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Amiga Emulation (Games) Operating Systems

The Amiga, Circa 2010 — Dead and Loving It 383

Posted by timothy
from the nearly-as-good-as-os/2-warp dept.
Orion Blastar writes "While many Amiga users have moved on to Linux, Mac OS X, and even, gasp shock, Microsoft Windows, some of us don't want to give up so easily. There are two open source projects that are keeping the Amiga legacy alive even if Amiga Inc. seems to be deader than a doornail and not really doing much but selling old Classic Amiga games for new platforms. Like WINE, there was a project to run AmigaOS 3.1 software for Linux and other platforms, but it evolved instead into an open source operating system named Amiga Research OS, or AROS. AROS is best run inside an emulator, and while it is not a modern OS like Linux, it can be downloaded and run inside of Linux (and the downloads section has more). While it is not ready for prime time yet, it is a promising OS that is being ported to many platforms and uses the user friendly Amiga GUI we Amiga users grew up with." Read on for more.
"OK — maybe AROS is not modern enough for you, and you like Linux instead. Then you might like Anubis OS, as it is a hybrid of AROS and Linux. Much like when Apple took NextStep (based on *BSD Unix and the MACH kernel) and the classic Mac OS to make Mac OS X, this project wants to take Linux and AROS and do the same thing.

For those who want the classic Amiga, there is UAE, the Universal Amiga Emulator, which needs kickstart ROMs and boot disk images to work. You can buy them from Amiga Forever; the emulator comes with all the files you need plus other goodies.

For the classic Amiga 68K series, it is recreated via the Minimig, which uses SD cards instead of floppy disks; a must for retro computer hobbyists. AmigaOS 4.1 exists for PowerPC based SAM 440EP systems like the SAM 440Ep systems and parts sold here. (I am not associated with Amiga Kit or Amiga Inc. or any Amiga company. I am just an Amiga user since 1985 and very much into retro computing.)"
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The Amiga, Circa 2010 — Dead and Loving It

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  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:19PM (#30627310)
    Wow, the Amiga system makes Mac systems look cheap by comparison, almost $600 for the motherboard alone that only gives you 512 MB of RAM and a 533 Mhz CPU! You can get twice that with a Mac mini. While I do realize that this is a niche product, its still -very- expensive.
  • by omar.sahal (687649) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:22PM (#30627340) Homepage Journal
    I never owned or even used an Amiga, but I can't help but respect the longevity of its influence.
    Don't listen to the disparaging remarks on slashdot. I would never have known even the little I know about Amiga, had it not been for the articles here on /.
    Obviously reality matters (time and commitments etc) but if you guys can build a system in your own time that works keep doing it, it may even become a big deal to every one some day. enjoy [youtube.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:26PM (#30627366)

    Yeah, but don't forget that AmigaOS doesn't fuck around and squander hardware resources like Mac OS X does.

    512 MB of RAM and a 533 MHz PPC CPU go a lot further when using AmigaOS and Amiga apps than they do when using basically any other OS.

  • Re:2010 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zedrick (764028) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:26PM (#30627372)
    1985-1995 were the years of the Amiga Desktop.
    (not that Win95 was better in any way, but it managed to finally kill the Amiga commercially, most active Amigausers I know gave up around 95-96.)
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:37PM (#30627476)

    Tight integration of hardware with O.S. O.k. this works against everything we've been taught about abstracting everything but since the PC world has boiled down to little more than an O.S. monopoly, a hardware monopoly and a graphics card monopoly, why not eliminate some of the levels of abstraction that will never be used and make my 2Ghz PC perform every day tasks at least as well as my 7Mhz Amiga did?

    Um, what hardware monopolies are you talking about? Yeah, just about everything is x86 now, but I wouldn't call either AMD or Intel a monopoly in CPU terms. Same with graphics cards, its about 50% nVidia and 50% ATI though most everyone who isn't a gamer uses integrated graphics.

    And if you want things to work really well on -your- hardware then try running Gentoo and compiling everything with high levels of optimization.

    One of the main reasons why everything isn't hardware centric is because people upgrade at different points. For example, not everyone is running a Core i7 at the moment, someone might be reading /. on a low-end Intel Atom, A Pentium 4, an older Athlon, or any number of different CPUs. Its bad enough that a Pentium 4 is now considered sluggish for most modern games and OSes, but think of how worse upgrading would be if it would simply refuse to run on a Pentium 4 because it didn't support some of the features.

  • by CottonThePirate (769463) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:38PM (#30627478) Homepage
    #3 is taken care of by the little known mac command line "say". I just tried and "ls | say" read out my directory from the terminal. #1 I totally agree with, I understand about modern disk caches and the like, but hitting the button and walking away would be nice.
  • by AndrewStephens (815287) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @06:55PM (#30627616) Homepage

    I had an Amiga and it was great, however the world has moved on since then. To answer your points:

    1. To shutdown the Amiga, you turned it off. There was no delay, no Start->Shutdown...wait possibly forever...

    No, you waited for the disk light to stop flashing and then turned it off, hoping that all applications had flushed out all of their data. The Amiga got away with it (mostly) by not really having a lot of long lived service-type applications.

    2. Sliding screens. Why not give each application its own full screen and allow the user to pull down the top menu to slide between these screens.

    I do miss this - having each application on its own screen (with its own screen mode) was very useful. Now that we are all running high-res desktops with 24 bit colour, the different screen modes aren't so important, and software like "Spaces" on MacOSX fills much the same need.

    3. Simple speech device. What could be easier than "LIST > speak:" to say a directory listing?

    That was cool, but fairly niche. I am disappointed that computer generated speech as not come further, the MacOSX voices sound only marginally better than the old Amiga voice from 25 years ago.

    4. Bidirectional linked list filesystem. If you lose a sector or sector link, most of the file could be rebuilt by following links from both ends towards the bad sector. (Disk doctor)

    This was very useful on unreliable floppies, but used precious space on the disk and made updating files slower. Now that removable storage is more reliable the trade-off doesn't seem worth it.

    5. The keyboard garage. The 1985 Amiga 1000 keyboard tucked neatly under the computer where it didn't take up desk space, was hidden from children's fingers and was spill-proof.

    6. Tight integration of hardware with O.S. O.k. this works against everything we've been taught about abstracting everything but since the PC world has boiled down to little more than an O.S. monopoly, a hardware monopoly and a graphics card monopoly, why not eliminate some of the levels of abstraction that will never be used and make my 2Ghz PC perform every day tasks at least as well as my 7Mhz Amiga did?

    What you are basically wishing for is MacOSX, where one company controls both the hardware and the software, and it does (suck it, haters) produce better computers. However, even MacOSX has abstraction layers and drivers because Amiga-style direct hardware intergration turned out to be a terrible long-term plan. The clever hardware tricks that made the Amiga1000/500 so cheap and fast back in the early 80s ended up holding back Amiga development 5 years later.

    To sum up, while the Amiga was (in a lot of ways) ahead of its time, modern computers (and I am including Windows in this as well) do more and operate in a different environment than in the 80s. Although the Amiga was fast and amazingly inexpensive for the time, for the equivalent money today you could buy a high-spec iMac that is better in every way. Those who pine after the lost Amiga are living in the past.

  • Re:2010 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:44PM (#30628002)

    not that Win95 was better in any way, but it managed to finally kill the Amiga commercially, most active Amigausers I know gave up around 95-96

    Not entirely convinced that Windows 95 was to blame. The Amiga- which was *the* machine to have in Europe in the late '80s to early '90s- had already been losing ground to the PC on one side and the Mega Drive and SNES on the other for some time before that.

    Commodore had sat on what was basically the same once-revolutionary core hardware and OS for 7 1/2 years with only minor improvements. The A1200 and A4000 offered some notable (but not revolutionary) improvements, but should have come out *at least* a year earlier- by the time they hit in late 1992, the ground had already shifted, and many people had already moved away.

