Australian Amiga Gathering Show Report

A report on the Amiga show held in Australia on June 28th and 29th

By Paul Morabito, Contributing Writer,

The Australian Amiga Gathering was held on the 28th and 29th of June, a Saturday and Sunday in Sydney Australia in the Kensignton Centre of the Sydney Showgrounds. I attended on the Saturday partly as an Amigan and along with Guy Nathan as the ICOA representative.

The Venue:

Well anyone who knows the Sydney Showgrounds knows it's big, very big. The Royal Easter Show up until next year is held there (for non Sydneysiders it is best described as a huge fair with carnival rides, shows, exhibitions etc.) and it is also alongside the Sydney Cricket Ground and The Sydney Football Stadium. My first observation was that there were no signs or anything indicating where exactly the show was. This is meant to be THE Australian Amiga event of the year and there isn't even a sign!! Couple that with what could only be described as a sparsely populated Showgrounds and despair was beginning to set in. After a few moments of stumbling around we managed to find the Kensignton Centre guided by the puniest of signs and with the help of directions from a security guard. And then once reaching the Kensignton I was greeted by a huge AMIGA sign, loosely tied to the side of the wall. This would have looked *GREAT* hanging from the front but never mind, at least it was there.

The Show:

Upon arrival there was a line of about 5-8 people cueing to get in. Initial fears of an abysmal attendance were soon diminished when looking inside I already saw a healthy crowd. After collecting my ID badge and seeing to some ICOA duties I had a look around. Following is a run down of the exhibitors:

Amadeus Computers:

These guys have long been one of the best Amiga dealers in Sydney combining enthusiasm with a wide range of products. There weren't any real bargains to be had except for maybe SAS C 6.5 going for $99 which considering its age and the fact it is clearance stock is a bit dubious. Never the less it is a very competent C system well worth the money when compared to other products. Everything was there including AWeb 3.0, rows of CD-ROM's, Termite TCP, the Digita and Cloanto range, Internet software, books, videos, Zip drives, games...pretty much everything! They appeared to be doing a roaring trade, their stand always packed sometimes 2 and three deep.

Amiga Genius:

These guys made the trek down from Newcastle, a few hundred kilometres from Sydney. They have a unique product range being the only company selling Graffiti cards and one of the few to be selling the Siamese System. Graffiti cards sold out very quickly and were gone well before lunch. After seeing them run through ShapeShifter I can see why, no more CPU cycles being wasted converting chunky to planar! I've also heard of a few games supporting it so for $150 it is well worth the money especially for ShapeShifter users. There were a couple of systems set up including a PC and Amiga connected via the Siamese and the previously mentioned A1200 running ShapeShifter with a Graffiti card. The usual range of games and CD-ROM's were on sale, some verging on ancient. I even saw a copy of Graphicraft on sale! These guys are also the only Australian company selling the AQCVid (software for the QuickCam digital camera) and the GG2 Bus+ a card allowing PC peripherals to be used on the Amiga.

Computa Magic P/L:

Computa Magic are also the mainstays of the Amiga market distributing many products including Golden Image, ProDAD and DKB. Mice by the truckload (or so it seemed) were on sale pretty cheap, including the Hypermouse and Green Mouse going for $10-$15 less than usual. As I've come to expect there were heaps of cut price games varying in age and price including the as yet unseen in Australia Capital Punishment going for a very reasonable $59.95. Computa Magic are joint winners of the "Oldest Product On Sale" (along with Amiga Genius) for selling AmigaLogo, now over a decade old. External flicker fixers for all Amigas were supposed to be available but apparently there were delays in actually getting the product to function properly. They had an A2000 connected to a VGA monitor running an Eric Schwartz MovieSetter anim through the flicker fixer and it was working well so it can't be too far from being released (from memory there is a problem with receiving composite video). Again their stand was always busy and the box with $5 CD-ROM's was popular.


These guys are mainly known in Australia for their A1200 tower systems. On display they had the Micronik Infinitiv tower which overall looked very good but probably a bit pricey coming in at $800. Also on sale was the Elsat FG24RT Framegrabber (known and the ProGrab in the UK) which also looks like a very good unit. The rest of their stand was occupied by the usual range of software. Apparently they were selling Miami but this too sold out very quickly. The only other exceptional thing from GSoft's stand was the guy behind the counter who was wearing a huge clown type hat coated in AWeb posters. They appeared to be doing a solid trade, though not exceptional.


Makers of the popular Directory Opus their stand was manned by Greg Perry and Jonathon Potter (the makers of Opus). They had their usual products on sale, Opus Magellan upgrades were selling pretty well as were Directory Opus 5 T-Shirts going for a reasonable $20 ($15 if you bought software), I managed to get both John and Greg's signature on my shirt. The highlight of this stand was the two men who manned it, both were very approachable and positive about the Amiga's future. It's great to see the dedication they have to Opus and the Amiga by both making the effort to attend the show.

Resource Management Force:

RMF are the developers of the QuickNet range of Ethernet cards for the Amiga including an A1200 PCMCIA version. They looked solid products and the men manning the stall were approachable. There isn't really much more I can say, I'm not too interested in networking so I didn't take all that much notice. For the most part their stand wasn't busy but this is understandable considering they are a niche hardware company.


The Amiga DTV specialists. On show was a supercharged Draco and MacroSystem's latest the "Casablanca", a very good DVE system (more on this later). Also available were demo disks of ArtEffect and other DTV stuff inlcluding the VLab Motion for a very low price. Demonstrations were running on their systems all day and those manning the stand were as I have come accustomed to very friendly and approachable.

