Amiga Computer

A PersonalComputer with some simply amazing 2D graphics capabilities. Many people now use SVGA cards in their Amigas, but that seems to me to be defeating the point. The Amiga was used a lot in video work. I've seen some really cool stuff done with sprite animation and a chromakey system.

Amiga was the first platform for the VideoToaster, as seen on BabylonFive.

The Amiga was essentially the only platform for the VideoToaster. They made noise about porting it to NT, but the port was essentially an Amiga in a box, connected to an NT machine with something like a serial cable and a SCSI cable (drawing on dim memories here), where the NT machine just ran control software, and moved something back and forth. As far as I know, it was never actually released.

Did Bab5 use the Toaster? I thought they only used LightWave (although, I guess at the time the only way to get LightWave was with a toaster).

The end of the credits lists the hardware & software used. But the show uses no little models of spaceships...

The original AmigaDos ran with zilch memory protection.

Further, its dynamic libraries had absolutely no bogus internal error checking whatsoever. This line would whack the entire OperatingSystem:

    CloseWindow (NULL);
That's a good thing; you can fit the whole OS on one tiny floppy. This lean-n-mean style punishes & rewards programmers, conditioning them to write the cleanest simplest most robust code they can. Use this style in your app coding (in ReleaseMode?).

But it's a bad thing for an OS, because you can't achieve critical mass without letting as many sloppy programmers as you can cluster-hump your OS with all sorts of dumb programs and still promise the market that your platform is "robust". -- PhlIp

Here is the funny thing. They have released the AmigaSdk for the next generation amiga, and there is still no memory protection. They say that if you feel you need memory protection, then use Java instead of native code.

SwapBitsRastPortClipRect()? BltMaskBitMapRastPort()!!

There sure were a few amusing routine names in the layers and gfx libs. (I recall being fond of one called AttemptLockLayerRom() too. Not that I ever called it, at least not in a useful program. It just sounded ominous and grim and final, somehow. Almost as if it would be granting you immense fundamental power over something if you called it successfully. "I've got the layer rom. No one can stop me now." Also I wondered what the 'rom' part really referred to: How do you lock "rom"? Why would one need to? Who's going to change it behind your back? (And how?)) -- BillKelly

The ROM in AttemptLockLayerRom() refers to the library the locking applied to. -- PeterdaSilva

Memorable things were the shared libraries (called e.g. Foo.library). They worked and there was no DllHell. The other thing: hardware was actually PlugAndPlay. No interrupt issues. No driver problems. In the 80s! -- stephan

See AmigaKeyboardGarage

About the coolest thing I ever saw for the Amiga was an implementation of Conway's GameOfLife using the blitter, a dedicated graphics chip that could do logical operations on blocks of memory. It was amazingly fast. -- AndyPierce

I am an Amiga refugee from way back. Started with the CommodoreSixtyFour, then graduated to an A500 when I was about 16 and could afford it. I was using a maxxed-out A4000 (14 MBs of RAM and a whopping 500 MB of disk) as my main/only computer at university as recently as 1997!

What the above contributors neglect to mention is what made the Amiga the most special. Its user community. You think AppleMacintosh fans are rabid! There was a fantastic tradition of FreeSoftware and ShareWare on the Amiga which owed more to the Unix tradition than the MS-DOS/Windows "you must pay for every software trinket!" camp.

We had a fantastic software archive called AmiNet, accessible by Web, FTP and special AmiNet clients, mirrored worldwide. Every day a RECENT file containing names and descriptions of each piece of new software was updated, and you could instantly find the latest versions of the tools/toys you used. Each file had a .readme of a prescribed format (from which the RECENT file was compiled). The taxonomy of the directory hierarchy was better than any I have seen before or since, and rigidly enforced, making it trival to find anything you wanted, no more than two levels deep.

Sadly, in the days where FileTransferProtocol is seldom used when people need to transfer files and freeware/shareware archives must be on Web browsers so they can flash advertising at you, I don't think we will see anything like the goodness of AmiNet ever again. -- RobertAtkins (who still has his Amiga 4000, but no room to set it up)

I can't believe the Amiga implementation of the RexxLanguage hasn't been mentioned. Realistically, Microsoft has only just started coming close to its power in the last few years with the WindowsScriptingHost and COM.

