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Quick Guide to the Amiga
Whilst using the Amiga you will doubtlessly hear of a number of
"advanced features" that separate it from the crowd. Here are just
a few of the great things about the Amiga.
AmigaDOS is an integrated part of the Workbench. Unlike MS-DOS,
this runs ALONG SIDE the Workbench, handling the I/O
(Input Output) functions of devices, so that the Amiga can
communicate with the outside world.
The macro driven communication language that was introduced with
version 2 of the operating system. It reduces the amount of tedious
operations required and allows programs to communicate and swap
files whilst they are still running. The closest the PC has got to
it is the Rexx language, with OS/2.
Autoconfig is one of the Amigas strong points. It means that any
hardware plugged into the Amiga will work automatically without the
need for setting jumpers or hardware conflicts. Even in this time
of Windows 95 and Plug and Play, there is still nothing like it on
Workbench 3 provided many improvements for the user, giving the
Amiga unique features to compete with the PC and Mac of the time.
One of these improvements was the use of object-orientated picture
viewing, or Datatypes as they were called. This allowed any
datatype aware program (usually paint packages) to load a picture
that it had not been written to support. This means that the Amiga
user does not have to wait for a new version of their favourite
package to be released to be able to load a particular format, but
can use a datatype. However, there were many disadvantages to this.
Datatypes were very slow and restricted to 8-bit mode (256
colours), although this has recently been remedied thanks to Phase
5. They were also buggy as they had not been tested by hundreds of
people as is common on the PC. Nevertheless, datatypes are one of
the Amigas most powerful features and are widely supported in the
PD community. Here are just a few of
the datatypes currently available.
A file system is a number of files stored in the ROM or on disk
that allows the Amiga to access certain storage mediums. As
standard, the Amiga supports the Amiga File System in ROM allowing
it to read OFS and FFS disks by default. Other file systems that
the Amiga can support through additional software are PC disks
(standard with AmigaOS V3+), Zip drives, CD drives etc. The
FileSystem software is divided into the "Handler" file, stored in
the L: directory on your boot disk, and the main file stored in
The 'Guru Meditation' arises from the Joyboard controller created
by the Amiga Corporation. The company had an in-house game called
"Guru Meditation" where the objective was to sit on the Joyboard,
perfectly still. During the development of the Lorraine they used
it to calm down if things went wrong or when they were looking for
new ideas. "Guru Meditation" means the machine has guru'd, go
meditate on it. The Guru Meditation can only be found in OS 1.x. In
OS2.x it was replaced by the Software Failure message but the
original name stuck.
Kickstart is the main part of the operating system that is stored
on the ROM chip inside your computer. This allows the system to
access certain commands and libraries very fast, rather than
loading them from disk.
Multitasking is one of the most defining advantages that the Amiga
has over other computers. Even now, in the late 90's most computer
systems can not perform pre-emptive multi-tasking like the Amiga
can. Multitasking allows you to run numerous programs at the same
time, such as formatting a disk and playing a game. Thanks to the
closely-knit structure of the Amiga operating system, it can
control the priority and resources needed by each program and share
the CPU time required for processing. In contrast, Windows software
still expect to be the only software running, objecting if anything
else is running.
Random Access Memory (RAM) and the Amiga
The Amiga uses two types of memory- Chip and Fast ram. Chip ram can
be directly accessed by the Amiga's custom chips without "going
through" the CPU. It is also known as graphics memory, as all
graphics are stored required are stored there. All modern Amigas
come with 2Mb of chip ram as standard with older Amigas requiring a
cheap upgrade. The other type of memory is called fast Ram. as the
name suggests, this is alot faster than Chip ram. This will speed
up your Amiga considerably as many programs load itself into fast
The Amiga has always been compatible with TVs without extra
hardware. This meant that it has built an avid following among
professionals and amateurs alike, outperforming all but the most
Workbench is the graphical part of the OS, controlled through the
mouse. It operates on the standard WIMP system (Windows Icons Menus
and Pointers), so you can perform almost any operation on your
computer without resorting to confusing keyboard commands.
Last Update: 1/11/2001
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