Thursday, 23 July 2015

Commodore Amiga at 30 : reflective thoughts - where it all began

The Commodore Amiga what a computer. It is 30 years old today (23rd July 2015) having originally been released as the Amiga 1000 back 1985 (and that itself was a fantastic year for other reasons - Back to the Future possibly (probably) the most iconic, and arguably best films for a generation - but that's another story).

I had an Amiga, it wasn't my first computer - that honour went to the ZX Spectrum (a British classic) - however it was the most significant computer I owned and kick started my love of technology and create software in general.

My Amiga was one of the roughly 6 million Amiga 500's produced and it arrived in December 1990 a slick all in one computer not a unique form factor at the time but it was still clever in its concept and inside it approximately contained all the cleverness that was the Amiga 1000 (the one that's 30 years old today).

The Amiga introduced custom chips for graphics, sound and other activities that meant the rather limited 68000 processor from motorola could focus on other tasks, and with its "huge" 512k of RAM it was capable of at the time producing some outstanding games.



I loved this computer and it was my main machine until a Windows 3.1 486 computer arrived in 1993, however it was the one I always went back to for games - the PC and DOS games were just not as good with their limited VGA palettes and sound capabilities.

This computer was also the one where I properly started writing software having dabbled on the Spectrum, I started out like so many others using AMOS (AMiga Operating System) created by Fran├žois Lionet which was an interpreted language (so a bit slow) and didn't play that nicely with the native Amiga OS, therefore I moved onto Assembly Language. Later on a compiler for AMOS came out which did improve its speed however Assembly had taken over as my language of choice. The Amiga is also where I first started writing a series of computer games which via nostalgic rose tinted glasses I think were quite good at the time.  My most fondly remembered game was created in response to a competition in Amiga Power magazine which my brother has chronicled on his blog here (boxedpixels.co.uk - Super Puyo Puyo review).

For me the Amiga was an excellent machine, and I still have it in its original box, with several disk boxes full of blue floppies. I have no idea if it still works, I hope it does however part of me doesn't want to plug it in find out so keeping it as a bit of mystery helps to keep the dream that little bit alive.

Apart form the Amiga 500, the Amiga 1000 had numerous other siblings including the 600 and the excellent 1200 and its legacy still lives on as for not only myself, its the machine a large number of those creating software today from that pre-internet generation first discovered the magic of technology.

Happy Birthday Amiga and thank you.

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