AMIGA alive

AMIGA alive

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Amiga quiz on

Popular german IT news site Heise has created an Amiga quiz for everyone to test his/her knowledge about our platform.

If you've spent some time with your Amiga, the questions should be pretty easy to answer correctly, probably even if you don't speak german.

But it's a good opportunity to refresh your memory - and to show the world we're still here!

I just scored 290 points - can you beat my result? :-)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Amiga 4000 mainboard goes opensource!

Amiga 4000 mainboards are becoming rare these days, and are difficult to repair. But there's hope in sight. A lot of hope. In fact so much hope that you can almost grab a new one! Yes, we can make this happen!

Paul Rezendes from California, USA, has started a funding campaign to have PCB data files professionally recreated from an Amiga 4000 mainboard, and publish these under open-source license.

(This does not include any boards actually being produced - it's only about the data files required to do so.)

Now let's think about this for a second. First thing that comes to mind is that some hardcore Amigans will produce a few new mainboard from the data files, for repairs, or maybe build an A4000. But the really exciting stuff starts when people start modifying the PCB. Just imagine the possibilities... PCI onboard, a new low-cost CPU card connector, streamlined design getting rid of old/unused components, scandoubler onboard, (Mini)ATX formfactor, ...this has the potential to become a quantum-leap forward in Amiga hardware development like the Vampire boards are!

Here's Paul's GoFundMe campaign page:

Note that GoFundMe does not accept PayPal - if you want to donate using PayPal, the guys from Amiga On The Lake are watching this campaign, too, and are happy to receive your donation and forward it to Paul Rezendes' GoFundMe account!

Now head over to GoFundMe or Amiga On The Lake, and make your donation!
We're almost there! Yes, we CAN make this happen!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

"Traces" - "Blender" was born on Amiga

Did you know "Blender" had a precursor? And it's Amiga software?

3D artist and photographer Piotr Zgodziński has held an interview with Ton Roosendaal, original primary author of the well known and widely used "Blender" 3D graphics software, and published an article, including the interview, some Blender history, and information about "Traces" - the earliest precursor to Blender, made on Amiga!

It's a very interesting article, with lots of screenshots of "Traces", and maybe best of all: usage instructions, executable and sourcecode!

"Traces" is another example of the impact the Amiga platform had at the time. Like Samplitude, Cinema4D, LightWave, and many other applications, Traces/Blender was developed on the Amiga due to it's groundbreaking hardware capabilities, and would later spread to other platforms, becoming an industry standard.

Click the link below to head over to Piotr Zgodzińsk's website, read the article and get "Traces"!

Note that at the end of the interview is a link to another (video) interview held with Mr. Roosendaal about the history of Blender. At approx. 7:16 in the video, he mentions the Amiga computers in use at his company "NeoGeo" from 1989 to 1991.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

60 new links in the AMIGA alive Web Directory

Massive update to the AMIGA alive Web Directory - now 285 websites listed!

With new sections "Demoscene" and "MorphOS", and 60 new links added.
Happy surfin'!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

New page: The AMIGA alive Web Directory

Did you notice we have a new page? It's the AMIGA alive Web Directory, with more than 200 links to Amiga-related websites! Happy surfin'!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rarest of the rare: The Commodore Amiga CD1200

The arrival of CD-technology for personal computers caused a huge shift in software development and user experience. The added storage capacity led to a hugely increased amount of content delivered with a software title. Gone were the days of swapping floppy disks, now a single CD could deliver everything required, and much more. CD was everything and everywhere.

Commodore's CDTV, with a built-in CD-ROM drive, was an early attempt, but the underlying original Amiga hardware wouldn't benefit too much from a CD drive, and there was simply not much experience in how to make good use of the CD's extra capabilities. But after the PC and Apple Macintosh market had established the technology and created a demand for added content, it became a must for the Amiga, too. The only Amiga model to make full use of CD-technology is the CD32 console, booting from CD without any additional setup, playing back full motion video and integrating the Amiga's audio with the CD's 16-bit audio tracks.

Wait. The only Amiga model? No. In fact there was another Amiga model that could do the same things, of which nine units were built, and only one is known to still exist today. It's probably the rarest of all (near) market-ready Commodore Amiga developments. It's the legend, the one that should have boosted sales to new heights, potentially saving Commodore from bankruptcy.

It's the Commodore Amiga CD1200.

Just to avoid confusion, we're talking about the "Commodore Amiga CD1200" - not the "Commodore CD 1200 Controller" for the CDTV, or the "Alfa Data CD1200" PCMCIA controller for the Amiga 1200.

It's a CD-ROM drive to be connected to an Amiga 1200, and with a little extra. It has a custom "Data Input" connector, that connects to an expansion board in the Amiga 1200's internal expansion port via cabling routed through the Amiga 1200's backside blanking plate. It also routes Amiga audio signals through, merging them with CD-audio. The expansion board adds a FastRAM SIMM slot, and - in a proposed later model - would have had another custom chip, and room for a 68030 CPU upgrade.

The CD1200 was presented to the public at the CeBIT 1994 show in Han(n)over, Germany. It's goal was to unite and boost Amiga CD32 and Amiga 1200 hardware and software sales, by being compatible with the former, and adding a CD drive to the latter.

You can read about the CD1200 in Amiga Format's first-hand post-CeBIT report:

Now what makes the CD1200 such a rare piece? Well, first of all, according to Beth Richard, lead engineer on the project, only nine prototype units were built.

Eight of them got lost in the turmoil of Commodore's bankruptcy, and only one unit resurfaced. And even that one wasn't instantly recognized as the rarity it is.

Listen to Andy Spencer from the Retro Computer Museum Leicester retell the story of discovering the unique CD1200 in a dusty barn (video by The Centre for Computing History):

But the true recognition of the CD1200 came after Ravi Abbot had been visiting the Retro Computer Museum Leicester, and published his video about it in November 2016:

Established YouTuber Dan "" Wood has picked up the subject, and had a more in-depth talk with Andy, and Ex-Commodore UK's David Pleasance. His video of December 2017 covers the unsuccessful search for other CD1200 units still in existence, the rediscovered CD1200's relocation from the back of the museum to a more prominent place, and lots of details from Andy and David:

Would the CD1200 have been able to save Commodore? Well, maybe. In 1994 Sony scored a huge hit with it's Playstation console, which has a CD drive, but also offers hardware 3D acceleration and 16-bit 24-channel sound. A CD-drive had become a must-have, but chipset development and platform architecture had also been moving forward rapidly. A CD32, or CD1200-equipped Amiga 1200, wouldn't have been able to compete with PC and console development for a long time, but maybe CD1200 sales, and now-CD32-compatible Amiga 1200 hardware and software sales would've bought Commodore enough time to release the next generation of CD1200 with CPU upgrade, and so on. But it's just speculation.

For Amiga 1200 users it would have been a fantastic addition, with a 68030 CPU on board, especially due to the beautiful design that matches the Amiga 1200 one's. And Amiga CD32 owners would certainly envy the added horsepower, memory, keyboard and i/o-ports.

From todays point of view it would of course just be great to have such a device, in whatever condition or configuration, because it's sooo Commodore Amiga. The fact that there's presumably only this particular one in existence, a rare piece from the last days of Commodore, makes it pretty much the collector's item par excellence. Time will show if maybe another CD1200 exists - maybe it resurfaces due to the raised interest created by discovering and exposing this one.

Until then, all we can do is visit the Retro Computer Museum Leicester and feast our eyes on the one that's there.

All we can do? Amigans weren't Amigans if they weren't willing to do something about that. Yes, there is some minor activity going on: A facebook group is dedicated to resurrecting the CD1200.

In the video by The Centre for Computing History (see above), Andy Spencer says he'd like to open up his CD1200 one day, and maybe, together with the pictures published in magazines, and knowhow from people involved with the project, this will give the insight required to recreate the CD1200 and it's expansion board.

Nothing has materialized yet, but who knows, they also said Doom can't be done on the Amiga...

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For your nostalgia-needs, here's another video presenting the CD1200 - note the fake Amiga 1200 case with a built-in CD1200, which is impossible due to CD size, but an intriguing idea:

Some magazine reports about the Commodore Amiga CD1200:

CU Amiga, issue 128, May 1994

CU Amiga, issue 054, August 1994

Amiga Format, issue 59, May 1994

Amiga Format, issue 66, December 1994

Amiga User International, Vol. 8 No. 6, July 1994

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Thanks for reading!

Do you have more information about the Commodore Amiga CD1200? Did you spot a mistake in the above article? Please leave a comment!

Additional sources: