The readers speak out!

Whither Amiga?

The situation with VIScorp certainly doesn't look good, but I have to say I remain an Amiga optimist. Here's why:

First, when I think of the Amiga's situation, I'm reminded of the famous "Schrodinger's Cat" thought experiment in quantum physics. For the uninitiated, this experiment postulated a cat in a sealed box where the odds were exactly 50-50 that the cat was dead or alive. The experiment concluded that, without an external observer, quantum physical theory demanded that we believe the cat was in a nether state of BOTH deadness and aliveness, until an observer could interfere by forcing a choice.

The Amiga is the Schrodinger's Cat of computers!

We users are in a nether region where the advance of the computer is neither assured nor doomed. As an evolving platform, the Amiga is not dead, but it's not exactly alive, either. This is not the ideal situation, but it's better than, say, the Atari or NeXT situation, and eventually it will be better than the Wintel situation.


  1. The Amiga remains a productive, powerful, fairly upgradable, and fun-to-use computer system.
  2. Under duress, and with the considerable help of the Internet, the Amiga community has joined together in a remarkably tight, organized, and empathetic team of fellow travelers. We've been forced to make do, and that's made us resourceful.
  3. The future ain't what it used to be (thanks, Yogi Berra). But it still holds promise. A RISC-based Amiga, or at least a RISC accelerator for current Amigas, seems quite likely to me. Either one will advance the platform.
  4. A great line from the recent movie "Phenomenon": Everything in the universe is on its way somewhere! So is the Amiga. Everything also eventually dies -- and that's as true of the Mac and PC systems as it will be of the Amiga. The point is where we're going. If the A/Box succeeds, I will treat that as the Amiga's natural successor. If not, then I'll swallow hard and treat OS/2 and the IBM Aptiva as the legacy of the Amiga. I'll run my five Amigas into the ground, and I'll never forget how ably they served me. Meanwhile, I'm getting things done and having fun. A PC is a pickup truck; an Amiga is a Corvette. It may not always be practical, but it *is* always inviting.

Ron Legro

I thought this was a very creative and unique look at the Amiga's current condition. It does well to illustrate the "purgatory" in which the platform now resides. Thanks for the insights, Ron.

Michael Webb

Upon Discovery of AM...

Hello, friends at The Amiga Monitor,

I have recently been made aware of your magazine's existence through the Amiga Web Pages; I have since read two of your issues. I am very impressed with your magazine. It is of an extremely high caliber. I am very impressed with your frankness. The Amiga market needs this right now if it is to survive.

Mario Saitti

680x0 versus PowerPC, and AAA again

I read through the feedback, and I can't say I agree with anyone. The AAA chipset is not a good alternative. It's too slow, and it would take a long time to finish it. I doubt Dave Haynie is coming back to complete a system he developed several years ago, and one that he publicly has written off.

68k Amigas are not a wise move either. It would take at least 6 months to make good one, and in a little more time I'm sure it would be possible to release some sort of Power Amiga, with a fully ported Amiga OS. How is this possible, I hear you say. Easy, the new owner should make a deal with Phase 5 about using what they have ported, in exchange for let's say 50000 free licenses for Amiga OS.

Then the new owner should form an OS porting group with the most experienced people in the Amiga community. In the meantime they should complete the Hombre (the HP-PA RISC 3D stuff). This would be perfectly suited to a new low cost Power Amiga, and it would rock the earth.....David Pleasance said in an interview that this chip is 20 times more powerful than the Nintendo 64. Couple this with a multiprocessor system, and a very fast memory subsystem, and you got a hell of a computer.

Vidar Langberget

I have to disagree with your reasons against using the AAA chipset and 680x0 series of microprocessors. It's hard to say whether something is "too slow" or "fast enough," because those are all relative terms. For that matter, for all intents and purposes, nobody has ever seen the AAA chipset in action. But I can tell you, however, that by the numbers (hardware specifications) alone, the AAA chipset would blow the doors off the AGA chipset, and easily perform on a par with most 3rd-party graphics boards available for the Amiga today. It would not take a long time to finish it, because it was very close to completion when Commodore went bankrupt, and it is backwards-compatible with previous chipsets, meaning easy OS integration.. As far as Dave Haynie is concerned...nobody's saying he has to come back to finish the AAA chipset (I don't know why you brought that up in the first place), and although I respect him and his legacy in the Amiga community, we can't assume that just because he says something, it's automatically correct. Do you realize just what kind of power doing that would put in somebody's hands?

