Trevor's Amiga Blog created for Amigans on the AmigaONE X1000, X5000 & now the A1222


Lockdown, part 2

Over the past couple of weeks New Zealand entered into another snap lock-down caused initially by one community cases of the covid-19 delta variant.

Amiga Bill interviewing David and Trevor

So what does an Amigan do when he is locked up at home again? I know, work on volume two of the Vultures to Vampires book. To be honest I though I was really knowledgeable about the post Commodore history but the more I research, the more skeletons I dig up. If you thought that the Amiga story was complicated, you really should spare a thought for our 8-bit cousins. I'm discovering that the fate of the Commodore trademarks is even more intriguing and convoluted. If you want to find out more please check out our interview today with Amiga Bill on

Link: Amiga Bill interview with David  and Trevor

With the eBook version of volume one already released, David informed me the printed books have just arrived in the UK in preparation for shipment to the Kickstarter backers. A few weeks back I was sent a proof copy of the book for my review by the printers who are based in Turkey. I'm still waiting for the delivery. UPS contacted me last week to say they had misplaced the package which had arrived in Australia then disappeared. I explained I live in New Zealand which is 1,600 miles (~2,600 km) away. The UPS person apologised and said the drop off for NZ was Australia. Three days later I received another call from UPS to let me know they still hadn't located my package. Last week they informed me the shipment was definitely lost and they were issuing a claim notice with the sender. Who said Commodore and Amiga was cursed? I think it was Dave Haynie, in Volume one of our book. 🙂

Floppy disks

Thanks to everyone who recently sent me birthday wishes. I received an excellent birthday card from one of my brothers, who shall remain nameless, mainly because his name features in a very early Billy Connolly monologue which I heard for the first time when I lived on the west coast of Scotland in the mid 1970's. I have to admit just saying that makes me feel so old! 😉 Talking about age, if you are old enough to remember, floppy disks really were floppy. No, I'm not talking about the 3.5" disk in the stiff plastic cases that we fed into our CBM 1581 drives and Amiga 500s. Back in time, floppy disks really were floppy. I first encountered 8" floppies in the mid 70s. This was followed by 5-1/4" floppies which I used with my CBM 2031 disk drive which was connected to my Commodore PET. That was soon followed by a CBM 1541 drive with my C64 and then a 1570 drive for my C128.

Not many people use antiquated electromechanical floppy drives these days, preferring floppy drive emulators which supports SD cards with gigabytes of storage (like the Gotek for the Amiga). Even the venerable C64 can be supplied with an 8GB SD card reader. I don't know, call me old fashioned but would I install a jet engine inside my DeLorean if I had one? Hmm, it seems to me that part of the fun of classic computing is using the original hardware? Hey, who am I kidding, give me that jet engine, let's burn some rubber.

Flattery and emulation to the MAXI!

A couple of years ago I purchased THEC64MINI retro gaming console. The cool little device is a scaled down miniature replica of the C64 breadbin model which emulates a Commodore C64. It's supplied with 64 classic 8-bit games and can also be operated in C64 basic mode. I have to be honest, I did not recognise many of the 64 games supplied with the system, most probably because back in the day I was hooked on International Soccer, Football Manager and Superstar Soccer (did you notice the trend?) and really did not play many other games on my trusty C64. THEC64MINI came with a unique and intuitive carousel feature for game selection and I didn't even have to read the user manual to get it up and running. (stand up everyone who said I never read the user manual ;-)) It was not supplied with a PSU but came with with a USB cable, which needed to be plugged into a powered USB port and an HDMI cable to connect to a TV or monitor with audio output. Unfortunately, at the time, only one of my HDMI monitors has audio output and that was not compatible with THEC64MINI so the games did not have the benefit of the classic 8-bit music or sound effects. THEC64MINI package came with a Competition Pro style joystick which included four extra buttons that enabled easy navigation of the excellent GUI. Although the joystick navigation was excellent the quality of the joystick itself was sub-optimal. It used a spongy gamepad type mechanism that spoiled gaming action. I also soon tired of scrolling through the game carousel to find the one I wanted to play. There is no keyboard on THEC64MINI, just a moulded plastic cover made to look like a keyboard. However, a USB keyboard could be connected to the second USB port which helped with entering text but if you've ever used a C64 emulator like Vice or C64Forever you will know how difficult it is to match the keys on a standard keyboard to the C64's special key-set. I downloaded and updated firmware which allowed me to add and play additional games stored on a USB pen drive. The games certainly loaded a lot faster compared my C64, even though it is equipped with a fast loader, but with some games there was an almost imperceptible lag between operating the joystick and the resulting action on the screen. It was emulation after all, not the real thing. Despite being a well engineered product, THEC64MINI couldn't match the C64 experience I remembered with such fond memories and it wasn't long before I stored it away in a cupboard.

THEC64 (MAXI) - made in China 2021

At the time Retro Games Ltd said an updated version with a full size working keyboard was in development and true to their word they came up with the goods. THEC64 (MAXI) is not available in New Zealand and I could not find one for sale on Amazon either. I managed to track one down on eBay from a UK retailer and was really surprised when it arrived in New Zealand eight days after I ordered it. There are plenty of unboxing videos and reviews on Youtube so I will concentrate on the major difference I discovered.


Inside the outer cardboard protective packaging is THEC64 retail box which, on the surface, looked remarkably similar to the packaging design on my original C64 box which I purchased in 1983.

The designers have used the same colour scheme and image layout with the obvious difference being the replacement of the  Commodore name and logo with the [THEC64] logo and a discreet Retro Games Ltd. logo. I watched a video review by the 8-bit guy in which he noted several differences between his original C64 case and that of THEC64. His original C64, which presumably is a USA model, has a slightly difference colour and form factor. His video showed that the height of the THEC64 was slightly greater that his original C64 breadbin case but exactly the same size as the VIC20 case. However, when I compared THEC64 to my original C64 case the sizes were exactly the same height and shape. The case colour was almost identical too.

Spot the difference?

I agree with the 8-bit guy that visually the case plastic is a bit too shiny and looks a little cheaper compared to my original C64. Weighing in at ~1.5 Kg, the case is also a little lighter than the C64 which is ~0.2 Kg heavier. To make up for the lack of the Commodore name on the case decal, the rainbow colour strip is elongated but the [THEC64] logo is not embossed, neither is the [Power] text label next to the red power LED. The main keyboard keys are the same colour but the function keys are grey while my original C64 had tan coloured keys.

The key difference

The other major difference is the shift key does not lock down when pressed and the key with the good old Commodore chicken lips logo has been replaced by the [THEC64] key, presumable for trademark reasons. In fact the Commodore name cannot be found anywhere on the case, packaging or in the quick guide manual, although the Classic mode screen does display the traditional [**** COMMODORE 64 BASIC V2 ****] text. Once again the ROMS have been licensed from Cloanto.

I am impressed with the keyboard which almost feels as good (or bad depending on your point of view) as the original. As this is an emulated C64 it does not have any of the C64 I/O ports so none of my original C64 peripherals can be used. However it does have 4 USB ports and an HDMI port along with a Micro USB B power socket. Personally, for durability, I prefer USB C for power sockets but I presume the Micro USB B version is less expensive? However, unlike the mini, THEC64 is supplied with a separate USB B power plug. Similar to its diminutive cousin, THEC64 is supplied with a Competition Pro style joystick but, unlike the earlier model, it has  microswitches rather that the cheaper gamepad type mechanism supplied with THEC64MINI. Also the joystick handle is black rather than red.

C64 & THEC64 User manuals

OK, now to test the beast! Using all the cables that came with the system, I connected THEC64 to my standard test rig which was set up for my A1222 beta system. With the power off, I connected the Joystick, the HDMI cable to the monitor and finally the Micro USB B cable to the power plug. I powered up the monitor and selected HDMI mode and pressed the power button on THEC64. The red power neon lit up and I waited for the monitor to burst into life....and I waited for the monitor to burst into life.... and I waited for the ..... OK. I think you get the message. Perhaps THEC64 did not like my monitor? I selected another HDMI monitor and went through the same procedure..... and got the same result! Fearing the worst, I disconnected the monitor from my X5000/40 and connected it to THE64. Exactly the same result again. The screen remained blank. Was the machine D.O.A, was this the Commodore curse striking again? I retrieved THEC64MINI and connected it to the same monitor. On applying power, the screen again gave me that blank stare! So unless the both machines were faulty it had to be either the PSU unit or the HDMI cable. I replaced the HDMI cable first and powered up THEC64MINI. This time the screen burst into life.

Now to check THE64. I connected it up again and hit the power button, after a couple of seconds the [Retro Games THEC64] splash screen was displayed on the monitor and shortly after that the machine booted to the initial setup mode. Who would have thought a brand new HDMI cable would be faulty? I was able to quickly set up my preferences using the joystick:  Language: English; Display: European 4:3 CRT, Boot mode: Classic; Computer Mode: C64 PAL. THEC64 has a nice little bonus in that it also offers a Vic20 mode, not that I will be using that very much. I quickly checked out the GUI navigation which, apart from a few extra items, was almost identical to the very intuitive system introduced with the mini model. I visited the RetroGames website to check for any updated firmware and found new versions for both the Mini and Maxi machines. The firmware is very easy to update. Simply format a USB drive as FAT32 and copy the downloaded firmware file to the drive. Insert the USB drive and navigate to the [Device Settings/System information] menu. If the firmware on the USB stick is a newer version you will have the option of installing it, otherwise the file will not be shown.

Basic, Basic on THEC64

There are some new games supplied with THEC64 but after upgrading the firmware I was really eager to check out the new full size keyboard. As I said, I was never much of a games player (unless it was football). I changed to the Classic C64 mode and wrote a few line of Basic code. I have to be honest, I had forgotten how awkward the C64 keyboard is to type on but, after a few minutes it all came flooding back to me, 38 years later! I was pleasantly surprised. Now for the ultimate test, Superstar Soccer in 2021.

The game actually played OK on THEC64MINI, perhaps not quite as fluid as playing on a real C64, although I'm sure the spongy joystick did not help, but loading times were so much faster from USB. I purchased the game in 1987 to play on my C128D when I lived in the USA. I know that date is correct because the same unnamed brother I mentioned above visited me in Houston, Texas during his summer break from university. We played Superstar Soccer almost every day, whenever I had some spare time. Together we managed to create an all-conquering team that progressed from the division 4 eventually winning Division 1 and the Playoff final. Ah, those were the days.

Back to the test. As expected, Superstar soccer loaded really fast from the USB stick connected to THEC64. However, I could not get the joystick to work with the game. I connected a second joystick and was able to play the game with that but I had to continually switch between joysticks after each game finished. I then discovered that you can change the joystick port on the fly by pressing and holding the menu button on THEC64 joystick and pressing either button A or B to swap between joysticks 1 and 2. What was that about not needing to read the manual? The new joystick with its microswitches had that noisy but reassuring clickety-clack sound as I moved my diminutive striker around the screen chasing blocky 8-bit shadows as I struggled to recapture my performance of yesteryear.

As a comparison, I set up the game on my vintage 1983 Commodore 64. I loaded the game from the 1541 floppy disk drive. It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to load the file, 92s to be precise even with a fast loader enabled, but finally the game loaded. It took 3s on THEC64, 1-0 to THEC64. Running the program once the file loaded, 36s on THEC64 versus 13s on the C64 with the compressed loader file. Score 1 -1 (although not really a fair test since the compressed file cuts out the program startup screen and credits.) The blocky 8-bit graphics just didn't look right on a full HD 27" monitor, even with CRT scan lines selected, compared to the image on my 14" Commodore 1701 monitor, 2-1 to the C64. I'm sure the hi-fi experts would disagree but the 8-bit music and sound effects seemed about equal on both systems. Still 2-1 to the C64. Play-ability just about the same on both systems. Still 2-1. Overall ease of use, I've got to hand that to THEC64, 2-2. Expandability and compatibility with existing C64 peripherals, only one winner, 3-2 to the C64. Price and performance, has got to be THEC64, 3-3. Pure retro nostalgia - there's only one winner here, 4-3 to the C64.

