Amiga Quiz

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at gmail.com
Wed Nov 22 16:58:59 CST 2006


On 11/23/06, Roger Merchberger <zmerch-cctalk at 30below.com> wrote:
> Rumor has it that Chris M may have mentioned these words:
> > > Out of interest, why was the answer to the "Only
> > > Amiga makes it possible"
> > > advertising slogan question "because it can
> > > multi-task and run a second OS"
> >
> >  Presumably because it was the only home computer that
> >made it possible (got that one right!).
>
> Then whomever wrote the quiz got it wrong... ;-)

I got that particular question wrong, but I think it was a case of ESL
ambiguation... I first read that question as saying that multitasking
specifically _allowed_ one to run a second OS, rather than "the Amiga
had two unique attributes... 1) multitasking, and 2) permitting one to
run a second OS.

The original "Bridge Card" (A2088) was, in effect, a slave DOS
processor.  It depended on the Amiga for the display by a
somewhat-complicated scheme to emulate an ISA video card for the DOS
side, but give the Amiga a block of memory to point the custom chips
at so that the Amiga side could easily render whatever the DOS side
was cobbling up.  There's an in-depth dissection of what's under the
hood in the A500/A2000 Tech Ref Manual, IIRC.

Give the cost of an A2088 (and the need to still go out and buy ISA
cards to get the A2088 to be able to do much of anything useful), I
don't think it was any cheaper than buying a clone and setting it
_next_ to your Amiga, but some people seem to want all things from one
box, so it did sell.  I have an A2088 that I picked up in a pile of
Amiga stuff from a defunct dealer, but, honestly, except for trying it
out to see it work, I never found a practical application for the way
I get things done.

> >  I haven't used
> >Amigas at all really, but I have to admit the ability
> >to multitask at home must have been pretty astounding
> >back in the day.
>
> Not to me - Tandy CoCos could do it since '81 or '82, when OS-9 from
> MicroWare was released on that platform.[1]

OS-9 is certainly leaps and bounds ahead of other common 1980s 8-bit
OSes, in that regard.

> I'd certainly concede that the Amiga was *way faster* at it, but a 68K
> usually stomps a poor little <2Mhz 8-bitter... ;-)

At least the 6809 is a fast little 2MHz 8-bitter.  I jumped from
PETs/C-64s right up to the Amiga - it took me months to adjust to the
differences.

> It's entirely possible that other home computer platforms I don't know
> about could multitask, but I doubt there were many (if any) that could  do
> it before the Tandy CoCo could.

Hmm... given that in 1982, the C-64 was brand-new, and the Apple II
was the reigning champion at home, I can't think of any examples to
dislodge the CoCo from the top-of-the-8-bit-multitasking heap.

> [1] and Yes, this was true preemptive multitasking... I remember being very
> disappointed with my first PC running DOS 3.3 (whaddya mean I have to exit
> one program before starting another???)

I had an Amiga for years before I got DOS.  I just set up the XT clone
next to the Amiga and multitasked by reading my mail and News on the
Amiga (aquired via UUCP), then turning in my seat to do one thing at a
time on the DOS box.

> but with the VGA card & Game
> Blaster audio card, boy howdy could that rascal play games!

If you could get them to load without massive .BAT fiddling to handle
DOS memory issues, sound card IRQ issues, etc.  :-P

-ethan



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