    I'd say that '95-'96 sounds about right, regardless of Windows 95. After Commodore went bankrupt in mid-'94, the Amiga was in limbo, stagnating for more than a year. Eventually, in late '95, the new owners announced that they were going to start selling the same, unimproved, three-year-old A1200... for £100 *more* than it cost before the bankruptcy!

    They claimed that they had to do this to make their money back, but whether or not this was true (or just a cynical attempt to milk the diehard fans of a doomed format) it was clear- to me at least- that there was no way that this was going to be a success, and that the game was quite obviously up.

    Windows 95's launch probably just emphasised that the market had moved on, and that the Amiga had already missed its final chance to catch up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:00PM (#30628118)

    Here are a few things that personal computing lost when the Amiga died.

    * Abstraction of data handlers from apps. Datatype handlers were stored in their own directory. You could drop new ones in, and more or less *every* app of that type (sound/video/images/text/etc) would suddenly be able to read the new format. No farting about with "this app only handles image formats X and Y, but not Z". Drop in a datatype for Z, and it now handles Z. Sound editor didn't support saving in mp3? Drop in a datatype. Now it (and every other sound app on your system) does. It wasn't perfect, and some apps didn't support it, but many did.

    * Single metadata format for everything. We now have 92340860159 different file formats, many replicating the same functionality as other ones. The Amiga had IFF (Interchange File Format). Ok, eventually all the stupid PC formats (then typically without any metadata to speak of and far less well designed) were supported, but originally IFF was just about it once you got above ASCII. Apps could be built to handle just a subset of the data from a file- e.g, just the sound from a video multimedia file, for example. You could parse the container without having to understand all the data in it. Granted, there are many other formats now which do that, but in the 80's it was groundbreaking, and with ONE container format instead of a million, you stood a much bigger chance of any given app supporting the scheme. To boot, it was open: most apps published their storage formats, and were typically good about using established standards for images, movies, sound, etc.

    * About 10 years of time loss while DOS and later Windows PCs caught up to what the Amiga started out with. Who knows where we'd be now if they hadn't been so far behind from the start.

  • by toejam13 (958243) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:08PM (#30628164)
    There are a number of reasons why the Amiga could run so well using a 50MHz processor or slower.

    1) The OS used a flat memory model. The entire address space of the 680x0 looked the same to all processes. So there was no slowdown doing page table translations on a per process basis.
    2) Every process could read and write to every other process's memory. One process could pass a memory pointer to a second process, which would then have direct read-write access to every data structure the first one had. No having to pass huge amounts of data using semaphores or pipes.
    3) The GUI was very primitive. The BOOPSI widget subsystem was about as bare to the metal as you could get. Even extensions such as ClassAct/ReAction were very minimalistic. That made it very fast.

    Of course, that all comes with a price.

    1) The flat open memory model meant that any sort of malicious software could eavesdrop on any other memory location without bother. Stealing passwords or silently copying data from your word processor? No problem!
    2) That same memory model meant that any program could go outside of its bounds and trash any other program in memory, including the kernel. That's why Amigas tended to crash more often than even Windows 95 boxes.
    3) Memory fragmentation was horrible because the OS had no form of garbage collection. You couldn't move allocation blocks around in memory because there was no form of abstraction, either using Win32 style handles or virtual memory pages.
    4) No memory tracking / garbage collection. If a process closed without freeing memory, it was gone forever. After a while, you'd run out of memory and would have to reboot.
    5) Every modern widget toolkit around today, including Qt, GTK+ and Cocoa, generally make BOOPSI look absolutely prehistoric. Try doing any sort of raster or Unicode based apps under AmigaOS. You'd probably have to write your own BOOPSI extensions to get what you want.
    6) You would have hit the 4GB limit of the 68020/030/040 much faster had the platform remained around unaltered. That's because every process would share that space. With OSes like OS X, BSD and Windows, each process gets its own 4GB (~3GB after kernel reservations) to play around in.

