Ask slashdot: What Would Computing Look Like Today If the Amiga Had Survived? 46

dryriver writes: The Amiga was a remarkable machine at the time it was released -- 1985. It had a multitasking capable GUI-driven OS and a mouse. It had a number of cleverly designed custom chips that gave the Amiga amazing graphics and sound capabilities far beyond the typical IBM/DOS PCs of its time. The Amiga was the multimedia beast of its time -- you could create animated and still 2D or 3D graphics on it, compose sophisticated electronic music, develop 2D or 3D 16-Bit games, edit and process digital video (using Video Toaster), and of course, play some amazing games. And after the Amiga -- as well as the Atari ST, Archimedes and so on -- died, everybody pretty much had to migrate to either the PC or Mac platforms. If Commodore and the Amiga had survived and thrived, there might have been four major desktop platforms in use today: Windows, OSX, AmigaOS and Linux. And who knows what the custom chips (ASICs? FPGAs?) of an Amiga in 2019 might have been capable of -- Amiga could possibly have been the platform that makes nearly life-like games and VR/AR a reality, and given Nvidia and AMD's GPUs a run for their money.

What do you think the computing landscape in 2019 would have looked like if the Amiga and AmigaOS as a platform had survived? Would Macs be as popular with digital content creators as they are today? Would AAA games target Windows 7/8/10 by default or tilt more towards the Amiga? Could there have been an Amiga hardware-based game console? Might AmigaOS and Linux have had a symbiotic existence of sorts, with AmigOS co-existing with Linux on many enthusiast's Amigas, or even becoming compatible with each other over time?

Updated iBrowse Web Browser Released for AmigaOS 3.x (ibrowse-dev.net) 21

Mike Bouma (slashdot reader #85,252) writes: The IBrowse Team announced the commercial release of IBrowse 2.5 for AmigaOS 3.x (68k) and an improved PPC native AmigaOS 4.x version.

IBrowse was the most popular Amiga web browser of the 1990s when it pioneered advanced features such as tabbed web browsing.

"After many years in the making, development has been on a roller coaster since IBrowse 2.4, with challenging personal, technical and commercial issues complicating the release schedule," reads the announcement on the iBrowse site.

"However, we are extremely happy to finally make this new version available to all the valued users who have been waiting so patiently."

Tencent is Betting There's a Future For Retro Games in the Cloud (cnbc.com) 79

While tech giants like Microsoft and Google are building cloud gaming platforms for the latest blockbuster titles, one start-up is taking a different approach. From a report: London-based firm Antstream says it wants to bring a streaming experience to retro gaming enthusiasts. The company has developed a cloud gaming service that gives players access to a library of over 2,000 classic video games. It's a model that CEO Steve Cottam sees going global. And to bolster that ambition, the company has raised its first significant round of funding, led by the Chinese tech giant Tencent and backed by British venture firm Hambro Perks. For Antstream, the project is about resurrecting an experience long buried in old devices like the Commodore 64 and the Amiga. Cottam told CNBC in an interview that the idea for the company stemmed from what he's been seeing elsewhere in the entertainment industry. "You've got Spotify and Apple for your music, while in movies you've got Netflix and Amazon," he said. "It's so easy to find that content, but games just got lost because of all these different formats, and they didn't work on modern devices."
Classic Games (Games)

'Retro Games' Announces A New Commodore 64 (retrogames.biz) 118

Long-time slashdot reader cshamis tipped us off to this story in HotHardware: It is official, folks -- Retro Games is releasing a full-size retro reboot of the original Commodore 64, called TheC64, on December 5...

Of course, modern amenities abound for this reboot. TheC64 can connect to any modern TV via HDMI, to deliver "crisp 720p HD visuals" at 60Hz (USA) or 50Hz (Europe). It also comes with an updated joystick featuring 8 buttons, micro switches, and USB connectivity. It bears a passing resemblance to the original, but with additional bells and whistles. TheC64 will arrive with 64 games preinstalled, including titles such as California Games, Destroyer, Impossible Mission (1 and 2), Monty on the Run, Speedball 2, and many others... [P]layers will be able to add more games from a USB memory stick (not included).

