It is now almost 25 years ago since the revolutionary Amiga 1000 computer launched on the 24th of July 1985. The computer was so much ahead of its time that many still jokingly wonder if this computer was based on alien technology of some sort.
At a time when Apple's computers were single tasking (running no more than 1 program at a time) soundless and monochrome (2 colors on screen at once) and worse when PCs were MSDOS CLI-only (no graphical user interface) computers and could only beep, the Amiga 1000 could display photographs in up to 4096 colors simultaneously, sported a 32-bit pre-emptive multitasking operating system (running many applications at once, allowing for uses as screen dragging, drag & drop between applications, copy & paste, etc) and provided high quality stereo sound (it could also read out text in adaptive female and male voices out of the box at 1985’s launch).
To understand the true scope of things one could do with the Amiga computer click the video below for an Amiga 500 demonstration, the Amiga 500 was a low cost entry spec version released in 1987 based on the same chipset (the Amiga 2000 was the professional highly expandable version released the same year). Despite its home computer (slim) form factor this Amiga 500 was easier to expand than the original Amiga 1000:
Although the Amiga had the most profound influence on the world as a productivity system with companies like Disney using the Amiga to animate their classic animated movies, hollywood movie studios using Amigas for special effects, genlock overlays and for example Lightwave 3D renderings (like seen in Jurrasic Park, Terminator movies, The Abyss, Star Trek, etc), TV series (like Babylon 5, Max Headroom, seaQuest, etc), Cabel Television, Linear Accelerators, NASA telemetrics, military flight simulators, etc the Amiga also due to its strong visual and audio capabilities also gained a strong reputation for its arcade level gaming capabilities.
For pioneering using the Amiga for virtual reality gaming (including head/hand motion tracking, stereoscopic 3D and first person gaming including capture the flag / deathmatch) read futher here:
Amiga computers pioneered the DemoScene (the first public Amiga demo was the famous Boingball demo from January 1984, demonstrating animated graphics / audio while multi-tasking) as well as the distribution of online Public Domain / shareware software and games.
Some famous Amiga demoscene productions:
State of the Art (Amiga 500 demo booting from 880K diskette):
Nine Fingers (Amiga 500 demo):
Dolphin's Dream (64K demo using AGA chipset from 1992):
http://www.intuitionbase.com/screen/newsnap2.jpg (Cimena4D running on AmigaOS4.x)
Aminet, in 1996 still the world's largest collection of freely distributable software for any computer system:
Did you know that Grand Theft Auto was originally being developed for the Amiga (but canned due to C=’s demise)? Did you know the original version of Lemmings on the Amiga allowed for super cool multi-player using two mice simultaneously in 20 additional levels? Did you know that Team 17’s smash hit Worms was first developed by bedroom developers on the Amiga using Blitz Basic? Anyway read on.
10 of the most influential Amiga 500 games, note classic Amiga games are able to boot straight from diskette or since 1991 from CDROM just like a modern games console can.
1) Another World, innovative in its use of cinematic effects.
2) Cannon Fodder
3) Dungeon Master – Although the Atari ST original was the original and was the world’s first 3D realtime computer role-playing game, the Amiga port was the first computer game to use 3D sound effects.
4) It Came from the Desert
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SgDS-16UFA (includes intro)
7) Populous, with over 4 million copies sold the best selling computer game at the time in 1989. Also the first “god” game. It was created with HiSoft’s Devpac 2 for the Atari ST and Amiga.
8) The Settlers: Later Amiga 500 game, released in 1993 with much better music than the MSDOS port.
Amiga 500 intro:
9) Turrican 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVY7hJgdUmI (this is actually the later released Director’s cut version)
Some personal favourite Amiga 500 exclusives:
Disposable Hero (Probably the best Dutch game production at the time)
Elfmania (from the makers of the 120 FPS 3D stereoscopic PS3 game Super Stardust HD, Terramarque fused with Bloodhouse to form Housemarque):
Ruff ’n Tumble (Turrican style platformer)
Stardust (from the makers of the 120 FPS 3D stereoscopic PS3 game Super Stardust HD, Bloodhouse fused with Terramarque to form Housemarque):
The demise of the Amigas
Commodore aka C=, bought the innovative little company called Amiga Corp in 1984. Sadly C='s top management didn’t realize what gem they had acquired. Big C= was a PC manufacturer too and using off the shelf part combined with cheap clunky flawed MSDOS this looked less risky to them, not realizing (like Apple and IBM) multi-media like the Amiga was capable of was the way of the future. Amiga designers hid easter eggs in AmigaOS like “We made Amiga, They fucked it up” (1986).
Commodore heavily marketed their PC brand until 1993 when their PC division ran into serious losses. These losses were so severe the company was about to go bankrupt. Commodore dropped its PC division and in my country our top basketball team had to replace their C= shirts for Amiga shirts. Their last hope of survival was to release a new game system based on the Amiga platform, the Amiga CD32, the first true 32 bit CD based gaming system in the world. The Amiga CD32 sold out in Europe and captured most of the CD based gaming market in the United Kingdom, outperforming its rivals Philips CDi, Sega MegaCD and PC CDROM combined. But the large amount of units produced for the United States launch was blocked by a judge to enter the country because of patent issues and thus this marked the end of Commodore.
Rising from the ashes
After Commodore bankrupted, many lawsuits and change of ownerships happened. Most noteably PC manufacturer Gateway for a short while owned the Amiga technology:
But according to an ex-Gateway employee of the Amiga division Microsoft put Gateway under pressure not to compete with them, unless they wanted to pay much more for every copy of Windows (Gateway was selling millions of Windows PCs). These comments were made before the anti-trust lawsuits against Microsoft and during those trials an ex-Gateway executive testified against Microsoft. Needless to say Gateway’s Amiga project halted.
Amiga ‘still alive’ tribute by Eric Schwartz (the artist who made the Superfrog intro linked above amongst many other productions).
Meet the new Amiga due for release
After the latest court battles Hyperion entertainment and the AmigaOS4.x development team since 30 September 2009 have full control of the AmigaOS platform. They intend to release a new Amiga computer with custom chips like the original Amiga 1000, called the AmigaOne X1000, which will be first demoed at the 25th anniversary at the National Museum of Computing in London, UK on the 19th to 20th of June 2010:
http://www.broad.ology.org.uk/amiga/blender/images/blender_grab_001.jpg (AmigaOS4.x running Blender)