Commodore Amiga fans from Ireland and beyond were able to enjoy an amazing get-together a little over a week ago, with a great turnout, fun and fascinating exhibits, and a remarkable range of guests! This report was sent in to RCN by Jarlath Reidy.
The Commodore Amiga Users Ireland Meetup 2017 took place at The Prince of Wales Hotel in Athlone on 21 January 2017, and despite being set in the very heart of Ireland, there was very much an international flavour to the event, with Irish Amigans being only too delighted to meet their friends who had travelled from overseas places such as England, Scotland, Poland, Germany – and even New Zealand! Such is the nature of world-wide Amiga fandom today.
A multi-faceted event
All kinds of machines and setup configurations were on display, and some very interesting workshops and talks were available including:
SWOS tournament, with a nice trophy going to the winner (congrats Kenny Gaughan).
Kick Off 2, Lotus 2 (four player) and Skidmarks (eight player) competitions.
Stunt Car Racer (congratulations to the champion, Allan Ullmann who took away a lovely trophy).
AROS – Current status with Neil Cafferkey (Core developer and Prism2v2 driver author).
Soldering Workship – With Rob Cranley of Amiga Future.
Music Creation on Amiga – With Jarlath Reidy and a surprise drop in from Mike Clarke (Psygnosis / Atomicom) who took it to a whole new level!
Crash Course in Blitz Basic – With Jarlath Reidy & Rob Cranley
Q&A sessions with Trevor Dickenson of A-EON fame and David Pleasance (formerly of Commodore UK) and Hogne Titlestad (FriendUP), Jon Hare (via Skype) as well as Mike Labatt of Cloanto, Mike Clarke (Psygnosis/Atomicom) and more.
Amibian machines were there with 3D printed Amiga cases.
X1000 and X5000 machines as well as the ALICE laptop were also on display.
Goodies to win
Spot prizes at the event included wifi cards (thanks to Sir_Lucas of Amibay for donating these), boxed games (thanks to Craig Harrisson, Lukasz Mulczynski, Mattie Whittle, Danny Cork and others, Amiga hardware (audio sampler, frame grabber with huge thanks to Mattie Whittle), and Amiga branded notebooks, posters, badges, etc (thanks to Trevor Dickinson).
Sordan (of sordan.ie) set up a shop that day, providing a service for everyone’s hardware and software needs. Rob Cranley performed recaps and repairs on several machines. Dermot O’Halloran took fantastic photos and we had additional video and photos taken by Kenny Gaughan, Ravi Abbott (of the Retro Hour Podcast) who also provided music later on. Sound was provided by Colin Reid.
A popular British retro computing group focusing on the Commodore Amiga is continuing to prove that, more than three decades on from its birth, rumours of this classic computer’s death have been greatly exaggerated. This report of the South West Amiga Group’s latest meeting has been sent in on their behalf by members Brian Hedley and Robert Hazelby.
On Saturday 14 January 2017, the third South West Amiga Group (SWAG) meeting was held at what has now become our regular venue; the Swindon Makerspace.
Prior to each meeting we try and plan a rough theme so that those coming along have some idea as to what to expect. At this SWAG meeting our theme was Amiga vs the 8-bits. The Commodore Amiga was the platform of choice for a great many fantastic games, but on some occasions the same title on an 8-bit was actually better. To this end, at this meeting we had an Amstrad CPC464 running the recently released Pinball Dreams conversion using a DDI3 Floppy Emulator and a recently refurbished and AY sound-fixed Sinclair Spectrum +3, complete with a DivIDE Enjoy interface running various games.
One of our attendees also brought along a ZX UNO FPGA based machine which could be seen running recreations of various eight-bit computer systems including the MGT Sam Coupé, BBC Micro and the Spectrum. We even had an original Acorn Electron up and running once it had received some TLC from a SWAG member.
Naturally, as this was a SWAG meet, we had plenty of Amiga machines scattered about the room. Amongst the stash was an A600 with a Vampire V2 (Black Edition) FPGA-based accelerator board, which we’d installed last meeting and which was now running DOOM at a very fluid frame rate.
An RGB-modded Amiga CD32 console was being used to show demos and was hooked up to a Commodore 1084S monitor. The demos were those from the recently released Press Play on Pad CD.
Speaking of recent releases, we were visited at the meet by the one and only Galahad of the coding group Scoopex, who has been working on various ST ports to Amiga. Following his conversion of Denton Designs’ game Where Time Stood Still he has been chipping away at converting the Bubble Bus classic arcade adventure Starquake. The plan was to release the completed conversion at the meet, and while we were able to get it working on one Gotek floppy emulator equipped Amiga, the floppy disk routines needed some work, and the graphic routines required some slight tweaks on Indivision hi-res graphics board-based A1200s. When the game was running we were all pleased to see how well it ran, and the new music produced specially for this Amiga release was a joy to hear.
Following the meet Galahad contacted the group to say that he had now fixed the issues and Starquake was undergoing what would hopefully be the last round of testing before release. It was exciting for SWAG members to play a small part in the beta testing of this much anticipated conversion.
Elsewhere in the packed room, we had a modern Amiga One 64-bit PowerPC-based computer running various games and utilities. All who saw it were impressed at just how responsive Amiga OS4.1 was, and just how nippy the applications were to use. Now, if only the cost could come down a bit!
There were also three Amiga A1200s in the room. The computer equipped with a Gotek drive was being used to beta test Starquake. The second was an expanded system incorporating an ACA1233/40MHz/128MB, 4GB CompactFlash HD, Indivision AGA Mk2cr, Gotek, external drive, and an external kipper2k CompactFlash adaptor, PCMCIA-> CF/SD). Just a few things added, then! The third was an A1200 Power Tower, which had been added to gradually over the last 20 or so years. This was equipped with an 80 gigabyte hard drive, internal and external floppy drives, 56x CD ROM, a network card, and Indivision AGA, and a MAS Player. The Amiga was hooked-up to two monitors – a nice Dell LCD for Workbench and point & click game use, and a Commodore 1942 CRT for those arcade titles and demos where smooth 50hz scrolling were needed. The MAS Player was demoed to a number of SWAG members, and considering its price (under 50UKP), produces excellent results.
ANDY WARHOL, BUZZ ALDRIN, R.J. MICAL AND DAVE HAYNIE ALL IN ONE HOUR . WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK?
What can you say about a one hour (and 3 minutes!) documentary film about a series of computers? One that takes you rushing down a wormhole into the days of your youth and then back to the future through a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows that in turns exhilarate, sadden and maybe, just maybe inspire hope for the future?
If you’ve never heard of the Commodore Amiga (or, dare I say it, were an Atari ST enthusiast back in the day), you might wonder what all the fuss is about. Hold on a moment, and rewind back to our feature celebrating the 30th birthday of the computer that ‘came from the future’, and in 1985 started today’s multimedia revolution: https://retrocomputingnews.com/2015/07/23/happy-30th-birthday-amiga/
Suffice to say that the Amiga range did things that no other computer could do for a decade. Things that we take for granted today, but which all started there with the Amiga 1000, and its successors, which revolutionised computer art, music, photography and video production. Until those glittering dreams shattered and came tumbling down, through no fault of the Amiga’s creators. But something wonderful had happened. The world had changed.
Through insightful pieces to camera with many people who, it has to be said, are still legends in the Amiga community and surprisingly accessible thanks to Facebook (in fact, they’re part of that community) seamlessly wrapped up in slick graphics and nostalgic archive footage from past promo videos and adverts, location pictures plus more recent retro computing community-based events and music footage from around the world, Viva Amiga opens up a wormhole back to a time when what we now take for granted in computers was new, and fresh, and when the little guys with the brains, the big ideas and the soaring imagination really could break through into the future.
The film, backed with a powerful electro soundtrack by Ben Warfield and Josh Culler takes us from the early 1980s inception of the Amiga (later bought out by Commodore) as the astonishing concept of a small band of inspired technologists who thought they could leapfrog the functional but not very inspiring computer technology of the day (and how!), via the initially remarkable worldwide success of the affordable but powerful Amiga as the post 8-bit next step for Commodore, to the years of corporate greed and management incompetence that caused Commodore’s collapse in the USA and the domino effect that collapsed their subsidiaries around the globe.
Then, on a rocky road from the post-Commodore phase of ever-shifting sands where the Amiga technology was sold off and was eventually broken up amongst a number of different European and American companies whose reach in some cases largely exceeded their grasp, to the present time when new concepts of Amiga in hardware and software are being revived for what is presently a niche hobby market. Finally, it also looks at something of the inspired global community of retro Amiga fans or ‘Amigans’ who still love to work and play with the machine that, to hijack a phrase from one-time competitors Apple, really was designed ‘for the rest of us’.