The original Commodore 64 is widely considered the best-selling single-model PC of all time. Estimates have sales pegged at somewhere between 10-17 million units.


Who Killed America's demo Scene? (vice.com) 143

Jason Koebler shares Vice's analysis of demoparties -- "gatherings where programmers showcase artistic audiovisual works, known as demos, after a day- or days-long coding marathon that is part bacchanal and part competition" -- starting with a visit to New York's Synchrony. I had arrived just in time to catch the end of a set by the electronic musician Melody Loveless, who was at a folding table near the front of the room writing code that generated the music. These sorts of live coding performances have been a staple of demoparties -- gatherings organized by and for the creative computing underground -- for decades... demos are often made by teams of programmers and are almost always rendered in real time (as opposed to, say, an animated movie, which is a pre-rendered recording). demoparty competitions, or compos, are generally divided into categories where demo submissions must adhere to certain restrictions. For example, some compos only allow demos that were made on a Commodore 64 computer or demos that were created using under 4,000 bytes of data. In every case, however, the point of the competition is to push computing hardware to its limits in the service of digital art...

Given the abundance of digital art institutions in New York -- Eyebeam, Rhizome, LiveCode.NYC, and the School for Poetic Computation -- the lack of demoparties is conspicuous and in stark contrast to the European demoscene, which boasts dozens of annual demoparties, some of which attract thousands of participants. With this discrepancy in mind, I tagged along with the Synchrony crew this year in pursuit of an answer to a deceptively simple question -- who killed the American demoscene...?

The article traces the demo scene back to the "cracktros" which introduced pirated Commodore 64 video games (and their associated "copyparties") on floppy disks in the 1980s. Eventually this even led to police raids, but "The crackdown on software piracy was not evenly spread throughout Europe, however. Countries like the Netherlands, Greece, Finland, Sweden, and Norway didn't have strict software piracy laws, if they had any at all, which allowed the warez scene to flourish there." And by the early 1990s games "became a taboo when the community started defining its borders and aggressively distancing itself from other communities occupying the same computer hobbyist domain," wrote Markku Reunanen, a lecturer at Aalto University, in 2014.

Vice adds that "Although the demoscene has many elements in common with the warez scene from which it emerged, it differentiated itself by emphasizing technically challenging aesthetics. Whereas software cracking was largely pragmatic and gaming was about entertainment, the demoscene was about creating computer art that was difficult to produce at the level of the code, but also visually and aurally pleasing to consume. It was, in short, a competitive form of digital art.... Today, the fundamental aspects of the demoscene are the same. demoparties are still organized around a competition and remain an almost exclusively European phenomenon. demosceners still police the boundaries of their discipline vis-a-vis gaming and some sceners continue to work exclusively with retro machines like the C64 and Amiga."

A-EON Talks About The Future of The Amiga Platform (www.exec.pl) 156

Mike Bouma (slashdot reader #85,252) tipped us off to "Amiga present and future," an interview with Trevor Dickinson of A-EON Technology, a group funding ongoing hardware and software development for the Amiga community. "Amongst the topics are the still in betatest Mini-ITX and quad-core PPC Amiga motherboards. Trevor regularly writes editorials for the Amiga Future print magazine [English-translated version here] and his company will be attending and is sponsoring the Amiga34 event in Neuss Germany on the 12th and 13th of October 2019."