It would not take anywhere near six months to introduce a powerful new 680x0-based Amiga. For the last 12 years, Amigas have used the 680x0 series, and every main processor in the series has been used in one Amiga or another, including the 68060 on modern accelerator boards. My point is that the Amiga lives and breathes 680x0; everything from the hardware architecture to the operating system was designed around it. It would take a minimum of time and effort to introduce a new line of Amigas based on, say, the 68030, 68040, and 68060. That's one of my main reasons for advocating them. I do believe that the PowerPC is the next logical step after that, however, and I agree that it would benefit the Amiga greatly for its new owner to work closely with Phase 5, since they have already done some of the work involved in integrating a PowerPC into an Amiga. One thing at a time, say that a Power Amiga could be introduced in a "little more time" than a 680x0 one. Well, we don't have a little more time. The Amiga is in a rather tight spot, to say the least, and trying to bite off more than we can chew right now would surely be the final downfall.

Michael Webb

68K vs PPC?! & VIScorp

[CPU Debate]

I don't know about everyone, but I find that the best way, at least for now, to solve the 68K vs PPC question is to look at the proposed Phase 5 PowerUP Cards. Having both types of processors on the accelerator is the best answer (people can't whine that their software won't operate on their PPC machine).

These look great, and if they work as advertised, would be an amazing concept for the Amiga. Imagine...dual processors...just let that sink in... Sure, the 68K processor can only run 68K programs while the PPC could only run PPC programs. And what Amiga PPC programs exist? (None yet, but how about a look at future prospects: Personal Paint, Wordworth, Directory Opus, GPFax, Storm C, Cinema 4D (this one I can't wait to see), Image FX (ditto)... and the list goes on...)

I also figure it's only a matter of time until someone writes some 68K emulation program so that non PPC programs could run on the PPC side of things (and I'd figure that Phase 5 would need such a program for it's future A/Box.). The A/Box would also be an added incentive for people to write up some PPC ports of their programs. (Hopefully these ports would be OS friendly. :) ).

Now all we'd have to worry about would be the graphics chip set. I keep hearing that AAA is unusable, and unavailable (i.e., no one has the schematics, and the hardware disappeared)


I'm confused and relieved about that matter. At least I now know why the purchase was taking so long to finalize. VIScorp has said that it would be in its best interest to acquire and develop for the Amiga "Desktop" line but has failed to say anything more, saying that they can't commit until it's official (but why wait so long to explain this "another 30 days"?). By trying to keep our confidence in them, they unexplicably shot themselves in the foot. I'm not sure if I could count on them again...

Although I know they (VC) haven't dropped from the running, I'd rather support someone who is and has remained loyal to the Amiga (anybody like Phase 5 (who is continously making products for the Amiga even though it's been in Limbo for (virtually) forever), or QuikPak (who has Amigas still rolling down the assembly line). I just can't wait until the time that the Amiga has a stable parent company.

Stephane Desrosiers

Using dual-processor cards is an interesting idea, but there are two things to consider: for one, it would (as you suggest) only be a temporary solution, in fact hardly different from the situation we have now. I think the focus here is on the next Amiga, not on ways to continue to stretch the current design, and a computer should ultimately have one, or at least one type of, CPU (note that I do not exclude the possibility of coprocessors subordinate to the central processor). For two, we have to keep an eye on cost. The 68060 and various PowerPC's are not cheap chips. I would support your suggestion if it were offered as an extra-cost add-on to new machines, just as prospective buyers are now given the choice of a 68040 or 68060.

I again reemphasize, however, that the PowerPC is the way for the Amiga to move, if not for the supposed advantages of RISC over CISC, then for the fact that Motorola is no longer advancing the 680x0 series. However, in order to get this platform back on its feet, we have to rely on its strengths, and use what works. The upper ranges of the 680x0 are still fast enough to run most Amiga software without difficulty (recall the speed and efficiency of the Amiga OS), and would therefore represent the fastest and easiest way to get powerful new models to market. Then, once the Amiga was reestablished, the engineers could concentrate on taking it completely PowerPC.

In reference to the AAA chipset, hardware and intellectual property don't just disappear. If the new owners wanted to make a AAA chipset-based Amiga, they could.

Recent events suggest that VIScorp may not have had the Amiga's best interest in mind, and may no longer be the likely candidate for acquisition of the Amiga technology. I emphasize the word "may" in both cases. However, it's hard to loudly proclaim support for them anymore, the way things have gone. I agree that we'd probably be best with a company that has remained loyal to the Amiga, and I sincerely hope that some such company emerges victorious.

Michael Webb


One of the first vehicles I ever owned was a 1968 VW Squareback. A flat-four fuel injected monster machine. Even my mother's el-cheapo Datsun would leave me in the dust. But, I grew to really love that car. So much so that over the years, I bought more VW's. I now own 6 of them ranging from the good ole' Beetle to a Karmann Ghia.

