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A history of the Amiga – The demo scene (2013) (arstechnica.com)
88 points by bane on Apr 5, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 23 comments

Just a quick reminder. The Amiga, Wild, PC 8k and Demo competitions at Revision (a big demo party going on right now) are coming up in just a few hours if you want to see what the scene is up to.

Schedule (German time) http://2015.revision-party.net/events/timetable

Live stream here http://2015.revision-party.net/live

Live stream with chat http://salinga.everywebhost.com/sofascener/

edit Wild compo is ongoing:

demos on a Microcontroller, a Gameboy Advance, Gamecube, and some guy made a digital camera out of a scanner, some lenses and a Rasberry Pi.

And a version of a Rachmaninoff Rhapsody with orchestra provided by several Commodore 64s. This would have been on the forefront of Avant Guarde music not too many decades ago.

Great compos this year. The PC 64k had some amazing stuff (conspiracy floored me). For anyone checking those out at home, your AV software is wrong.

Folks interested in Amiga demos should absolutely check out the Mind Candy volume 2 DVD: http://www.mindcandydvd.com/2/frames?p=download It's long sold out but now available as a free download from the creator at the link above. The DVD is a great set of classic Amiga demos that were captured and put on DVD at very high quality. Also lots of good extras like commentaries from the creators, short documentaries, etc.

There's also another volume on PC demos and a blu-ray with more modern demos: http://www.mindcandydvd.com/

I remember switching from my Commodore 64 to the Amiga thinking computers would always keep improving in the same rate as the vast improvement between the Commodore 64 and the Amiga in just a few years.

But they didn't :(

I still remember taking the Apple OS emulator on my Amiga 1500 and it worked twice as fast as the fastest Mac. I thought Apple and IBM Clones were dead. Sad to say I was wrong.

It took till 1993 that the Mac even caught up to a Amiga 500.

Also, in case you want to see the guts of this machine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKNVIgsbYrA

In addition to the scene links posted here, I highly recommend reading the Ars articles from the beginning. I have the ToC bookmarked because the entirety of it is like a love letter to the Amiga: http://arstechnica.com/series/history-of-the-amiga/

Notice how the demo scene chapter came 5 years after the others. Caught me off guard. And nearly missed it as i have pretty much abandoned reading anything but the science section of Ars Technica.

Bloddy site is filled with Apple wankery and minutiae about the intersection of tech and US law (i'm not American, for the record).

I really miss Hannibal's detailed articles on CPU internals, but i guess he was right about how there was nothing new to write in that field any longer. These days it seems to be all about cache misses.

I remember when I switched from Amiga to PC. Maybe around 1992-1993. The PC took all the fun I had with the Amiga. Assembly programming, games, demos. It was no longer the same on a PC. Eventually, internet + linux + learning CS at university made things fun again.

To me, Linux lacked a lot of the aesthetic aspects of the Amiga. It had no games scene, the culture was older, more academic or "heavy industry" and didn't have multimedia in its blood like the Amiga scene did.

One thing that made the Amiga special, that can't really be replicated is that it occupied a sweet spot in the history of computer hardware. You could make like a C64 programmer, kick out the os and write pure ASM to the hardware (which was strange, complex and fascinating, unlike PC hardware), or you could go in the other direction and write object oriented (using BOOPSI) GUI apps in a true multitasking environment. And to top it off, it was a system that one programmer could completely understand, more or less. There was a real feeling of power and elegance when you programmed an Amiga.

I probably spend too long thinking about this :) It was the "Amiga feeling" that got me into computers when I was younger, and I keep trying to replicate it :)

> To me, Linux lacked a lot of the aesthetic aspects of the Amiga. It had no games scene, the culture was older, more academic or "heavy industry" and didn't have multimedia in its blood like the Amiga scene did.

Sure, nothing comparable with the Amiga. But coming from Windows 95, Linux was at least programmer friendly.

My biggest frustration coming from the Amiga was that I wasn't able to display anything on a PC (at least, not with the limited knowledge I had at that time). With the Amiga, it was easy, no need to worry about system calls, you just wrote at the right place into the RAM et voila. And it wasn't complicated to make things move using the Blitter and the Copper. It was something a kid could do.

EDIT: talking about the aesthetic aspect of the Amiga, I think it was a beautiful computer too. People always praise Apple for making computers beautiful. But to me, my Amiga 500 was much better looking than an Apple II or a mac from that era.

> But coming from Windows 95, Linux was at least programmer friendly.

Depends. I came from the ZX 80, Amiga and PC. My first UNIX was Xenix on 1993, followed by DG/UX in 1994 and Slackware 2.0 in 1995.

Never found out an environment similar to Devpac, Amos, Turbo Pascal, Delphi, Borland C++, Turbo Assembler back on those days.

Sure I did learn a lot from UNIX, but the spirit wasn't really the same.

When I first moved to the PC from the Commodore 64, I was appalled that you couldn't write and execute code on the command line. You had to open up a whole different program just to write programs! What foolishness!

> To me, Linux lacked a lot of the aesthetic aspects of the Amiga. It had no games scene, the culture was older, more academic or "heavy industry" and didn't have multimedia in its blood like the Amiga scene did.

Yes. I ended up loosing a few years trying to meet demosceners in GNU/Linux, only to finally reach the conclusion that everyone that moved away from Amiga was either on Windows or Mac.

Back then the demoscene culture, games and making each group cool demo secret, were the opposite of the GNU culture driving Linux development.

Yeah, 92-95 was really when people started switching to PCs from Amiga, and it really wasn't quite the same. There were big gaming and demo scenes on the PC during that time (it was around that time that I found out about and fell in love with the demoscene, but on PC).

Windows 95 almost killed the demoscene completely -- it took years to really recover. All of the investment in demo toolchains simply stopped working. For quite a while I ran some kind of hacked version of Windows 95 that booted directly into the MS-DOS build that ran underneath (this was before NT eliminated that layer) just so I could still do demoscene stuff.

But it was clear that this wasn't going to last. The scene really had to take a few years to step back and reevaluate and rediscover itself in order to understand how it could continue moving forward.

The modern scene is really a new scene that's risen from the ashes, and in an age of such powerful home machines that many of the traditional rules and categories no longer make sense (hence the old-school and retro-machine competition categories).

I'm not sure exactly when it revived...maybe 2003-2004? but it's definitely demoscene 2.0. But it's definitely come back super strong and as big and vibrant as it ever was and it seems like in the last few years a renewed interest and rediscovery in the old pioneering work has started to integrate into the overall scene. New productions on minimal hardware are truly awesome stuff, and productions on old systems that are informed my modern ideas are truly amazing.

It's like a Renaissance is occurring the scene and we're in the middle of it and we really have the passion and energy from the C64 and Amiga scenes to thank for it.

Take a look at one of the new developments still happening in the Amiga scene:


Sure, it won't replace your regular PC, but if you want something fun to spend time on, there's plenty of fun hardware projects updating the classic Amiga's in ways that still refuses to yield to the mainstream..

Sadly i feel that Linux is becoming "corporate" and boring these days.

I remember when I saw "hardwired" (2disks) on my Amiga 500 and I was like "wow" at the time. Is there a place where I can download these and play them on an emulator?

You'll want to find a build of UAE for Amiga emulation.


Demo is here: http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=981

Not sure about the state of emulators.


Man, the Amiga community is so fascinating to me. It still keeps trucking, albeit minimally, after all of these years.

Fun times.

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