A-EON now has about 50 part-time developers and beta-testers working on software projects for Classic and Next-Generation AmigaOS, Dickinson reveals: I've been a Commodore and Amiga enthusiast since the late 1970s but only really got involved in the business side of Amiga in 2007 when I provided funding to Michael Battilana of Cloanto to help fast track the development of 'Amiga Forever'. [An Amiga preservation, emulation and support package] The funding allowed Michael to hire Nicola Morocutti, the 'Bitplane' magazine Editor, to embark on a major project to catalogue the tens of thousands of Amiga games and software titles which lead to the development of the one-click 'Retro-Platform' player which made its debut in 'Amiga Forever 2008' and the subsequent development 'C64 Forever' in May 2009. But, if you discount my Hardware donation scheme, it was the 'AmigaOne X1000' project [a PowerPC-based personal computer from A-Eon Technology CVBA intended as a high-end platform for AmigaOS 4] that was my first Amiga next-generation funding...

I've always said as long as Amigans keep supporting A-EON by buying the hardware and software we develop, we will keep developing both for AmigaOS. The motherboards names, 'Nemo', 'Cyrus' and 'Tabor' are characters and place names from the Jules Verne novel, "The Mysterious Islands". There are plenty more names available in that book.

Dickinson also discusses various projects that are attempting to build a portable Amiga laptop -- and his own early efforts to fund hardware donations to encourage Amiga developers to write productivity software, games and applications for AmigaOS 4.0. ("I resorted to buying second hand AmigaOne machines from eBay and other online sources...")

He also describes ongoing efforts to bring Libre Office and better web browsers to the Amiga. "Anyone who has the coding skills and is interested in helping out on such projects should contact me."

How 'SimCity' Inspired a Generation of City Planners (latimes.com) 128

Jessica Roy, writing for LA Times: Thirty years ago, Maxis released "SimCity" for Mac and Amiga. It was succeeded by "SimCity 2000" in 1993, "SimCity 3000" in 1999, "SimCity 4" in 2003, a version for the Nintendo DS in 2007, "SimCity: BuildIt" in 2013 and an app launched in 2014. Along the way, the games have introduced millions of players to the joys and frustrations of zoning, street grids and infrastructure funding -- and influenced a generation of people who plan cities for a living.

For many urban and transit planners, architects, government officials and activists, "SimCity" was their first taste of running a city. It was the first time they realized that neighborhoods, towns and cities were things that were planned, and that it was someone's job to decide where streets, schools, bus stops and stores were supposed to go.


Rare Amiga Bought on eBay For $2,500 (eurogamer.net) 56

Long-time slashdot reader Mike Bouma shared Eurogamer's report about a rare Amiga 3000 auctioned on eBay: Mike Clarke, who worked at legendary UK game company Psygnosis from 1992 to 1999 doing audio work, rescued this particular Amiga 3000 from destruction after it had been placed down in a corridor, ready to be thrown out. Over 20 years later, Clarke is selling it on eBay... According to Clarke, this Amiga 3000 was first used by artist Jeff Bramfitt, who scratched his initials in the top of the case in pen "just in case someone took it off his desk".

Bramfitt used the machine to work on the title screens for Carthage, Infestation, Shadow of the Beast 2 and more classic Amiga games, but its headline claim to fame is it was used to create the original Amiga Lemmings intro and logo. Lemmings, which came out for the Amiga in 1991, was developed by DMA Design (now Rockstar North) and published by Psygnosis before the latter was bought by Sony. Later, it was used for Microcosm (3DO, Mega-CD), Scavenger IV (aka Novastorm, Mega-CD, FM Towns), and unreleased games such as No Escape, a tie-in with the Ray Liotta film, aka Penal Colony for Mega-CD.

Files for all of these games and more remain on this Amiga 3000's hard drive. "I think the above games were all in 1993, which was a very busy year because we got bought by Sony and alongside working on games by third-party developers, Sony pushed all of these film licenses onto us and gave us almost no time to make them," Clarke said. This Amiga 3000 is not without its problems, however. The floppy drive doesn't work anymore and the hard drive is "temperamental", which means you might have issues booting the thing up.

After 16 bids, the Amiga sold for £1,850 -- about $2,300 USD -- plus another £170 ($215 USD) for shipping.

