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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved

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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

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.

ARexx

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

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 the PC.

Datatypes

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.

FileSystems

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 DEVS:DOSDrivers/

More Info

Guru Meditation

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

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

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 ram.

TV Compatible

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 expensive systems.

Workbench

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.
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Last Update: 1/11/2001
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Latest updates to the Amiga History Guide. (more)


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· Amiga Hardware
· Amiga History.de
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· Amiga.org
· Amiga World
· AmigaOS 4.0
· Amiga University
· Commodore Retrobits
· Dave Haynie archive
· Lemon Amiga
· MorphOS Support
· morphos-news.de

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