Superstar Soccer 2021 - THEC64

OK not the most scientific or objective of tests but overall I have to admit THEC64 experience with its faithfully reproduced full size keyboard is far better than I really expected. The joystick driven GUI is easy to navigate and if you can ignore the fact that none of the original C64 peripherals are compatible, then it's a really good option if you want a relatively inexpensive, fast loading C64 which looks and feels like the real deal. If you are a fan of the Competition Pro style joystick then the updated version is a big improvement on the earlier model. If you don't have a working C64 machine and are looking for an easy, clean C64 experience with a working keyboard then I can thoroughly recommend THEC64 and, at £122 plus shipping, the price is just about right for the casual retro gamer. You can even begin programming in basic again.

But if you are still a fully fledged C64 addict and really want total compatibility with your C64 peripherals and cartridges coupled with a turbo charged performance then THEC64 might not be the one for you. As you might expect, with the C64 the best selling home computer of all time, there are plenty of C64 clone options to choose from.

Turbo Chameleon Cartridge V2

The pick of the crop are probably the FPGA based offerings which in theory should provide the best hardware emulation experience but usually at a much higher price. The Turbo Chameleon 64 V2 cartridge from Individual Computers which retails for 214.39 can be used with a C64 or, if you don't have a C64, in stand-alone mode.

The Ultimate64 Elite

For the ultimate turbo charged experience you should check out the aptly name Ultimate64, a replacement C64 motherboard designed by Gideon Zweijtzer who also created the The 1541 Ultimate cartridge. A new version called the Ultimate64 Elite is available to pre-order for €239 from the Gideon's Logic website.


 Amiga Mini (me)

If you are wondering about my interest in THEC64, its quite simple. A couple of years ago, Retro Games registered THEAMIGAMINI trademark in the UK and, as recently as May this year, registered the THEA500  trademark, both in Classes 9 and 28. Quite an impressive feat given the current legal dispute over the control and ownership of the "Amiga" brand. Given that Retro Games hold both trademarks you might have expected that it would developed a product using one of those names. Instead the company recently announced it is developing THEA500MINI console, a scaled down version of the Amiga 500 which is available to pre-order on Amazon for £103.92 plus shipping. It is very similar to THEC64MINI concept, featuring an arm board running an Amiga software emulator in a miniaturised replica case but this time styled like the Amiga 500. The joystick has been dropped and is being replaced with a gamepad and replica Amiga tank mouse. The 64 8-bit games are being replaced with 25 classic Amiga games. According to the publicity it will emulate an Amiga 500, 600 & 1200 (ECS/OCS/AGA). Once again the Amiga ROMs have been license from Cloanto Corporation and the product is scheduled to be released in March/April next year.

THEA500MINI available March 2022?

Will it be as successful as THEC64MINI? It's difficult to say. David Pleasance estimated that ~27 million C64s were sold while the total Amiga sales are thought to be around 25% of that number. There are a lot of hard core Amiga enthusiasts who already have access to a host of excellent FPGA clones which can accurately emulate multiple retro systems, not just the Amiga hardware. There are also Amiga software emulators on PCs and other hardware like the Raspberry PI. I think TheA500MINI will appeal to someone who used an Amiga but has since moved away from the scene and wants a quick and easy way to replay the popular Amiga games of their youth.

However, if Retro Games were to develop a full size MAXI version with a working keyboard I think that would potentially attract a lot more die-hard Amigan fans. Hackers are already replacing the arm board inside THEC64 with systems like the Mister to achieve near perfect hardware emulation provided by C64 FPGA core. I can imagine the same happening if Retro Games were to create a full size THEA500 Maxi, especially if it were priced at a similar level to THEC64. Anyway, only time will tell.

Retro mania

Returning to the 8-bit theme, I was walking along the waterfront the other day, prior to the latest lockdown, when I noticed a Wellington Museum billboard advert promoting the Poly-1 micro. Having lived through the early days of the microcomputer revolution, I thought I knew all of the micros that were developed from the MITS Altair in 1975 and Chuck Peddle's 6502 which powered many of the early 8-bit micros. My first computer was a Commodore Pet  and I took interest in all the early models which were mostly developed in the UK, USA and Japan. However I had never heard of the Poly-1, a microcomputer which was apparently developed in New Zealand for schools and education.

A yellow version of the Poly-1

After a little research I discovered that it was a fully integrated all-in-one computer (a bit like the Commodore PET) designed by Neil Scott and Paul Bryant of the Wellington Polytechnic School of Physics, Electronics Telecommunications and Electrical Engineering (now Massey University) to serve the New Zealand school market. Back in 1980 Scott, with a team of six engineers and technicians, began to design and build an advanced microcomputer using the best technology that was available at the time. The first prototype, code named Polywog, was was built using off the shelf components which  included a Motorola 6809 CPU with 64 KB RAM and a video card which displayed 8-colour 40 column high resolution graphics on a 14" Philips colour monitor. This was almost 2 years before the C64 was released.  The NZ Government's Development Finance Corporation (DFC) formed a partnership with Progeni Computers, a successful New Zealand software business, to create Polycorp to manufacture and and distribute the Poly-1 as the first ever computer custom designed for schools and teaching, pre-dating the BBC Micro from Acorn Computers in the UK.

Poly-1 micro for NZ schools & education

Fifty working prototypes were built before the Poly 1 was released in 1981. By that time it included a built-in colour monitor and keyboard all enclosed in a moulded fibreglass case with carry handles. It also included SAA5050 teletext, 6840 clock, 6854 networking and with the addition of a separate Proteus module up to 32 Poly-1s could be networked. A network of computers in every school connected to a file server. File servers connected by phone-lines to a centralise mainframe. Software build in pairs with teacher with programmer. This forward thinking vision in 1980 was truly amazing. Unfortunately it would not last.

Educational & gaming software

Poly-1 Educational & gaming software

Although the project was initially supported by the New Zealand government they eventually reneged on a $10m Ministry of Education agreement to purchase 1000 units over 5 years. The then Minister of Regional Development, Warren Cooper reportedly remarked that he and his colleagues "could see no reason why Government should spend money so that teachers could do even less work". Sigh, what happened to that forward thinking!

There was no doubt it was expensive but NZ could have been at the forefront of the evolving microcomputer revolution! A lower cost version, the Poly-2. was produced which cost NZ$3,775 for the Poly-2, monitor and Proteus module. However, major price cutting by Apple, who dumped the Apple II Plus on the NZ market at an educational price of NZ$1200 (the normal retail price was NZ4,812) killed any competition.

Poly-1 Network - Australian army

The project didn't die overnight. Progeni took over the joint company from the DFC and began marketing the Poly-1 in Australia. In all, only a couple of thousand units were ever sold, some went to the Australian army who operated Poly-1 network for a number of years.

A Poly-C model was released but, despite its technical superiority it could not compete with the cheaper IBM PC clones. Now where have I heard that before? The Poly computer line was discontinued in 1989 after the struggling BNZ bank called in its loans forcing Progeni to go out of business.

For more information please visit the Poly-1 preservation project and Terry Stewart's blog.

Birthday greetings

In case you missed the news, 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the Linux kernel. In 1991 Linux Torvald a young Finnish graduate student announced on the comp.os.minix Usenet group that he was developing "a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386 (486) AT clones." Thirty years later Linux rules the computer world. It powers most websites including social media giants such as Facebook, Google and even Wikipedia. It dominates the cloud and is even the most used OS on Microsoft Azure platform and don't mention supercomputers, the top 500 all run Linux. And to top it all, if you include Android, Linux is also the most popular OS for end users. Not that bad for a hobby development.

Happy Birthday Linux, but you are still younger that the AmigaOS which turned 36 this year.  That's all for this update,,,,,, opps, I almost forgot, if you were looking for an update about the A1222 Plus check out my Soapbox article in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine.

Until next time...............................






Follow your bliss

I can't believe it's already June and I'm just posting my first blog of the year. I do have some excuses. The book I'm co-authoring with David Pleasance does take up a lot of my spare time although that is not the only reason for my tardiness. Several of the companies I'm directly involved with have been helping to protect the world from COVID-19. One company in particular received official clearance from the New Zealand Prime Minister to keep production up and running throughout the various New Zealand lockdowns last year. Not that we've really had it that bad in New Zealand compared to many other countries around the word. The additional work pressure has prevented me from enjoying my Amiga hobby as much as I would like.

With 2020 well and truly behind us it has certainly been a year to remember and one we  probably want to quickly forget. For Amiga enthusiasts the year marked the 35th anniversary of the Amiga's launch and, way back in January 2020, which seems like a lifetime ago now, Amiga Ireland was the first of many international shows planned to celebrate the event. Unfortunately, after the outbreak of COVID-19, it was not to be as major Amiga shows in the UK, USA and Netherlands were delayed then eventually cancelled as the pandemic quickly spread around the world. Fortunately, Brian Deneen, Jerry Gray and the rest of the SACC team, in collaboration with Bill Borsari and his AMIWEST Broadcast unit, ensured that Amiga 2020 went ahead as usual, albeit in digital format making it the 23rd consecutive AmiWest show. I still can't see many Amiga shows happening this year and am looking to 2022 before we can start up again.

It's in the bag

As I mentioned, apart from work, much of my free time has been taken up with the book I'm co-authoring with David Pleasance. I'm pleased to report that we have more or less finished Volume one which is now in the hands of the proof reader having been meticulously edited by Simon Busby, our very strict editor. I had not realised how much effort was involved writing a book. It's been an interesting, enjoyable though very time-consuming experience. Fortunately David has looked after all of the administrative hassle like handling all of the Kickstarter communications, organising artwork production, dealing with printers and publishers and generating publicity for the books. I have concentrated on researching the history, obtaining quotes and submissions from other contributors and finally writing the text chapter by chapter. When a chapter's finished I pass it to David for review and comment. It an iterative process which can take two or three edits before we are both happy with the content.

Simon Busby - editor extraordinaire

After that, we forward it to Simon to perform his magic. That's when the real works starts! Just joking but Simon really does a remarkable job ensuring that the story integrates well and that all news releases and comments are accurately referenced with working web links wherever necessary. He also corrects any typos and grammar and adds an extra sense check to the flow of the story. He's a hard taskmaster but David and I would have it no other way. We have been through multiple edits and rewrites, and that is after David and I had originally signed off each chapter.

Dave McMurtrie - Commodorean proofreader

One things for sure. Whether you like the book or not the text will have been fully researched and cross-referenced with additional comments from people who were actually involved. As I said, the next step is proof reading and Dave McMurtie, father of the Commodore International Historical Society, has taken on the task. If you don't know Dave, check out his illuminating interview with Don Greenbaum the former treasurer of Commodore International. It provides a fascinating insight into the complicated lifestyle of Irving Gould, Commodore's itinerant chairman. Dave is powering through his proofreading task and passing his findings back to Simon for the final review and sign off.

Although my previous Amiga Retrospective and Classic Reflections series for Amiga Future magazine, have provided the backbone for the book we have also unearthed a lot of new information and some untold secrets that have never been revealed before. The second Volume is already half written although we have not passed any of the chapters to Simon yet. Naturally, David is desperate to get the second volume to the printers as soon as possible but we need to make sure that the content is accurate, readable but most of all enjoyable. I hope we do not disappoint!

I think the post Commodore Amiga story makes fascinating reading and if they ever decide to make a film about it, I want to be played by Tom Hardy. I see David as Anthony Hopkins. Hey, who said more likely Laurel and Hardy! 😉

Just can't get enough?

