Commodore Amiga Retro

Amiga Format

AMIGA FORMAT: Issue 130 Dec 1999

Its Amiga Format for Dec 1999 again
and that full list of fifty things
you should know about your Amiga...


1: The A1000 has the signatures of all the Amiga
designers in it, including Mitchy the dog.

2: The A4000`s chip memory jumper that allows
you to switch between 2 and 8MB chip RAM ( it
doesn`t work before you get your hopes up )
was termed the "free beer" jumper by Dave Haynie.

3: The A4000, and AGA, were originally intended
as upgrades for the A3000. You were going to be
able to buy a replacement motherboard with AGA,
Ethernet and DSP, but still with SCSI and a
hardware flicker fixer. Commodore got stuck in
and made the A4000 the way it is today.

4: The original name for a system software failure
on the Amiga was a Guru Meditation. The name comes
from the early pre-Commodore days of Amiga development.
As a smoke-screen for their real activities, the
Amiga /HiTorro team pretended to be making joysticks
and other game controllers. One of their designs
was for a joyboard - a surfboard which could be used
as a input device. When a software failure befell
one of the gurus creating the OS, he had to sit on
the joyboard and meditate.

5: AmigaOS will be largely unaffected by the millennium
bug that is causing panic in the majority of the
computing world. The AmigaOS timer.device measures
system time as the number of seconds that have elapsed
since January 1 1978 - which it stores as a 32-bit
number. This will overflow some time in 2114. Problems
occur with some other AmigaOS components, however, since
they treat this 32-bit number as signed. From January
19th 2046 03:14:07 the number of seconds elapsed will
be negative and so the date will be invalid.

6: Sam Jordon, the creator of the WarpUp PowerPC kernel
for the Amiga, is a bit of a Trekkie. One of WarpUps
housekeeping tasks is called Enterprise and another

7: Amiga spotting is a popular past-time for the die
hard Amiga enthusiasts. It involves noting down every
television and film appearance made by an Amiga
computer. Amigas have popped up in Red Dwarf,
Inspector Morse, The Krypton Factor, The Net, Rolf`s
Cartoon Club, Sledgehammer and The Bill.

8: Although by default Arexx is assigned to S: on a
standard start-up sequence, one of the first changes
you should make is to assign it to its own directory,
saving your S: directory from getting clogged up.

9: If you use Directory Opus as a Workbench
replacement you can find a couple of hidden features
there too. One is to open the About requester, hold
down Shift then click on the animated logo repeatedly.
The other is to make use of the Eliza program in
the Opus shell by typing "Help me eliza!".

10: The first replacement case for the Amiga - A1500
from Checkmate Digital - was tested for strength
in Amiga Format by standing on it....

11: The word Amiga is not Spanish for girlfriend
that would be `novia`. It just means `female friend`
There you see, your not that sad, your girlfriend
isn`t made silicon, plastic and metal.

12: The names of the custom chipset originated out
of a need for secrecy, much as the original name
for the Amiga - Lorriane - did, It made it easy
to talk about the work in a bar without giving the
game away ( although the conversations must have
sounded pretty strange to outsiders )

13: Although the official Commodore Installer is
the default used by programs for their installation,
it has never been installed itself with a Workbench

14: ARexx, the Amiga implementation of Rexx was written
way back in 1987 by William S Hawes. However, it didn`t
start to gain in popularity until it was bundled in free
with Workbench 2. Nowadays, its very rare to find a
program that doesn’t have some kind of ARexx port, making
the Amiga the most interconnected machine out there.

15: Although it seems strange for Amiga to be including
third-party software in OS3.5, most of the decent software
included with Workbench versions from 1.2 was actually
written by outsider agencies and licensed by Commodore,
including ARexx, CrossDOS, Colorfonts and MicroEMACS.

16: Work on the Amiga started back in 1982 and the
original investors that came up with the cash to build
the machine were three dentists.

17: Jay Miner the `father of the Amiga` also designed
the Atari 8-bit range and the Lynx for Atari.

18: People inside the Disney Corporation, Lucasfilm,
Virgin, Stena Sealink, the Barbican theatre used Amigas.

19: Once upon a time, what are now the two Amiga keys
on your keyboard used to have a Commodore logo and the
familiar Amiga `A` on them.

20: Donut format high density disks as double density
(880KB) disks. They become far less reliable when
you do that. If you donut have a high density drive,
donut use high density disks.

21: Its not a good idea to run Workbench 3.1 on
Kickstart 3.0 ROM chips. Although you might not get into
trouble, this combination can cause problems with
datatypes, graphic cards and ATAPI devices. You’ll
need Kickstart 3.1 for when you upgrade to Workbench 3.5

22: Our CD`s are snapshot using fonts that can be found
on the CD every issue. We use FuturaB/12 for the screen
font, and XHelvetica/11 for the icons. If you use these
fonts you’ll find that the snapshotting will be perfect.

23: The more partitions you have on a hard disk, the
more memory you lose when you boot your machine. A good
compromise is to have three or four drives, one for
Workbench, one for programs ( and if you have another
partition you can divide it into two - for instance work
and games ) and one for data, where you can keep all
your pictures, sounds and other files. This should also
make it easier to back up your drive since you probably
wont need to back up the work or games partition too
often - just concentrate on the ever-changing Workbench
and Data partitions.

24: Keyboard shortcuts make life a lot easier. Most
programs these days make use of RA-q to quit, but they
are also likely to use the following:

RA-x .....cut

25: The ConClip function called in the start-up sequence
allows you to copy text from the shell. You can also use
MCX or MCP`s EditHook function to allow you to copy text
from textfields, or requesters. a lot of MUI textfields
also have this ability, meaning that you have to do far
less retyping of important text.

26: If you open up your Amiga, you must give sacrifice
to the Blood God. Without doing so you’ll almost certainly
find that your machine doesn’t work properly when you
put it back together again. The sacrifice usually takes
the form of an irritating scrape of the knuckles across
the cheese grater-like surface of the back of a Zorro
daughterboard, or the slicing open of the fingers
on an unfinished piece of your Amiga casing.

27: Possible the least used command in AmigaDOSis AmgTape.
Its purpose is to control tape drive back-ups. The
second least used command is probably DiskChange. Its
intended use is to notify AmigaOS of when a new
floppy is inserted into a 5.25" drive. Unlike
conventional Amiga floppy drives these didn’t support
a hardware disk change line.

28: The name Zorro - which applies to the Amiga`s
proprietary expansion bus - is derived from the
codename of the first A1000 prototype board to
feature an implementation of this bus.

29: A tool called Disk Doctor was shipped with
Workbench up to version 1.3 for repairing damaged
disks. It relabelled disks that it resurrected
as Lazarus. Disk Doctor wasn’t any good at its job
and was dropped with the advent of WB2.0.

30. CDTV, the first Amiga-based venture into the
digital convergence market doesn’t stand for what
you might think. It actually means Commodore Dynamic
Total Vision.

31: One of the first designs for a next generation
Amiga was Commodores`s Hombre system based around
a Hewlett-Packard HP-PA RISC processor.

32: The titles of various B52`s songs are written on
several of the Amiga models` motherboards. The A500
has the legend `Rock Lobster`, the A600 has `Junebug`
and the A1200 `Channel Z`.

33: If you forget the syntax of a shell command, you
can get a reminder by entering the command name
followed by a question mark. For example, typing
Copy ? will display..
This is the argument template for the copy command, a
comma-separated list of all its perimeters. Each
perameter may also have a modifier specified to define
its type.

34: The first thing that the Amiga does when you turn
on the power is to perform a check on its hardware. If
any of these tests fails, it will be signified by the
screen changing to a particular colour.

Colour - Reason
Red An error was found in the ROM
Green An error was found in the Chip RAM
Blue An error was found in the custom chips
Yellow The CPU found an error before the error
trapping software could be activated.

The keyboard processor also performs a self test. If
this fails the Caps Lock light will flash.

35: You don`t actually need a mouse to control Workbench:
the mouse controls can be simulated from the keyboard.
Press and hold down the left Amiga key. Then pressing
the cursors will move the pointer, left Alt will operate
as the left mouse button, Alt will operate as the
right mouse button.

