Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 11th Apr 2016 17:29 UTC
Amiga & AROS

In terms of planning our lives around what our TVs spit out, we've come a long way from the overly condensed pages of TV Guide. In fact, the magazine was already looking awful obsolete in the 1980s and 1990s, when cable systems around the country began dedicating entire channels to listing TV schedules.

The set-top box, the power-sucking block that serves as the liaison between you and your cable company, is a common sight in homes around the country these days.

But before all that was the Commodore Amiga, a device that played a quiet but important role in the cable television revolution.

Absolutely fascinating - I don't think we had anything even remotely like this in The Netherlands.

Order by: Score:
That was pretty cool
by Onyx_RE2 on Mon 11th Apr 2016 17:40 UTC
Onyx_RE2
Member since:
2015-03-05

That was pretty cool. Thanks for posting that article. I was an Amiga user from 1986 to 1994 and am always amazed how they were used. It's always fun to fire up one of the old Amigas (or use WinUAE). What a shame that Commodore and Amiga were decimated in the 90's...

Reply Score: 1

Atari 8 bit
by icicle on Mon 11th Apr 2016 17:41 UTC
icicle
Member since:
2013-12-07

I remember before Amigas existed our local cable company used 8 bit Ataris to display their program guide. I can't remember what the software was called but do remember coming across it in different communities from time to time and reading about it in magazines.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Atari 8 bit
by Earl C Pottinger on Mon 11th Apr 2016 20:29 UTC in reply to "Atari 8 bit"
Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

What I found funny, was the IBM center in Toronto used to use Vic-20s to display info on their TVs in-house.

The large text size made the Vic-20 displays easy to read compared to what was possible with the IBM-XT.

Edited 2016-04-11 20:38 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Atari 8 bit
by Morgan on Thu 14th Apr 2016 01:21 UTC in reply to "RE: Atari 8 bit"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

My wife's father (he died years before we met) had used the VIC-20 along with some sort of video editing software to jazz up and edit their home movies back in the 80s. When we got married a few years ago and she moved into my house she brought all of that with her, but she couldn't find the video editing software. I now have a working VIC-20 with a few cartridge games and an old-school VHS camcorder.

It's simply astounding all the things one could do with such a small amount of processing power. It's humbling, really.

Reply Score: 2

Program guides still suck
by WorknMan on Mon 11th Apr 2016 18:29 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

I haven't had cable for a good 15 years; I recently went to visit my parents, and I was surprised that the program guide on the cable box is still as shitty as ever. Except now it's even worse, since they put in ads on the guide itself. That alone would've had me cancelling my cable sub, if I had one.

At least they have tablet apps these days that make it more tolerable.

Edited 2016-04-11 18:30 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Interesting
by abraxas on Mon 11th Apr 2016 20:36 UTC
abraxas
Member since:
2005-07-07

Those picture sure do bring back memories. I had no idea about the technology behind it at and I never really wondered about it yet it is interesting all the same. I never got to play with an Amiga but I'm old enough to have had a chance to. Today's world of computing is so different and monolithic. Back then a lot of different systems existed in the commercial world. Now everyone just has a windows or linux box with their software running on top.

Edited 2016-04-11 20:40 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Angry
by Earl C Pottinger on Mon 11th Apr 2016 20:37 UTC
Earl C Pottinger
Member since:
2008-07-12

I get angry at the thought of all the missed opportunities Commodore's executives let slip thru their fingers because of the lack of official upgrades for the Amiga line.

I remember we all were expecting the Amiga 2000 to have the 68020 installed on the motherboard. We also expected a 8 MB memory upgrade board to be available instead of just the 2 MB board they shipped later.