With apologies to Depeche Mode for stealing their song title, but I think it describes Anton Preinsack who recently signed up to A-EON's AmigaDeveloper team and rejoined the ranks of AmigaOS 4 beta testers.

Anton Preinsack with his X5000/40 & Michelle poster

He acquired his first Amiga in 1989, an Amiga 500, which was followed by an Amiga 1200 a few years later. Anton, who is a professional journalist and screenwriter from Vienna, Austria, is no stranger to the Amiga next-generation scene. He purchased an A1-SE from Eyetech and wrote the first review of AmigaOS 4 for a German magazine before its public pre-release. Over the years he has worked for various Austrian print magazines and also written numerous articles for Amiga Plus and Amiga Future. Apart from his Amiga & AmigaOS passion he likes movies, DC Comics and writing horror stories. Hey! who said "the curse of the Amiga?" 😉 One of his horror stories, "The Maggots", was recently published by Blitx Verlag in the latest edition of Super Pulp. He also has two screenwriting credits for a drama and a film short. Anton explains,

I had always a passion for writing and in combination with my interest for movies I decided to visit a film school in Austria to become a professional screenwriter when I was young. Although I never had a big breakthrough in the film business and Spielberg never called me, I was involved as screenwriter in some smaller Austrian film productions e.g the movie "Michelle" (1993) and earned an official Austrian Screenwriter award in 1999. I've written many AOS4-related articles and interviews. After my A1-SE phase I took a short break from beta testing only to become involved again when ACube released the SAMflex system. I reviewed of one of the very first motherboards produced. In 2014 I signed up to X5000 beta test program but unfortunately, because of financial difficulties l had to give up my place on the team [which was taken by Benny Damsgaard] as I couldn’t do as much testing as I had done in the past. However, my name was on the Cyrus+ motherboard and I vowed to rejoin the beta test program as soon as I was able. I'm pleased to report that this year I joined A-EON's X5000/40 beta test program and now have my very own system which is up and running with AmigaOS 4.1 and Enhancer Software 2.0. It's a really nice system and my best AmigaOS 4 experience so far. My main AmigaOS 4 focus over the past 20 years, apart from beta testing, was applying my journalistic skills writing articles and conducting interviews with key Amigans and I hope to continue this work in the future. I've even translated some of Trevor's articles for the German language edition of Amiga Future and hope to involved in some other translation work in the near future. 😉

Many thanks Anton. Welcome back to the Amiga family.

Play it again Stephen & Hans

DvPlayer, created by Stephen Fellner, was one of the first professional video players for AmigaOS 4. A feature limited OEM version was supplied as contribution with the AmigaOS 4 distribution iso. Registered users could purchase an update to the full version which included support for many video formats including MPEG-1/2, AVI, ASF/WMV as well as MPEG audio files and VideoCD, SVCD and DVD video.

Stephen Fellner & Hans der Ruiter

The player also supports many audio and video codecs via avcodec.library, including MPEG Video 1/2, DiVX, XVID, MJPG, Cinepak, Indeo Video, PCM, MPEG Audio (Layer1-3) and more. The full version also unlocked different skins and entitled the registered user to free updates when they were made available. A-EON Technology acquired DvPlayer from Stephen in 2015 and work continued on adding support for A-EON's  RadeonHD v2 driver’s hardware accelerated video playback using the graphics card’s own GPU.

Unfortunately, although a beta version was developed it was never commercially released as Stephen needed to concentrate on supporting his own business and, at the time no other developers could be found to complete the work.

Fast forward to 2021, and I'm pleased to report that our graphics guru, Hans der Ruiter picked up where Stephen left off and has produced a new beta version of DvPlayer which is currently under test.

DvPlayer 2021 with composite video support - X5000/40

It allows high resolution video files to be played either in full screen mode or scalable windows which can be resized on the fly. Matthew Leaman has informed me that, all being well, the new version will be released on AmiStore next month. In the meantime here is a screen capture of DvPlayer playing an HD and 1080p video simultaneously on the X5000/40.

Magic Mason

In other good news, Matthew has informed me that Martin Merz of Mason Icons fame has granted A-EON permission to distribute his AISS (Amiga Image Storage System) with any future A-EON software projects.

Martin Mertz

Martin has already created a distinctive  icon set for A-EON's Enhancer Software pack but you might be surprised to learn that he has been producing AmigaOS icons for 20 years. He started in 2001 with toolbar replacements for the AmigaOS. However, he received an increasing number of requests from developers wanting special icons for their projects. When he realised he was getting repeated requests for the same basic icons he decided to create a standardised archive which became the foundation for for his AISS initiative. At the end of 2003 he collected all the icons he had created into one archive and devised a standard method for accessing them. The first public released of AISS was in June 2004 with a set of glow icons for AmigaOS 3.5 and 3.9 systems.

Enhancer Software - Mason Icons set

Initially he used Personal Paint 7.1 to create his icons but after Amiga, Inc. announced a cooperation with Corel he switched to Photo-Paint. Unfortunately the relationship between Corel and Amiga, Inc. never materialised but that did not stop Martin from adding to his growing Icon collection.

His latest version, AISS 4.22, contains over 2,600 images, most of which are in 16x16 px and 24x24 px in 32-bit and Alpha Channel format. When Martin was asked about his future plans for AISS he  said, "I want to make sure that AISS remains free and will continue to be free for the benefit of the community", Many thanks Martin, the Amiga community appreciates and thanks you for your excellent work.

Ross - AmigaKit

Talking about Matthew, he has just infomed me that Ross has joined his AmigaKit team to help him with his ever increasing workload. Sit down everyone who said about time too. 😉 Seriously though, AmigaKit has supported the Amiga community for over 16 years, and is one of the few Amiga retailers who has funded new hardware and software development for both Classic and Next-Generation Amiga systems. Welcome to our world Ross, you can buy me a beer next time I'm in Cardiff! 😉

Until next time..............

Oh, I almost forgot. I received a selection of images from ACube's Enrico Vidale ............

The Italian job - Amore mio  - A1222 Plus v1.3 prototype




Amiwest 2020 celebrating Amiga35

With the AmiWest 2020 show less than a couple of weeks away it's time to give a big shoutout to the traditional AMIWEST Broadcast which is even more important this year. Every year Bill Borsari live streams presentations and interviews to an expectant worldwide Amiga audience.

AmiWest 2020 - Amiga35

This year his role takes on an even greater significance as Covid-19 travel restrictions mean that international visitors will not be able to attend and out of state USA numbers will most likely be reduced. Unfortunately, due to New Zealand travel and quarantine restrictions I will not be able to travel to Sacramento so I will miss the show for the first time since I attended  AmiWest's Amiga 25 celebrations in 2010 to present the first public display of the AmigaOne X1000 in North America running a beta version of AmigaOS 4.1. Happy memories indeed. However, in case you thought you had escaped me this year I have supplied SAAC with a pre-recorded video presentation ;-). I am pleased to confirm that A-EON Technology is once again the show's Gold sponsor.

Fortunately for us Amigans, although most Amiga 35 celebrations have been cancelled this year due to the pandemic, Brian Deneen and his SACC team have decided that the AmiWest show must go on. AmiWest 2020 will be SACC's 23rd consecutive show, as Brian reminded me, AmiWest Broadcast has been streaming the show over the internet "long before Zoom was popular!"

Bill Borsari interviewing Daniel Mussener

If you are a US based Amigan and would like to attend in person, the show officially opens at 10 am on Saturday 24th August and closes at 4pm on Sunday 25th. But if possible, I suggest you try to arrive on the 23rd and join in some great triple-A fun at the casual Friday evening gathering.  Due to catering uncertainties in the time of Covid-19, the Saturday night banquet is a little different this year. The SACC organisers are recommending that attendees order their own food of choice online from their favourite delivery service or pick-up take-out and dine together in the AmiWest show hall.

For more details about the AmiWest 2020 and Bill Borsari's AmiWest Broadcast schdule check out the official AmiWest website for more details.

Viva Amiga to the rescue

Since my last blog post, the Kickstarter campaign for the new book, "From Vultures to Vampires", which I'm co-authoring with David Pleasance, easily reached its minimum target of £25K. David was looking for an attractive stretch goal which did not add to the cost of international shipping which is surprisingly quite expensive for a small but relatively heavy item like a book. I knew I had the very thing to solve his problem.

Viva Amiga Extended Remix on Vimeo

Late last year, in preparation for Amiga 35 celebrations, I commissioned Zach Weddington to produce an extended remix version of his Viva Amiga documentary. Although the original film was well received, at around one hour long it was just too short. The new remix version runs for 2 hours and 40 minutes and includes a lot more interviews and stories from key Amiga developers and other Amiga luminaries and enthusiasts. Since I have sole distribution rights I was able to offer David the options of supplying a digital download of the extended version as a free stretch goal for all of the Kickstarter backers no matter their pledge level. He set what I thought was an ambitious stretch goal of £35K but this was easily reached and he ended up raising £42,813 from 1,005 backers. As the video is very large at 5.83 GB for the 1080p MP4 version, David chose to deliver it through the Vimeo platform. All backers of his campaign can freely watch or download the standard 1080p version or choose the smaller but lower quality HD or SD version. The film being on Vimeo has an added benefit. Even if you did not back David's Kickstarter campaign you can still rent or buy Viva Amiga Extended Remix movie with all sales passing to David to help cover streaming costs and other expenses. As far as the book goes, I've spent a fair bit of time over the past few months researching and collating my Amiga articles. To help add more colour to the story we have also been reaching out to key individuals who have or are still contributing to the Amiga's post-Commodore story. I'm pleased to report that the vast majority have agreed to add their voice to the narrative.

Vampire 4 Raffle prize

As part of the Kickstarter campaign, playing on David's catchy book title, the Apollo Team agreed to donate one of their "Vampire 4 Standalone" FPGA based Classic Amiga compatible systems, valued at €570, to be offered as a raffle prize for everyone who pledged to the campaign. All backers, no matter what their pledge level were entered into the prize draw. A random draw from the 1005 backers was held live on Amiga Bill's Twitch stream and the lucky winner was Rudolf Petry from Germany. Rudolf was naturally very pleased with his prize and said, "I'm happy to be the winner of this wonderful Vampire V4. It was on my wish-list for Christmas, with the A1222.  The A1222 is on the list for 4 years (make it any sense to send you good German beer to speed things up?)."

I asked Rudolf whether I could mention him in my blog and he replied, "My 6 year old daughter, ask me last Saturday what I have played when I was young (I got my A500 when I was 14 years old). I showed her "The great Gianna Sisters" on YouTube and she ask me how could she can play this game . I said I must install it on my A1200 with (OS 3.1.4) and the we can try it. It's time to 'Amigarise' the next generation. I have two students that believe Apple have invented the GUI. They don't know Xerox PARC. For me its unbelievable why people think Apple is the best firm in computing. The Apple 1 & 2 was great machines for their time. But the Atari and Amiga were still miles ahead. Commodore missed in the USA so many opportunities with the Amiga, it's unbelievable. I would like to see this story on Amazon or Netflix. My personal dream is to revitalise  the genre  of  party games on the Amiga with EntwicklerX." Thanks for that Rudolf, I can see why you made a pledge for our book. 🙂

If you are wondering what happened to Stephen Marshall, the Canadian raffle winner of the A1222 from David's first book, Commodore - The inside story, read on. Due to the ongoing delay exacerbated by Covid-19, A-EON offered Stephen the option of a free upgrade to an AmigaOne X5000/20, valued at €2,000 or wait for his A1222 Plus to be ready. I'll let you guess what he chose. 😉 Look out for an A1222 Plus update in my upcoming AmiWest presentation.

Aussie Rules

In my Soapbox article for Amiga Future which will appear in the next edition of the magazine I wrote about Mark Falconer who had recently become the owner of one of A-EON's AmigaOne X5000/20 systems.

