The Midwest Amiga Exposition

Beth's report on a significant annual Amiga gathering, 1997 edition - but considering corporate Amiga's actions there, was the show really able to live up to its billing?

By Beth Wise, Contributing Editor,

Well, I'm back from my second Amiga show. After the Gateway Computer Show in St. Louis this spring, I was quite fired up and very hopeful about the future of the Amiga. We had been hearing rumors of bidding wars over Amiga Technologies, and one of those companies was due at the show and never made it. More rumors flew, most of them optimistic. By the time we left, we were positively bubbling with enthusiasm over the future of the Amiga. I wish I could say the same about the Midwest Amiga Expo on November 1-2.

Don't get me wrong, the whole show was impressive - from the users who attended to the Amigas Inc. and Int. reps who were there. I was very pleased with the attitudes of the users. A high-profile company has just bought our beloved computer, there is the promise of all the funds the Amiga needs to get back on its feet, and there are rumors afoot about new developments in the near future. The mood of the users was very high and it showed. Everyone was in good spirits, talking about the future and discussing what they, as a group, might be able to do for the Amiga. At the risk of becoming maudlin, one could see the soul of the Amiga at the show.

The representatives of the two Amiga companies that I saw, Joe Torre and Petro Tyschtschenko, were equally impressive, but not for the same reasons. It's rare that one gets to see such talent in evasion and doublespeak. At first, your hopes are lifted and a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling comes over you. But after a while, you start to think back and you realize that you've been told nothing new and nothing particularly heartening, but by damn - that rep is already long gone and you can't ask any more questions. Imagine that. After the last few years of watching the backsliding of the Amiga I've become rather cynical, so I thought at first maybe I was just seeing and hearing things. After speaking to many other people at the show, however, I realized I wasn't alone in my opinions. A lot of the people at the show felt like they were being left out in the cold. These are the people who stuck with the Amiga in a PC-dominated country, providing Amigas Inc. and Int. a market to come back to, and the consensus among them was that the companies had become aloof and unreachable. Mr. Tyschtschenko's keynote speech seemed to deliver the hardest blow. Most of the speech consisted of a history of the Amiga, with hints of news to come. When asked what that news was he said, repeatedly, "Come to Cologne." As if. It was as if he was saying "We'd rather tell Europe. You guys will just have to wait."

Granted, the Cologne show (which took place November 14-16) is much larger than the Midwest Amiga Expo, and the Amiga has always had a stronger market in Europe than in the US, but was it necessary to put it in such a way as to appear to be blowing off the North American users, and with them the massive marketing potential they provide? If he had said something along the lines of "We're working on some new developments, but we aren't ready to make them public at this time," I imagine many people wouldn't have felt like they were being kicked aside. Might I suggest some lessons in diplomacy for Mr. Tyschtschenko? Lesson number one: Don't insult the people who have stuck by you for four years against all odds, without whom you wouldn't have a company to come back to.

One thing that was made clear at the show is that Gateway is not in the picture at all, except as a bank of sorts. They bought the technology, gave Amiga International a large amount of money to work with, then backed off. All of you who are waiting for a press announcement from Gateway about the Amiga can stop waiting now. It won't be happening. Essentially what they did was give the Amiga a fresh start and the capital to make something of it.

The show turned out to be a mixture of good and... well, not so good. I suppose that's just the way life - and particularly the business world - works. The users are still sticking by their computer and no one really knows what the companies are doing. After talking to one representative, I'm not convinced they do either. I suppose we'll all trudge on just like we always have and maybe things will work out in the end.

Columbus may have discovered America, but America did not rediscover the Amiga in Columbus.