    Yeah. Even your mobile phone has an OS with better memory management and UI functionality than your Amiga 4000.
  • by adarn (582480) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:11PM (#30628186)

    The only time I have had 2 computers at the same time in my life was when I purchased an Amiga 500 as the IIgs days were waning.

    The amiga was vastly superior, even aside from how more games game out in the first week I owned my amiga than the entire time I owned the IIgs.

    And lets not forget the demo scene.

    God, i miss when computers were fun.

  • by StoatBringer (552938) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:16PM (#30628210)

    Fullscreen windows. Why slide them up and down when you can switch with Alt+Tab or Cmd+Tab. Also check out Virtual desktops, you might like them.

    It's difficult to compare with modern operating systems, but the sliding windows were really clever. Each screen could be a completely different resolution with a different colour map and screen format. If you Alt-Tab between full-screen applications of different resolutions, you can still only see one at a time. With the Amiga, you could see all of them at once. For example, if you're playing a full-screen game today and alt-tab to the desktop, the game will typically switch back into a window and the screen will switch to the desktop resolution. The Amiga method would let you simply drag the full-screen game screen to reveal the higher-resolution desktop behind it, without forcing the game to swap back to a window. Even virtual desktops aren't as clever or flexible as that.

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @09:44PM (#30628658)
    Most of that is very true. The amiga's memory management was the biggest problem and they did tend to crash if you had badly programmed apps. In general use however it crashed far less than win95 and even less than 98. It wasn't until win2000 that I saw a microsoft operating system that I actually considered superior to the amiga. Unforunately the hardware couldn't keep up after the death of CBM.
  • Okay, that makes no sense.

    It sounds like you are talking about auto-stretch scaling. That the monitor is at 800x600, the game is 320x240 and is automatically up-scaled to 800x600 by the OS. It isn't possible for a monitor to display "multiple resolutions" at once by definition of what a 'resolution' is. Auto-scale also presents aliasing [wikipedia.org] problems without a decent anti-aliasing algorithm.

    Yeah, unless you saw it in action, it's hard to imagine. It is exactly like the parent post describes, and you can have two (and only two) different resolutions displayed at once. You could be playing a game at 320x240 and drag your desktop down over half the screen, at a higher resolution. It was a horizontal division between the two (you couldn't have, say, one smaller window of one resolution on a desktop of a larger resolution) and (remember, we're using CRT based monitors here, and hardware that has an intimate knowledge of how the scanlines are driven in the limited range of CRT displays the Amiga supported) and the top half of the screen would be drawn at a different resolution to the bottom half of the screen, or wherever the division was dragged down to. It was pretty magical stuff...

  • Re:2010 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RMS Eats Toejam (1693864) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @11:06PM (#30629142)

    Dead wrong. Your speculation is fueled by pure ignorance about Amiga users and biased toward Linux. My father and I were about as hardcore as you can get and neither of us had any interest in Linux or any other Unix clone. Five other Amiga users I know also didn't follow suit with Linux. Why? Several reasons. For one, software. At the time Linux didn't (and in many ways still doesn't) have a robust commercial software library. Most Amiga users longed for the day they could walk into any small to mid-size department store and purchase software for our computers. Next, there is the Unix philosophy and culture, which for many of us seemed like yet another group of people desperately holding onto the past. When the Amiga died, many of us wanted to move forward. Not find another underdog to cling to. For the record, I called it quits in 1997, so I hung on even longer than most others. My father even longer.

    This isn't the first time I've had to defend Amiga from Linux zealots like you. We do not like Linux and don't wish to ever be associated with it, period. To us, the Amiga wasn't what Linux is to you. You can't even compare the two. It was a different time and a different animal. We also liked and supported commercial software. We wanted more of it available for the Amiga because we knew that's the key to a successful machine. About the only thing we had in common was a juvenile dislike for anything Microsoft simply because it was the competition. Well, guess what. Some of us grew up. The ones who didn't? Well, I bet you can figure out what happened to them.