Mark and his X5000/20

Mark is an active member of the growing Amiga Retro Brisbane user group and like most Amigans is a pretty smart guy too. He contacted me with a couple of questions about his new X5000/20 but we were soon talking about our respective Amiga history. When he mentioned his CD1200 project I was really intrigued and asked for more information and he sent me this:

"Last year, I started to think about the A570 (it’s like the girlfriend that got away, ha!) and I tried to buy one, but after missing out on too many auctions I lost interest. In any case, the A1200 was the system I really wanted the CD drive for, as it had started to become my goto machine. Getting a lot of enjoyment out of problem solving, I started to research online how I could connect an external CD drive without hacking up the A1200’s case which most mod’s seem to involve.

Mark's Amiga CDnest prototype

The design of the Amiga CD1200 prototype, after seeing it on Dan Wood’s YouTube channel, inspired me. I set to work designing a case and interface on one of the 3D packages I use at work as an Architect. A friend of mine who is similarly enthusiastic about making and designing, printed a 3D case and my "Amiga CDnest" project based on the CD1200 case design was born. I created an Amiga CDnest Facebook project page to document the journey which has been a slow process largely due to how we turn a niche low volume, labour intensive prototype into a finished product.

Amiga CDnest in action

The case design has been the hardest and I am currently investigating changing over from plastic to powder coated metal for the body. The drive fully operates exactly how I want it to do, but I want to get all the other elements right and not sell a product that breaks or doesn’t work in some configuration. If someone else beats me to the Kickstarter or production then I’ll naturally be disappointed, but I can live with that. Developing for the Amiga is exciting but as a niche market the product has to be spot on as the user base is a lot smaller. I have a lot of respect for people who have had the vision, time and drive to undertake what is a very challenging task."

I have to say I totally agree with you on that point Mark and "maker projects" like yours is what makes the Amiga community so special. If you want to know more about Mark's Amiga passion you will have to read the next edition of Amiga Future magazine.

and finally

If you like to read my Classic Reflections series but are not a native German or English speaker you should check out Obligement magazine for the latest translations by David Brunet of two of my articles originally published in Amiga Future magazine about the major contributions made by two stalwarts of the Amiga scene, Haage & Partner and Phase5 (part 1), and what happened to them after the demise of Commodore.

That's all for this update.

Next stop AmiWest, I wish, but no use crying over spilt boing balls 😉





Kickstarting out of Lockdown

It's been a while since my last update but, with the Covid-19 pandemic still dominating world news and events, it looks like my plan to attend various international Amiga 35 events will definitely be cancelled this year. Most of the shows I was planning to attend have at best been delayed, or at worst cancelled altogether due to Covid-19. Flashback 2020 is the latest event to be cancelled which is now scheduled for June 2021. Not that it really makes much difference to me since New Zealand has imposed strict quarantine restrictions and if I could actually leave the country I would be held in a government approved quarantine facility for fourteen days on my return to make sure I did not have the virus. Such is life.

So what can an Amigan do when he can't travel the world visiting Amiga 35 events? I know, I can help write a book about the Amiga. 🙂 Of course that is nothing really new. Since 2007 I've been writing Amiga articles covering all aspects of the Amiga scene. First, a series of articles called Amiga Retrospective that began in Total Amiga magazine and transferred to Amiga Future magazine after Total Amiga ceased publication. The series, which ran for 20 issues, began as a review of the history and timeline of the Amiga computers produced by Commodore but morphed into the story of the Amiga in the post Commodore era. I've said on many occasions that the Amiga Retrospective series led me to developing next-generation Amiga hardware. 🙂 I also wrote a follow-up series of articles entitled, Classic Reflections, which told the story of key individuals and companies who contributed to the Amiga’s success and what happened to them after the demise of Commodore. That series, also published in Amiga Future, ran for 32 issues and is currently being translated into French by David Brunet for his Obligement webzine. His latest translation of one of my articles, Whatever happended to Micronik? was recently posted on Obligement. I've also written many other articles for Amiga Future covering a wide range of Amiga topics, including show reports, special reviews, Devcons, and regular Soapbox Articles. I've even penned an article entitled, What is an Amiga? which reviewed all of the wild, wacky and wonderful post Commodore Amiga inspired developments.

You might be wondering why I'm even mentioning this? Well it's quite straightforward really. I'm excited to be collaborating with David Pleasance on his second book entitled, From Vultures to Vampires which looks at the Amiga's fate in the post-Commodore years. If you read David's first book, Commodore: the inside story, you will know I had the privilege of writing the book's foreword. So when David mentioned his idea of writing a book chronicling the Amiga's post-Commodore years, I just had to be involved. David is the first to admit that, after his and Colin Proudfoot's failed attempt to acquire the Amiga assets following Commodore's bankruptcy, he departed from the Amiga scene. If you read David's book you will know he embarked on a very colourful life that did not involve computers in any shape or form. However, he was drawn back into the Amiga fold after his attendance at the Amiga30 show in Amsterdam.

Mike Rivers singing "The Chicken Lips Blues"

He was really suprised by the interest shown by Amiga enthusiasts desperate to hear more about his time at Commodore and the inner workings of a company that went from a billion dollar turnover to zero in just about three years, a less than impressive feat immortalised by Mike Rivers' song, The Chicken Lip Blues, in Dave Haynie's famous Deathbed Vigil video.

Anyway, back to the book. I've researched and collected so much detailed information over the past 35 years but, apart from a few in-depth interviews with people like Perry Kivolovitz of ASDG and even David and Colin about their time at Commodore UK, I don't have a lot of personal input from many of the key individuals involved. I like to believe that my two part interview with David & Colin for Amiga Future inspired David to write his first book. 🙂 In the new book, David and I want to include interviews with key players involved in the Amiga's post Commodore story. Of course I'm sure not everyone will want to contribute but I hope that most people will be willing to share their personal Amiga story, whether positive or negative. So if you would like to read about the twists and turns of the Amiga's post-Commodore journey, please support the Kickstarter campaign: From Vultures to Vampires. The pledges are building nicely and at the time of writing the Kickstarter campaign is over 70% of the way to its target of £25K with 16 days still to run. To be honest, as a long time Amiga enthusiast I hope we make it as I just can't wait to get started. If you want to hear more about plans for the book, check out The Retro Hour podcast and listen to David and me being interviewed by Dan Wood.

A1222 Musings

While the Covid-19 has certainly slowed the A1222 Plus Early adopter release schedule, work has continued despite the delays caused by the pandemic.

A1222 version 1.3

The project is being controlled by Matthew Leaman and he recently took delivery of the updated layout files from James Felix, the former Ultra Varisys engineer who was a key designer of the original Tabor board. The new motherboard, renamed A1222 v1.3, includes replacements for several obsolete minor components. Now Matthew can push ahead with producing a small batch of boards to ensure there are no surprises with the updated design after which he will give the green light to manufacture the Early Adopter batch. Over to you Matthew..........

and finally......

In a recent soapbox article for Amiga Future, I wrote about Sinan Gürkan, a long-time Amigan who has helped beta test AmigaOS 4 on the X5000 and A1222 as well as the earlier Sam460ex. His sixteen year old son, Atakan, designed a backplate for Sinan’s A1222 beta system which he 3D printed using PLA+ on a Creality Ender-3 3D printer.

Atakan with Sinan's A1222 beta system

Sinan has agreed that I can distribute the STL file to any A1222 beta testers who want to print their own backplate. His only stipulation is the file is supplied for personal use only. So if you are an A1222 beta tester and want to 3D print your own backplate please contact me for details. Sinan sent me a photo of Atakan with his A1222 beta system but unfortunately there was not enough space in the Amiga Future article to include the image. So here is the photo of Atakan with Sinan's A1222 beta system running Odyssey under AmigaOS4.1 Update 1. Apart from the nice widescreen monitor, Sinan's system includes a RadeonHD 7800 series graphics card.

......until next time, stay safe



In my previous blog update I wrote about the growing threat of the COVID-19 virus. I followed this with the contagion update in my Soapbox article which will appear in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine. Since writing both updates there has been an exponential growth in the spread of Covid-19, so much so that I'm writing this blog in week 3 of New Zealand's total country wide four week lockdown. Although the number of Covid-19 cases is still quite low in New Zealand at 1440 (confirmed and probable cases) and twelve Covid-19 related deaths at the time of writing, the county has gone into total hibernation with all non-essential businesses, restaurants, schools and even takeaways closed down.

New Zealand, a lockdown paradise?

People are restricted to their homes and required to stay within their family bubble. All non-essential car and air travel is banned. AirNZ, the country's award winning flagship airline has virtually shut down and our borders are closed to non-residents. The New Zealand lockdown is not unique of course and many countries have implemented similar isolation measures. Many other countries have shutdown all non-essential businesses which is having a massive detrimental effect on the economy. With many parts of the world also shut down because of the virus companies, both large and small, are facing a very uncertain future. If the pandemic is not brought under control you can expect to see a lot of companies, some household names disappearing from the scene.

AAA Bundle

Our Amiga community is not immune from these dramatic world events. The lockdown will delay the release of the A1222 Early Adopter edition with Matthew Leaman stating on it could be pushed back towards the end of the year. In better news, AmigaKit, as an online retailer, can still mail shipments to most parts of the world and Matthew has confirmed that the AAA Bundles will begin shipping in April/May. The AAA bundle was originally due to ship in February but the COVID-19 pandemic caused an unavoidable delay. However, Matthew has also confirmed that components of the AAA software bundle are being uploaded to Amisphere to allow registered AAA Bundle owners to start downloading titles. For news and updates on the A1222 Plus release please check the A1222 Plus Early Adopter website.

Amiga35 Celebrations on hold?

The year 2020 marks the 35th Anniversary of the Amiga's birth and many Amiga groups around the world were planning celebrations to mark the event. Needless to say the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown all plans into total disarray. The three Amiga35 events I'm involved with as a sponsor have either been postponed or cancelled. In the USA, was scheduled for early June in Santa Clara, California the spiritual birthplace of the Amiga. Unlike some parts of the USA, California has imposed strict isolation measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. As of March 19th and until further, all Californian residents are required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job. The hotel selected for the event in Santa Clara cancelled the booking and decided to bring forward a planned refurbishment programme. There are signs that the situation in California is improving and the organising team, headed by Bill Borsari and Dale Luck, are now trying to decide whether to reschedule for later in the year or delay the event entirely until 2021.  Likewise, in the Netherlands, Rene' van der Steen, Marvin Droogsma and Marcel Franquinet, the organisers of Flashback 20/20, an ambitious retro-computing party featuring an Amiga35 celebration, have postponed their event due to stricter measures imposed by the Dutch government on March 23rd. They have rescheduled Flashback 20/20 for September 12 and 13 and are currently taking bookings for the show in the hope that Covid-19 restrictions will have eased by then.

Meanwhile, the Amiga35 UK event, originally scheduled for October this year has now been cancelled altogether. The organisers, Johnathan Taylor, Paul Bridger, Katrina Taylor, Andy C. Spencer and Paul Hesford made the difficult decision to cancel the show after months of planning. Paul wrote, "Hi Trevor, it comes with a heavy heart and due to unforeseen circumstances and current climate out of our control we have decided to cancel Amiga 35 UK due to the coronavirus uncertainty and to avoid any disruption to the event, the venue and most importantly people's health especially those travelling." Their event included a charitable connection whereby part of the ticket sales and the proceeds from a special raffle/auction were to be donated to the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester. Although the show has been cancelled this year the organisers have put out a request for donations to the museum which is under threat of closure due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The organisers now plan to hold Amiga 35 UK some time in 2021.

