I listened with interest to a Dave Haynie interview that I must
have listened to at least two dozen times before, but this time
I was struck more by his half comments and often a point blank
refusal to be drawn on certain issues. To me I sensed a truth
that maybe, just maybe, the Amiga was born out of the hard work
of some very skilled and talented engineers at Commodore, who
maybe didn't get the true recognition they deserved. Dunno.
Dave made some interesting comments about the sidecar and the
preoccupation with some to get the Amiga running like an IBM and
he for one couldn't understand that. He was obviously very very
frustrated at the shelving of a lot of his work particularly on
the 3000Plus and the failure to incorporate many of the features
into the later models.
He also recognised that the Amiga 1200 was a good product because
the team had been left to do their jobs without much interference.
To me there was a distinct break in the development of the Amiga
from the originating team and the teams set up specifically by
Commodore to develop the 500 and 2000. It is clear that the desire
by Jay to produce an IBM style machine which the 1000 kinda tries
to emulate was washed away by the C128 budget style that basically
grew out of the C64C to become the A500 and then A1200. For me
the best machine Commodore created from a design perspective.
Big boxes will always be just big boxes. And whilst the 3000 does
follow on from some of the early design shaping of the C128D I sense
that the 2000 and 4000 really failed to become anything other than
tin boxes with an Amiga inside.
In terms of the OS it is often forgotten that whilst the originating
team were most creative in putting together the hardware they kinda
failed hopelessly at getting the OS sorted. Dr Tim King came to the
rescue with Tripos following the CAOS debarkle.
I'm not bad mouthing in any way the hard work and creative talents
of the originating team but to be successful as a creative designer
you certainly have to be skilled at many things and not just part
of the package. Amiga failed originally to make their business work
and relied on good fortune in truth, given that had Commodore not
stepped in they would have lost it all to Atari.
I am still convinced that Commodore basically were looking for a
gaming console to fit into their line of computers. Ironically
it took till 1993 for the team to deliver that with the CD32. The
conflict that the Amiga initiated at Commodore was destructive
insomuch that it became a threat to the very product they were
already producing. The C64 was an incredibly successful computer
and the C128 was battling to become a business machine. Sadly CPM
was going to be a real issue with the systems and the engineers that
once were confident of a Commodore world market suddenly relied on
the Amiga to become the standard bearer.
In the end it was the teams set up to build the Amiga at Commodore
after the originating team of the 1000 was disbanded that actually
created the successful range of Amiga machines that we know and love.
When you look at the Amiga 1000 and set it alongside the later models
you can actually sense a different quality of product. For me the
1000 is an odd beast and doesn't fit well with the range. It is
clumsy, badly fabricated and feels half finished. Whereas the 500
feels like the complete package as does the A1200.
So why do I make this point. [ deep sigh ]. I can actually see a
blood line in the Commodore machines that stem from the VIC20. The
range not only developed the base computer but the peripherals also.
There was a clean design ethic and I sense the Amiga came along to
give the line the boost it needed to develop the systems. If you
could rewrite the lines it would have probably gone VIC, C64, C64C,
C128, A500, A1200 and then the 3000Plus[budget] and onward. The
difference there was the 1000 and the fact Commodore went bankrupt.
I don't think there was any real development of the computer beyond
the 1200 in truth. A shame really. And the sigh ... [ deep sigh ]
Well... Dave Haynie and the teams working around him could only
create the magic they couldn't administer it. And that I sense was
absent from the interviews. Kinda what's not said that hurts most.
Final comment .. Let's raise a glass to Dr Tim King. Also an unsung
hero of the Amiga who shaped the world we grew to know and love. I
also would send Dave some nuts if I could remember the name.
[ Factoid ]
The original Amiga had planned to use CAOS or Commodore Amiga Operating
System. When this fell through they decided on Tripos written by Dr Tim
King from Cambridge who created a company called MetaComCo to rewrite
Tripos for the Amiga.
Tripos [ AmigaOS ] was written in the BCPL langauge not C though later
versions were replaced with a combination of C and Assembler.
ABasic was placed on the early Kickstart disk because the basic interpreter
ordered from Microsoft by Commodore wasn't ready. Interestingly Dr T's
BASIC had been produced by Digital Research Dr-DOS and was called DR-Basic
and was also written in BCPL and was easy to port to the Amiga.
Now go research BCPL ... or not