturing and compute capability.
Some very stubborn people are still at it, preventing that from happening.
Where I grew up in Norway, around 1990, everyone had or wanted an Amiga 500. Most of my mates had an Amiga, a few had a Nintendo NES. I did not know anyone who had an Atari ST. Nor a Spectrum which I think was more popular in the UK.
Ah the memories of "acquiring" a bunch of games, go to a mates house and hammer through them. The Secret of Monkey Island, Kick-Off 2 and its ilk was my early teenage years.
Later on, I progressed to the Amiga 1200 and started to use it more as a desktop, my first real ventures into programming and messing around with BBSes. Before I defected to a 486 PC...
Without the Amiga, I would not be the computer person I am today. With happy childhood memories.
Edit: I also remember that so many demos and cracked games came from Norway and Sweden. I thought these guys were serious hackers, maybe because of the bad weather there!
It was a shame; the Amiga was so far behind by that point. It was so far behind that the PC could beat it using mostly software! Accelerator cards were crazily expensive for the Amiga ($1,500.00 AUD+ if I remember). The A1200 was too little, too late for me.
Getting my 486 sparked off probably one of the most exciting gaming times of my life.
Still insanely fond memories - I wrote a chunk of an adventure game engine in AMOS on the Amiga. It Came From The Desert II is one of my most fondly-remembered games.
Speaking of adventure games - the early Sierra games had their best engine implementations on the Amiga. AGI on the Amiga used the Tandy 3-voice version of the game music and I believe also supported a custom game palette (so for example Leisure Suit Larry 1 uses a better skin-tone colour on the Amiga than on the PC version). SCI0 games (think King's Quest 4. Police Quest 2) used instrument samples (which I believe were from the MT-32 version of the music for the game) to play probably the best music outside of the MT-32 PC versions.
SCI1 on the other hand, was a total mess. Slow to the point of barely playable and -- worst of all -- horrible graphics. I heard somewhere (can't remember where exactly) that SCI1 games did not take advantage of the Amiga's palette capability - the ENTIRE game was reduced to one colour palette shared across all rooms. The Amiga could do so much better, even if it couldn't keep up with the PC at that point; a good example being the port of King's Quest 6, which was done by Revolution Software and not Sierra. That port was praised. LucasArts games were also great - Monkey Island II was great on the Amiga (it's actually where I first played it).
What few people mention is how the price of computing suddenly shot up at the end of the home computer era. In my neck of the woods, the Amiga 500 was the "expensive one" - I had friends with £50 used ZX Spectrums. Suddenly we needed £1000 PCs if we wanted to stay relevant (and we absolutely needed to - "self-taught coder" was mine and my friends route out of the rural working class)
It was a very rough time for poorer nerds trying to make something of themselves. It coincided with the end of the "bedroom programmer" era; game developers started seeing themselves as media companies and demanding degrees. Then the web came along and swashbuckling expertise counted for something again, though I would have given anything to be an Amiga-era gamedev.
I sold out and have regretted it ever since.
(x) Rendering speed was around 1 minute per page?
Then this book is for you:
It tells the story of the Amiga and the people using it and how it shaped them. In Swedish but lots of Norwegians interviewed.
Businesses buy computers for the software and the Amiga did not have Lotus 123, MS Word, Multiplan, or Excel.
Microsoft after a certain point stopped supporting niche platforms. I had Flight Simulator and Multiplan on the C64, for example. The Amiga did not have either.
The Amiga did eventually find a niche where it was known to be the best solution but it wasn't a large enough market.
My own impression for why the Amiga and every other machine of the era lost out to the IBM PC was that the PC was what virtually everyone used at work, so that's what they got at home.
Apple managed to grab the art/music creation and education markets, so managed to stay alive that way, while the rest of those early computers never really found their niche outside of games, for which the Amiga was arguably best suited to. The Amiga was an early power gaming machine and had the potential to grab the art/music making market from Apple, but few people other than techies really appreciated it or would make their computer purchasing decisions purely on that.
You could spec up an A2000, released at the same time as the 500, with SCSI HDD and the lovely long persistence paper hi res white monitor for less than a clone. In the UK all the marketing was for the 500, and offices filled with Tandons, Dells, Amstrads and so on.
Same problem happened again with CDTV (and Philips CD-I) inventing multimedia before anyone had the first idea what that was supposed to achieve.
And it was also what you were taught on at school. Even if the IBM PC advanced the standardization of personal computers, I feel it also set them back by a decade.
Well, a decade is exaggeration, but the design choices of the IBM PC shaped personal computing, and those choices were made by people who thought personal computers were for serious business.
There was a lot of good productivity software for the Amiga: Protext, Wordworth, Final Writer, Final Calc, Superbase, Professional Page (Gold Disk did a lot of good software, I wonder what happened to them?) but there was a kind of inferiority complex about being ignored by mainstream business. The Amiga magazines would often have to explain to their readers why they didn't use Amiga software to produce their magazine for example.
Wikipedia says that Flight Simulator II was published for the Amiga, though not until 1987.
It's a fascinating but totally bizarre machine trying to satisfy several contradicting goals at once (be a business computer; be a better c64; be 100 percent c64 compatible) and in doing so doing none of them well enough other than perhaps the c64 compatibility (which wasn't perfect, but was very close), but at a too high cost.
I remember having MaxiPlan Plus.
[Edit: to be clear, I am aware of the existing stuff...what I would like to see is the Amiga used to reimagine what a computer is - new hardware, new OS, new "web browser" (that ditches current conventions) ... I am aware this is a pipe dream :) ]
- No x86. The x86 platform is like a boring, ugly dude who has taken steroids and growth hormone for 20 years. He's bigger and stronger than everyone else, but he's still boring and ugly. The new Amiga should be as fun to code in asm as the 68000 was.
- Multimedia as first class citizen. None of this '70s character-mode fetishism you get in the Unix world :) On the Amiga, everything knew you had a graphics chip, hardware sprites and stereo sound.
- Good hardware integration. Imagine that your GPU was as accessible as your CPU, that you didn't need to install a ton of crap from Nvidia just to program it. I used to experiment with the Amiga gfx hardware in assembly language, from Basic, in a couple of pages of code. I miss how accessible the full power of my computer was.
I'd have to spend some more time thinking about the OS. On one hand, it would need modernization with regard to security, networking, Unicode, USB etc. On the other hand it was a lot more ergonomic than Linux, with hardly any historical cruft, and I'd never want to lose that.
The closest thing I've found to the "Amiga feeling" was when I was experimenting with a Playstation 2 emulator, and spent some time reading the hardware docs. It had a similar setup of exotic graphics chips hanging off a fat DMA system. However, the Amiga was far more than a straight games console, and its custom hardware was more abstract and flexible than you'd find in most consoles. (Compare the Amiga to the supremely powerful, but rigid Sharp X68000 for example)
There is a new Amiga being developed. It is an accelerator
board with a brand new 68080 processor. The thing is, it being FPGA, it actually doesn't need to be hosted in an actual Amiga any more. Therefore they are planning to make a standalone, essentially new Amiga. The Apollo 68080 Accelerator - New Amiga: http://www.apollo-core.com/index.htm?page=products
Also. This is what Amigas can do in 2019:
A new "Amiga" would be something completely different than the old Amiga (which has long been surpassed by PCs with high-end graphics cards) or the current software/hardware model of a PC (which could be improved in many ways if you decided not to be a slave to current hardware and software standards).
I'm not sure what that means, really, because creating something new and useful is a hard (but not impossible) task. It really does take commitment in these days of software that is POSIX everywhere and (graphics) hardware that is sometimes interesting and high performance, but very buggy and effectively, probably intentionally, undocumented.
It's a standalone board that runs Amiga Firmware and boots the Amiga OS. As such it is a new Amiga.
Honestly, though, now would probably be about the time for Amiga to make a bit of a comeback; with the advent of really awesome web applications, the actual operating system is becoming increasingly irrelevant to most users. If we could get the two big browsers out there (Firefox and Chrome) to make decent ports to AmigaOS/AROS, then I could conceivably some of my non-tech friends using it without even fully realizing it.
Sadly, though, I think that's too little too late; non-technical people seem happy enough with their Chromebooks, and technical people will be hampered by the lack of software available for Amiga on current computers.
There were some limitations with systems of that era that a design reboot should overcome: security, access to tcpip.
I'm part of Team Red, working on Rebol's successor (https://www.red-lang.org/). We have a number of old Rebolers, but also a lot of new faces, and we're having a great time carrying the torch forward. We still have a lot of work to do, but by the end of the year we should have feature parity with R2, not to mention all the new features Red has, like a compiler, reactive system, Android support, and native GUIs.
It's very similar to Rebol and is under active development. If you like Rebol and haven't tried Red, it's worth taking a look:
which is a spreadsheet in 17 lines of code using the inbuilt reactive system.
In fact there was a Rebol conference only last month - http://2019.reb4.me/
Note, owned a A500, A1200, even AmigaAnywhere in 2001
It just didn't have the bandwidth nor did it have Denise silicon area left. Uninterlaced 640x480 would have required 35 ns pixels, and even two bitplanes would have mercilessly bogged it down.
Of course later ECS added 35 ns pixels.
> Skimping out of a MMU in the A2000 was also a disaster.
Certainly you mean A1200? A2000 used 68000, so you would have needed an external MMU. Not to mention 68000 MOVE SR bug, so moving to at least 68010 would have been advisable.
The PCs VGA hi-res graphics mode was 640x480 in 16 colors/262144 palette (non-interlaced!)
The PCs VGA text mode was 720x400 in 16 colors (non-interlaced) and very fast/efficient since a whole screen took up just 80x25x2 bytes - 4 KB.
And, if you need to work 8+ hours/day you really prefer flicker-free efficient display modes.
I may be wrong, but these are also higher resolutions that the first Amigas.
VGA was introduced with IBMs PS/2 line in 1987 and 1024x768x16 color SVGA was slowly becoming the standard on the PC ca. 1989/90.
I remember PC users still showing me EGA games into 89 because if how ridiculous it seemed to me that they paid silly money for a machine like that.
AGA definitively came way too late, though.
DragonflyBSD founder is Matt Dillon of Amiga fame. He took many concepts from his Amiga developer days and built a modern BSD using those concepts. Like it’s innovative approach to message handling and SMP.
I've long forgotten the key combination and actions to trigger but luckily Amiga History Guide is still up http://www.amigahistory.plus.com/messages.html
Here's the demo of the easter egg on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omMOuyTLmyg&feature=youtu.be...
There are cases made in this style and they are compatible either with "Amiga Reloaded" and similar Amiga-compatible motherboards, or with SBCs like the Raspberry PI , but I couldn't find a similar product that can use standard PC components (except for the Kickstarter mentioned below);
There was one case with integrated keyboard made by a designer in UK and launched on Kickstarter a few years ago, this one could accept PC components but it had laptop-style chicklet keys, rather than mechanical switches .
Later, the same designer tried to launch a similar case, this time with mechanical keys, but the kickstarter unfortunately did not reach its goal 
Edit: if anyone knows of a case like that last one, please send me a link!
Edit II: I have added the 2 Kickstarter links
That series of articles is amazing and I am happy to see it re-appear here. They have a Patreon and some e-books but I'd buy an illustrated hard copy of the 68000 articles.
We got to play the game on the school Amstrad PCs, the 512KB model with CGA monitor.
The Amiga was used even by some TV networks solely due to the availability of the Video Toaster, as comparable hardware costs were way higher. That was usually paired with Lightwave 3D.
But no matter what, the component architecture of the PC was bulldozing its way to kill ataris and amigas. Only Apple really survived that challenge, I think mainly because it had the education market somewhat cornered, but even then would have likely died if it wasn't for the ipod.
Both Commodore and Atari might ( especially Atari ) have had a good chance in the home market of game consoles.... but no.
Or perhaps a blitter capable of rasterizing triangles with affine texture mapping. A bit like PS1. Low silicon requirements as just addition is required. Nothing complicated like multiplication or divides needed. Of course the price is loss of perspective correctness.
Even AGA was a kludge - planning was started once they realised their "real" next gen chipset was going to take way too long.
Bus width went from 16 bit to 32 bit and fast page mode provided another bw doubling.
But the overall feeling was that Commodore was pretty much ignoring their fans, and not promoting the computer at all. Even at an Amiga World show in Chicago, Commodore was a no-show. WTF?
Sadly my parents were right.
However we did spend endless weekends playing games, doing ProTracker sessions, watching swapped Demoscene intros and naturally trying to do our own as well.
For a while I thought, GNU/Linux might evolve into such multimedia OS, specially with WM like Enlightenment.
I was wrong, Windows, macOS took it.
I also created a subreddit for this:
macOS on various intel Apple systems, SmartOS on intel PC bucket, 19" rack mountable servers.
There really isn't much of anything else out there affordable / mainstream like the Amiga was in Europe.
Haven't powered it up for a few years, and the internal floppy drive, which was an upgrade to a PC format (and I can't remember the make or model of the upgrade), is busted.
Still, I have the AmigaOS 3.9 CD, I might get the old girl running again sometime.
How does "Great White Hope" fit here? That phrase, especially when capitalized as a proper name, has a particular meaning. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128245...
Although I can get a taste of it through emulators, I still wish I could have lived the experience of unboxing an Amiga when it was the hottest thing around. :)
or luajit version:
git clone https://github.com/malkia/ufo
The first 28 lines of your first link are a comment block saying just that.
I still have a Commodore Amiga 1000 in a box somewhere.....
In a sense it's more like saying that what was originally designed to be an electric milk float should have been an electric milk float. That's also not an entirely fair because I agree that the Amiga makes more sense as a computer. As a game machine it was soon beaten by more specialized hardware that did exactly what action games at the time demanded really well and nothing else.
An exception that proves the rule, in the sense that they were all largely unsuccessful.
Successful video game systems like the NES, PC Engine, Master System, Megadrive and SNES were all designed around tile- and sprite based video generation, like successful arcade games. Similarity to arcade game systems (and arcade ports) probably made them more attractive to consumers and thus more attractive to publishers and developers.
Porting attractive arcade titles to the Amiga must have been an absolute pain because the Amiga doesn't particularly address their fundamental graphics model. You do everything with the blitter and copper and have to come up with clever ways to move lots of layers of tiles and characters around. What's trivial work on a system built these types of games (upload graphics and tile maps to VRAM, move sprites about and scroll tile layers by writing to a couple of position registers) becomes a puzzle on the Amiga.
I also think that the best Amiga games were better suited for computers, like point and click adventures or strategy games like Civilization. The arcade ports I can think of in particular are mostly of poor quality with some exceptions, so evidently it was hard to on-board people who could develop quality arcade ports for the system. The games that really pushed the system technically and that people tend to remember fondly were almost all released at least half a decade after 1985.
But what I meant - what if there could have been arcade games based on the Amiga, so you would not have to port it to Amiga, but it would have already have been Amiga?
And games console with Amiga hardware but say, 256kbyte RAM and 32kbyte ROM cartridges would still have been an awesome games console. All games for that hardware would have been trivially ported (and possibly updated with more graphics and sounds) for the computer Amiga.
I owned an A2000 growing up, great machine.
The real beginning of the end for me came when I started seeing what the Sierra adventures looked like on the PC in magazines.
Then Wolfenstein 3D.
Pros for Amiga
- the obvious
- hideous and slow ui
- slow floppy
- lack of cheap C compiler
The last, complexity, is the cause of the success and rapid demise.
Soonish after the Amiga was released, there were IBM compatibles with a huge community of hardware (graphics cards, hard disks), software (unix and unix-likes, gcc).
The main reason I bought an Amiga was for it's multitasking capabilities. However I could see that it's custom hardware would make the desired transition to an m68k process with MMU a big problem.
Side story John Draper legendary phone phreaker mentioned in the article known as captain crunch. Draper found that if you covered a hole in the included toy whistle in included in the package of captain crunch cereals it would produce 2600hz. Hence the nick name Captain crunch. 2600 hertz was the phone signaling used by telecom companies to tell that the phone call was hang up and billing should stop. Thus one could call for free by emitting 2600hz by a building a device callled blue box when long distance calls was very expensive.
Other famous uses of Blueboxes which sales founded another
computer company founded by phreakers Apple. Steve Jobs and Wozniak made the first money for building apple computers by selling blue boxes. Or at least so the legend goes.