Even the Amiga 500 was a disappointment since there was more than enough pins on the internal port to support a 1.5 MB upgrade instead of the 0.5 MB it was designed for. Later third party designs could give you the extra memory but only if you opened up you machine and clipped onto certain address lines. All those address lines could have been on the expansion port already.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Angry
by tylerdurden on Mon 11th Apr 2016 21:47 UTC in reply to "Angry"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

The Amiga never had a chance; Commodore management was truly awful, and its architecture was a non-scalable dead end in terms of both HW and SW. If anything, it's amazing the Amiga got as far as it did.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Angry
by Alfman on Mon 11th Apr 2016 23:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Angry"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

tylerdurden,

The Amiga never had a chance; Commodore management was truly awful, and its architecture was a non-scalable dead end in terms of both HW and SW. If anything, it's amazing the Amiga got as far as it did.


Ah, just like the IBM PC then! ...Touche? ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Angry
by tylerdurden on Tue 12th Apr 2016 00:46 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Angry"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Yeah, other than being pretty different, they were totally the same.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Angry
by sergio on Tue 12th Apr 2016 08:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Angry"
sergio Member since:
2005-07-06

The Amiga never had a chance; Commodore management was truly awful, and its architecture was a non-scalable dead end in terms of both HW and SW. If anything, it's amazing the Amiga got as far as it did.


Amiga was wonderful ahead-of-its-time technology with an awful management behind it (just like Sun Microsystem, 3Dfx, Atari, ecc).

BTW I don't see the architecture dead-end that you mention, I don't see it at all.

Just remember how awful PCs and Macs were back in the late 80s (MS-DOS, Windows 3, System 6, monochrome Macs with dead slow 68000 CPUs and sky high prices, ecc)

Amiga was 10 years ahead of Macs and PCs of that era, hands down. It was a superior product in every single aspect.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Angry
by feamatar on Tue 12th Apr 2016 11:58 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Angry"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

Amiga couldn't do 640x400 flicker free, only 640x200.
Even an IBM MGA could do 720×350 in character mode and that is from 1981, and a Hercules could do this freely addressable. Mac II had 16 MHz 68020 with true colour display in 1987. In 1987 you could get a Deskpro386 with a 20Mhz processor, 120MB HDD and VGA display. Yeah, it was like 10,000$, but simply there was nothing similar from Commodore.

The Amiga was cool, but it really did not have ultimate advantage over the competition.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Angry
by Earl C Pottinger on Tue 12th Apr 2016 14:19 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Angry"
Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

No quite true, you could get add-on cards to add all those features and more to the Amigas, what you could not do was get all the needed hardware from Commodore!

That is what they did wrong, people like one shop buying where they know that can buy everything they want from a single source (note: that does not mean they don't want or buy third party hardware), but Commodore never supplied what people wanted for the more advance designs.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Angry
by feamatar on Tue 12th Apr 2016 15:37 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Angry"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

And that was what I said: you could not get that from Commodore directly.

Reply Score: 0

RE[6]: Angry
by Earl C Pottinger on Wed 13th Apr 2016 03:36 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Angry"
Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

Okay, that is not how I had read it. I thought you were saying the Amiga could not have those features.

BUT you are right, it was stupid of Commodore to not at-least licence a number of add-ons and thus have them available to all their sales sites.

IBM made so many of the basic add-ons available for it's machines, Apple delivered advance CPUs, DSPs, SCSI ports and AppleTalk on their machines. Commodore you almost always had to go to a third party to get what you needed.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Angry
by tylerdurden on Tue 12th Apr 2016 16:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Angry"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Yeah, the 68000 was "dead slow" in a mac, but "wonderfully snappy" on an Amiga. Such is the power of belief ;-)

I'm not denying that Amiga was one of the original introductions of multimedia into the consumer computing market. And it had an initial 3/4 yr run in which it truly was ahead, in certain aspects, over most of its competitors.

But it's SW and HW architecture(s) ended up being an albatross around its neck, once the multimedia market started to heat up. It was way too hard, and expensive, for a company with the resources of Commodore to scale up.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Angry
by Vanders on Tue 12th Apr 2016 21:54 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Angry"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, the 68000 was "dead slow" in a mac, but "wonderfully snappy" on an Amiga. Such is the power of belief ;-)

Well, no. Such is the power of a series of co-processors. Other than shared RAM waits, the CPU & co-processors could run in parallel, and the co-processors could do the heavy lifting of reading disks, playing audio and blitting bitmaps: which all had to be done with the CPU in a Mac.