  • Misplaced sentiment. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @11:38PM (#30629308) Homepage Journal

    The whole Amiga OS story is utterly misplaced and foolish. Amiga, for those who were into PCs, really, was a story about hardware that was way ahead of its time for the price. You had a 32 bit processor in the 68k married up with 4 channel waveform audio and hardware accelerated bitmap graphics. It was amazing, it really was. But as someone who learned C on the Amiga, I never thought the Operating System was really all that great. Indeed, I had a really fun summer working on a game engine with a friend of mine and our biggest triumph was NOT to use the operating system to manage the Blitter because it was too damned slow. I mean, Intuition had its upsides, for sure, but overall, the whole Amiga story was about the hardware. People bought that Hardware Reference Manual because it was so well written, and, in those days, you had IBM PC's with CGA / EGA graphics and the best sound you got from them was a dopy Adlib or SoundBlaster with tinny crappy FM synthesis and Amiga had faux true-color displays with quadraphonic sound playing. It was a revolution.

    For me, to get that same kind of hardware buzz, since then, has really been in workstations. I loved my Dual Pentium II with first a FireGL and then a Voodoo2 and then an nVidia GeForce board, that was Amiga to me. I loved my Dual Opteron, that was Amiga to me. And right now, I have my dual Nehalem Xeon with a GeForce GTS, that is Amiga to me. Amiga's not a software story, never has been. It's about hardware that makes you imagine entirely new kinds of applications with just the sheer power available, power that makes you drool, or at least, is really fun to screw around with.

  • Re:2010 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toejam13 (958243) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @02:14AM (#30630082)
    I agree. Most Amiga users I knew ended up getting a PC with Windows because that's where all of the games ended up going. I knew a few who went to Macs. I'm not aware of a single one who went to Linux, and I was fairly big into the Amiga scene in my area at the time.

    I think /.'s wishful thinking crowd is getting ahead of themselves.
  • Re: X vs. Amiga (Score:3, Interesting)

    by butlerm (3112) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @02:31AM (#30630148)

    [begin rant] X is precisely everything the Amiga was not, an innovation that set open systems graphics back by at least a decade. Aside from an SGI app here or there I never saw an X interface that looked good until 1998 or so. Functional yes, attractive compared to the alternatives, not in the slightest.

    X was so poorly designed that network transparency, which should have been its greatest strength, was essentially unusable anywhere other than the local LAN, and still is to this day. RDP runs circles around what X can do, for example, across any real network. To get X to perform like RDP you have to have an intermediary layer like NX that uses all sorts of tricks to work around the design deficiencies of X in the first place. You have to use some sort of wrapping protocol just to get rudimentary security, so you can actually open a remote terminal session across the Internet, a wrapper for which there are no real standards, and which doesn't come configured or installed on a default basis practically anywhere. Let's run SSH, map a bunch of ports, and set a half dozen environment variables! No thank you.

    Regrettably, the history of X largely consists of undoing or making extensions to work around the severe limitations of the original design, limitations that (among other things) made X programming more difficult than practically any other graphics system on the planet, with the possible exception of (horror of horrors) Win32.
    [end rant]

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @07:07AM (#30631004) Journal

    but their RISC and later VLIW efforts failed in the face of x86-entrenchedness

    No, they failed because Intel does not seem to employ a single person who can design a decent instruction set. The i860 and Itanium both managed to produce something even more hideous than x86. Both have some nice ideas, but producing a compiler that generates decent code for either is insanely difficult. Both had a huge theoretical throughput advantage over x86, but both failed to deliver. The i860 could perform twice as fast as an 486 with carefully optimised code on both, but was slower with code that a top of the line compiler for both would spit out. It was eventually relegated to performing graphics acceleration, which was one thing the architecture did quite well.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @07:12AM (#30631014) Journal

    Better is a strong term. It's not quite as bad. You have a few more registers and, more importantly, most of the instructions can now use any register as a target instead of just eax, but it's still pretty nasty. Compare it to something like ARM and it's hideous. The other nice thing about x86-64 is that they got rid of segments. Having a segments is nice in theory, because it lets you do things like object or array bounds checking in hardware. It's terrible in practice on x86 because you can only have 8192 of them per process (and another 8192 global ones), which isn't enough for very much. They also got rid of rings 1 and 2, which was incredibly bad timing because people had just started using them.