With so many international borders now closed to non-residents, and international air travel decimated with at least half the world planes presently grounded, I think it will be increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for travel between certain countries. I hope these restrictions will be eased soon but I fear the various lockdowns and border controls will continue for much of this year. There is some hope. In China, where the Covid-19 outbreak is now abating, the amount of flights taking off has begun to increase. Hopefully we will see similar improvements in the rest of the world as the fallout from the pandemic wanes. Fingers crossed.

Does A1222 into A1500 go!

So what does an Amigan do when stuck inside during a pandemic lockdown? I was a backer of Steve Jones' Checkmate A1500 Kickstarter campaign and I received my case towards the end of last year. When Steve was planning the A1500 project I supplied him with the Tabor dimensions so he could ensure his case would support the motherboard.

Checkmate A1500 Plus computer case

Needless to say when my A1500 case arrived I eagerly unpacked the box only to discover that, although I could install the Tabor motherboard in the case, I needed an PCI-e extender cable for my Radeon RX560 gfx card which needed to be installed horizontally. I could not even install the gfx card vertically as a temporary fix since the case backplate prevents the card from being installed in the PCIe slot. Anyway, I ordered the extender cable online and waited for it to arrive. That was several months ago.

As the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread worldwide, I forgot all about the extender cable but, just before the New Zealand lockdown the cable finally arrived. So last week I removed the Tabor motherboard from the Fractal mini-tower case I originally used and set about installing it in my A1500 case. As you might expect, since Steve allowed for the Tabor board in his case design, the motherboard was a perfect fit.

Dennis' A1222 backplate

When I attended Amiga34 in Neuss last year, Dennis Zweedijk assited me with the A-EON Technology display along with Christian Zigotzky and his partner Nadine. Dennis is a long-time AmigaOS 4 beta tester and has helped beta test AmigaOS 4 on all of A-EON's AmigaOne machines to date: X1000, X5000/20, X5000/40 and A1222. Dennis created a 3D printed backplate for his A1222 beta system and brought a few extra backplates to the show to give away. I'm pleased to report that Dennis' 3D printing skills did not go to waste and the backplate was a good fit with the Tabor board and A1500 case. I installed my Radeon RX560 Polaris card horizontally and inserted the PCIe extender cable into the PCIe slot and connected the other end to the gfx card. The gfx card is two-slots wide and quite heavy. Although it installed horizontally without any problem, the whole of the weight of the card is being support by the gfx card backplate alone, since it is not supported by the PCIe slot. It not a problem for the moment but in the longer term I may have to install a prop to hold up the other end and take some stress off the card. Brings back memories of towering my A4000 motherboard all those years ago. 😉

A1222 board installed with Rx560 gfx card

A bigger issue is that the Rx560 gfx card requires additional power through a 6-pin PCIe connector. The connector is on the side of the card facing the left-side of the case and protrudes out the side of the case. With the connector in place it is impossible to install the case lid. I could replace the Rx560 card with a less powerful model that does not require an additional PSU connection and there are plenty of single slot Radeon cards available which do not require any additional power.

PCIe PSU connector issue

However,  I would prefer to keep my Rx560 card which plays 4k videos very nicely with A-EON's new video drivers. Searching online, I've tracked down some right-angle 6-pin PCIe mod connectors which just might do the trick? There might be enough space at the side of the case for the right-angle connector to attach to the gfx card and still allow me to install the case lid. It will be a tight squeeze but I'm hoping this will work. In the meantime I have no option but to leave the lid off the case.

I connected the Power and HDD LED cables and the Power On/Off lead to the motherboard along with a reset switch cable. I drilled a small hole in the A1222 backplate and installed the reset switch there. Out of the way but still easily accessible. The Tabor board has two additional onboard USB headers. Ideally I would like to bring them to the front of the case but that will require cutting holes in the plastic facia and finding a way to fix them in place. For the moment, I've connected a short USB cable to one of the onboard headers and run the USB cable out of the back of the case. I will need to replace this with a dual USB cable and socket solution in the future. Probably by cutting a hole for the USB connectors on the case's metal backplate. Finally, I connected the monitor to the HDMI connector on the gfx card. With everything connected, and the case lid off, now was the time for the acid test. I switched on the power to the external PSU, powered up the monitor and then pressed the power button on the front A1500 case.

A1222 powered with external PSU

The green Power and yellow HDD LEDs both lit up. After a short while the yellow LED turned off. After the kickstart files loaded the yellow HDD LED began flashing as the HDD was being accessed. It gave me a nostalgic feeling to see the traditional Amiga LEDs in operation once again. I'd read conflicting reports which suggested that not all PCIe extender cables work but I'm pleased to say that I had no problems and the Tabor board booted into the AmigaOS 4 Workbench at first time of asking.

So what's my opinion of the A1500 case? It's faithfully modelled after the elegant A3000 case design, although it's 6 cm wider and the height is approximately 0.5 cm less. It is very sturdily built and has the same depth as the A3000 case so there is plenty of room for the Tabor motherboard. In fact so much room it is almost too big. Even with a suitable internal PSU the mini-ITX Tabor motherboard hardly takes up much space. Of course the A1500 case was designed to take a variety of motherboards, many of which are much larger than the Tabor board. The issue with the gfx card PSU connector means I cannot install the case lid at the moment. I've ordered a slim line 300W internal power supply and I will try to track down a suitable right-angle PCIe power connector. At the moment though, it's not really an issue as I'm frequently testing different gfx cards and continually removing the lid, which takes a bit of practice, would be a nuisance. However, I do want to install the lid because I want to place the monitor on top of the case, just like in the good old days! 😉 So does the A1222 into A1500 go? The answer is yes and with a whole lot left over.

A nice pair: A1222 in A1500 with A3000

Update: the internal 300w PSU arrived just as I was about to post this blog so I quickly replaced the external PSU and installed the internal PSU in the A1500 case. The cable and PCIe PSU connector on the internal PSU are smaller than the connector on my external PSU and with a little bit of fettling (don't ask) I was able to connect the additional power cable and attach the case lid. I will need to create a special backplate to secure the internal PSU but for the moment it is OK. I placed the monitor on top of the A1500 case and, for comparison, put an A3000 desktop alongside it. The footprint of the A1500 is a little too big for my liking but the fact I can place the monitor on top of the case is a big bonus. I have to admit the A1222 in the A1500 case together with the original A3000 make a very nice pair. I created a short video of the A1222 playing a couple of HD videos simultaneously using a beta version of eMotion from EntwicklerX.

We are in the fourth week of lockdown in New Zealand  and the signs are the government might reduce the status to Alert level 3 this week. It won't make a lot of difference and I will still be mostly stuck at home. Maybe it's time to finally rebuild by A4000 Ateo tower system? 😉

Spring is in the air

If you follow the Remotely Interested podcasts you will know that Dr. Adam Spring, PhD is a closet Amigan, not that he really hides that affliction. 😉

Adam with Colin & Anneke Proudfoot & me at Amiwest 2019

In addition to his podcast work he is a regular contributor to IEEE Spectrum with articles covering Amiga 30 and the late Dave Needle. A self confessed technogeek, last year he was awarded his doctorate by Manchester Metropolitan University for his research into 3D documentation and digital heritage and recently he was elevated to IEEE Senior member status for his significant contributions to the profession. One of the people who nominated him for IEEE Senior member status was none other than Joe Decuir, who is an American fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and, of course, one of the original Amiga founding developers.

Adam with Larry - Laser scanning The Alamo

It will come as no surprise to learn Adam  is an expert in applying 3D imaging solution for digitising cultural heritage sites. Last year he worked on a project with 'Laser' Larry Kleinkemper of Lanmar Services to help digitise, via laser scanning, The Alamo Mission in Santo Antonio, Texas.

Adam & Tim Jenison - laser scanned

Adam's friend Tim Jenison, yes that Tim Jenison the co-founder of NewTek, offered to come along and film them laser scanning The Alamo. Subject to receiving permission, Adam hopes to be able to release the short film and scan data in the near future. Adam even manged to laser scan Tim during the filming!

Anyway, congratulations on your IEEE recognition Dr Spring, you clever b****r! 😉

Lockdown viewing

If you are stuck inside during Covid-19 lockdown, apart from rebuilding that old Classic 68k Amiga you could always watch one of the excellent Commodore or Amiga documentaries that are available on the web. Two immediately come to mind. The first dates back to 2010. That year was the 25th Anniversary of the Amiga's birth. I attended AmiWest 2010 to present the first public display of the AmigaOne X1000 in North America running a beta version of AmigaOS 4.1. I was joined by AmigaOS 4 contract developers, Thomas and Hans-Joerg Frieden and even Ben Hermans made a brief cameo appearance on behalf of Hyperion Entertainment. It's hard to believe that the past ten years have flown by so quickly. At the show I was interviewed by Zach Weddington for the Viva Amiga documentary film. It would take another seven years before the film was officially released which by that time it would also contain footage of the Amiga30th Anniversary event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California in 2015. An early version of the movie was premiered at the Amiga30th's Saturday night banquet and, as I wrote at the time, I sat at a table with many of the original Hi-Toro/Amiga founders and staff and there was barely a dry eye at the table as the movie played. One criticism frequently levelled at the film, apart from the length of time it took to release the final version, was that, at just over an hour playing time, it was too short. Well that is all about to change. With my support, Zach has been working on an extended version of the film entitled, funnily enough, Viva Amiga Extended Remix. I recently received my review copy of the updated documentary which is now over 2 hours and 20 mins long. The new version includes a lot more interviews and stories from key Amiga developers and other Amiga luminaries and enthusiasts. Apart from being longer it has a more upbeat feel compared to the original. It was my plan to offer the movie for screening at the various Amiga 35th events this year and hopefully this can still be achieved assuming the shows are able to go ahead. If not, there is always next year.

Arcadia - on Kickstarter soon

Meanwhile Zach has been working on another movie project in collaboration with Amiga Bill and a host or other notable Amigans. Arcadia, will travel through time to discover the secret history of arcade games. The people, the places, and the stories behind a century of gaming. As with Viva Amiga, the documentary will be funded through a Kickstarter campaign which should be launched in the near future. Click here for more details.

Steven Fletcher - Amiga 2020

The second documentary I can recommend is the The Commodore Story, released in 2018 by Steven Fletcher who directed and produced the film. The movie covers Commodore's 8-bit and Amiga machines with a heavy focus on the Jack Tramiel years. It is certainly worth watching if you want to find out more about the man and his often quoted philosophy that "business is war". Steven has another Kickstarter campaign running at the moment for a new documentary: Amiga 2020. Unlike the Commodore Story, his new film covers the post Commodore years and all the wild, wacky and wonderful Amiga developments and the Amigans who work hard to keep the Amiga spirit alive in 2020, 25 years after the demise of Commodore. The Kickstarter campaign has easily exceeded its minimum target of £12.5K with almost £30K already raised from 748 backers. Although all of the stretch goals have also been achieved you can still back Steven's Kickstarter campaign which (at the time of writing) has another 8 days to run. Personally, I really like the look of the Amiga 2020 baseball caps myself! 🙂

There are plenty of other excellent Commodore and Amiga documentaries available online if you find yourself with time on your hands during the lockdown. And if you are really bored you could always watch an Atari or Apple documentary. Yeah nah, as we say in New Zealand. 😉

ExecSG update from kernel Solie

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic the ExecSG Team has been quite busy over the past few months. I asked ExecSG Team lead, Steven Solie for a brief update and this is what he sent me, "The very first set of rebuilt kernels were produced in late August 2019. It took some time to get everything up and running smoothly so we didn't start adding new features until around November. Features like accelerated SPE copy routines for the A1222 and a brand new DMA engine API for the X5000 and A1222. There have also been many general bug fixes as we get ready for the release of the next update of AmigaOS 4.1 by Hyperion Entertainment. Of course, multi-core support continues to be a top priority and we've made significant strides with the first implementation targeted for the X5000 with the X1000 and A1222 to follow. The team has now grown to 15 members, including Trevor. I recently completed streamlining the build process for all supported AmigaOne platforms." Thanks for the update Steven, now get back to work! (Just kidding ;-))

Linux corner

While most of A-EON's development effort goes into supporting Classic and next-generation Amiga hardware and software it good to know our dedicated team of core Linux enthusiasts work hard to ensure that our AmigaOne machines continue to support modern PowerPC Linux distributions.