For those who don't know, ARexx allowed a scripter to connect verious programs together, and do things that the original application programmers didn't even dream about. One of my best pieces of code was something that would let you configure a Julia set (zoom, Z, and C) and than map it to an audio tracker (Octamed Sound Studio). This made some really weird sounding (but very cool) fractal music. I even had it spit out the fractal to a paint program so that you could see what you were listening to.

-- JonathanArkell

I still use Amiga600 as my main computer. Really, people, what do you need from a computer? If I code Java or Perl I use my Linux box. If I listen music, I use my Linux box. If I fiddle around, write email and/or texts or play few games, I use Amiga. And the truth be told, I use Amiga the most. Fast, simple, stable. -- JaakkoMantysaari

My Amiga 2000 is sitting collecting dust in the basement, right next to a 486, C64, and an IBM PS-2. I currently use a Dell with Microsoft XP. I miss the Amiga and its ability to work as you would expect it should. One of my most used programs was a little app from David Jenkins called DJClock. This little assembly program allowed the user to customize the operating system through the mouse to cut and paste text, swap application focus and all sorts of other goodies (oh yeah, it also told the time). Too bad Commodore had such slow research and development on it, and such horrid marketing.

See (or possibly merge with) AmigaDos.

Any truth to the rumor that the Amiga was popular with geeks because the name means "girlfriend" in Spanish?


There may be something to that - the German Amiga magazines often referred to the Amiga as "our girlfriend" (Freundin)

On a related note, here's some more useless trivia: in Poland it was referred to as "Amisia" which is a nonsensical word being a strange cross between a female name and a cuddly bear. But to attempt to answer your question seriously: no, I don't think so. I'd wager a guess that it was popular amongst geeks because it was cheap and had a vibrant scene community.

My A1200 was a beast when I finished upgrading it. I had a full 32meg of ram on top of the 2meg that was built in, a 50mhz processor, a massive 2gig hard-drive and a really fast 4X cd-rom! From cold boot it was net ready in about 8 seconds, try that with XP! It was more than capable of fast 3D rendering using Cinema4d or Lightwave (both developed on Amiga before they abandoned it for the GFX dedicated PC's) and does anyone remember the graphic/and/music things? I thought they were great and really advanced for such tiny progs. What were they called?

"Demos", from the regular BADGE Killer Demo Contest (BADGE being the Bay Area Developers Group). Tom Rockiki (the usual BADGE host) had this idiosyncratic pronunciation of the word as "deemo", which he could never quite explain. -- DougMerritt (ex-rabid Amiga fan and developer)

The real sad thing is that Amiga was a great piece of hardware in its time, and a wonderful OperatingSystem. Sure, nothing is perfect, but Amiga was superior and gave a taste on what the future of computers could have been... instead we shipwrecked in the PeeCee hell, in the now-Mbytes-then-Gbytes trend as a Natural Law (to do always the same four things the crowd does with a home computer)...

I would like to remember, along side ARexx and more stuffs already cited here, things like the datatypes system and commodities; and MUI, and Executive (shareware), and YAM (a great email client)

Other than market it better for color desk-top publishing, what should Commodore have done different to spread it? It's a case where the better mousetrap failed in the marketplace. Some suggest that it was the open hardware of PC's that killed it, but it could have given Apple a good run for its money, and perhaps even killed Apple when Apple was near death in the mid 90's.

If Commodore couldn't kill Apple in the mid 80s, and Apple couldn't kill Apple in the mid 90s, then Commodore wasn't going to do it in the mid 90's either. As to what Commodore could have done that would have led to the Amiga's survival, I can think of two things: Let it return to its roots as a game machine; it could have competed with the Sega Genesis/N64 generation of consoles and then possibly made the leap back to computer space at the turn of the millennium. The other is to package the graphics hardware as a PCI card and ported AmigaOS to x86 and sold it similarly to how BeOS was marketed. BeOS failed, but with Amigas community and software base, it might have succeeded.


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