    The main improvement that x86-64 gives you is that it SSE is supported on all 64-bit x86 systems, so you can always use SSE (register to register) instructions for floating point instead of x87 (hybrid stack-based architecture that it's impossible to generate good code for) instructions.

  • Re:2010 (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 03, 2010 @03:48PM (#30634056)

    You talk and talk and talk but history doesn't lie. The PC, even back in the late 80s/early 90s, had better graphics than the Amiga. You needn't look further than the games.

    When the Amiga originally launched it was an even match for a good PC, but the PC progressed while Commodore rested on their laurels. By 1990, the PC was a vastly superior computer. For example, in 1990 my own PC was a 80486DX-33MHz with 8MB RAM, a Tseng Labs ET3000, a 200MB Hard Drive, a Roland LAPC-I and a Sound Blaster. In that same year, Commodore released the Amiga 3000 which was no match specs-wise.

  • Re:2010 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hazydave (96747) on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:11PM (#30647136)

    Ok, the Amiga 3000 didn't have built-in graphics that matched the number of colors of the VGA or Macs of the day. On the other hand, none of the PCs or Macs had hard drive performance capable of real video... the Amiga 3000 did. So it's not exactly the situation as described. Most folks using Amiga 3000s were doing video, with Toasters or other video hardware, and the Amiga's lack of color wasn't a killer.

    Yes, of course we wanted more. The original project for a next-generation chipset was started in 1988, but underfunded, so only prototypes existed by 1993. The other upgrade, originally called Pandora, then AA, then AGA, was started a few years later. It was supposed to ship in machine in early 1992, but by then, Commodore had not just a management disease, but a fatal one.

    That's also where the A600 came from. The A600 was the A300 (eg, to be cheaper than the A500) with a PCMCIA slot put in and GRR's super-cheap genlock taken out (yeah, the A300 was supposed to ship with a built-in genlock, at least if George got it working by then).

    The C65 was a stupid idea, and I believe it happened mainly because no one else wanted to work with the engineer involved, so they just left him alone. It was strange times at Commodore near the end.

    It's also sad what got cancelled when the management disease really kicked in. The A3000 has every area of the system we could improve improved, without the new custom chips. Some of that got expensive, which is why it didn't immediately trickle down to cheaper systems. That was Spring of 1990. In 1992, we were planning to have the A3000+, which would have had a 68040 CPU and the AT&T DSP3210 for audio and modem processing (I actually built prototypes, more like the A3000 than we had planned). But we also had a 25MHz 68030 machine, dubbed the A1000+, planned for the same time frame, with the "AA" chipset, the usual expansions, but closer to the A500/A1200 price than the A3000. Both of these were cancelled when the management changed in 1991. The mid-range machine was killed entirely, and the A4000 that came out late in 1992 was missing everything but the "AA" chips... they even forced us to take out the DMA-driven SCSI bus, so our disk I/O got as crappy as that of a Mac or a PC.

    In short, these things don't happen overnight. And despite what you see when the hardware comes out, it's not always really an engineering problem.

    For more about what went wrong, see my film: http://www.frogpondmedia.com/dbv [frogpondmedia.com]

  • by hazydave (96747) on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:31PM (#30648150)

    Intelligent Window Manager.

    When you're running an application in AmigaOS, let's say it's so busy, it's not reading window messages (Windows would report this app as "not responding"). For most applications, you could still move the window around, shrink it, grow it back, etc. At worst, the contents of just that window don't refresh. You don't have the window "stuck" not responding, you don't have parts of other windows getting into each other, as you often see in other OSs. You can even resize the window (again, you MAY not see it refresh properly, or you may, depending on the nature of the window itself).

    Datatypes

    System level objects used everywhere. You don't care about the kind of graphic file or video you're opening, you just open an IMAGE or a VIDEO or a DOCUMENT or whatever in your program, and you can open any of these known to the system. BeOS implemented a similar idea, but I haven't seen it anywhere else. Sure, there are programs that do this for you, and different systems within the same OS to deal with SOME media types. But nothing as complete, not at least that I've seen.

    AREXX

    Every program of consequence had an AREXX port. Basically, any command the program could understand was available in AREXX (standard scripting language, originally invented at IBM). So you could build very interesting interactions between running programs. Linux users get a taste of this, between a million command lines and pipes, but this was so much more powerful. And very well supported, pretty much in every commercial application.

    ASYNCHRONOUS I/O

    Every I/O operation to every device driver could be done synchronously or asynchronously. So what becomes a pain in the butt in an OS like Linux was a couple of extra lines of code in AmigaOS. Of course, in those days, there was no point of asynchronous I/O for Windows or MacOS, since they didn't multitask and pretty much had to dedicate the CPU to loading or unloading your I/O, anyway. But it was a beautiful thing in AmigaOS, in the day.

    Probably some other stuff, but I gotta go. It's not that I plan on firing up my A3000 when I get home, rather than that home-integrated Q9550 PC with nVidia 8800GT graphics, 8GB RAM, twin 1920x1200 monitors in 24-bit, and 11TB of total attached storage. My old Amiga was weak at electronics CAD, and I'd still be waiting for that first AVC render for Blu-Ray creation to finish... not to mention the lack of support for huge drives and all. But it's a shame when you have to leave behind better ideas just to move forward a bit.

    And don't even get me started on word processing... all the power I had with Scribe at CMU in the 80s, to be stuck with things like Word or OpenOffice, it's crime. I do like the WYSIWYG editing, just wish they didn't have to remove 100 IQ points from the formatting engine to get that....

  • Re:2010 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hazydave (96747) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @03:37AM (#30652532)

    The "real" 68030 was used because, well, we wanted to use a 68030, the "Embedded Controller" version hadn't been made yet (these used "real" 68030 chips with MMUs that failed the test, at least initially), and, well, you don't put an EC chip in your high-end machine. Also, the A3000 ran UNIX.. the A3000/UX wasn't terribly successful (largely due to Commodore management somewhere pulling their typical stupid moves), but it was the first available System V release 4 outside of AT&T and Sun.

    There was no technical problem booting from an '040 card, though yeah, the MMU code from the EPROM version of Kickstart would not run on the '040, they changed the MMU model. So you needed real ROMs, or modified EPROMs. Most users with a reasonable amount of RAM put KickStart in RAM anyway, because it was just faster (still is today).

    We actually had a prototype of the first '040 card, the big fat one with external L2 cache designed for UNIX, at the A3000 launch. We were going back and forth with Motorola over whether we could show it, since no one outside Motorola had yet shown off an '040 working in public. They ultimately couriered over a "golden" chip, said "yes", and ... then some fool manager decided we weren't going to show it anyway, at the launch.

    There was no official A3000/040 from Commodore, largely because, when the '040 came out, it was unexpectedly hot, and the case designers felt it wasn't viable. Or at least, that was their excuse. I used them for years without issues, and there were many 3rd party '040 cards as well.

    While the A3000 had what looks essentially like an '030 bus, it did allow some '040 functions. For example, a well designed '040 card could do burst writes to A3000 DRAM (so could the DMA controller)... the '030 didn't do burst writes. I designed the CPU card interfaces in the A2000 and A3000 -- they were essentially the same as having the CPU on the motherboard, not a compromise. The A4000 didn't even initially bother with a motherboard CPU (they later put one in, to enable a cheaper A4000 with EC030 in it... I was on to other things by then).

Algol-60 surely must be regarded as the most important programming language yet developed. -- T. Cheatham

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