The CPU in the Amiga was no faster than the Mac, but it had less housekeeping to worry about.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Angry
by tylerdurden on Wed 13th Apr 2016 01:27 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Angry"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

That was the original Mac, which predates the Amiga. By the time the 500 and 2000 hit market, Apple was also doing I/O, graphics, and sound at the ASIC level.

That's the thing. Amiga had that 4-year window between 85-89 that Commodore completely squandered. By the time the 3000 hit the market, whatever lead in multimedia price/performance the Amiga may have had over its competitors was gone.

And the 3000 was my favourite machine as a kid. But now as an adult I can see how daft Commodore management and engineering was. E.g. By the late 80s, it was clear the "killer" app for the Amiga was going to be the toaster. So what does Commodore do? Release a flagship machine which is physically incompatible with the toaster, of course!

Edited 2016-04-13 01:44 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Angry
by feamatar on Tue 12th Apr 2016 22:16 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Angry"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

I gently disagree. There was room to improve, but for certain reasons development happened late or was too little. Look at Atari as an example: they went from the humble ST, which they created in circa a year-year and a half to the Atari TT and later to the Atari Falcon, and they were a smaller company than Commodore and they started with technology which was poor in comparison. For the Amiga, the leap was smaller between generations.

Company size was never the bottleneck of innovation, but bad decisions:
For Atari, the Federated deal took 2 years of profit with it(they were profitable between 1986 and 1992, except the record loss of 1988 because of that Federated deal)
For Commodore it was when Thomas J. Rattigan was fired(he made the company profitable again in 1987 and it was profitable until 1993).
3dfx: the STB Systems deal
AMD: the Radeon buyout, the overextension in manufacturing in the mid 2000s, all took away resources from CPU development.

Back to the Amiga: the software was not an issue, there was Unix ported already, NetBSD 1.0 was released for the Amiga too, and by the time the AmigaOS became seriously outdated, Linux was maturing quickly.

Regarding the hardware, it is the death of the 68k series that was a serious issue. RTG was a thing by OS3, and it worked pretty well, so no issue with graphics. So if they had survived, they would have gone the same way probably as Apple did: M68K -> PowerPC -> Intel.

But internal development was possible: look at the Falcon: it had a DSP installed, had true color chunky video which was developed internally by Atari, and 16-bit audio. A Falcon can play movies(320x240/30fps if I remember correctly) and mp3(I don't know the exact quality) thanks to the DSP. Sure, the Falcon had its flaws, but it was produced by a failing company at the time, without proper resources. Now imagine if Commodore included some of these on an A4000...

but after Rattigan was fired,Commodore never bothered with R&D that much...

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Angry
by Kochise on Wed 13th Apr 2016 11:59 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Angry"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Performance wise the Falcon030 was a great disappointment. The OS (TOS 4) felt sluggish even though it was in ROM. It had to be patched a lot and without expensive "software accelerators" like NVDI (new graphic routines), SpeedoGDOS (new printing routines), CDTools (new CD routines), etc, the computer was almost useless.

Even the ST compatibility was sub-optimal and even "ST emulators" often failed to play ST games or demos. And GEM applications were also breaking a lot on the new computer. Was it really a Atari one ?

The Falcon030 had a 68EC030 (PMMU but no FPU) working at 16 MHz on a 16 bit bus. The TT was running at 32 MHz on a 32 bit bus (video was on 64 bits, yeah).

I almost forgot, first machine were shipped with 1 or 4 MB of RAM. Like the ST the video memory shared the main memory (and bus bandwidth). So playing with "true color" or "high resolution" immediately had an impact on your free memory. The 14 MB (not 16 MB because IO ports were mapped there for historical reason) was too much expansive for the average Joe. It was not just SIPP or SIMM sticks like in the ST or TT. Atari had, again, chosen the wrong path.

