The past few years have seen a number of notable 30th anniversary celebrations in the retro computing community – from the birthdays of the humble but seminal Sinclair ZX81 and the ever-popular ZX Spectrum via the versatile BBC Micro to those mighty 16/32 bit beasts, the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. Now it’s the turn of the once-popular, but now largely forgotten (at least on the internet) dedicated British Atari ST magazine, ST Update.
This month sees the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Sunshine Publications magazine, which was dedicated to all aspects of Atari’s finest range of computers and competitors to the Apple Macintosh and Commodore Amiga. Certainly an occasion worthy of celebration, as it was an excellent magazine that, unfairly, has gone unrepresented online – until now.
It’s also significant because the glossy title, which was published from London, England, was also the first computer magazine to publish the work of the editor of Retro Computing News, Stuart Williams! So it’s his birthday as well, in a way.
This post is just a preliminary heads-up for ST Update’s birthday, but there will be more to come soon, as to celebrate the occasion, RCN will not only be publishing a feature about the magazine and its founding – with the invaluable help of one of the founders, Jon Beales – but making available, for the first time ever online, a pdf scanned copy of the ultra-rare launch issue, dated ‘Spring 1987’.
We hope that Atari ST fans world-wide will take part in celebrating the birthday of ST Update by sharing the feature and the pdf around the globe – and we plan to do more to raise the profile of the magazine, making more issues available as soon as time permits.
Cambridge’s popular Centre for Computing History is running a very special event on Saturday 4 March 2017 to help raise funds towards the support of treatment for Matthew Dons, a self-confessed British geek who is suffering from cancer.
Matthew was unexpectedly diagnosed in July 2016 with advanced and aggressive bowel cancer, aged just 36. His family and friends are raising funds for immunotherapy treatment to give him more precious time with his wife and two small children. Matthew loves playing games with his children on his Amiga emulator and teaching them to code on the Raspberry Pi.
The Centre, located in Rene Court, Coldhams Road, says of the event:
A one-off night of mirth!! Join us for geeky comedy featuring videogames, VHS covers, 80s nostalgia, the supernatural, computing history and movies.
Proceeds from this event will support The Centre for Computing History as well as Matthew’s cancer treatment fund. Special thanks go to Raspberry Pi for helping with promotion, and the comedians who have all generously waived their performance fees.
Host for the evening is Paul Rose, aka “Mr Biffo”, writer and creator of the legendary teletext video games magazine, Digitiser. Now primarily working in TV, Paul still writes about games at www.digitiser2000.com and is creating his first crowd-funded online series, Mr Biffo’s Found Footage.
The all-star comic line-up features:
Stuart Ashen One of the UK’s most popular YouTube acts, what Stuart doesn’t know about Poundland, obscure video games and Pop Stations isn’t worth knowing. He wrote and starred in the successful movie Ashens and the Quest for the Game Child and is known for his dry wit, incisive commentary and neat beard. He is also the author of Terrible Old Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of.
Paul Gannon Paul has written for a whole host of well-known Radio 4 comedy shows. He produces the weird and wonderful podcast CheapShow as well as the YouTube channel Barshens starring Stuart Ashen and and Barry Lewis (My Virgin Kitchen). He was also a zombie in Shaun of the Dead, which was likely typecasting.
Ash Frith Standup Ash can be seen in comedy clubs all over the UK. Currently supporting Christian O’Connell on his standup tour. Ash is a regular guest on RadioX and Absolute Radio.
Iszi Lawrence Iszi is a smart, sharp and hilarious comedian described as ‘as adept with an anecdote as she is with a one-liner’ and ‘on-the-spot funny’ by The Herald. She also hosts the hugely popular Sunday Supplement and Z List Dead List Podcasts.
Richard Sandling The king of pop culture comedy, with a passion for cinema of all sorts. He has appeared across theatre, film and TV, turning up in the BBC’s The Catherine Tate Show, Miranda and Channel 4’s Peep Show.
Times and tickets
The show will begin at 7pm and last for around 90 minutes. Advance tickets are just £10 each for this unique opportunity to see such an eclectic pool of comic talent. The Centre will be open to ticket holders from 6pm to 10pm to allow you to enjoy the exhibits and test your gaming skills on their consoles and arcade machines. Drinks will be available from a fully licensed bar provided by Lord Conrad’s Brewery.
Due to the nature of the event, the organisers recommend that all attendees should be over 15.
Find out more
For further info and to buy advance tickets at £10 each, see:
Spaces are limited, so booking is required to secure your place. Payment is taken by PayPal immediately. Please print a copy of the receipt that is displayed at the end of the payment process and bring it with you as your e-ticket. Any remaining tickets will be available on the door for £12 each (cash or card payment).
Remember Uridium? I certainly do – the original game on the C64 and version 2 on the Commodore Amiga gave me hours of side-scrolling shoot-em-up fun back in the days when my thumbs were much more limber for joystick bashing! I still love those Graftgold-designed games for Hewson Consultants, combining Andrew Braybrook’s nifty programming and Steve Turner’s always catchy music.
Now the original 1980’s-90’s publishers are back in the game with a bang as Huey Games, offering a Kickstarter-funded equivalent for the 21st century, Hyper Sentinel, combining bright, console-style colour and power-chord arcade sound with a pixelated look and enhanced retro gameplay which is basically a modern retro Uridium on steroids, with a few other influences thrown in for good measure!
I’ve had a good thrash at the demo using the keyboard on the RCN Mac Pro with a 27″ HP monitor, and absolutely love it as far as I’ve been able to play it up to now. It’s one of those games that is sheer, mindless, blasting fun and great for blowing the cobwebs away.
What could be better than jumping into your Sentinel Fighter and giving hordes of evil Alienoids and Level Guardians a darned good thrashing with the help of a timely boost from your previously-planted Powerdroids? What’s more, it should look epic on your mobile or at 60fps on that massive 4K monitor you’ve been promising yourself.
The game, created by ‘new bedroom coder talent’ Jonathan Port, is set to be available on PC, Mac, Console & Mobile at launch. All these versions will be confirmed if successfully funded:
The Steam version will include Windows, Linux & Mac.
Are we nearly there yet?
At the moment, the Kickstarter is a little short of the £15,000 goal at £13, 465, with 359 backers and 22 days to go. There are loads of pledges starting from four pounds for the mobile version and a range of rewards deals are on offer at various prices, right up to a top collector’s bundle at £75.
A demo paints a thousand words, so here’s the link to download the FREE demo game for PC or Mac, or one of a limited number of iOS demos on request (subject to availability): http://www.hueygames.com/hs_demo
If you loved those heady pew-pew-pew days way back when, now is the time to go check out Hyper Sentinel – and if you enjoy it as much as I did, give the project a leg-up!
A real fun game, easy to get into and a great chance to support the reboot of one of the classic names in old-skool British games publishing.
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: