International Amiga Day is coming!

The Amiga A1000
The Amiga A1000

In 2012 we saw, and rightly celebrated, the thirtieth birthdays of the remarkable BBC Micro and Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the two main stalwarts of the British home computer revolution of the 1980s, which remain hugely popular today with retro-computing and retro-gaming enthusiasts.  Another great milestone in computing history is now imminent.

This year, 2015, now marks the thirtieth birthday of the first multi-tasking multimedia computer, the astonishing, years ahead-of-its-time Commodore Amiga.

The first model of that much-beloved series of computers, the A1000 (pictured, above), was launched in July, 1985, by the American developers Amiga Corporation , having been bought by Commodore International (creators of the legendary Commodore 64 and others).  In production for just two years, the elegant and powerful A1000 was succeeded by the even more popular A500, A2000, A600, A1200, A1500, A3000 and A4000, together with other variations from the ‘mainline’ of Amiga production such as the tower computers and CD32.

The Amiga A500
The Amiga A500

More than twenty years ago, back in August 1994, Byte Magazine attempted to describe the impact of the Amiga:

“The Amiga was so far ahead of its time that almost nobody—including Commodore’s marketing department—could fully articulate what it was all about. Today, it’s obvious the Amiga was the first multimedia computer, but in those days it was derided as a game machine because few people grasped the importance of advanced graphics, sound, and video. Nine years later, vendors are still struggling to make systems that work like 1985 Amigas.”

Derided, perhaps, by the blinkered business community, but not by legions of home computer enthusiasts looking for a step up in computing power and versatility, and certainly not by artists such as Andy Warhol and TV series creators such as J. Michael Straczynski, who used a group of networked A2000’s with Video Toaster boards to create the revolutionary digital special effects for the equally legendary sci-fi series ‘Babylon 5’.

Babylon 5

Sadly, the original Commodore Amiga series ceased production in 1996, and their successors have apparently not seen any great commercial success in the hands of various companies, though Amiga enthusiasts live in hope.

The Amiga A1200
The Amiga A1200

Today, the legacy of the Amiga mostly exists in the hands of retro-computing and retro-gaming fans and collectors preserving and enjoying the remaining original hardware and prolific range of software – and in emulation, where variations on the original Amiga operating systems and more advanced successor software and cloned hardware are still in use today as a niche product, largely for enthusiasts.

Still, the legend and spirit of Amiga, which is irrepressible, remains, and despite the original Commodore company now being long-defunct, the flaming torch of the Amiga continues to be held aloft by a dedicated band of followers and retro computing enthusiasts, world-wide.

International Amiga Day 2015

Which is why, just a little over a week from now, we, and they, will be celebrating International Amiga Day – on 31 May 2015, the birthday of Mr Jay Miner, who was head engineer of Amiga Corporation, and is seen as the ‘father of the Amiga’.

Jay Miner and his dog, Mitchy
Jay Miner and his dog, Mitchy

If you visit the Amiga Day Facebook group founded last year by the late Dragon “Gyu” Gyorgy, who sadly passed away at the beginning of 2015., you will discover the admins and members of the group ‘keeping the flame’, and they have made this declaration:

Amiga Day 2015 banner (courtesy Amiga Day Facebook group)
Amiga Day 2015 banner (courtesy Amiga Day Facebook group)

“This year, 2015, the Amiga will be 30 years old!

We celebrate on the 31st May, Amiga “Father” Jay Miner’s birthday (1932).

We, Amiga users hereby declare the 31st of May as international day of the Amiga, the Home Computer that made us so much fun, that made us begin a career, that made us think differently about computers and games and made us a lot of friends with Amigas.

Amiga is Forever and We really want that to happen. Please share the idea with your

Amigan friends to keep the Amiga flame forever!”  Dragon “Gyu” Gyorgy, 2014

International Amiga Day: 31st May 2015: How to join in:

It’s easy: On International Amiga Day do any of the following Amigan activities:

  • Switch on at least 1 Amiga computer.
  • Run at least 1 Amiga game (emulator is accepted).
  • Pamper your Amiga: Repair your Amiga; “Whiten” a yellowed Amiga; Change the condensers … do the job you need to do to make your Amiga function better!
  • Make a working Amiga from all your spare parts!
  • Wear your Amiga T-shirt.
  • Use your Amiga to make a demo, a graphic or music …
  • Take a photo of your Amiga collection.
  • Most importantly, be imaginative and do something special with your Amiga and share with the group!!”

Why not take the opportunity, this coming International Amiga Day, to find out more about this remarkable series of computers and software, and the equally remarkable community which keeps its legacy alive?

Better yet, get your own Amiga – and join in the fun!

Check out the Facebook group now: https://www.facebook.com/groups/amigaday/

Meanwhile, watch this space for more about International Amiga Day and more…

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Computing curiosities on show in Swindon!

Simply weird and wonderful! (pic: Museum of Computing)
Simply weird and wonderful! (pic: Museum of Computing)

This Saturday 23 May 2015 sees the opening of a fascinating  display of oddities from the collections of the Museum of Computing in Swindon, Wiltshire.

From programmable peculiarities to the avant-garde of gaming, the volunteer-run, not-for-profit museum, based at 6-7 Theatre Square, SN1 1QN, have dug out their most unusual and rarely-seen artefacts.  In fact, many will be on display for the first time!

It’s a feast for the inquisitive including:

  • Extraordinary inputs – How do Nintendo 64 games respond to your heart rate?
  • Quirky, not qwerty – How does the keyboard with only six keys work?
  • Dangerous computing – What kind of husky can you program?
  • Pyramid of processing – Who built this outlandish prototype?
  • Surfing while actually surfing – Why does this thing even exist

Visitors will have the chance to experience uncanny consoles, silicon strangeness and the electric eccentric by dropping in and perusing the remarkable selection of computing gadgets and goodies over the next six months.

The Museum of Computing in Swindon is full of fun! (pic: Museum of Computing)
The Museum of Computing in Swindon is full of fun! (pic: Museum of Computing)

And there will be regular updates about what’s on show, via the museum’s Facebook and events page as well as their website.

For more info on the museum, including opening times, admission fees and directions, check out their website: http://www.museumofcomputing.org.uk/

And on the exhibition’s Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/816997541702170/

See also the Museum of Computing’s general Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MuseumOfComputing