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AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition: Now Shipping to Dealers (oldschoolgameblog.com)
63 points by bane on Dec 19, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments

I'm not familiar with Amiga and the surrounding culture, but I was surprised to learn there is modern PowerPC hardware and an updated OS. What can you do with an Amiga in 2014? Why would someone pay $3000 for an AmigaOne X1000 workstation? Is it purely nostalgia?

Is it purely nostalgia?

I'm pretty sure the answer is yes. I loved the Amiga for what it was, but it's hard to see why anyone would get a "modern Amiga" for any reason other than to say that they had a "modern Amiga." I don't think any Amiga has shipped in quantity since the Amiga 4000 in 1996; I don't know if it's fair to say that the PowerPC-based designs were obsolete before they shipped, but I don't know that it's unfair, either. (The X1000 became available in 2012, using a CPU that was released in 2007 and will never be updated again.) I could imagine someone whose business still depended on Amiga-specific software getting new hardware back in 2000, but 2014?

Personally, my nostalgia for old computers tends to last roughly long enough for me to download an emulator, get whatever virtual machine I'm trying to emulate working, and be disappointed. A computer may have been years ahead of its time for the late 1980s, but it'll likely still feel like banging rocks together in the mid 2010s.

Disappointed about what? You don't remember what it was like? I am really curious about that? Or maybe you aren't from that era and just are figuring out what the fuss is all about?

I like old systems (80s/begin 90s non PC hardware) because you can understand them completely from the silicon level up. I have begin 80s systems which I know everything about on hardware and software level, which is a lot of fun (at least to me). I can read the OS code and understand and remember it; try that with win/lin/mac. I can remember (to enough detail) all the hardware layout, and, without any documentation, solder in more memory.

I think the question 'what is the use?' is akin to asking what the use is of many/most hobbies; it is a way to relax while getting intellectually stimulated. If I would do that with modern computers, the idea of 'maybe this can make money!' immediately jumps in my head and the nice, relaxed atmosphere is gone. I think it's a hobby for many and not a bad one at that. Ohyeah, and then I (and many with me) am weird; I think ps4/xbox one games generally suck; give me Metal Gear I or Nemesis-2 on the MSX-2 any time over those overrated graphical jerk off sessions (disclaimer: I have all PSs, to me they got gradually worse, game wise; more Crash, less FPS crap please). But that's a matter of taste.

> Disappointed about what?

Remember the feeling when you had your first bicycle? Can you get it again from another bicycle like that?

(Heraclitus' river, etc. Just trying to explain, the rest of your post is quite fair.)

Ah no, I see what you mean. But that was what I meant (when I read it back it sounded a bit snarly; not intended); it doesn't have to feel like that? It's just great get some of the feel for the games/software back without it having to feel like that magical. Actually it doesn't feel magical to me anymore; quite the opposite but in a very relaxing way. The frustration with the (far more magical if you put it that way) process of modern software writing isn't there. It is frustrating in that if you do one thing wrong, all crashes and you have to wait for a reboot, however that actually gets you to focus better on not getting it wrong... But I don't have that thing which should work but does not work because of some software update Apple did or some input is wrong but no-one knows why (expressed by stackoverflow answers like: try to reboot, quit xcode and start again etc in 6 answers which all do not solve your identical issue). I have the advantage that I actually like the games a lot from the 80s (that must be nostalgia indeed) and people are still actively working on software for these machines, amazing things which cannot be done if you don't know everything about these systems like [1] (on 3.58 mhz (!) computers).

[1] http://symbos.org

The Amiga culture is absolutely great, if you are interested then reading up on it then http://arstechnica.com/series/history-of-the-amiga/ is highly recommended :)

And yes, $3000 for an AmigaOne X1000 workstation... that takes a special kind of will.. Especially seeing as the nostalgia aspect would be far better served by getting an original A1200 via eBay equipped with a PPC extension; that way you could run newly released multitasking OS with Firefox and co. on a essentially 23 year old computer!

Amigans are as strongly eccentric as ever. The culture is still hard at work, too, particularly on Aminet.net and at the AROS project. Hardware for Legacy systems is still being produced and can be purchased from sites like AmigaKit.us or Versalia.de. News, debate, and dreams of "the great Amiga revival" can be found on Amiga.org or EAB.Abime.Net.

More than a handful of diehards still hack their ~30 year old 68k AmigaOS 3.1 and 3.9 systems so as to be useful in 2014. You'll find said Amigans surfing the web with A2000s, composing music, adding solid-state drives to SCSI-II controllers, using decades old office productivity software, creating state-of-the-art-for-1985 television overlays for local television stations, etc. Amigans, as a group, seem to revile the principle of planned obsolescence. They treat their computers like classic trucks and take pride in keeping them "on the road".

Thus there's a constant debate in the Amiga community over the "soul" of Amiga and how said soul can be retained while bringing the Amiga into the future. Some, such as those mentioned above, attempt to wring every ounce of possibility out of the ancient hardware and software. Others, prefer to run newer Amiga OSes (MorphOS, AmigaOS 4.X, AROS) on new platforms. While I'm in the former camp, there are passionate people in both groups.

This is great when you consider today's culture of planned obsolescence and the environmental damage that results.

Yes, I'm pointing fingers at Apple here, because they charge $1000-$1500 for laptops that have proprietary hard-drive connectors and soldered ram.

> proprietary hard-drive connectors and soldered ram.

But at least Apple's stuff uses modern parts and they design using recyclable materials and in ways that plan for the end of life of devices.

Most of the choices you mention are a result of market physical size demands and are made by every phone and tablet vendor, as well as nearly all ultrabook and other ultraportable devices like the MS Surface, etc.

An argument could be made for the pre-retina MacBook Pro's, which were RAM/disk expandable, and still had most of the benefits of current modules.

The Amiga was initially used to create the effects for Babylon 5.




I thought JJ Abrams mentioned that he used the Amiga for something in the 1990's but I can't find anything in Google.

Many non R&D-ish rendering software came from people doing experiments on Amiga. I believe 3D Studio, Lightwave, probably others, had their roots in Amiga demo/game/3d scene.

There were untold numbers of television shows edited with NewTek's Video Toaster - an Amiga product. Came out for PC later -- it was essentially an Amiga in a custom enclosure.


I still have this one on tape!

And Scala (a global leader in digital signage software) started out in 1987 on Amiga and only moved to PC in 1996 when Commodore went bankrupt. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scala,_Inc

Oh yeah, I forgot about VT. Reminds me of TVPaint, but NewTek rebranding of it wasn't for Amiga (its original platform). Fun times.

3D Sculpt,Real 3D,...There was a lot of 3d software on amiga.

Perhaps surprisingly, it does have a killer feature: the Xena co-processor, which introduces - for the first time in a consumer machine - 'Software Defined Silicon'.

From the blurb: 'Capable of eight concurrent real-time threads with shared memory space, at up to 500 MIPS, Xena gives the X1000 a very flexible, very expandable co-processor. The uses are endless; control hardware, DSP functions, robotics, display - even SID chip and console emulators.'

Link: http://www.a-eon.com/index.php?page=nemo

(It reminds me of the 'Geek port' on the BeBox.)

If the number of Amiga developers reaches critical mass, an emergent 'killer app' could yet make this a compelling platform.

The "Xena" co-processor is just an off-the-shelf XMOS XCore microcontroller interfaced to the CPU somehow. I've got a development board for one of their chips kicking around somewhere, though obviously without the CPU interface. It's only "software defined silicon" in the sense that it gives you very powerful ways of implementing custom I/O; it's not that fast at any compute tasks compared to a modern PC. There also doesn't appear to be anyone who's done anything with this, and the official prototyping board for connecting stuff to it is very expensive too: http://amigakit.leamancomputing.com/catalog/product_info.php... (several times the price of a standalone XCore board). Oh, and apparently the toolchain required to compile code for "Xena" doesn't even run on Amiga or PowerPC, but that's not terribly surprising.

I'm one of the people who think the Xena is a great thing to have on the X1000, but they're not a "killer feature" unless/until someone comes up with some cool projects for it. You can buy XCore USB kits for ~$100 I think.

It's great to have it on there as an extra "bonus", because it's cheap (maybe $10 of the cost of the machine) and something different, but that's what it is.

If I understand the changelog, they introduced memory protection only in this release, in 2014.

I was an Amigan back in the 80s and early 90s and have fond memories of the platform, but I think they should just remain memories.

The thing is there are a number of people for whom they have never been just memories. There are people still using the original classic 68k machines on a day to day basis. And there's still stuff in there I miss in Linux. I don't use AmigaOS any more, but I do occasionally use (and even less occasionally contribute to) AROS, which is an AmigaOS compatible OS that runs on (amongst others) PC hardware either natively or under Linux.

As for memory protection, AmigaOS has a particular set of issues there: The OS is full of dependencies of message passing where the messages includes pointers, and where many apps may use the pointer passing to pass ownership of objects. Proper memory protection is incredibly hard to add to it.

With the resources of some large company, it might be possible, but to do it without losing a large percentage of the software catalogue, which is not being "replenished" very fast by ongoing development (though there are a few handfuls of commercial software products for AmigaOS still, and a small community of open source developers) would effectively require auditing of most applications to figure out how they're using the message passing, to try to find out how to avoid breaking them.

Protection shitection. It was a single user system. Its not that important compared to full preemptive multitasking in 1985 :o. Afaik it was the second home computer to get it, first being castrated low cost piece of shit Sinclair QL (Linus owned one), and the first one to use it by default.

Windows got native preemprive multitasking 10 years later.

I guess you could say they're protecting the memories? :-)

Non-blogspam link: http://www.amigaos.net

Lots of great memories with the Amiga. It was my first computer. I remember the day my dad had told me he was selling my Amiga for a PC. I had cried and told him not to do it. I had maybe a dozen drawers filled with floppy disks mostly of games. It lasted maybe for another year before I gave in for a PC. Can't remember what year that was but I know I had about two or three Amiga's and at least two in the house always.

I guess this proves you never should name anything "Final".

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