Christian in his Amiga cave

Although many people contribute to our Linux cause, I want to single out Christian Zigotzky who continues to ensure that A-EON's hardware is supported by the mainstream Linux kernel. He provides Linux support for all of A-EON Technology’s AmigaOne PowerPC hardware. This includes the AmigaOne X1000, X5000 and A1222. He is also an active member of the AmigaOS 4.1 beta test team and together with his wife Nadine has assisted me at every Amiga Germany show in Neuss. He is also very generous with his time, providing Linux support to other users including writing installation instructions and helping with installation problems.

Casey Cullen - Fienix Project

Christian also works closely with Casey Cullen who is the founder and maintainer of the Fienix project, a PowerPC Linux distro specifically designed for modern-day PowerPC machines. Christian provides Casey with kernels for his X5000/20 kernels and assists with debugging and help building several programs. Christian has posted screengrabs of Fienix running on his X1000 and X5000/40 and just to prove a point Casey has recently posted a video of his X5000/20 running Fienix steaming an HD video in youtube.

One good thing about Fienix is that Casey has pre-configured the distro to work out of the box with modern PowerPC hardware. As Casey, says in his video, "One thing I see online, quite a lot is that PPC can't stream HD YouTube videos", "Most definitely, if you have an AmigaOne system there's absolutely no reason why you cant stream an HD video from YouTube". Not only does Fienix allow you to play YouTube HD videos but it also allows video editing. In fact Casey has pre-configured Fienix to be a fully featured distro without the need to search for all those missing components to make it usable.

If you want to read more about Casey and his PowerPC Fienix distro check out this interview.

Some Boing cheer

Boing cheer to all Amigans

With all the negative news surrounding Covid-19 it's good to finish this update with a little Boing cheer. I think most people who follow my blog will know I'm always on the lookout for Amiga "signs" in everyday objects. Some might even say I was little obsessed! To feed my addiction people regularly send me their own Boing inspired photos so I thought I would post a few of the recent ones I recently received or spotted myself.

Until next time, stay safe...



Contagion edition

With the whole world worrying about the coronovirus threat, or COVID-19 as it's now officially called, I returned from my winter trip to Europe and have since come down with a heavy summer/winter cold! And before anyone starts worrying, I had the coronovirus test and I passed, well I think I passed, the result was positive! That was a joke by the way, quite a weak one I agree but in my current state of health its all I could manage. My trip to Europe was hectic and varied, covering both Amiga and non-Amiga business coupled with a great trip to Athlone to attend Amiga Ireland 2020, the first major Amiga show to celebrate the Amiga's 35th birthday.

Tripple_A fun Amiga Ireland 2020

Reflections - Amiga Ireland 2020

I've written a very short report about Amiga Ireland in my next Soapbox article for Amiga Future magazine so if you want to know more you will have to read the next edition. One thing I can say is Amiga Ireland is a great show and well worth a visit if you get the chance. The friendliness and socialising is "contagious" and this year Dave Haynie made a special appearance. A small group of us, including Dave, ended up talking and drinking through the night and most still made the opening of the show at 9am on Saturday morning. Mind you, international travel from Summer to Winter and back, little or no sleep coupled with heavy helpings of triple-A fun does have its consequences. Cough, sneeze!

A1222 Plus Update

While COVID-19 poses a threat to world health it has also had a major affect on international business which, according to a recent CNBC report could impact 5 million companies worldwide that rely on the output from Chinese factories and other businesses in the affected areas. According to reports, "Dun & Bradstreet analyzed the Chinese provinces most impacted by the virus, and found they are intricately linked to the global business network. The affected areas with 100 or more confirmed cases as of February 5 are home to more than 90% of all active businesses in China." There is a genuine concern that the coronavirus outbreak could damage the global electronics industry. Even A-EON Technology and AmigaKit have been affected with the supply of electronic components and circuit boards drying up. Matthew Leaman informed me that, due to factory shutdowns, several of his new classic Amiga hardware products have not been shipped or are now greatly behind schedule. A-EON Technology's A1222 early Adopter development and release schedule has similarly been affected and Matthew thinks the delays could push production into the third quarter of this year. Of course none of this compares to the concerns over the loss of life but it make you realise, in case you'd forgotten, what a global interconnected world we live in.

In better news, Serial Codes will be emailed to all AAA Bundle Customers next week which will allow them to register for the A1222Plus Early Adopter edition. Matthew also confirmed that the AAA Bundles themselves will now be shipped out the first week of March. For more information and updates check out the A1222Plus website.

 What the h*ll is Trevor's Axiom?

South Park's theory of online trolling

Continuing with the virus theme. While I was travelling in Europe I found myself in a hotel room with some time to kill. Hey, who said you should have watched the hotel's XXXX channel?  Anyway, I skimmed through Netflix's offerings on my ALICE laptop looking for something light and easy to watch. I spotted a more recent series of South Park being promoted. I haven't watched South Park for years and decided to watch "The End of Serialization As We Know It" from Series 20. About four and half minutes into the episode, a group of trolls explain Trevor's Axiom to Kyle, who immediately responds with, "what the hell is Trevor's Axiom?" I was thinking the same thing myself. According to South Park, it is a theory of online trolling in which one person can create a massive reaction on the internet. Their theory goes - Person A trolls Person B but it's not really about Person B. Person A wants to provoke a reaction from a third party, Person C. The intention is that person C's gross overreaction and self righteousness to the trolling of person B will elicit further reactions from persons D through F, who are not trolls but cannot help themselves from ripping on person C . Their reactions lead to outraged persons G through N and it keeps going like a fission reaction creating a fusion explosion bringing out the worst in humanity. Hmm, I may have seen this in action on one or two community websites?

Trevor the Troll

First and foremost, I categorically deny that I have anything to do with the Trevor's Axiom or trolling! Honest. 🙂 But the wacky theory put forward by the crazy, genius minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone did get me thinking about trolling and the spread of misinformation and fake news on the interweb. An MIT study found that fake news travels faster that real news on Twitter. The research reported that, "falsehood diffuses significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth, in all categories of information, and in many cases by an order of magnitude." Even worse, "the spread of false information is essentially not due to bots that are programmed to disseminate inaccurate stories. Instead, false news speeds faster around Twitter due to people retweeting inaccurate news items."

Is it a wonder that cyber-risk researchers at Stanford Engineering have been using tools for modelling the spread of infectious diseases like a deadly strain of Ebola to analyze the spread of fake news? Much like a virus, the researchers say that "over time being exposed to multiple strains of fake news can wear down a person’s resistance and make them increasingly susceptible. The more times a person is exposed to a piece of fake news, especially if it comes from an influential source, the more likely they are to become persuaded or infected."

Aint it the truth?

The European Union issued a JRC Digital Economy Working Paper on the digital transformation of news media and the rise of disinformation and fake news. It concludes that news from strong newspaper brands still attract large audiences to their newspaper websites and that real news consumption on these sites dwarfs fake news consumption. However, it also concludes that fake news travels faster and further on social media sites. Now there's a surprise. Not! Don't get me wrong, the Internet has become a vital and interwoven part of modern society and I for one would not want to return to a time before the birth of the WorldWideWeb and graphical web browsers. It impacts all of our daily lives and has brought positive benefits to education, business, communications, healthcare and government which still far outweigh the negative elements but, just like the Force in Star Wars, it does have a dark side.

As for Trevor's Axiom, I wondered where South Park got the name Trevor from? On searching the web I found a children's book entitled "Trevor the Troll" and various other Trevor trolling references. It's on the internet so it must be true!

An unexpected journey

Apologies to Peter Jackson for using the film title to the first movie in his Hobbit triology, but with Robert Bernardo shortly arriving in New Zealand I thought it was fitting. As many of you will know Robert is the President of FCUG, (Fresno Commodore Users Group) and every year attends AmiWest in Sacramento to capture videos of the Devcon sessions along with the AmiWest presentations and speeches which he posts online during and after the show. Although I used Jackson’s film title, Robert's journey was not totally unexpected. 🙂

Commodore Pentium Laptops

Robert retired from his teaching job a few years back and made the first of his round the world trips in 2016 to attend as many Amiga and Commodore user events he could find. He visited me in New Zealand and of course he wanted to see my Commodore and Amiga computer collection. He was very surprised to discover I had a couple of Commodore branded Intel Pentium 75 laptops which he and his fellow FCUG members did not know even existed.

Robert with Jane - Adelaide Retro Computing meeting

After his short stay in New Zealand we both travelled to Australia to attend the Adelaide Retro Computing meeting coordinated by Epsilon of  Epsilon's Amiga Blog fame. If you want to read Epsilon's excellent report of the event click this link. Robert also produced a video of my presentation at the meeting which should be available online. Safe travels Robert, see you soon in Wellington.

 Amiga 35 Events in 2020

I mentioned that Amiga Ireland was the first Amiga's 35th birthday event this year. There are many other 35th birthday celebrations in the planning stages. I know because I'm involved with and sponsoring at least three events around the world on behalf of A-EON Technology.

Amsterdam, Netherlands June 27-28

Some like Marcel and Marvin, the organisers of Amiga30 in Amsterdam, have already posted details of their event,  FLASHBACK 20/20, while others are in the very late planning stage and should be announcing information very soon. Anyway, watch this space. Viruses permitting, 2020 should be full of Triple-A fun for all Amiga enthusiasts whatever your Amiga flavour.

Until next time..........


Another sunny day

Christmas in NZ summertime

Summer has arrived in New Zealand. The sun is shining, the pohutakawa trees are beginning to bloom bright crimson so it must be Christmas time again. I think I've said this before, my northern hemisphere imprinted brain will never get used to Christmas in summertime! Fortunately, I will be heading to Europe next month to attend Amiga Ireland 2020 so I'm sure to get some traditional European winter weather coupled with a generous helping of great Irish hospitality. So if you are looking for something to do during the cold, dark winter days of January get yourself to Athlone in Ireland and have yourself some triple-A fun. I will be joined by Matthew Leaman, who will be selling a good selection of AmigaKit goodies, and this year, Commodore engineer supreme, Dave Haynie who will be making his first visit to the Ireland show. So what are you waiting for? Come along and enjoy some great company and be one of the first Amigans to help celebrate the Amiga's 35th birthday.

Amiga Ireland 2019

Amiga Ireland 2019

Amiga Ireland 2020, 17th - 18th January, Sheraton Hotel, Athlone, Ireland

The long and winding road

Apologies to the Beatles for plagiarising their song title but the development of A-EON's AmigaOne A1222 has certainly followed a tortuous path. Back in 2011 I gave an AmiWest presentation about the long development but eventually successful release of the AmigaOne X1000 computer. My intro slide showed an image of a winding road with multiple switchbacks which represented my feelings about the twists and turns that affected the X1000 development programme. While the development of the A1222 has not been so difficult from a hardware perspective, a series of unrelated events conspired to slow the development and delay the commercial release. The first A1222 prototypes were manufactured at the end of 2014 and since that time the A1222 Tabor motherboard has certainly been put through its paces. Initially by A-EON's core Linux team and then Hyperion's  AmigaOS4 beta testers. We've even had a couple of Tabor motherboards, code-named Atlantis & Pathfinder, running 24/7 helping John Paul Adrian Glaubitz with Debian SPE builds. In the future I will have to write about the A1222 development journey. It should make an interesting story. Anyway, getting back to the A1222, it gave me great pleasure when news of A-EON's A1222 Plus Early Adopter pre-registration finally broke.