BTW, 320x200 (TV) or 240 (VGA) on NTC (65536 colors, 16 bit) was possible, but remember, the bus was 16 bits at 16 MHz and shared the system bus, hence the performance was catastrophic. The color indexed screen (4, 16 or 256 colors) were planar by 16 pixels chunks, which was another completely insane design choice by Atari, instead to leave the ST mode as a "compatibility" (for what it worth) mode.

Even though the Falcon030 had the same DSP 56001 running at 32 MHz than the NeXT, it was rather awful to code since the three memories were overlapping (384 KB linear) and the access was through a 8 bit port (DMA was hard to code).

The basic configuration is hardly able to play MP2 files, surely not MP3 files, even using the DSP. Playing Full Motion Video from the SCSI or IDE at 25 fps is again impossible, more 15 fps if you are lucky. To achieve correct throughput some tricks had to be used in 256 or even 16 colors using dithering and color swapping.

I remember when the Falcon030 was released, the top french computer magazine hardly spent a quarter page almost at the end of the issue just to say basically "slow, useless, cumbersome : put fire and forget it".

Some companies just deserves to die in a slow and painful way.

Edited 2016-04-13 12:09 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Angry
by feamatar on Wed 13th Apr 2016 21:31 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Angry"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

I am not saying that Falcon did not have many issues, I was merely saying that Atari was still able to put out big leaps between models even when it was in a dire financial situation.

Also I suggest to keep in mind what the Falcon was targeted against: 16 or 25 Mhz 386SX machines and the Amiga 1200, price to price it was not that bad of a choice. But they were aiming for a very small segment of a big market and with all the other problems that faced Atari by 1992(seriously, they almost sold and closed everything by the time the Falcon was released) it was just impossible to stay afloat.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Angry
by Kochise on Thu 14th Apr 2016 04:55 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Angry"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

There was no big leap between models, there was an outstanding number of working unreleased prototypes that filled the voids. Ever heard of the microbox or the panther ?

Atari decided to release the falcon with hardly any support at all, concentrating their efforts and resources on the jaguar. With the fate we know. Cannot blame them for trying.

The problem I guess, was that they tried the computer market coming from the collapsed game industry and Mr Tramiel having an agenda against Commodore who fired him. In the same basket, can't be good.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Angry
by sergio on Wed 13th Apr 2016 02:11 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Angry"
sergio Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, the 68000 was "dead slow" in a mac, but "wonderfully snappy" on an Amiga. Such is the power of belief ;-)


I was talking about the Macintosh SE and Classic specifically, they were dead slow, and they competed with the Amiga 1000 and A2000 price-wise.

In fact, a lot of people preferred to buy Amigas and run Mac OS emulated because it was faster than the real Macs!! (I'm not being metaphoric, this is 100% true, back then there was an add-on called Amax created to run the Macintosh ROM and boot directly into Mac OS using a regular stock Amiga... and the Amigas were way faster than the real thing!!! I remember that during a period of time the fastest Mac available in the market was an Amiga with the Amax and publishing companies bought them to use with Aldus PageMaker and all that Mac stuff).

Later PCs and Macs started to catch up and even surpass the Amiga, but that was well into the 90s with Pentiums, PowerPCs, 32bits Windows and OS7.5.

But before that, Amiga was some kind of alien technology, It was really jaw dropping.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Angry
by tylerdurden on Wed 13th Apr 2016 04:32 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Angry"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17


I was talking about the Macintosh SE and Classic specifically, they were dead slow, and they competed with the Amiga 1000 and A2000 price-wise.


Performance wise those macs were on par with the original Amigas. Granted they did not have color capabilities.

I remember that during a period of time the fastest Mac available in the market was an Amiga with the Amax and publishing companies bought them to use with Aldus PageMaker and all that Mac stuff).


At that period the fastest mac where the II line which would run circles around 68000 Amigas. The Macs were much more expensive, that is true. So if people were running emulated MacOS on Amiga, it was probably due to monetary concerns (only 1 machine to run 2 different OSs) rather than any supposed performance superiority.

