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The Amiga

Ars Technica has just published Part 1 of what looks like a very interesting series of articles on the history of the Amiga series of personal computers.

The Amiga was quite unlike the other PCs of its time and could supposedly handle multimedia with an ease that put the IBM PCs of that time to shame. Sadly, I never had the chance to work with an Amiga myself. As is usual in the computer industry however, mere technical brilliance does not guarantee survival and popularity and in the end the IBM PC prevailed, while Commodore, makers of the Amiga, went bankrupt. Being an early user and fan of the BBC Micro, I can also bitterly attest to this sad turn of events that made the IBM PC the overwhelmingly dominant PC. Even though the Intel 8086 CPU was awkward to work with, DOS was an abomination for an operating system and the IBM PC was quite limited in its capabilities, none of this could hold the IBM PC back from reigning supreme and from killing off other personal computers (the Apple Macintosh being a notable exception).

Some time back, I saw the second volume of MindCandy. This volume was about the Amiga demo-scene while the first volume was about the IBM PC demo-scene. I had been following the IBM PC demo-scene since about 1993 to about 2000, so the first volume also evoked nostalgia apart from being fun and awe-inspiring. The second volume was no less awe-inspiring - watch Lapsuus by Maturefurk and then consider the fact that it was running on an Amiga with a Motorola 68060 CPU that was running at 75 MHz at best! Amazing coding skills at display on an amazing piece of hardware.

Update (2007-08-14): Part 2 is now on-line.

Update (2007-08-22): Part 3 is now on-line.

Update (2007-10-22): Part 4 is now on-line.

Update (2007-12-12): Part 5 is now on-line.

Update (2008-02-11): Part 6 is now on-line.

Update (2008-05-13): Part 7 is now on-line.


  1. 50mhz to be exact... 68060/75 processors don't come with fpu (so they are 100% worthless for 68060 demos, which use heavy fpu in parallel to cpu), and anyways no one makes new accelerator cards to plug them.

  2. The Amiga, as well as all the countless competitors lost because they refused to open the platform and let other people manufacture compatible devices, or even interoperate with devices from other manufacturers. This kind of behavior is unheard of today, and mostly thanks to IBM and their "Personal Computer" platform which they opened and allowed 3rd party manufacturer to build peripherals for and even build whole computers and sell them directly to the consumer! By doing this IBM created standard computing where everyone is free to integrate solutions from different provided and where manufacturers compete in an open market on features and price.

    While I also am sorry for the demise of good technology, it troubles me to see people (technologists mainly) lament the PC's dominance without acknowledging the fact that without the IBM PC we would not have the amazingly fast and cheap devices that has made household computing and the internet available for average people.

    The reason that you are using a computer that is hundreds of times faster and several times cheaper then the Amiga 500 (which my parents couldn't buy because it was way to expensive) is only because IBM has made the PC a market killer. I too wish that Amiga would have survived, but if Commodore won't to open the platform and compete with other manufacturers on price and performance - then they better go the way of the dodo.


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