You could be forgiven for thinking there was never an official
release of Amiga Workbench 3.1. Very similar to what happened to
the A-500 Plus the launch of this product did not make any kind
or ripple, let alone headline. Sadly the whole process was marred
by the fact that Commodore went bust so I guess that could be
reason enough for the lack of publicity.
The disks that I show in Part 1 of this blog were development
disks released in November 1993 to aid CD32 and CDTV software
development. The readme states that at the time of writing the
OS3.1 software had only been released for the CD32. Some time
in 1994 it was released with the Amiga 4000T but with a reported
400 only ever being made it hardly made it into the world.
1994 was a buzz with news of the Amiga 1200CD side expansion and
so development of the 3.1 Workbench would have been crucial. The
events that followed with the collapse of Commodore were to render
the ambition of the CD expansion mute, as it simply got washed
away in the storm that was to follow.
Commodore were unable to distribute the new OS themselves and so
chose to partner with VillageTronic who entered into a license
agreement where they paid Commodore for a licence for each of
the software packages they sold. From what I can see from the
actual file dates on the software it looks like OS3.1 was being
shipped some time after July 1994.
Interestingly, in August 1994 a company called Blittersoft were
authorised to sell updates of the 3.1 software and ROM for the
now defunct Amiga 500, 1500 and 2000. This was sold as an upgrade
and was supported by Amiga Format. The OS at the time received
a 78% approval rating in the magazine review.
And so in 1994 OS3.1 became the property of VillageTronic by
default who continued to sell the product after Commodore went
to the wall. The OS then returns as the OS 3.1 Workbench under
the banner of Escom in 1995 and was shipped with Amiga 1200s
and 4000s, until Escom themselves failed.
A sad tale and one that still lingers with me as I struggled in
1994 to find kit to support my 1200, in the knowledge that the
company had gone bust. I never thought the Amiga would suffer
so badly, given that four large companies had been fighting
over the business. And yet it seemed that the computer platform
was to fall between two stools as the likes of Microsoft, SONY
and Apple just streaked off ahead leaving Commodore in the dust.
There was a valiant effort by the UK arm of Commodore to salvage
the line, but this came to nothing.
Anyhoo, the CD for the Amiga 1200 was the last glimmer of hope
in a rich tapestry of truly magical computer innovations. I do
sense that the disks I have were released to arm developers with
the tools to accommodate the new expansions. The life of the
Amiga was still charging on, even though the businessmen at the
top were readying themselves for high end corporate dismantling.
I'm sure the engineers creating these disks were keeping their
fingers crossed that the software and hardware would win the
day and carry them off into the sunset. Such a shame it came to
naught. Fortunately the software was slipped out through the side
door, though the rights over it are still the subject of much
dispute. Seems court actions is all that has been keeping the
Amiga in the press this last two decades.
I can say most assuredly that there will never be another Amiga
created and distributed to the mass market in my lifetime. My
world therefore is one of reflection, of a time that was, and
a world that could have been. I am just grateful that I was
able to enjoy it while it lasted. Thank you for reading.
Happy days.... hmmm it's raining again.