Linked by Mike Bouma on Thu 28th Jul 2005 19:47 UTC
Amiga & AROS Last Saturday on the 23rd of July Amigans worldwide celebrated the 20th birthday of the Amiga platform at several events and gatherings. It was the 23rd of July 1985 when the Amiga 1000 was unveiled to the public at the Lincoln Center in New York. At the three biggest Amiga birthday events there were also extensive AmigaOS4 presentations. Here is AmigaWorld's extensive report.
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RE: why amiga?
by on Fri 29th Jul 2005 07:07 UTC in reply to "why amiga?"

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Well, if you do not know anything about Amiga then go out and find info on it. Google is good for that you know.

Like the Mac released 1.5 years before it, The Amiga 1000 was a 16/32-bit system with a realtively friendly GUI-based interface. Unlike the Mac, it was colour (very colourful in fact--it was capable of displaying 800% colours more than its best competition at the time--4096 vs. 512 offered by Atari) and had high-quality stereo sound. It also supported pre-emptive multitasking unlike the Mac or any other PC in existence at the time.

Architecturally, the Amiga 1000 was a fusion of the Mac and the Atari 800 (The design team that created the Atari 800--led by Jay Miner--also created the Amiga 1000). It was based aruond the Motorola 68K CPU like the Mac, and it was supported by custom ASICs for graphics resembling those of the Atari 800 (only greatly extended--most notably with the blitter). The classic Amiga and Atari-8-bit platforms reveal their common roots in their unique ability to partition the screen into sections with independent palettes, resolutions and colour depths. This was one of the tricks that both computers used to get hundreds/thousands of colours on-screen at once with limited memory. Combined with multitasking this made for some impressive abilities in the Amiga--you could take a low-res, full-screen app like a video game and drag the whole screen down a bit to reveal a high-res desktop (all VERY impressive in the age of monochrome Macs and DOS Dinosaurs).

Interestingly enough, the Amiga was not intended to start life as a PC at all--it all started when a few frustrated Atari and Activision engineers got together and formed Amiga, Inc in the early 80s (interestingly itsmajor shareholder was Warner Communications--the same company that had just sold Atari Computers to Jack Tramiel, formerly of....Commodore). They met with a fair amount of success selling innovative videogame controllers but the product that was to blow everyone away would be their next-generation game console (code named Lorraine). As was the trend of the early 80s, this console was designed to become a computer with the addition of a keyboard and appropriate software (not only to make it more appealing to consumers but to encourage 3rd party development).

As 1983 came to an end and the videogame industry collapse was well underway and Amiga was running out of money to complete the Lorraine project (the collapse obliterated their cash flow). Focus shifted to making the Lorraine into a personal computer but they lacked resources to bring it too market. Atari helped but was not interested in the machine (they only wanted the chip technology for their own ST project, and Tramiel-led Atari played too much hardball) so Commodore stepped in and the rest is history (Amiga only got a GUI interface after Commodore acquired them--in response to the Mac and Atari ST).

Since then Commodore went bankrupt and was passed through several companies, beginning with ESCOM. Amiga's association with Commodore ended when ESCOM sold its Amiga properties but retained the Commodore division (which amounted to not nuch more than the trademark and pre-Amiga technologies). Commodore and Amiga are now completely separate entities (In the past decade, Commodore products consisted only of Windows PCs and more recently small consumer electronic devices like the "C64 in a joystick" and video player).

From the Escom days until today, Amiga has evolved in many (sometimes completely aimless) directions--it has appeared as a 68K/PowerPC hybrid, a pure PowerPC machine in ATC form factor, a set-top-box, etc. I'm not sure myself where Amiga REALLY is right now, but it seems to have become more of a "platform"--an OS/development library and perhaps some hardware technology to augment commodity PC hardware seem to be the only aspects of Amiga with a serious future.

So that is the Amiga. What is there to draw you away from Linux/Mac/Windows? Little to nothing really. But it IS an intriguing platform with unique capabilities that can find a place along-side those mainstream systems. Besides, "old computers" can be an interesting hobby and many fans have no interest in trying to compete with contemporary PCs. Heck, I still fire up the Coleco to play Pepper II and Donkey Kong and mess around with SmartBASIC and SmartLOGO for kicks even though it is a long-dead platform.

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