For Amiga users past and present, if you lived through those times then this is a powerful nostalgia piece which will take you back with a bang, courtesy of the often emotional voices of many of those behind the power of Amiga. With remarkable music and powerful visuals, Viva Amiga will in turns exhilarate you and sadden you. It will make you laugh and it may even make you cry for what was lost. But that’s the essence of the story of the computer that wouldn’t die, that still lives on in hundreds, maybe thousand of homes around the world, and lurks in lofts and attics waiting to be rediscovered by a new generation. It serves to remind you, and most definitely me, that the Amiga was never only about the hardware and the software, it was, and remains, as much about the people who created it and who used it. In a strange way, the Amiga is a part of us and we are part of it, and while that may have faded somewhat with the years, this film brings that reality back into bright, colourful focus.
This is a film with heart. If you’re looking for the dry detail of a Discovery Channel epic in Zach Weddington’s rawly-emotional but nonetheless highly-polished Amigan opus, you’re not exactly going to find that here. That would take a whole series of films, there’s only so much you can do in an hour and I’m not entirely sure there’s quite the material or the market out there for it. I’d love to see a two hour version of Viva Amiga; although I didn’t feel the film was exactly too short (and it’s not bad value to buy as a download) I was left wanting more. The film made me want more. Maybe there could be follow-ups exploring more of the post-Commodore phase and taking a wider look at what people are doing with the Amiga today. Who knows. Zach is working on another exciting retro project at the moment.
What you do get in spades from Viva Amiga: The Story of A Beautiful Machine (and it WAS beautiful, in form and concept) is the essence of the spirit of the machine and its makers, and if you look carefully you will also see your own reflection in the TV screen, which seems entirely appropriate.
In conclusion, if you’re an Amiga fan, apart from the chance to see more of the story than has been widely shown before, and much more of the people who still inspire the community today, what you will really get from this fascinating film is a desperate yearning to be back in those heady days when the future was being re-written by a crazy, inspired gang of people who, let’s face it, you’d just love to party with like it’s 1985.
For further information and ways of buying Viva Amiga, check out the filmmakers’ website: https://amigafilm.com/
Last July saw veteran retro gaming/arcade show organisers Revival Retro Events make a triumphant return to the retro scene at a brand-new venue following a break from major events since 2014.
Breaking new ground for the show, and for Walsall, REVIVAL Solstice 2016 took place for the first time in the spacious Stadium Suite at the Banks’s Stadium (previously known as Bescot Stadium) – the home of Walsall Football Club in the West Midlands! And thanks to a massive amount of hard work and enthusiasm from the REVIVAL RETRO EVENTS team, numerous keen volunteers and all concerned, the event was a resounding success.
Fast forward to 2017 and the latest hot-off-the-press news for retro gaming and computing fans is that the organiser of the event, Craig Turner of REVIVAL RETRO EVENTS and Turnarcades fame, has just announced this year’s follow-up to the Solstice show – REVIVAL: The Rivals 2017 – and is already in the process of confirming its many exciting features!
The Facebook event page for REVIVAL: The Rivals 2017, which this year is over Saturday 20 – Sunday 21 May, 10am-4pm, is now up and, eager to keep things fresh in retro, Craig and his team are once again mixing it up, and as the name suggests, ‘The Rivals’ is the keynote, with this latest show focusing on the competition and challenge of retro gaming! From the classic home computer and console company rivalries of the past, right through to head-to-head competition, this event will have all you love about a REVIVAL event plus the following special features:
Embrace competition – Any old-school gamer will likely have grown up with the best gaming TV, and in his first gaming event presence since leaving Sky in 1998, Gamesmaster and Games World commentator, reviewer, co-host and pro gamer Dave ‘The Games Animal’ Perry will be in attendance to talk about his history and take part in the Retro Lords’ on-stage competition and antics!
Side-by-side system rivalries to directly compare ports – Spectrum vs. Commodore, Nintendo vs. Sega, Apple vs. IBM, they all sparked playground arguments – put your case forward and compare!
Multiplayer madness – real fun and real competition can only be had face to face with your friends, and all the best multiplayer experiences from tournament fighters to 4/8-player arcade and sports games will be laid out test your skills.
Link-ups and crossovers – many multiplayer experiences eluded the average gamer, so get the chance to go head to head over LAN on 486 PC’s, cable up those Gameboys for 4-way play, Lap friends at the wheel in Daytona, or even play Frankenstein combos like the ST and Amiga system link games!
Test your skills – There will be more competitions this time with some very special prizes being awarded for the best of the best from speed runners to fighting game masters.
All this, plus MORE arcade, MORE pinball, MORE traders and MORE special guests!
This is is REVIVAL RETRO EVENTS’ 4th year, and whether you’ve been before or not, you can be sure to find a whole lot of fun and excitement waiting for you – as well as a bucketload of nostalgia and retro goodness – so be sure to get yourselves along for the unmatched REVIVAL atmosphere – it’s always a top weekend!
Meet Retro Computing News
Retro Computing News will be covering the event over both days, and we’ll not only have a table there but we’re also sponsoring the show again with a special competition prize (TBA)! So why not drop by when you’re there, and say hi to our editor and publisher, Stuart Williams?
In the meantime, watch out for more updates about REVIVAL: The Rivals 2017 as soon we have them. And check out our feature on last year’s show here to see the kind of thing you’ll be missing if you don’t come along in May: REVIVAL Solstice 2016
A recently released documentary film about one of the most popular and innovative home and multimedia computers of the 1980s-90s, the legendary Commodore Amiga (launched 1985) is rocketing up the charts.
Aimed at retro computing fans and computer history enthusiasts alike, Viva Amiga – the story of a beautiful machine has become a worldwide hit in the iTunes top ten documentary downloads, clearly striking a chord with its core audiences and Amiga users past and present.
As of yesterday, it had reached number 2 in the UK and Italy plus number 1 in Poland, 2 in Germany, 8 in France, 9 in Greece, 4 in the Netherlands., and 5 in Spain.
What is Viva Amiga about?
Director/Producer Zach Weddington was able to raise funds in 2011 to make the documentary, and it’s now available to watch in 12 languages and several streaming formats (see below).
The filmmakers describe Viva Amiga as follows:
“In a world of green on black, they dared to dream in color.
1985: An upstart team of Silicon Valley mavericks created a miracle: the Amiga computer. A machine made for creativity. For games, for art, for expression. Breaking from the mold set by IBM and Apple, this was something new. Something to change what people believed computers could do.
2016: The future they saw isn’t the one we live in now. Or is it?
From the creation of the world’s first multimedia digital art powerhouse…
to a bankrupt shell sold and resold into obscurity…
to a post-punk spark revitalized by determined fans.
Viva Amiga is a look at a digital dream….
…and the freaks, geeks and geniuses who brought it to life.
And the Amiga is still alive.”
The film features, amongst others, a number of well-known figures connected with the Amiga past and present, including Amiga engineers R.J. Mical, Dave Haynie and the late Dave Needle, as well as Trevor Dickinson, co-founder of A-Eon Technology (who doubles up as Executive Producer).
The World Premiere of Viva Amiga took place on 7 January at MAGFest 2017 in Washington DC, USA, as part of MAGFest’s Games on Film.
The makers have been busy submitting the film to festivals all across the United States and Europe. A showing in California, birthplace of the Amiga, is also in the works. After they make the rounds in the United States, they’ll be heading to Europe, where the Amiga was most popular. They’re lining up dates for a European tour in Summer 2017, including the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland. Like their Facebook page for up-to-the-minute news.
Want to bring the film to your theatre or event in North America or Europe? Get in touch.
Where to get Viva Amiga
Viva Amiga is now available to watch worldwide. The film has been subtitled in Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.
You can rent or buy a copy on the platform of your choice:
To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of Milton Keynes as a new town, The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park is hosting a special weekend on 21-22 January 2017 highlighting the past, present and future of computing.
For the first eight years of Milton Keynes’ existence, the existence of the code-breaking Colossus computer, was still secret. On this special anniversary weekend, visitors to The National Museum of Computing can see the world-famous rebuild of Colossus together with the array of technology that has followed in its wake and powered the development of Milton Keynes. There will also be glimpses of technologies to come.
Fun and fascination at TNMOC
During the weekend of 21-22 January 2017, visitors can:
Find out about MK and smart cities and come up with your own ideas on what tech and apps we will be using in 50 years’ time in MK.
Come face-to-face with a rebuild of world’s first electronic computer, Colossus, and discover its key role in shortening the Second World War.
Use Gamar, an augmented reality app, to explore the museum via a brand new museum trail.
Relive wartime Buckinghamshire and join the Home Guard as they patrol the museum and provide opportunities to try on a uniform plus more.
Discover the wonder of wearable technologies like Oculus Rift to discover new possibilities in virtual worlds.
See the world’s oldest working computer, the WITCH, and watch in amazement as it flickers and clicks to perform calculations at 1951 computer speed.
Also, to celebrate the Milton Keynes anniversary year and ten years of the existence of The National Museum of Computing, MK families get half-price entry! It is only £10 (normal price £20) for a family of up to 2 adults and three children (under 16). Just bring proof of residence within an MK postcode.
An exciting new 8-bit retro role-playing game (RPG) has been announced for WIndows PC’s, Apple Macs and classic Commodore 64/128 home computers.
Unknown Realm: The Siege Perilous, a fantasy-based game inspired by the classic RPGs of the 1980s, is the subject of a new Kickstarter campaign and remarkably, with just 11 days to go, has so far received pledges of $77,462 from 701 backers.
According to developers Stirring Dragon Games, “Unknown Realm: The Siege Perilous is designed in the spirit of classic RPGs such as Ultima & Bard’s Tale. Boasting a size of 16Mbits, it is the largest 8-bit RPG to be made on cartridge (Commodore 64/128 NTSC/Pal compatible) ever. Crowdfunding began on Kickstarter on 15 December 2016 and concludes on 18 January 2017.”
They describe the game as:
Open-world, exploration focused
Big Box RPG physical edition with cloth map, game manuals, etc
Largest 8-bit RPG on cartridge
Custom C64 cartridge
Custom platform for modern systems delivers a true retro experience
In-game hybrid soundtrack toggles between 8-bit and modern music
System requirements are:
Commodore 64/128 (NTSC/PAL)
Windows XP and above
MacOS X 10.5 and above
On current estimates the game is projected to be released in December 2017.
Stirring Dragon Games is the husband-and-wife team of veteran game developer Bruce Gottlieb and his wife Laura.
They say: “We are currently making an authentic 8-bit fantasy role-playing game inspired by the classic RPGs of the 80s. Our goal is to make games that synergize classic gaming aesthetics with modern sensibilities. We are big fans of old school 80’s game companies like Infocom, Origin, and Sierra and we want to bring back that quintessential 80’s gaming experience, including all the feelies!”
The game certainly looks like a whole lot of old-school fun, and we’d love to review it in Retro Computing News when it’s ready!
Image note Pictures courtesy Stirring Dragon Games. This game is a work-in-progress, and the developer states that all artwork is subject to change and will be updated on their website periodically with the latest images.
The ever-popular Commodore Amiga 500 home computer, a retro classic, enjoys a birthday of sorts this month, since its launch was announced in January 1987, thirty years ago. However, it did not arrive in European shops until April 1987 (in the Netherlands) and May for the rest of Europe. It did not cross the Atlantic to the USA until October of that year.
The Amiga 500, also known as the A500 (or its code name Rock Lobster), was the first low-end Commodore Amiga 16/32-bit multimedia home/personal computer. It was announced at the winter Consumer Electronics Show, with took place 8-11 January 1987 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, USA, together with the high-end Amiga 2000 – and was intended to compete directly against the Atari 520ST, which had beaten it to market in June 1985.
Before the Amiga 500 was shipped, Commodore suggested a list price of US$595.95 for the A500 without monitor. At US delivery in October 1987, Commodore announced that it would carry a US$699/£499 list price. In the Netherlands, the A500 was available from April 1987 for a list price of 1499 HFL.
The Amiga 500 represented a return to Commodore’s roots by being sold in the same mass retail outlets as the Commodore 64 – to which it was a spiritual successor – as opposed to the computer-store-only original Amiga 1000.
The Amiga 500 eventually proved to be Commodore’s best-selling Amiga model, enjoying particular success in Europe and the UK. Although popular with hobbyists, arguably its most widespread use was as a gaming machine, where its advanced graphics and sound were of significant benefit. Amiga 500 eventually sold 6 million units worldwide.