Amiga: The A-Expo Review

I haven’t been in the Amiga scene for quite some years now as I have long since left for the shores of planet BeOS. However I recently had the chance to re-enter the Amiga World at an Amiga show in the South-East of France when I went to meet a potential employer – after being “discovered” on OSNews! You’d think that a computer which hasn’t shipped in years would have a small dwindling community. If you thought that well, you’d be wrong. This show dwarfs the BeOS BeGeistert shows I go to in Germany. Yet, Begeistert is for all of Europe and held every 6 months, this was just one French Amiga show and they are held around Europe nearly every week.(Held on 7-8 September 2002, Tain l’Hermatige, France.)

The show was in a big hall and there were rows of tables which were filled with every Amiga / hardware combination imaginable – and some not. The original computers may have stopped production many years ago (the last batch of A1200s were sold for $35 a piece) but add on cards still exist and people have kept expanding their Amigas.

The show opened at 9:00 am and a small queue had formed even then. evidently Amiga owners are very keen. Some of them are also skint and slept in the main hall.

Many Amigas had been crammed into PC cases and retro-fitted with numerous fans pointing in every direction they could be pointed. It’s not possible to fit anything beyond a Hard Disc into an A1200 case so many had adaptors with a HD and CDROM sitting beside the computer without any casing.

Others had managed to shoehorn an Amiga motherboard into a PC case, someone somewhere is doing a good trade in case “wallpaper”, many cases had a very fetching marble effect.

Some Amigas had been positively mutilated to keep up with the times, this involved fitting CPU cards with an expansion slot into the A1200 expansion slot. This expansion slot itself had a further expansion card plugged into it and this had further PCI slots. I actually seen two of these abominations and yet they actually worked and were displaying graphics over a PCI graphics card.

68060 Accelerators were in abundance plugged into all shades of Amigas, Those old Amiga 2000’s must have never known what hit them. There were quite a few A4000’s yet I don’t remember seeing a single A3000 – which I did once see at Begeistert – go figure…
There was even a 17 year old Amiga A1000 showing things like the boing and juggler demos. Turned out it was for sale and one nostalgic ex-A1000 owner purchased it.

Amigas were not the only things on show though. Both Macs and shock horror Atari STs were present! At the Amigas height the Atari and Mac were despised enemies and generated un-endless mine is better than yours debates. This of course never happens between owners of different platforms on OSNews πŸ˜‰

And there was more, anyone remember the Oric Atmos? There was one of those there as well along with a Polish “clone” and a pile of books and software packages – all on tape, those were the days… people complain about OSs taking seconds to boot up yet a single small application used to take 5 minutes to load from tape!

There were umpteen different games machines of different vintages but they appeared to be still working and all manner of games were being played. I’m not quite sure but at one point there even appeared to be Pong championship going on at the front on a big screen, I don’t think you can get any more retro than that.

Eyetech were present with an Amiga One housed in a very nice transparent case with neon lights. I didn’t see it running AmigaOS 4.0 but it was running Linux. There was a presentation given about the progress on Amiga OS 4.0 but I didn’t see it and given everything was usually in French I probably wouldn’t have understood it anyway! Mike Bouma will no doubt give us a full update when there’s any info.

The potential employer I was there too meet is Amiga incs’ competitor Thendic-France, they were exhibiting a new PowerPC based computer Pegasos as well as it’s Operating System MorphOS (It also runs Linux). It is very common in the industry to launch products on paper and never ship the real thing, This was the other way around, I’d never even heard of this system and yet there were a whole row of computers sitting working away.

The system was developed by bplan of Germany and the motherboard was more than a little impressive being very small and neatly laid out yet with very few components despite a back place stuffed with all manner of ports. In what must have been the ultimate act of geek-hood one betatester got his motherboard signed!

The CPU (Also used in some Amiga Ones) was a 600MHz IBM G3, it was running with only a small heatsink, some boards didn’t even have a heatsink yet when taken out of the machine the CPU wasn’t even warm. Try running any x86 at 600MHz without a heat sink and see how long before you have a dead CPU! IBM have obviously put some very serious engineering into making a chip of this speed run so cool.

The show was a fascinating re-introduction to todays Amiga scene which is alive and well despite having a market share of 0.0% for some years now, and some people complain about Apple.. Best of all though I got the job πŸ™‚

…and as for the nostalgic no-longer-ex-A1000 owner – that was me πŸ™‚

To the Pics (5 Pages!)


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