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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved

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Bill Silvey gives his views on the Amiga market of 1998. Surprisingly, many of the issues remain relevant in the 21st century. Reprinted with permission.

From: Bill Silvey <hotmail@mistrmojo.com>

Subject: ["New" Amigas] WHO DARES?!

Date: 30 November 1998 15:31

Way back in 1989, before the earth cooled, upon earning a 3.5 GPA my first semester in college, my dad bought me an A500[1]. The day we went into Chuck Joslin's Amiga store out by UCF[2], we looked at all of the options - 500, 1000 or 2000. I distinctly remember his wife trying to sell us a C-64 disk drive interface cable and a C64 emulator for the A500. Her reasoning? "If you've got a C64, you can still use all your old games and other programs." or something to that effect. My dad thought this was pretty sound reasoning. I thought it was bullshit.

I dragged him aside and had a hastily whispered conversation in which I flatly told him that NO, I didn't want c64 emulation - why in the hell would I want old C64 games on my sleek new Amiga? Why?! So what I had a lot of software? This was the AMIGA! A computer I'd wanted to get my hands on for four years! I wanted to explore the AMIGA'S capabilities! Not live stuck in the past, playing Gunship for the umpteenth time and writing letters and papers using GEOS.

After a few frustrating months of using the AmigaDOS shell-only[3], I slowly but surely started building up a software library for that A500 and when it left my possession in 1993 (or was it '94? Don't remember) it was the most tricked-out computer I'd ever had the pleasure of owning. Fattest Agnus chip, superDenise, 14mhz 68k, 3megs of FASTRAM...yep, it was a killa. I never once "felt" the "loss" of GeoPaint et al. In fact, if nothing else, using Deluxe Paint, Cinema4D and others I got a bigger, better outlet for my creativity.

When I "gave up" the Amiga scene in 1995, and got a DX4-100 and a tiny HD (this is back when HDs and RAM were still somewhat expensive, mind you) I didn't freak out because I couldn't play Turrican or use DeluxePaint-4(AGA) anymore. I found different/better tools and used those, instead. Had someone told me at that time that there was a working Amiga emulator (was UAE working then?) and that I could still use Cinema4D 1.0 and Deluxe Paint 2, I'd have scoffed at them. Why? I've moved on. I'm using different tools now. Photoshop, VistaPro3.0 for Windows, Truespace, CorelDraw...

Now, just as I can "no longer" run some of those older apps (DOS or win3.1 only) I've found that -surprise- their successors are BETTER by and large. Not only in terms of features, but in terms of speed and flexibility! Who here would argue that Caligari Broadcast is a better application than Truespace 3? (This is a bit of a joke - they're fathered by the same people :) ) Seriously, though, it's not as though each and every time an application is written the programmers have blinders on and try to reinvent the wheel! They DO look to the past - they DO keep functionality and DO add to it! Imagine how badly Adobe Systems would've been lambasted in the graphics community if they'd started from go and created a program that was functionally no different from Vista 1.0 (not Vista PRO, mind you).

In about 18 or 24 months, Intel will release it's new processor code-named Merced and they've flat-out told Microsoft NO X86 BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY (so I've heard - I certainly hope that's true). Merced will be powerful. Merced will kick some clock cycles. And in all likelyhood, I will upgrade to the Merced chip and have a great time. Now, if MS isn't there, but say Linux is...then I'll go with Linux! Not "providing the applications are there" - if enough people go Merced then the applications will be there. Alternately, if AMD or <gak> Cyrix or <bigger GAK> IDT produce a chip that's as functionally fast as the Merced and the apps all appear THERE, then I'll be THERE. And, lest you all think this is an X86ian spleen venting, if the Amiga-II has the applications, I'll go THERE.

You see, folks, my creativity was never sealed in an MOS chip that I HAD to emulate OR ELSE. It was never contained within the ceramic confines of an upgunned 68000 chip. There's no billscreativity.dll file under windows 95, a Bilscret.exe under DOS. *I* am the brains behind the operation! Not the computer!

So to you amigans I say: DARE! DARE TO DO IT! DARE to support Gateway and Amiga International! So you won't get another "Workbench" upgrade. So?! I didn't get a new version of GEOS, either! I didn't get a new version of Windows 3.x[4]! Big deal! I've had the courage to say "Okay! That's where the power is! So there I go!" Either I was smart enough to know where the applications were GOING or I could see where they already WERE. So GW/AI isn't supporting your 030 boxes! So what?! C= didn't exactly keep shoving VIC-20's out the door after the C64 was released, did they? And surprise! There was no Vic20 emulation and NOBODY cared! They wanted power! Functionality! They created the environment in which the c64 could BE the C64 and it *rocked* for nearly a decade! I hear people saying "Well, if they[Gateway/AI] don't release what is essentially an A4000+ or an A4500, I'll give up on computers all together," or "If it doesn't run my image-converting batch program that's 5 years old and no longer supported, it isn't an Amiga." Yeah, boy, that's the pioneering never-say-die spirit the Amiga was built on.

Don't fall into this trap, Amigans. Remember your elderly (in computer terms) Amigas fondly...but also remember what you brought to the Amiga came in your head, not on a floppy, not in an OS and not in some ROMs. So your color-changer for screendepth slides left-to-right instead of up and down. Big deal! So you have to double-click and hold instead of single clicking and dragging. So what!? Remember, the computer was founded on the phrase: Amiga - The computer for the creative *MIND*. M I N D. Not "the computer for the OS that feels exactly the same way for 15 years"

Rant off.

[1] And I'll never forgive myself for it. He offered to buy me an A2000 when they were about ... $2000. I didn't want him to because that was too expensive.

[2]...and if you're reading this, Chuck...you were a prick then and you're probably still one now. If I'd known that day I would've gone to another shop.

[3]...because one of the first things I did was destroy my workbench disks. I don't remember how, it just happened. It was months before I was using WB...

[4] arguments about W95 and it's legacyness aside.

 



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