36: Do you ever get annoyed at being interrupted by a system
requester while typing ? You don`t have to reach for the
mouse: requesters can be replied to with keyboard shortcuts.
LAmiga+V operates the leftmost button, LAmiga+B the right

37: The Amiga was intended to have a better DOS than it did.
Due to financial problems the original project was dropped
and the emergency back-up plan used instead. AmigaDOS
as we know it was created by the British company MetaComCo,
written in BCPL ( a forerunner of C ) and based on their
experimental TripOS. The inconsistencies between the BCPL
interface of dos.library and the C interface of the rest
of the OS has been a thorn in the side of Amiga developers
ever since.

38: The Amiga`s famous HAM screenmode was an experiment by
Jay Miner after seeing a flight simulator in action. The
original specification for the Amiga chipset was for
composite video output only. When Commodore agreed to
have RGB output as well, Jay said there was no need
for the HAM mode and wanted it removed from the final
silicon. However, since removing it would have left a
gaping hole in the chip or required a costly redesign,
it stayed. The rest is history.

39: Where are they now -
Jay Miner - deceased
Carl Sassenrath - President Rebol
RJ Mical - Former VP 3DO
Dale Luck - Master Software Architect 3DO
Andy Finkel - Met@box Infonet
Dave Haynie - V.P. Technology Met@box Infonet
Michael Sinz - NextBus ( produces information for PT )

40: You do not actually need a scandoubler to display
your Amiga`s native video output on a VGA monitor,
although you will probably require a 23pin-15pin converter
so that you can connect the VGA lead to your Amiga`s
RGB port. If the VGAOnly monitors driver is present
in your DEVS:Monitors drawer then the Multiscan, DblPAL
and DblNTSC modes get tweaked to VGA frequencies.
Also if you specify the Mode Promotion option in
Workbench`s IControl prefs, then AmigaOS will open
DblPAL and DblNTSC modes when PAL and NTSC are
requested, respectively. You will still have problems
with OS-unfriendly software, particularly games.

41: ARexx is one of the Amiga`s most powerful features.
It is a scripting language which can be used to
communicate with application software, and even to
transfer data between packages which otherwise would
not be capable of co-operation. The RexxMast program
your Workbench System Drawer, must be run before any
ARexx scripts can be executed. This is not performed
by default Workbench setup. To correct this, you can
either drag RexxMast to your WBstartup drawer or add
the following line to your user-startup file ( located
in the s directory of your boot disk ) with a text
editor.. Run >NIL SYS:System/RexxMast.

42: You can type accented characters on the Amiga
like Acute ( aigu ) Alt+f then letter.

43: AmigaBASIC, the version of Microsoft BASIC that
was shipped with AmigaOS up to release 1.3 is not
very Amiga friendly. It multitasks poorly, uses some
68000 instructions which are privileged on higher
processors and will not work on machines with 32-bit
memory such as A1200`s with an accelerator card.

44: The AmigaShell can be frustrating for those brought
up on UNIX because at first sight it seems to lack
some important features. This is not actually true,
it`s just that some features are well hidden. For
example, the Amiga equivalent of the UNIX ''. to
represent the current directory is simply the empty
string "". To copy the file RAM:foobar to the current
directory, type :

Copy RAM:foobar ""

By default, the AmigaShell does not handle pipes very
well. This can be improved with the Pipe command. However,
it is not shipped with AmigaOS by default, but is
available from the Aminet at util/cli/finkelshelltools.lha.
you can then do things like:

Pipe List | More

to display the contents of the current directory with

45: It is possible to use hard disks greater than 4GB
in size with the current AmigaOS, but care should
be taken. This is because the majority of software,
including the FastFile System itself, accesses disks
via 32-bit arithmetic: the largest number that can be
stored is a 32-bit number is equivalent to 4GB. Some
programs even use signed arithmetic, meaning +/- 2GB
are the limits . There are various possible solutions.
Use a patched version of FFS or a replacement filesystem
such as PFS2. It is still a good idea to keep partition
sizes smaller than 2GB and remember when formatting
partitions that are located after the 4GB limit on the
disk to perform a quick format only. All of these
problems are fixed in the forthcoming update to AmigaOS,
OS3.5. It will ship with new versions of FFS, Format
and HDToolBox all capable of handling large capacity

46: The Early Start-up Screen was an invaluable
addition of AmigaOS 3.0. This screen is accessed
by holding down both mouse buttons while powering
up or resetting the machine . It provides controls
to select the device you wish to boot from, disable
any partitions or devices, turn off CPU caches and
force the AGA chipset to emulate earlier ECS or
OCS versions. These last two are particularly
useful when trying to get old software ( particularly
games ) to work on expanded machines.

47: Workbench 1.2/1.3 Messages - These messages were
included with Workbench /Kickstart 1.2. To se them
hold down both Alt and both Shift keys and press the
following function keys. If you don`t have have enough
time to see them then select "Last Error" from the
workbench menu.

F1: System Software: Carl, Neil & Kodiak
F2: Graphics Software: Dale, Bart, Jim & =RJ=
F3: QA: Jon, Bruce, Stan , Kim & Jerry
F4: LG Support: Caryn, Dave , Victor, Terry, Cheryl
& Nancy
F5: CBM software: Andy, Barry, Dave & Eric
F6: Pics: Sheryl & Jack
F7: Docs: Rick, Mitch, Peggy & Rob
F8: Chips: Jay, Akio, Glenn, Edwin, Mark & Dave
F9: HW: Dave, Bill, ChrisR & Josh
F10: Moral support: Joe Pillow & The Dancing Fools

Now press both Alts, both Shifts, press any other
function keys and eject DF0: all at once and you`ll
see :

The Amiga, Born a Champion

48: Workbench 2.04 Messages:

Launch a program from Workbench ( anything
will do, I used calculator ), click back on
Workbench, then select the following menu items
while you hold down the Control, both Alts and
both Shift keys. Let go of the right mouse
button first then the keys and the appropriate
messages will appear in the menu bar.

Quit We made it...
Backdrop Better than ever !
Execute OS Group: Bryce, Michael
Peter, Darren, Randell
Update GFX: Allan, Bart, Spence
Steve, Chris, Ray
Redraw SP: Eric, Martin H, Bill,
Martin T., Brian, Kevin
Last Message Other: Andy, Dale, Jimm,
Kodiak, Ned, Porter,
Carolyn, David, Cats, QA
About Thanks to Bill Hawes,
Software Distillery

49: Workbench 3.0 Messages - There are two
ways of going about this. The first is to make
sure that you don`t have more than 15 tasks running
on Workbench ( the easiest way to boot without start-up
sequence, load setpatch, assign env: to envarch: and
type loadwb - as long as you don`t have anything in
WBStartup. If you do rename the drawer before you start )
Then hold down both Alts, both Shifts and the Control
key and start opening About requesters. Don`t close
them, but keep opening new ones and the fifteenth one
you open should have the secret message...

We made it... OS Group: M.Sinz, P.Cherna
D.Greenwald, R.Jesup GFX: S.Shanson, C.Green,
B.Whitebook, A.Havemose Sp: E.Cotton, M.Taillefer,
D.Junod, P.Pawlik, K.Kuwata Net: B.Jackson, G.Miller
K.Dyke. Others: Bryce, Jimm, Duck, Kodiak, Porter,
Lauren Others: Andy, Carolyn, Steve, Ned, CATS, SA.

50: Workbench 3.1 Messages - The same applies..

We made it ... OS Group: M.Sinz, D.Greenwald,
R.Jesup, J.Horanoff GFX: S.Shanson, C. Green, J. Barklay
GUI: P.Cherna, M. Taillefer, D. Junod, K. Kuwata
NET: B. Jackson, G. Miller, K. Dyke SP: E. Cotton,
P.Pawlik Others: Porter, Bryce, Lauren, Others:
a Havemose, Ned, Carolyn, CATS.

50 Things you should know about your Amiga was
brought to you by Ben Vost and Richard Drummond
for Issue 130 of Amiga Format Dec 1999.

Amiga Format produced and published
by Future Publishing.

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Last updated 07/10/06