Plus there is no way that expensive software would get any support contract running on non apple HW. So I highly doubt anything other than very small or home printing business were running such a config.


Later PCs and Macs started to catch up and even surpass the Amiga, but that was well into the 90s with Pentiums, PowerPCs, 32bits Windows and OS7.5.


By the time 386 machines hit the market, around 86 I think, they were significantly faster than the 68000s. Granted they were hella expensive initially, but clones were starting to take over and bringing down the price significantly. What Amiga had going for it, initially, was that it offered a more complete multimedia package out of the box. But performance-wise the Amigas were never much to croon about.

I personally think the Amiga had that 4-year window of opportunity (85-89), and Commodore never properly executed.

By 88/89 it was pretty much game over; Macs were as fast or faster, although more expensive, but had a better (and more mature) graphical interface, and a larger ecosystem. Meanwhile PCs were as fast or faster, VGA and SoundBlaster were a thing, and the HW ecosystem and pro software catalog was massive compared to Amiga. Yes, DOS was a PITA, but so was AmigaOS at that time.


But before that, Amiga was some kind of alien technology, It was really jaw dropping.


I think that's the point, some people have always had this glorified vision of Amiga. Sometimes completely irrational. And I say that as a fan of the platform. Some great times in the demo scene as a kid in the 90s. Alas...

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Angry
by sergio on Wed 13th Apr 2016 19:28 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Angry"
sergio Member since:
2005-07-06

I think that's the point, some people have always had this glorified vision of Amiga. Sometimes completely irrational. And I say that as a fan of the platform. Some great times in the demo scene as a kid in the 90s. Alas...


We have a glorified vision because the Amiga was a glorious platform.

BTW I recognise that AGA machines were not as revolutionary as the original AMIGAs, not even close. I think AMIGA glory days were 1986-1992 and then AMIGA became just another (pretty) good platform but nothing else.

IMHO Amiga 1000 is one of the most innovative and revolutionary computers ever created. A1000 was all that the original Mac supposed to be and never accomplished. And I'm a Mac guy.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Angry
by tylerdurden on Wed 13th Apr 2016 20:13 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Angry"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17


IMHO Amiga 1000 is one of the most innovative and revolutionary computers ever created. A1000 was all that the original Mac supposed to be and never accomplished.


The Amiga 1000 was literally a paper weight out of the box. You had to add (expensive) memory expansions, just to make it usable. If what the original Mac was supposed a frustrating experience that left a bad taste initially out of the box, then yeah... the Amiga 1000 truly succeed on that one. That machine really poisoned the well for the Amiga.

The 500 was a great home/games machine for that time. I'll grant that.

Edited 2016-04-13 20:14 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Angry
by Earl C Pottinger on Wed 13th Apr 2016 03:44 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Angry"
Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

There is also the fact that Mac used "Handles" to point to data, while Amigas used pointers in a flat memory model.

That results in a faster program on the original 68000 CPUs. However, Macs use of 'Handles' made it easier for Macs to offload storage compared to Amiga's overlays.

PS. A 'handle' is a pointer to a pointer which makes it easier to more data around in memory or even offload it to storage without having to change the program code.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Angry
by filmamigo on Tue 12th Apr 2016 15:57 UTC in reply to "RE: Angry"
filmamigo Member since:
2010-01-12

its architecture was a non-scalable dead end in terms of both HW and SW.


Let's be honest, that was true for PCs and Macs as much as for the Amiga. A lot of work had to be put into each of those platforms. Fundamental overhauls were required to get where we are today (NT for PC, OS X for Mac.)

Any platform that still exists today, exists because of the tenacity of developers to overcome what used to be considered obstacles (640KB in DOS?)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Angry
by tylerdurden on Tue 12th Apr 2016 16:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Angry"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

All this is telling me is that you don't understand what I meant by "scalable."

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Angry
by Earl C Pottinger on Wed 13th Apr 2016 03:54 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Angry"
Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

Really, The first Macs used the upper bits of the 32 pointers to store flags?

The gurus at Apple really had their work cut out for them to break the 4MB limit and I remember people telling me no-one needed colour in a GUI desktop since the Mac, Lisa and Star computers did not need them.

The IBMs not only had the 640K limit at first (remember how many different standards we had to go beyond that we had) but even today the hardware has to support the A20 hack.

All machine needed a lot of work to get what we have today.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Angry
by tylerdurden on Wed 13th Apr 2016 04:59 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Angry"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

Scalable means that the design can meet several performance/price points, and that it can be expanded and improved upon during its life time, without having to throw the baby with the tub water. Not that the design was "perfect" or without shortcomings initially, solving/overcoming those initial warts is part of the scaling.

There is no discussion regarding the fact that the PC ended up being a much more scalable architecture than the Amiga.

Edited 2016-04-13 05:01 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Angry
by sergio on Wed 13th Apr 2016 02:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Angry"
sergio Member since:
2005-07-06

Let's be honest, that was true for PCs and Macs as much as for the Amiga. A lot of work had to be put into each of those platforms. Fundamental overhauls were required to get where we are today (NT for PC, OS X for Mac.)


That's so freaking true!

I'm a Mac fanboy since the 90s (not ashamed to say it)... and Macs were a complete joke and PCs were even worse.

People talk about AmigaOS problems: "oh! AmigaOS is a hack, it was not future proof, It didn't scale up, It didn't do SMP, blah blah" but they totally forget about Windows 3.1, Windows 95... Windows 98.. wait, Windows ME!!! For Christ sake!! Even in 1998-2000 the great majority of PCs were running MS-DOS with a GUI!!! haha C'mon... saying "Amigas don't scale up" in that context is just hilarious.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Angry
by feamatar on Wed 13th Apr 2016 23:20 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Angry"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

I am not saying that AmigaOS was bad, but you completely ignore networking support (AppleShare, TokenRing),laser printer support, vector fonts, high resolution support, CD-ROM support and so on, which all came later to AmigaOS than to Mac/PC.

Or in case of the pre-2.0-era some annoying issues:
You can't lasso files.
You can't create a new drawer, only duplicate an existing one.
If you use mkdir, you won't see a drawer
You can't have a list view.
Or that it cannot tile properly.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Angry
by feamatar on Tue 12th Apr 2016 12:12 UTC in reply to "Angry"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

you could have more ram expansion on the side for the A500, couldn't you? and the trapdoor expansion was slow RAM anyway...
Also there were 2000s with preinstalled 020 and 030 daughterboards from Commodore, so I think the 68000 in the stock A2000 was not an issue, at least that made it cheaper. Not having ECS and productivity mode until the A3000 was way worse imho.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Angry
by Earl C Pottinger on Tue 12th Apr 2016 14:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Angry"
Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

That is the point!

I built my own 2 MB expansion that plugged into the expansion port of the A500 and I remember going to a Amiga Developer meeting where one person had a 8 MB expansion plugged into the side of his A1000.

But those were not off-the-shelf items that you could order thru Commodore, they were third party and people want to know that their supplier would supply expansions.

The 68020 and 68030 boards for the A2000 did not come out right away, Apple shipped computers with those CPUs at-least a year before Commodore did.

Basically, the Amiga started years ahead of the competition, but the management of the company sat on their asses not putting money to research and advance the designs, so the other computer companies caught up and then passed the Amiga.

If you saw the work of Dave Haynie you will realize what a lost opportunity Commodore threw away. All the weak points of the Amiga designs were addressed by him, but Commodore did not want to spend the money to make and sell the newer designs.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Angry
by feamatar on Tue 12th Apr 2016 16:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Angry"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

I think about things like the A590 for the A500, that could take up to 2MB RAM. And like you said there were 3rd party solutions too, what is the problem with those? The IBM world was built on top of 3rd party solutions. And the A500 was for home users who could buy these products from third parties. Also, I suspect that Commodore did not want to undercut the A2000 market.


On why the A2000 was shipped with a 68000 only... They did not have much cash and they did not have a successful product, so they had to test the market first imho. And the A500 and the A2000 were really cool computers for that.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by leech
by leech on Tue 12th Apr 2016 01:13 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

The only thing that really made the IBM systems survive at all was that they had open architecture and were easily expandable. If it had been solely based on operating systems and out of the gate capabilities, the Amiga trounced it. But they let the platform stagnate for way too long, and it was a sad near-death. Worse part is, no one has been able to do anything substantial with the platform since Commodore's demise, even though the torch passed many times....

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by leech
by jpkx1984 on Tue 12th Apr 2016 20:08 UTC in reply to "Comment by leech"
jpkx1984 Member since:
2015-01-06

The funny thing is Amiga was not so closed as some commenters portray it to have been. It was just another wasted chance: Amiga had an expansion bus called "Zorro" which boasted some advantages over PCs ISA (for example, it auto-configured). However, only high-end, expensive Amigas were equipped with it. Cheap, home Amigas lacked Zorro slots. Since most sales were that budget machines, software vendors targeted mostly built-in chipsets and base configurations (often bypassing OS abstractions hence making their applications tied to stock hardware even more).

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by leech
by Vanders on Tue 12th Apr 2016 22:06 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by leech"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

However, only high-end, expensive Amigas were equipped with it. Cheap, home Amigas lacked Zorro slots.

Well...kinda. The side expansion on the A500 & A500Plus was a Zorro bus. Just without a bus controller, and an "upside down" edge connector instead of a slot.

I'd always assumed there'd been some vague plan to build a mid-range boxed system around an A500 motherboard and a Zorro daughter card that mounted onto the edge connector and transformed it into a full Zorro II bus complete with a Buster.

Reply Score: 2

We had this
by saloonguy on Tue 12th Apr 2016 05:14 UTC
saloonguy
Member since:
2016-04-12

The major cable system in Atlanta used Amigas for various things well into 90s when Comcast took over.

Among other things, they used Amigas to do the scrolling program guide and commercial overlays, where they would replace network TV ads with ones paid for by local merchants. So in the middle of something like the super bowl, you might see an add for Jimmy's Used Cars on Highway 29 next to the chicken shack!

By the end, the system was breaking down a lot and they had no Amiga experts left, so it would sometimes crap out and display the infamous "Guru Meditation Error, press left mouse button to continue" overlay error on multiple channels until someone reset it. This happened on Friday evening after hours and that stupid error screen covered like 20 channels and stayed that way until the following Sunday.

Another failure was a similar problem with 5-min local news insert that was supposed to go on what was then CNN Headline News. Older cable viewers might remember when Headline News was a 30-minute news wheel format. At :25 and :55, the cable system would drop in the local news and run that for five minutes before going back to CNN HN. A local TV station provided that five-minute block.

Well when the Amiga was having issues, that damn five-min block would suddenly appear at random times, sometimes playing on top of itself, and it would also leak and appear on channels that had nothing to do with Headline News. So imagine if you can watching some other show and BANG here's the damn news insert right at the end of the show you were watching! It was miserable.

My mom had worked for the cable company around that time so we actually got free service as a perk of employment but we still fired them and got satellite because we were fed up with the Amiga insanity.

It has to be said, Comcast spent a LOT of money reengineering everything to deal with those issues and other badly needed maintenance, and it is now a FAR better digital system.

Reply Score: 2

Teletext
by henderson101 on Tue 12th Apr 2016 09:39 UTC
henderson101
Member since:
2006-05-30

In the UK we just had Teletext. It was "interactive" and didn't take up a channel. BBC had Ceefax, ITV/Channel 4 had Oracle. Teletext had a lot more than an just an EPG, it had news, sport, games, loads of stuff -- including Subtitles (closed captions) without any special extra hardware. It was a viewdata system, and your TV set could receive pages directly. You typed in an index number and the page would load as the data was broadcasted (I believe all the pages were continuously broadcast on a loop.) If you had bad reception, the page would be corrupt, but to be honest it worked well and is so much more elegant than the system described here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceefax
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORACLE_(teletext)

Edited 2016-04-12 09:43 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Scala
by Chrispynutt on Tue 12th Apr 2016 10:16 UTC
Chrispynutt
Member since:
2012-03-14

Remember seeing an Amiga running Scala at a local hospital in the early 2000s. Just the usually health messages and local clinics information.