"So much early gaming history has been lost mostly because, much like the BBC erasing Doctor Who tapes, nobody valued it when it was happening," Clarke tells Eurogamer. "I was the only person who saw the historical value in rescuing these machines and I also rescued over 800 development disks that were going to be binned at the time."

Was Commodore's Amiga 'A Computer Ahead of Its Time'? (gizmodo.com.au) 418

Long-time slashdot reader Mike Bouma quotes Gizmodo: Despite being ahead of its time when it was unveiled in 1985, the Commodore Amiga didn't survive past 1996. The machine, which went up against with the likes of the IBM PC and the Macintosh, offered far superior hardware than its competitors. But it just wasn't enough, as this video from Ahoy's Stuart Brown explains. While the Amiga had other 16-bit computers beat on technology, it didn't really have anything compelling to do with that hardware. "With 4096 colours, 4 channels of digital audio, and preemptive multitasking, [the Amiga] was capable of incredible things for the time...."

[U]nfortunately, internal struggles within Commodore would signal the beginning of the end.

I'll always remember Joel Hodgson's Amiga joke on a 1991 episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. But in 2015 Geek.com reported on an Amiga which had been running a school's heating system for the last 30 years. A local high school student had originally set it up, and "he's the only one who knows how to fix software glitches. Luckily, he still lives in the area."

Leave your own thoughts in the comments. Does anyone else have their own stories about Commodore's Amiga? And was the Amiga a computer ahead of its time?

AmigaOS 3.1.4 For Classic Amigas Released (hyperion-entertainment.com) 69

Mike Bouma shares the announcement from Hyperior Entertainment, which holds exclusive rights to AmigaOS: The new, cleaned-up, polished Amiga operating system for your 68K machine fixes all the small annoyances that have piled up over the years. Originally intended as a bug-fix release, it also modernizes many system components previously upgraded in OS 3.9. Contrary to its modest revision number, AmigaOS 3.1.4 is arguably as large an upgrade as OS 3.9 was, and surpasses it in stability and robustness. Over 320K of release notes cover almost every aspect of your favorite classic AmigaOS -- from bootmenu to datatypes. Some of the highlights mentioned include: Over 20 Kickstart ROM modules and many more disk-based core OS components were fixed, updated, or added; Support for large hard disks; A modernized Workbench; and A colorful, professionally designed icon set is included, along with the traditional four-color icons.

Commodore's Amiga Is Being Revived In Newly Updated Hardware (hothardware.com) 94

MojoKid writes from a report via Hot Hardware: Although it has been over three decades since the first Commodore Amigas were originally released, a fan base for the beloved systems is still going strong. In fact, today's Amiga community seems to be more active now that it has been in years, and a number of exciting new hardware projects have cropped up in recent weeks. Two relatively new projects, led by popular members of the Amiga community Paul Rezendes and John "Chucky" Hertell, are designed to breathe new life into the Amiga 4000 and Amiga 1200.

Both men set out to reverse engineer the motherboards for these systems, not only to continue the possibility of repairing existing machines that are prone to serious damage from leaky batteries and electrolytic capacitors, but to potentially spur additional customizations for the platform in the future. Though Paul and John have only made minor modifications to the Amiga 4000 and Amiga 1200 motherboard PCBs to this point, the possibility now also exists for all new variants to arrive at some point in the future for these machines as well. The first actual working motherboards populated with components based on the Amiga 4000 Replica project or Re-Amiga 1200 haven't been shown off just yet, and they may require additional revisions to work out any kinks. However, both projects are good examples of the passion that still remains for the beloved Amiga from computing glory days gone by.


New Commercial Amiga 500 Game Released 123

Mike Bouma writes: Pixelglass, known for their "Giana Sisters SE" game, has released a worthy new game for the Amiga 500, called "Worthy." Here's a description of this cute action puzzler: "Assume the role of a fearless boy and collect the required number of diamonds in each stage in order to win the girl's heart! Travel from maze to maze, kill the baddies, avoid the traps, collect beers (your necessary 'fuel' to keep you going), find the diamonds, prove to her you're WORTHY!" Time to dust off that classic Amiga or alternatively download a digital copy and use an UAE emulator for your platform of choice. Have a look at the release trailer.

