swiftgriggs at gmail.com
Thu Jul 14 09:50:02 CDT 2016
On Wed, 13 Jul 2016, Brad H wrote:
> I think the Amiga project is neat, although personally I'm not sure I'd
> find a need for one.
I have an Amiga 3000 (my personal favorite), but I have limited space so I
can only have about two "classic" systems set up at once (and those are
usually SGI machines in the retro-spots-of-active-honor). I'm not one of
those types who has a personal warehouse with loads of old gear stacked on
huge shelves. So, I find that I spend a lot more time with a MIST FPGA
Amiga than my real 3000. The main reason being that since it can use VGA +
USB, it's small, and it's super easy to put on a KVM make it attractive in
my case. Plus it can emulate so many micros, I get more time with them.
> The thing about the Amiga was its wow factor
I totally agree. I'm not a huge fan of Workbench, but the Amiga hardware
and the way folks exploited it in games, demos, and applications was the
thing that impressed me. All those custom chips doing interesting things
(music and graphics - there was no bean-counting-co-processor thankfully)
while at the time my impression of PeeCees was that they just bottleneck'd
everything through one pathetically slow CPU with brain-damaged memory
management and then wanted to brag in a dull magazine about mind-numbing
things like how fast you could get a spreadsheet done or reconcile
accounts payable for your boss... ie, reeeeal inspiring stuff to a 14 year
old (*yawn*). I see things a bit differently, now, (I actually think DOS
and x86 is cooler now than I did back in the day) but that's how I felt as
Of course the x86 today just feels like it's so complex that the actual
microcode you "get" to access & play with isn't really reflecting what's
going on inside. It's just some shared fiction while the CPU really does
super-complex optimizations way beyond what any one person can really
understand anymore. It's also why I haven't curiously disassembled any C
code in probably a decade. I realized the compiler could always do a
better job and use instructions or features I didn't even know existed.
Perhaps, I think that way because I'm not a specialized EE staring at chip
lithography all day. However, others have made the point more elegantly
before on the list.
> I remember walking into Compucentre (Canadian chain) in the mid-80s..
> and there's all the computers from 8 bit heaven and their 16 color
> graphics (if you were lucky).. and then there's this one computer on a
> pedestal featuring a totally real jungle cat prowling onscreen. It just
> blew the doors off everything else there [...]
I had nearly the same experience at a chain here in the states called
"Electronics Boutique". They'd have a couple of PeeCees running demos and
facing out the storefront. Your eyes would always been drawn to the Amiga
running a Dragon's Lair or Space Ace demo (or something else awesome). I
remember being in the store talking to the staff and people walking in to
get a PeeCee and walking out with an Amiga because the kids were so
impressed with the games and graphics etc...
Also, I've heard versions of this same story from at least three other
people. It seems to be a very common experience. It definitely whet my
appetite for Amigas, too. However, at the time $$$ was a big problem for
me and my family. So, it really wasn't until they were started to become
quite obsolete that I finally got to own one. By that time, I was into
UNIX and so it was already just a "retro curiosity" but one I still enjoy.
I do wish I'd got the chance to use Amigas to do something "real" when
they were state of the art. That or I wish I'd had an A500 the day they
hit the shelves and had all the cool games. I'm sure that would have been
a lot of fun.
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