Reply Score: 2

My primary memory of that era
by ezraz on Tue 12th Apr 2016 13:19 UTC
ezraz
Member since:
2012-06-20

I ran video toaster and some similar video software for various TV productions back then - news, comedy, and public access stuff.

Amigas crashed. a lot. reboot several times a day.
Save to disk after every action.
Many people watching shows saw Amiga crashes on air. We would have to do 10 minutes of the show with no graphics/chyron while the Amiga rebooted.

Macs crashed. a lot. reboot 1-3 times a day.
Save to disk after every action.
They didn't have the video routing to do what the amiga did.

PC's crashed less but still a lot. and they usually required a reinstall to get them back up, wiping out everything. more than 1 of them and you hated computers. probably still do.

I finally saw Linux/Unix in the mid-90's, and it never crashed. But it also required intense nerdability to even create a simple document and print it.

A computer club would meet at my job and set up a linux box to play with and talk about, and I pissed the guy off one time after hearing him slam MacOS as a toy, not for "real work". I waited until his meeting was over then gave him an example of real work and we had a bake off - it took me and my macbook duo 5 minutes to complete the task, he gave up and backed off because linux was still pretty scarce on the app-side of things back then.

Reply Score: 3

Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

One thing I loved on the Amiga was the bootable RAMDISK, if you could use that the boot time measured in seconds (a lot of seconds, but less than a minute).

Reply Score: 1

ezraz Member since:
2012-06-20

One thing I loved on the Amiga was the bootable RAMDISK, if you could use that the boot time measured in seconds (a lot of seconds, but less than a minute).


that's true, that was a lifesaver. i lived off that thing

Reply Score: 2

RE: My primary memory of that era
by Sauron on Tue 12th Apr 2016 17:15 UTC in reply to "My primary memory of that era"
Sauron Member since:
2005-08-02

I don't know what you was doing then, my Amiga's hardly ever crash unless I'm running some buggy game or software.
That is the main reason for an Amiga crashing, that and some sort of hardware fault. I can run graphics/paint, music and scanning software all day without a single crash happening. In fact my A1200 has been switched on and running for 4 days now and it's still fine, not crashed even once.

Reply Score: 2

ezraz Member since:
2012-06-20

these were production machines with no one to take care of them. no one even knew the amiga back then in those places, no one was really troubleshooting it. it would just sit in a control room for years and you did your best with it.

i remember reading up on some troubleshooting tips on the early internet, so i could try to avoid crashes during live tv. i think i downloaded a bunch of stuff and printed it to inkjet from a friends mac.

then i started getting calls when the amiga crashed on other crews. bad move.

Reply Score: 2

Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

I remember after installing the ARP utilities on my Amigas I could identify the causes of the crashes a lot more easily.

Some crashes were cause by badly written software, but a large number of crashes was that the default stack was too small for certain programs. Once you really stressed the programs they would run out of stack space and start over writting other program space. Increasing the stack stopped the crashes.

I forget the name, but that big problem with one of the terminal programs I used.

And of-course the developers probably never saw the problems unless they too were multi-tasking - and what good was there in buying an Amiga if you did not multitask?

Reply Score: 1

Sauron Member since:
2005-08-02

Yeah stack size could be a common problem. Another problem was lack of RAM, the Amiga had no virtual memory so the only RAM you had was what was in the machine. I only had 4mb of RAM back then so I hit those limits quite often which usually resulted in a guru meditation.
My A1200 has a massive 128mb these days so all is good. ;)

Reply Score: 2

Comment by leech
by leech on Tue 12th Apr 2016 14:44 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

This entire discussion just reminds me that I need to set up my A4000D again! I really need more time and space to set up all my retro stuff!

Reply Score: 2