One thing I must be clear about before I start this article and
that is to make absolutely sure that all that read this understand
that I am a collector of computers. I am not restoring Amigas, I
am not refurbishing or repairing them. I am not an electrician.
I am not a computer specialist or programmer. And most important
I am not one of the new breed that try to remove the Amiga out
of their kit. This last tag is a little troubling as I am quite
convinced that modern users of the platform would be happy to
gut the Amiga like a fish and replace its innards with a modern
high tech new computer that simply emulates the Amiga. This group
of users is the most dangerous wave to attack the Amiga thus far.
And so what am I. Maybe it is easier to explain what I am not. I
have no technical skills in the restoration and repair of any
electrical equipment. I have not the first clue of how it works.
In terms of my interest I am primarily a collector. I am more of
a historian than a computer nerd. I like computers very much. I
have always seen the computer as the truly only way of extending
the capacity of my own mind, in a more literal way in terms of
data storage and retrieval. The processes of data manipulation
and speed of accessing is what has driven my interest for so long.
I love art and all aspects of artwork. I also like creating music,
writing books and creating fantasy worlds and cultures. The computer
feeds all these interests. I live most of my days on the computer.
With that said let me discuss the point of this thread ....
The gap between what I do and those currently using the Amiga is
growing ever larger. For me the protection and safeguarding of
the Amiga and all it stands for is paramount. For me the Amiga is
both computer and operating system as a single entity. You cannot
have one without the other. In simple terms any emulation of parts
or operation renders the application 'non-Amiga'. An Amiga sits
astride all intrusions and retains its fundamental cohesive self
worth as a stand alone unit with hardware and operating system
bonded together. The Amiga lives and breaths as a total unit.
Sadly there are those that simply seek to obtain an Amiga and
then gut the poor thing replacing with modern parts. This group
of computer users cannot survive, it seems, without the benefit
of the free lunch the internet gives, and seek all means to be
able to circumvent the floppy system so they can raid archives
on line of software and transfer to the Amiga. This involves the
replacement of the floppy drive with a USB drive/emulator.
From the perspective of historian and collector I am unable to
associate with this behaviour as it goes against everything I
hold dear in respect of the Amiga. It is vital to retain as much
of the remaining stock of Amigas, including all peripherals and
expansions plus support media, so that we can continue to fully
appreciate what it was to use an Amiga. Sadly the gutting of
the Amiga, and the consequent neglect of remaining peripherals
and add-ons, means that much of the historical past of the Amiga
is now confined to written and recorded work. There really are
becoming so few collectors of the real thing. I have provided
a simple break down of what I mean by collectables below and
use the Amiga 500 as vehicle to explore this subject.
Let me make it quite clear that each and every person is well
within their rights to do just what they want with their Amiga.
The problem I encounter is the so called ' bragging rights '
that some seek to gain by pimping out their Amiga and displaying
the results on forums. Recently one post had a 'fully' gutted
Amiga 600 with replacement other system installed, proclaiming
itself to be a new Amiga. This troubled me only in that an A600
was sacrificed for this farce, when in fact any container could
have been used to hold the emulating computer. Sadly the case
had already been destroyed to take the fake new ports, and the
poor innards and floppy ripped out and discarded.
I must say that I am bewildered by many of the activities of this
group, given that an emulator on a PC would circumvent the need
to even involve a real Amiga. When I read the ambition of some
of these so called Amiga users, my heart sinks as I fear the
death of yet another Amiga when a PC would have been equally,
if not better suited to the needs of the individual. I do now
believe that the driving force is so called bragging rights on
Anyhoo.. not to get too disheartened let me set out what qualifies
an individual as a collector of the Amiga as opposed to a wrecker.
By the way what I discuss here may be difficult for many to dream
of acquiring, but believe me when you consider there are some that
spend their down time maintaining whole railway lines and railway
stock, nobody said it was going to be easy. Sadly there are some
that are making the process a whole lot harder. Enough said.
Amiga 500 - From a collectors point of view.
The box and the contents
Most if not all Amigas would have been sold in a box.
The challenge for any collector is to establish what
was in the box and then piece together the contents.
It is very important to know exactly what went into
an Amiga box and so collecting fulfils that important
process. So if you own a box or any part of the box you
should salvage it from the loft and piece together as
many of the parts as possible. And then continue to
replenish any deficiencies. Your aim is to get a complete
boxed content set including books, disks and even plastic
bags and tie clips.
Next up comes the actual Amiga itself. This is about
having an Amiga case that would have been the exact
case sold with the computer's serial number. There are
ways to establish whether this is the case, but the
easiest way is to have the warranty sticker in place.
The actual case discolouring is 'NOT' important. We
are not restoring, we are collecting. Therefore a case
that is complete and is a total entity with matching
inside and outside serial number is the key. Often the
outer box also carried the serial number.
The Floppy Drive
The computer must have an internal floppy drive. Without
an internal floppy drive the computer is not an Amiga.
The Gotek emulator is just a tool to facilitate internet
downloads for gamers. This group of users are not collectors.
Very useful to collecting are peripherals. The Amiga 500
had a number of peripherals and actually did have purpose
made floppy drives. Remember, as many external floppy drives
as possible is a great boon to the collection.
Amiga DD Disks
The DD lifeblood of the Amiga is truly where it begins and
ends with the collection. This should be your holy grail
and main challenge as a collector. You must assemble the
near impossible challenge of as large a collection of
real Amiga DD disks and not copies. The actual disks plus
the manuals and boxes. Copies will not cut it. You cannot
trust a copy to represent the content of a disk. Remember
that the internet is an illusion.
Understand your motherboard. You may skip this if you have
a warranty sticker in place. Check the board revision and
check the layout against known images on line. Make notes
of all your chips and components. The Amiga is a unique beast
as you are custodian over its serial number. The whole
package is so important. Record, record and then record
Celebrate what you have and not what some nobody wants you
to make it into. Avoid the wrecking balls.
Obtain 'GetKick' software and copy your ROM. What ever it is.
Understanding the ROM fitted is so important. You may have
been upgraded. This may have been enhanced to include an
upgraded AGNUS, RAM and DENISE. This needs to be evaluated.
There are no issues with adding RAM cards and these can
take on a whole range of models and types. If you have
one then record it and check its status with AVAIL from
the SHELL/CLI. Note if it has any wires or switches. These
may interact with switchers in the computer.
Remove any destructive barrel batteries. In the case of the
A501 RAM expansion this will involve opening the shiny metal
case and removing the battery. They corrode the motherboard.
My advice to any 'collector' is never load the Amiga with new
kit without first having circuits, capacitors, transistors
and PSU fully checked by an electrician. I will leave it there.
External Hard Drives
The external hard drive is an acceptable addition to
the Amiga 500. They slot into the side expansion and
have their own power supply. In addition it is possible
to add RAM, SCSI and even an accelerator via the side car.
You will be lucky to acquire any internal cards of the
era. It is possible but not essential. Again as a collector
only fit cards of the A500 era. My comments about checking
circuits apply here more so than the RAM cards. I have read
way too many reports from users of failed computers following
installing any modern gadget. Be safe and check the power of
the computer plus its circuits etc.
Your eventual aim is to build a retro workstation that is
a snapshot of history from when your Amiga actually existed.
So put together your Amiga complete with monitor, hard drive
external floppy drive, mouse, joystick and disks using the
authentic products of the period. Build a world around your
Amiga supported by the things you 'COLLECT'. That includes
magazines, boxed games and software etc.
What You Do
If all you want to do is play games then seriously give
up and get an emulator. You are not a collector. Gaming
is important to the platform but never forget that the
Amiga is a 'computer'. You need to understand how to use
the Amiga from the SHELL . So get books, software.
Build up your collections of known products and keep
building. Games should always be boxed and you should
take as much care recording the contents as you do with
the actual computer box. Knowing what came in the box is
what collecting is all about.
Don't forget the demos, disk magazines, music collections
slide-shows, meeting disks and all the PD stuff. The list
is endless and you must only collect the real deal.
Learn AmigaDOS. LEARN AMIGADOS.... very important.
Eat my Shorts
Never give in to your challenge. There is a world beyond
the internet. Your goal is to become self sufficient in
your activities and never need the support of others.
Obtain only original disks and support manuals and learn
how to run your system without the use of the internet.
Only then will you fully appreciate what it was to be an
Amigan. It is not something you can appreciate without
cutting the thread from the outside world.
Why Bart Simpson ? Bart was in truth a non-conformer. He
had a devious mind that always asked the question why are
you telling me to do this when I would prefer to do that.
So when you find a locked door, or a sign pointing you
another way, just take a page from Bart's book of life and
use the WOOD, and drive the golf ball off the green and into
the car park. There are no rules when you are free from the
internet. No prying eyes from Google, no cookie data miners.
When you become fluent in the use of your Amiga and have all
that you need at your disposal you will have attained a level
of freedom that few using their pimped Amigas will ever truly
understand. Its 'Bart-Vana' .. where the only rules that
apply are the ones you choose to accept.
Then and only then will you be a collector.
So what is a Ghost Buster ? That my friend is a
secret that I will take to the grave.
'Got a date with a ghost'