A Short Documentary About 81-Year-Old Commodore Amiga Artist, Programmer Samia Halaby (youtube.com) 58

erickhill shares a short documentary about Samia Halaby, an 81-year-old Commodore Amiga artist and programmer: Samia Halaby is a world renowned painter who purchased a Commodore Amiga 1000 in 1985 at the tender age of 50 years old. She taught herself the BASIC and C programming languages to create "kinetic paintings" with the Amiga and has been using the Amiga ever since. Samia has exhibited in prestigious venues such as The Guggenheim Museum, The British Museum, Lincoln Center, The Chicago Institute of Art, Arab World Institute, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Sakakini Art Center, and Ayyam Gallery just to name a few.

Ask slashdot: What Is Missing In Tech Today? 357

dryriver writes: There is so much tech and gadget news pouring out of the internet every day that one might think "everything tech that is needed already exists." But of course, people thought precisely that at various points in human history, and then completely new tools, technologies, processes, designs, devices and innovations came along soon after and changed everything. Sometimes the opposite also happens: tech that was really good for its day and used to exist is suddenly no longer available. For example, many people miss the very usable Psion palmtop computers with their foldout QWERTY keyboards, touchscreens, and styluses; or would have liked the Commodore Amiga with its innovative custom chips and OS to continue existing and evolving; or would have liked to be able to keep using software like Softimage XSI or Adobe Director, which were suddenly discontinued.

So here is the question: what tech, in your particular profession, industry, personal area of interest, or scientific or academic field, is currently "missing?" This can be tech that is needed but does not exist yet, either hardware or software, or some kind of mechanical device or process. It could also be tech that was available in the past, but was EOL'd or "End Of Lifed" and never came back in an updated or evolved form. Bonus question: if what you feel is "missing" could quite feasibly be engineered, produced, and sold today at a profit, what do you think is the reason it isn't available?

The Real Inside Story of How Commodore Failed (youtube.com) 261

dryriver writes: Everybody who was into computers in the 1980s and 1990s remembers Commodore producing amazingly innovative, capable and popular multimedia and gaming computers one moment, and disappearing off the face of the earth the next, leaving only PCs and Macs standing. Much has been written about what went wrong with Commodore over the years, but always by outsiders looking in -- journalists, tech writers, not people who were on the inside. In a 34 minute long Youtube interview that surfaced on October 9th, former Commodore UK Managing Director David John Pleasance and Trevor Dickinson of A-EON Technology talk very frankly about how Commodore really failed, and just how crazy bad and preventable the business and tech decisions that killed Commodore were, from firing all Amiga engineers for no discernible reason, to hiring 40 IBM engineers who didn't understand multimedia computing, to not licensing the then-valuable Commodore Business Machines (CBM) brand to PC makers to generate an extra revenue stream, to one new manager suddenly deciding to manufacture in the Philippines -- a place where the man had a lady mistress apparently. The interview is a truly eye-opening preview of an upcoming book David John Pleasance is writing called Commodore: The Inside Story . The book will, for the first time, chronicle the fall of Commodore from the insider perspective of an actual Commodore Managing Director.

A New Amiga Will Go On Sale In Late 2017 (theregister.co.uk) 185

An anonymous reader quote the Register: The world's getting a new Amiga for Christmas. Yes, that Amiga -- the seminal Commodore microcomputers that brought mouse-driven GUIs plus slick and speedy graphics to the masses from 1985 to 1996... The platform died when Commodore went bankrupt, but enthusiasm for the Amiga persisted and various clones and efforts to preserve AmigaOS continue to this day. One such effort, from Apollo Accelerators, emerged last week: the company's forthcoming "Vampire V4" can work as a standalone Amiga or an accelerator for older Amigas... There's also 512MB of RAM, 40-and-44-pin FastIDE connectors, Ethernet, a pair of USB ports and MicroSD for storage [PDF]. Micro USB gets power to the board.
A school in Michigan used the same Amiga for 30 years. Whenever it broke, they actually phoned up the high school student who original set it up in 1987 and had him come over to fix it.