Although VW quit making the Beetle almost 20 years ago I've managed to keep mine running and still use it as a daily driver. Tech support for these cars from the manufacturer went out the door a long time ago. Now, we support ourselves. Clubs, excellent vendors, a huge number of junk yards and some really techo-geniuses have kept the love affair alive for many years. So much so that there are still two VW enthusiast magazines in wide publication.

At about the same time I bought my VW Squareback, I bought my first computer...a Commodore Vic 20. The one with more memory than I would ever need (3.8k)! As I grew older, I began to buy more computers. I've owned C64's, 128's, Plus-4's (Yech!) and even an SX-64. Today, I own a computer store with all kinds of Punt-iums and such, but at home...I've got an Amiga 2000HD with enough external peripherals to make it look like it's connected to life support.

I've only recently gotten back into Amigas. One of the reasons was the love of the machine and it's abilities. The other was the affection shared by others who owned the machine. I sell PeeCees to an unsuspecting public all day and not once have I seen devotion to a computer like there is with the Amiga. I see people driving cars all day and nowhere do I see devotion to a vehicle like I do with the VW Beetle.

If there is any question as to whether the Amiga will die take a look at the Volkswagen Beetle. Pick up one of the VW magazines and browse through the new toys sections. You'll find turbo chargers and bolt-on fuel injection kits designed to eat V8's like candy... All this after the company quit making them YEARS ago.

Naw, the Amiga will not die. There's too great a following. It doesn't matter who owns the intellectual rights to the product. What matters is the enthusiasm of its owners. As long as we want the Amiga to live it will. I desperately need to soup mine up into a Puntium killer. And, my VW will never die. I desperately need to add a heater booster to it.

Just think, the last VW Beetle sold in the U.S. was in the late 70's and they're still around. Why, because me and a few thousand other fanatics want them to be.

Now, lemmesee...where was that web page with the cheap 060 for sale? Hummm.....

Now that you've read my commentary on the expected life of the, I'd like to say thanks for a wonderful publication. I just discovered you recently and immediately perused through most of your back issues as well (saving some for later :). I also read about the help response you gave a recent writer about how to bookmark with Lynx. For that, I'd like to give a big thank you. Hopefully, it will let some of the Amiga web page designers know that some of us are still SHELLing it out here and like it that way. And, although I see the 'Optimized for IBrowse' logo, you might want to know I had no problem Lynxing your pages.

Again, thanks for the support and best of luck...

Rod Kinnison
EPOCH Computers

This must be the month of the creative analogy...

Thanks for writing in, Rod. The parallels you draw between the Amiga and VW Beetle make it fairly clear that from the way Amiga users feel about the platform, it will probably continue on in some form for some time to come.

However, we must ask ourselves just what it would mean for the Amiga to "die." Does dying mean ceasing to exist entirely, with old machines sitting in dusty, mothballed closets somewhere, or does it simply mean central development has ceased? If the latter is true, then the Amiga has been dead for four years, although it may come back to life. Certainly the Amiga community could go on existing for, well, perhaps even decades to come, without central development. That is more or less what is happening to the Commodore 64/128 and Apple II communities. What's the difference? Those are, for the most part, I'm sorry to say, hobbyists' machines. The Amiga, fortunately, is still a full-fledged modern computer. I'd rather not see the Amiga fall into such a niche. The day "Wow, look what I can do with my Amiga!" becomes "Heheh, look what I can still do with my Amiga" (not counting old A1000's), we'll know we've permanently fallen out of the modern computer market. I hope that never happens; the Amiga should reclaim its place alongside the PC and Macintosh.

But you're definitely right in saying that the momentum that we, as the Amiga community, impart to the platform will be enough to keep it going for years to come.

Thank you for the positive comments about our magazine. As far as Lynx goes, I can say from personal experience that although I have a graphical connection to the internet, I use Lynx quite a bit as well, simply because it's very fast, and efficient with system resources (hey, that reminds me of the Amiga OS...). Although we use things like Tables in The Amiga Monitor, I try to organize them in such a way that they're still readable in Lynx. For all other Lynx users out there, I can tell you that we will continue to try to keep AM Lynx-friendly as long as it is practical to do so.

Michael Webb
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

The Amiga Monitor

Congratulations on a well-written e-zine. I am very happy to see that someone in the States can put out a user-friendly magazine which looks nice on the net. Your reviews are very informative--even to a computer-illiterate like me (at last, a review I can understand!). And the fact that it's done using an A500 gives me much encouragement as a just-finding-her-way-A500-owner.

Best wishes,
Jeanne Pool

I have just one thing to say to you, Jeanne...

A500's forever! :-)

In all seriousness, I thank you sincerely for your comments about The Amiga Monitor, and wish you the best with your Amiga system in the future. And we shall endeavor to remain the kind of magazine you, and others like you, want us to be.

Michael Webb
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

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