Unitech Electronics:

Again mainstays of the Amiga, Unitech Electronics has long been the premier Amiga service centre, they also dabble in a bit of R&D, distribution (The Competition Pro Joysticks) and software/hardware sales. Their stand was the only one at the show (from memory) actually selling A1200's and A4000T's (though I think Techmedia were selling A4000T's). Alongside that they had their usual range of hardware and bits and pieces including hard drives, cables of varying types and sizes and the KickBoard (A ROM switcher designed by them) amongst other things. Their expertise in Amiga service is second to none and their stand was always busy. As usual they were as parochial as ever about the Amiga.

North West Amiga Users Group:

There wasn't much of a presence from the user groups this time around but NWAUG were out in force. On their stand were a few second hand items on sale including the AMax cards and they were also handing out copies of their newsletter. The NWAUG representatives were also more than happy to answer any technical questions.

Commodore Hornsby User Group:

The only other user group on show were CHUG, one of the oldest Amiga user groups still in existence. Again they were happy to answer any technical questions or user queries. One of the staff also had their souped up Amiga on show along with another Amiga running Megaball. Also on sale were a few utilities disks full of essential public domain and shareware utilities and the usual information sheet.

Greg Ball Electronics:

Nothing fantastic on show here, a few Amiga bits and pieces including a few cables and hard drives. Unitech pretty much stole their thunder. Their stand was usually very quiet.

Power Computing:

The only overseas exhibitor to travel here in person was Power Computing from the UK. On sale were all manner of things including graphics cards (CV3D and Picasso4) to accelerator cards from Phase5. There was a noticeable price reduction in most of their products. Also on sale at the Power Computing stand was the new game from Core Design, The Big Red Adventure which is as yet unavailable in Australia selling for $60. A fair few copies appear to have been sold. Other miscellaneous bits and pieces were also on sale including FPU's and SIMM's. It was great to see an overseas developer show interest in the Australian Amiga scene, the only real disappointment was the attitude of the staff, one in particular who appeared very disinterested and far from helpful.

St Johns Park High School:

Located in the diverse multicultural south western Sydney (close to my house actually) suburb of St Johns Park, SJP High School were sponsored by Unitech Electronics to appear. Nothing was for sale but the school had brought a few students along to illustrate their skills in DPaint and a few other packages. Also a video was running of a movie students had made with the help of the Amiga which was surprisingly good. A huge collage was also on display showing the school's achievements and how the Amiga integrates into the curriculum. Almost makes me want to switch schools :). The students though disappeared a bit after lunch, can't blame them I guess, who would want to appear on weekends for your school? :). I think this school was also representing The Amiga Education Network, an Australian based group promoting the use of Amigas in education worldwide.

MotherBoard Computers:

The actual organisers of the show played a very low key part in Amiga sales. On sale at their stand were two tutorial videos for the A1200 now aging for a bargain price of $14.95 each, considering they each run for 90 minutes it's value for money personified especially if you are new to the Amiga. A few machines were set up running nothing important. Also on the Motherboard stand was the Shareware Registration Booth, a place where various shareware programs could be instantly registered including STFax, Wildfire and ShapeShifter amongst others. Motherboard also generously lent the ICOA some stand space which for the most part we didn't make use of.


Guy Nathan and myself represented the ICOA at the show. Guy presented a speech and for the rest of the day we were floating around answering a few questions and giving out the few pamphlets we had. Overall it was worthwhile for the ICOA, many people who previously had little or no knowledge of the ICOA now are aware of its existence and the feedback was amazingly positive. Hopefully next year the ICOA can have a more organised and larger presence.

The Seminars:

At varying times during the day seminars were held. Firstly there was an Amiga "Sale Of The Century" with winners receiving all manner of things including ArtEffect and Directory Opus and losers (to put it blunt :)) receiving various games like Total Carnage. Greg Perry demonstrated Directory Opus, the Amiga ethernet cards were demonstrated and the Casablanca was demonstrated by TechMedia. The most exciting was the Casablanca a fully digital editing system by MacroSystem based on the Amiga. Previews were in real time and some of the effects on show were nothing short of stunning. All of this on a souped up 060 Amiga. The only disappointment is MacroSystem appear to be slowly moving away from Amiga hardware, it was near impossible to tell the Casablanca is underneath an Amiga (though the topaz font used throughout the system shows).

The Amiga International Press Release

An official press release from Amiga International was dictated to an interested audience by a member of The Amiga Education Network. Petro T regretted he could not make it and basically reaffirmed many of what has already been said. Though it was reassuring for us Australians and Amigans in general as he said they were "actively looking for Australian partners" and pleaded with the Amiga community "not to give up on us yet". Overall the speech was very genuine, it is nice to know the people running Amiga International genuinely do love the Amiga.


As was previously stated the hall was very small. I estimate maybe 200 to 300 people throughout the day though I did see tickets numbered as high as 441 so I could be totally incorrect. Certainly at times it was difficult to get around some busy areas and certain stands were always crowded. Overall I think Motherboard Computers (the organisers) would be happy with the attendance at least on Saturday (I didn't attend the final day) considering the ups and downs of the Amiga. Next year I'm expecting bigger and better things.

Noted Omissions:

Phase5 who claimed they would have a representative didn't show and as such the Australian Amiga community never got to see the PowerUP cards in action. Maybe they appeared on the Sunday. Also Megatron the current distributors of the Amiga in Australia failed to show which again was a major disappointment especially when everyone should be rallying together. The lack of enthusiasm for the show by Megatron was well known within the Australian scene before the show as they appear to concentrate on their industrial customers mainly.


Thanks must go to Motherboard Computers for taking the time to organise the event and support the ICOA so wholeheartedly especially Michael Gruber and Michael Burak who went above and beyond what was expected help.


To the best of my knowledge everything written in this report is correct. It is quite possible I have made some errors in which case I sincerely apologise to all those affected.