A New Amiga Arrives On the Scene -- the A-EON Amiga X5000 (arstechnica.com) 118

dryriver writes: It is 2017 and the long dead Amiga platform has suddenly been resurrected. The new Amiga X5000 costs about $1,800 and is an exotic mix of PC parts and completely new custom chips, including "Xena," an XMOS 16-core programmable 32-bit 500 MHz coprocessor that can be configured by software to act as any type of custom chip imaginable. It is connected to a special "Xorro" slot that has the same physical connection as a PCIe x8 expansion card, but it is dedicated to adding more Xena chips as desired. Amiga X5000 can run all legacy Amiga software, including software written for later PowerPC Amigas. It boots from a U-Boot BIOS. The OS is AmigaOS 4.1, but the X5000 can also boot into MorphOS or Linux. The test system used by Ars came with a ATI Radeon R9 270X video card.
Emulation (Games)

Archive.org Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary (sfchronicle.com) 42

20 years ago this week, Archive.org started with just 500,000 sites. An anonymous reader quotes the San Francisco Chronicle: Now, the nonprofit San Francisco organization -- which celebrated the milestone with a party Wednesday night -- curates a vast digital archive that includes more than 370 million websites and 273 billion pages, many captured before they disappeared forever. It's more than an archive of Internet sites. The organization, founded by computer scientist and entrepreneur Brewster Kahle, now has a virtual storehouse ranging from digitally converted books and historic film to funny memes and audio recordings of Grateful Dead concerts...

The Internet Archive has survived through community donations and by working with about 1,000 libraries around the world that pay the group to help digitize books and other material. But the site itself remains free.

We've written about Archive.org over the years, and its collection of 2,400 DOS games, over 10,000 Amiga games (and other software) and a massive collection of arcade machine emulators. And here's what slashdot looked like back in 1998. But what's your favorite page on Archive.org?

Internet Archive Posted 10,000 Browser-Playable Amiga Titles (techcrunch.com) 83

The folks behind the Internet Archive have added a huge trove of Amiga games and programs to the site, bringing the total to more than 10,000. All these games can be played on your web browser. The non-profit library first began adding Amiga software to its catalog in 2013. TechCrunch adds: We can't vouch for the quality of all of the Amiga titles that were recently posted up on Archive.org, but there sure as heck are a lot of them -- 10,000+, by the site's count, including favorites as Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, King's Quest and Double Dragon, along with what looks to be a fair amount of redundancy. I'm not really sure what the difference is between Deluxe Pac Man v1.1 and Deluxe Pac Man v1.7a, but I suspect it's fairly minor, even for completists.

New Plastic For Old Amigas and Commodores 128

Ichijo writes: Several years ago, slashdot reported that the Amiga community had developed a way to restore old, yellowed ABS plastic to like-new condition, and they put the recipe for the gel, dubbed Retr0bright, into the public domain. Since then, it was discovered that the effect of the gel is only temporary, and plastic treated with the gel soon reverts to its original yellowed state even when efforts are made to block it from additional UV light.

Now, Amiga enthusiast Philippe Lang has created a new Kickstarter campaign to design and build new, improved molds for Amiga 1200 housings and do a licensed production run using anti-UV ASA plastic in the original color plus black, transparent, and 9 other colors. His team is also investigating the feasibility of producing new Amiga 1200 keyboards if this campaign succeeds. This follows a successful production run by Commodore 64 enthusiasts of new C64c housings using the original injection molds and new C64 motherboards designed to modern standards and production methods. And a new Amiga 1200 clone motherboard is also in the works.

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