Jeremy Reimer

Historical past of the Amiga

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The yr 2000, which as soon as appeared so impossibly futuristic, had lastly arrived. Invoice McEwen, president of the brand new Amiga Inc., celebrated with a press launch telling the world why he had purchased the subsidiary from Gateway Computer systems.

“Gateway bought Amiga due to Patents; we bought Amiga due to the Folks.” It was a daring assertion, the primary of many that may come from the fledgling firm. Amiga Inc. now owned the identify, trademark, logos, all present stock (there have been nonetheless a number of Escom-era A1200s and A4000s left), the Amiga OS, and a everlasting license to all Amiga-related patents. That they had additionally inherited Jim Collas’ dream of a revolutionary new Amiga system, however not one of the expertise and assets that Gateway had been in a position to carry to bear.

“Gateway bought Amiga due to Patents; we bought Amiga due to the Folks.”

To chase this dream, Amiga Inc. must look elsewhere. McEwen thought he had discovered the reply in an obscure British expertise startup. This was the Tao Group, began by Francis Charig, a UK businessman, and Chris Hinsley, a proficient Atari and Amiga video games programmer who wrote in assembler.

Enlarge / The Tao Group’s TAOS working system, operating on Home windows.

The Tao Group and Amiga Wherever

Tao had created a product that was so modern that few individuals understood what it really was. Taos was an working system that was coded in VP1, a sophisticated meeting language that used directions for an imaginary, idealized RISC CPU. When Taos applications have been loaded into reminiscence, the system translated the VP1 opcodes into the equal ones for no matter CPU it occurred to be operating on. Taos might run on an x86, a MIPS, a PowerPC, or a transputer, and lots of extra—and even completely different combos operating on the similar time. As a result of VP1 directions have been extra compact than most CPU’s native opcodes, Taos applications would usually load and run quicker than native ones, even if you included the time it took to do the interpretation. Taos was a little bit bit like magic.

As cool because it was, Taos had a tough time discovering patrons within the market. So the group doubled down and added new options to make it extra engaging. The individuals at Taos wrote a graphical person interface and help for multimedia. They wrote a Java digital machine (JVM) in order that customers wouldn’t have to jot down purposes in VP1 assembler. There was little cash in JVMs, however there was a marketplace for full-fledged working programs that ran on a tiny quantity of assets, might run on completely different CPUs, and supported Java purposes. This was the burgeoning world of non-public digital assistants (PDAs).

PDAs have been all the trend within the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Not fairly but smartphones, they have been pocketable gadgets that might maintain monitor of your appointments, file notes, and generally take footage. Palm was the most important participant on this area, however loads of different firms needed in on the motion.

Invoice McEwen noticed the chance to get in on the bottom ground of a brand new market, and he licensed the total stack of Tao Group’s expertise. He referred to as it the “Amiga Digital Setting” or AmigaDE, though it will be later branded as “Amiga Wherever.” McEwen even made an look on TechTV with Leo Laporte to display how you possibly can take a single SD card with an Amiga Wherever-branded 2D shooter sport and run it on Home windows and a complete host of incompatible PDAs with completely different CPU architectures. It was a powerful demo, however what it needed to do with the Amiga wasn’t clear precisely.

Amiga Inc. additionally introduced a cope with Hyperion Leisure—an organization that ported older video games to Linux, Macintosh, and Amiga programs—to transform its video games to the AmigaDE.

Invoice McEwen tries to carry the Amiga again.

The cut up begins

The remaining Amiga group reacted to those bulletins with confusion. Amiga Inc. made a obscure promise that previous software program would run on the AmigaDE via emulation, however this didn’t present a bridge for individuals with present .

To mollify the group, Amiga Inc. introduced a partnership with Haage & Companion to make a brand new model of WarpOS that may run the AmigaDE surroundings. WarpOS wasn’t actually an OS in any respect, however a PowerPC library that sped up sure Amiga applications on PPC accelerator playing cards. It was a substitute for PowerUP, the library that shipped with Phase5’s PPC accelerators. The divide between WarpOS and PowerUP had been contentious up to now, earlier than each side had agreed to an uneasy truce. Now, the stage was set for this previous rivalry to separate the Amiga group in two.


It was a heady time, and the dotcom mania attracted each authentic and doubtful buyers. One instance of the latter was Ryan Czerwinski, who claimed to be 40 years previous, a Ph.D., and the president of Merlancia Industries. He organized conferences with Amiga Inc. and even employed legendary Commodore engineer Dave Haynie to work on new Amiga PowerPC . It turned out ultimately that Czerwinski was a teen dwelling together with his mom, and Merlancia was only a bunch of concepts in his head. Haynie, who was now owed $55,000 for his consulting work, was left scarred by the expertise. After the failed PIOS startup and now the Merlancia debacle, his coronary heart was damaged. He would by no means work on Amiga-related applied sciences once more.


In October of 2000, Haage & Companion launched the ultimate model of the basic Amiga working system, AmigaOS three.9. In the identical month, Petro Tyschtschenko introduced his retirement and the closing of his workplace in Germany. All of the previous Escom A1200s and A4000s have been lastly gone. It was the tip of an period.

Additionally vanishing by this level was the PowerPC accelerator firm Section 5, which had gone into chapter 11. However a few of the former staff of Section 5 shaped a brand new firm named bPlan and partnered with a software program firm referred to as Thendic. Thendic was run by Invoice Buck, previously of VIScorp, who had helped pay the salaries of Amiga Applied sciences staff through the Escom chapter. bPlan and Thendic set to work on a dream that they had been imagining since 1995—a totally PowerPC-based Amiga with a local Amiga working system.

Among the items have been already there. The PowerUP library, for one, however there was additionally the Picasso graphics library that supported non-Amiga show chipsets, a brand new file system referred to as SFS, and different parts from the open-source Amiga Substitute OS (AROS) venture. All it actually wanted was a brand new microkernel, and when Ralph Schmidt wrote one referred to as Quark, the previous PowerUP system had lastly morphed right into a full working system in its personal proper. Thus it grew to become dubbed “MorphOS.”


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