Of course I already announced A-EON's Early Adopter plans at the recent Amiga 34 and Amiwest 2019 shows. I also revealed in my Soapbox article in the upcoming edition of Amiga Future magazine that Stephen Marshall from Canada was the lucky winner of David Pleasance’s special raffle prize. He will receive an A1222 Plus Early Adopter system donated by A-EON Technology supplied in a Checkmate A1500 case donated by Stephen Jones. The complete system will be assembled tested and supplied by AmigaKit, with Hyperion Entertainment providing the latest version of AmigaOS 4.1. Now that's what I call cooperation! Talking about the Checkmate A1500 case, my own Kickstarter backed case finally arrived in New Zealand a couple of weeks ago. I was planning to install my A1222 Tabor motherboard in the case but unfortunately I discovered I needed a PCI-e extender cable for my Radeon RX gfx card. Without the extender the card cannot be installed. I'm now waiting for the cable to arrive, so for the moment I will have to make do with my existing mini-tower case. So if anyone is planning to order a Checkmate A1500 case for your A1222 remember you will need a PCI-e extender cable.

AAA Bundle

Even better, Tony Wyatt, long-time and active Hyperion Entertainment developer is producing updated AmigaOS 4.1 isos which are being fully tested by the current A1222 AmigaOS4 beta test team. The newly formed ExecSG team, under the supervision of Steven Solie, is also working hard to optimise and maximise the A1222's performance. Meanwhile, Matthew Leaman has been coordinating with the original Varisys design engineers and together they have selected the company who are manufacturing the A1222 Plus Early Adopter run. Since posting the Early Adopter News Release, A-EON has been inundated with requests to purchase the AAA Bundle and for more information about the A1222 Plus. The number of hits on A-EON's Facebook page has smashed all previous records by almost 100%. As  a result we have decided to extend the Option 1 period until the January 31st.

The first hundred customers who purchase and register the new AAA package will have a limted time option to purchase the A1222 Plus motherboard at the special low introductory price. More information will be provided on the website which will go live in the next few days. By the way, if you are wondering what the Plus is all about, here is a short video entitled, "art imitating life, imitating art", brought to you by Enhancer Software V2.0 and the AAA Bundle and a nice little surprise from EntwicklerX. Oh yes, and its running on the A1222. 🙂

Croatian Amiga party 2019

Domagoj Ožanic

It seems only natural that a country which has a red and white chequerboard on its national flag would have an Amiga user group. So it was good to hear from Domagoj Ožanic, who is one of A-EON's very active A1222 beta testers, about the Croatian Amiga Party that was held in FER (Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing) in Zagreb on the 21st of December. Domagoj sent me some photos and a brief report about their Amiga show. The event was by invitation only and was the first Amiga-only party held in Croatia since 2014. Fifteen people turned up for the party although twenty people were expected. According to Domagoj, most of the attendees were diehard 68k Amigans but there was a lot of interest in his A1222 system which he had set up with a selection of classic and next-generation games and demos. He did his best to answers questions from the attendees about availability, costs, status of drivers, boot speed and where to purchase the various games and demos he was presenting on his A1222 beta system.

Amiga Croatia 2019 reflections

Domagoj wrote, "People were interested in A1222, playing Tower57, Battle Squadron and other Next-Generation games and demos. I saw a sparkle in the eyes from most Amigans that cameIt was very important on Amiga party to show legacy software that Battle Squadron was a right thing to do. I showed also Final Writer and UAE JIT with AGA games. First I showed how the A1222 early startup control is the same, then legacy software, then next-generation software. All in 1920x1080 resolution.

Domagoj's A1222 beta system

I showed a lot of demos also. Of course - all those demos run this fast and are amazing on our new kernel that was made by our new ExecSG team! That was a first Amiga Party in Croatia since 2014. Now we are ready for the big one in 2020 that will be open for (the general) public."

Thanks for the update Domagoj and for keeping the Amiga passion alive and kicking in Croatia.

Sage advice

When I attended the recent Amiga34 Germany show in Neuss I came across the Sage II, another early 68000 based computer which was being displayed by Stephan Kraus of

Sage II 68000 PC

I'm ashamed to say I had no real knowledge of the Sage II machine and Stephan explained to me that the original Hi-Toro development team used 68000 based Sage computers in the early development of the Lorraine prototype, which would eventually become the Amiga computer. Needless to say I was impressed. Later that day I met up with Commodore engineer Dave Haynie, who was a VIP guest at Amiga34 and asked if he had ever used a Sage computer for Amiga development.

Me & Stephan with his Sage II

Dave confirmed that he had only used Sun workstations for Amiga development which were provided by Commodore after the Amiga, Inc acquisition. He suggested I contact Dale Luck or RJ Mical who would have more information. Last week I happened to be on a Skype call with Dale Luck to discuss possible plans for an Amiga35 Celebration next year. He confirmed that Hi-Toro/Amiga Inc used several Sage models for the early Lorraine development. Dale also confirmed that, following the Commodore acquisition, the Californian engineers were supplied with nice new Sun workstations. He also revealed he was unsure about the suitability of the Sun workstation for Amiga development and made Commodore buy him a Sage IV machine. However, he said he shouldn't have worried. The Sun machines worked out very well and the Sage IV was hardly ever used.

The true father of low cost 8-bit computing?

I read the sad news that Charles "Chuck" Ingerham Peddle, an early pioneer of the microcomputer revolution recently passed away. A lot has been written about the contribution that Chuck made to home computing. As the lead designer of the low cost 6502 Microprocessor he helped light the fire which dramatically changed the future of home computing and eventually allowed Jack Tramiel and Commodore to deliver computing to the masses. Chuck originally worked for Motorola and could see the benefits of creating a low cost CPU at a time when Motorola was having difficulty selling its 6800 design kit for $300. Unfortunately his bosses at Motorola did not agree with his vision so in August 1974 Chuck jumped ship with Bill Mensch and a small team of other like-minded Motorola engineers and joined MOS Technology in an attempt to realise their technical ambition. A move that would ultimately allow Commodore to acquire MOS Technology and turbo charge the 8-bit microcomputer revolution. Chuck and his team created the low cost 6501 CPU which was pin compatible with Motorola's 6800 (although actually incompatible with the 6800) which allowed hobbyists to use existing Motorola development systems. However, on the 6501's release in 1975, Motorola sued MOS Technology claiming the design was based on its 6800 CPU. In an attempt to circumvent the legal challenge, Chuck and his team made a few simple design changes to create the 6502 CPU which was pin incompatible with Motorola's 6800 and sold for $25, a fraction of the costs of other CPUs at that time.

Commodore MOS Kim - 1

No longer able to use existing Motorola development kits, Chuck created the KIM-1, a small single board computer to showcase the 6502 CPU. Priced at $245 for the Kim-1 kit, it allowed engineers and hobbyists to build their own computer for under $500 with the addition of a PSU, cassette tape player and a user terminal. However, Motorola was a massive company with deep pockets and faced with an expensive legal challenge MOS Technology eventually settled with Motorola in 1976. Coincidentally, MOS Technology also had a thriving calculator IC business and, just like Commodore, its business collapsed when Texas Instruments entered the market with its own calculator products. In late 1976 Commodore acquired MOS Technology for $12m and Chuck Peddle was appointed Chief Engineer. Peddle convinced Tramiel that the calculator business was a dead end and the new craze would be home computers. Fortunately, Tramiel agreed and the rest as they say is history.

Commodore PET 2001

Peddle designed the Commodore PET 2001 which was released in 1977 and the 6502 CPU, and variations of its design, went on to power a whole range of 8-bit machines fueling the microcomputer craze of the late 1970s & early 1980s. In addition to the PET, the 6502 CPU (and its variations) powered the Apple I & II, VIC20, the Atari 2600 and Atari 8-bit family, Nintendo NES, Oric, Acorn Atom, BBC Micro, Atari Lynx and the record selling Commodore C64 plus many others. The 6502 design was also licensed to other companies such as Rockwell and Synertek and in its CMOS form, developed by Bill Mensch who is a co-owner of the 6502 patent, continues to be used in hundreds of million embedded systems. Peddle left Commodore in 1980. My first computer was a Commodore CBM 4032 and Chuck's passing is especially poignant for me. RIP Chuck. You were a true pioneer of the microcomputer revolution.

Christmas Presents

If you are already the lucky owner of A-EON's Enhancer Sofware package for AmigaOS4.x you will already know that it includes advanced graphics drivers for a large selection of RadeonHD gfx cards together with Warp3D-Nova & Warp3D-SI 3D libraries along with many applications, utilities and commodities. This includes updated versions of TuneNet, AmiDVD, AmiPDF along with powerful interactive utilities like Muliviewer, MulitEdit and ClipViewer plus others like InfoWB, TimeGuard, and the ever popular Workbench CANDI. The Enhancer Software package also inlcudes additional datatypes, audio modes, gadgets and drivers along with the Amisphere Server and special Updater utility which ensures that, as long as you have registered your copy of the Enhancer Software, you can download all the latest freely available updates and bug fixes. Version 1.5 was the last major release although there has also been several smaller releases of key files.

The most recent free update includes new verions of the RadeonHD driver v3.7, Warp3D-Nova library v1.68 and ogles2 library v2.11, a must if you want to play some of the latest games ported to AmigaOS4 by Roman 'Kas1e' Kargin based on the excellent GL4ES work of Sebastien ‘ptitSeb’ Chevalier.

Kas1e game ports

Of course none of this would be possible without the hard work that Hans der Ruiter and Daniel Mussener perfom for A-EON on Warp3D-Nova and openGLES2 respectively. In other good news, Enhancer Software 2.0 is nearing release and includes support for the latest Radeon RX graphics cards and many new exciting features and a few surprises. OK Matthew (Leaman), my lips are sealed for the moment! 😉

Christmas Present two

You realise your family really knows you when your daughter & son-in-law buy you Debbie Harry's semi-autobiographic memoir, "Face It", for Christmas. Harry is best known internationally as the talented voice and face of "Blondie", one of the most successful early American new-wave punk bands of the late 1970's who went on to sell over 40 millions records worldwide and is still active today. But for Amigans, she will forever be remembered as the extremely beautiful and exotic face linked with the Amiga launch at New York's Lincoln Center in 1985. A publicity event, which according to Wired webzine, eclipsed even the launch of the Macintosh a year earlier. Wired wrote, "Forget the Apple Macintosh, Ridley Scott, and "1984." As computer launches go, we'll take the Commodore Amiga, Andy Warhol, and Debbie Harry. In January 1984—as the entire Western World is well aware—Apple unveiled the Macintosh with its Orwellian "1984" ad during the Superbowl, directed by Ridley Scott. But it was soon eclipsed by Commodore International, the company behind that seminal personal computer, the Commodore 64."  And you tell the kids today............... 😉 Fortunately for me, my daughter, who was brought up on Amiga computers, understands my Amiga obsession passion. 😉

Marilyn Monroe by Warhol

Way back in 1985, Warhol was the acknowledged eclectic king of American pop art, famous for his earlier paintings of Campbell soup cans and Marilyn Monroe montage prints. As every Amigan knows, for the launch of the Amiga, Commodore commissioned Warhol to use the Amiga to create a digital painting of Debbie Harry to demonstrate the Amiga's advanced graphics capabilities compared to the monochrome Macintosh and limited PC graphics. Working with an early buggy version of ProPaint he created the now iconic digital painting of Harry in the style of his earlier Marilyn Monroe portraits.

Debbie Harry - Warhol Polaroid 1980

What many people don't know, myself included until I did some background research, was that Warhol and Harry had been friends long before the Amiga launch. In 1980 he had already taken a series of Polaroid photos of Harry and had created several of his trademark mixed medium images of her.

Debbie Harry - Warhol 1980

I quickly flicked through the pages of the book to find out if Harry had mentioned the Amiga launch in her book. I was not disappointed. On page 194 there is a picture of Warhol sitting in front of the Amiga, holding an Amiga tank mouse in both hands, with Harry standing behind him leaning on the Amiga monitor with Warhol's now famous painting of her displayed on the monitor screen.

Debbie Harry, Face It memoir - 2019

Ah those were the days! Harry also writes about her friendship with Warhol and the Amiga launch but spoils it a little by labelling the famous image in her book, "Andy and the Amiga 2000 in 1985". Debbie how could you! 😉 If you want to see the original Amiga launch video search Youtube for the link or better still buy or rent a copy of the "Viva Amiga" movie which includes some video of the Lincoln Center event. Warhol later went on to experiment with graphics and video on the Amiga.

AmigaOne X1000 - 2013

Back in 2013, as a homage to Warhol's original Amiga painting, I created an updated version of Harry's image for the launch of the AmigaOne X1000. I've always thought that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 😉

Another Super Nova?

Given my Amiga passion you might be surprised to learn that I do have other business interests. One of the companies I work with has created the Nova platform, an untethered VR motion simulator which they describe as the ultimate in virtual reality simulation. (Note: I did not choose the Nova name which has nothing to do with Warp3D-Nova).

Unlike other VR experiences which can cause mild to severe motion sickness symptoms, well they certainly do with me, Nova's unique design delivers full 360 degrees of motion from inside a spherical capsule so you can not only see the motion in your VR headset your body can physically experience it too.

Whether you are the fighter ace performing barrel roles over an airfield, or a jet pilot performing high speed, low altitude manoevers through the mountains or even driving a humvee over rough desert terrain the Nova sphere rotates, spins and judders as your body feels the motion that your eyes see in the VR visor.

I tested one of the early prototypes a while back and found myself flying upside down with coins and keys falling out of my pockets. My only excuse was it was a very early prototype and the interface and controls mechanism were still in their infancy. 😉 I know, a lame excuse.

Driving Nova

The latest model has ironed out most of the early kinks and Nova already integrates with a host of 3D PC games and simulators including DCS World (Digital Combat Simulator), X-Plane and the NoLimits2 roller coaster simulator. Apart from the hardware design, the real smarts are in the proprietary digital interface which links to the 3D software and controls the servo motors which drive the 360 degree motion of the spherical capsule. Applications include entertainment, flying, advanced driver training and so much more. Remember you saw it here first.

That's all for this update,

All that is left is to wish all Amigans a very Happy and Prosperous New Year


Only the shadow knows!

With Amiwest 2019 well and truly done and dusted and I began writing this update as I was about to leave the USA to fly to Europe. Amiwest started a day earlier this year to accommodate a full extra day devoted to the Classic Amiga workshop on Friday before the main event. This meant Steven Solie's tradition AmigaOS DevCom began on Wednesday.

There were several contenders for this year's Amiwest quote of the show, a tradition which has grown over the past few years but actually started at AMIJAM 2013 in Calgary with the, "that's not what you said last night" quote. It spread to Amiwest the same year. I blame the Canadians Steve! 😉 (Steve replied, "Hey, weren't you at both shows?) Another good phrase was to be heard a couple of years back, when Eldee Stephens was told, "you are not on the list!"

What a difference a year makes!

Last year's winner was Daniel Mussener with his, "I really can't say anything bad about that", when describing a light American beer which Mark Ritter had given him to taste. (he couldn't say anything good either! ;-)) This year there were several really good contenders. Robert 'Goody' Goodlett's, "Noted!", which apparently comes from the military and is usually said by a superior to a junior when the said junior has just make a stupid comment or suggestion. Close second was Mark Ritter's or was it Steven Soile's, "I was at that party!" But the clear winner was Solie's, "Only the Shadow knows!" A quote from a cult US fictional detective series created by Walter B. Gibson which first appeared on radio in the 1930's and later in magazines, books, TV series and movies. The Shadow was a mysterious masked invincible crime fighter. The quote was used to good effect throughout the show, usually when someone asked a searching question. Hey who said, when is the A1222 going to be released?, "Only the shadow knows". 😉 A more complete Amiwest show report will appear in the next edition of Amiga Future magazine.

Show me the money! or [m68k] backend support in the new GCC compiler

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that John Paul Adrian Glaubitz, or Adrian as he prefers to be called, is maintainer of Debian SPE using the 'Atlantis & Pathfinder' code-named Tabor motherboards.

Show me the money!

Adrian reached out to fellow Amigan Alex Perez, of Rabbit Hole Computing and Inertial Computing, to alert him that the GCC compiler was being upgraded and there was a real threat that future versions would not include [m68k] backend support. The m68K migration work required an experienced GCC developer and would need a minimum of US$5,000 to pay the coding work otherwise m68k support would be dropped. Adrian created a campaign on BOUNTYSOURCE to raise funds to pay for development work. Alex immediately donated to the cause and passed Adrian on to me to help promote the funding campaign. As there was still $1,378K needed to reach the minimum funding goal, on Friday evening, after the Amiwest Classic Amiga day, Alex and I made a plea to everyone who attended the traditional informal Friday night gathering.


Amiwest Amiga Community donation

We did a quick whip round and I agreed to make up any shortfall with assistance from Matthew Leaman of AmigaKit (although he did not know this at the time ;-)). Everyone in the room made a donation and we collected almost $500 in cash. We gave the money to Alex and he made the full donation of $1,378 on behalf of the Amiwest Amiga Community which ensured Adrian's [m68k] campaign reached its minimum funding goal of $5,000.

When we informed Adrian he responded with, "Wow, I'm speechless. Thanks so much and thanks to everyone to the community! You rock!" If you want to add your support to the [m68k] backend porting work please visit the BOUNTYSOURCE link. [Err, cough, ummm, Matthew we now need to pay Alex the difference. 😉 ]


ALICE (Ken Lester)

Talking about Alex and Rabbit Hole Computing, there were six ALICE laptops at the Amiwest show. This included one brought along by Ken Lester, one of the key ALICE developers and of course my own ALICE machine. In addition, Alex brought along 5 or six refurbished Lenovo ThinkCentre mini PCs which he has set up as mini ALICE desktop machines.

Alex and Ken demoing ALICE/ALEX to Michael Battilana

These tiny energy efficient PCs appear to work very well as a portable ALICE desktop and, just like the ALICE laptop, these mini PCs boot directly into AmigaOS or AmigaOS 4 Classic running on top of a Linux subsystem, complete with the cool "Rabbit hole" feature we developed for the original ALICE machine.

ALICE Desktop

The PC case even has a little red stripe on the front. I suggested Alex name his ALICE mini PC A.L.E.X. which stands for "Amiga Linux EXperience" but for some reason he did not appear to like my suggestion! 🙂

Euro travels

Amedia dinner celebration

Matthew & me with Laurent

After Amiwest I flew on to London to meet up with Matthew Leaman to discuss plans for the upcoming release of the AmigaOne X5000 Plus edition and Version 2.0 of the Enhancer Software pack. We also firmed up plans for the A1222 Early Adopter limited edition and a news release will be posted after I return to New Zealand.

Matthew and I then travelled to France and Luxembourg to visit Laurent and Frank of Amedia Computer to discuss future cooperation for European sales and distribution of AmigaKit's and A-EON's hardware and software products. It proved to be a very productive trip. We visited Amedia's offices and afterwards Laurent treated us to some traditional food from the Alsace region of France.

AmsteRJam frolics

While Matthew returned to Wales, I made my way to Amsterdam to attend RJ Mical's AmsteRJam 2019 party being coordinated by  Marvin Droogsma and Marcel Franquinet. Unfortunately RJ, who was visiting Ireland with Gary Koffler, before travelling on to the Netherlands, had to return to the USA for personal reasons. However, although the main event was cancelled a few intrepid Amigans, who had booked flights and hotels, decided to still travel to Amsterdam for an impromptu Amiga meetup.

Gary was loaded down with special RJ emblazoned T-Shirts created by RJ's boyhood friend Michael Schifferdecker, for everyone who was going to attend the original event. With RJ returning to the States, Gary rescued them from being donated to an Irish homeless shelter. Some were being picked up by a local Irish user group and Gary dragged the rest through London and on to Amsterdam where he passed them off to Marcel. Our perfectly formed little group of Amigans included Omar Cornut from France, Chris Collins and Robert Bernardo from California, Amiga artist and software developer Leo Schwab, and of course Marvin, Marcel and me.

AmsteRJam 2019 T-Shirt

I arrived in Amsterdam to a major traffic jam which had gridlocked the city. The major ring road system had been shut down for schedule repair works and my 25 minute journey to my hotel took over 2 hours. With the city in gridlock Marvin, Chris and Robert came to my hotel and we shared a meal, drinks and good company. The next day Marvin had arranged a Jenever tasting session at the Wynand Fockink distillery. The history of Dutch "gin" was very entertaining and the Jenever was very good too but drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is not recommended. (Don't worry your secret is safe with us :-)) Marcel booked a special Rijsttafel banquet for our little group. I had eaten Rijsttafel when I first visited the Netherlands almost 40 years ago. I had memories of a delicious multi-dish nasi Padang Indonesian meal adapted by the Dutch from Padang region of West Sumatra. Marcel managed to find a restaurant that could accommodate us on a busy Saturday night. I was not disappointed. The meal was very delicious and plentiful. Marcel and Marvin made our way back to my hotel, dropping off Robert at his hotel on the way. We chatted for a couple of hours solving the Amiga world's problems 😉 Unfortunately, I had to leave early the next morning for my flight back to London and onward to New Zealand. I want to thank Marvin and Marcel and my fellow team of itinerant Amigans for all the good fun and company. RJ we missed you but drank to your health on numerous occasions. Right that's it for this update. I'm sitting in London Heathrow waiting for my flight back to New Zealand.

Until next time..........................

AmsteRJam 2019 reflections





On the road again

I can't believe it's been four months since my last blog as I prepare to depart the shores of New Zealand again for some more "Triple-A" Amiga fun.

Olav Fagerlund and me in Tokyo

Just where does the time go? In the intervening months I've met up with Amiga Enthusiast, Olav Fagerlund in Tokyo, while I was visiting my daughter in Japan, before travelling on to Europe with my 18 month grandson to introduce him to his 92 year old Great Grandmother in North East England. If you are a regular reader of my blog you might recall that Finn was born in NZ while I was in Sacramento attending the traditional Saturday night banquet dinner at AmiWest 2017. I certainly had a few drinks to celebrate that night. 😉

Timothy, Ben and me in Brussels

When I was in Europe I visited Timothy de Groote and Ben Hermans of Hyperion Entertainment in Brussels before travelling to Cardiff to meet up with Matthew Leaman the Managing Director of AmigaKit and my partner in A-EON Technology. While I was in Cardiff we welcomed the visit of Laurent Zorawski and Franck "Sheldon" Bednarski from Amedia Computer France and discussed possible future cooperation to help expand the Amiga market.

Laurent & Franck with Matthew & me

I've even managed to squeeze in a meeting in London with Timothy de Groote and Michael Battilana of Cloanto & C-A Acquisition Corporation as we tried to find a mutually agreeable compromise to the current legal impasse.

Me with Michael & Timothy in London

London or a late 1990s PC tower?

Although not successful on this occasion, it was still quite an enjoyable day and at least I got to see the spectacular view over a very misty and rainy City of London from the heady heights of the new Shard tower. Does every cloud have a silver lining? I certainly hope so.

On the road again!

As I pack my bags for the trip, I can't help humming that old Willie Nelson song, "On the road again". My first stop is Calgary to attend AMIJAM 2019, run by the Amiga Users Group of Calgary, at the invitation of AmigaOS 4 developer Steven Solie. I'll also be staying with Steven and his family during my short stay in Calgary. It will be a good chance to discuss future development plans for ExecSG. After that it's onward to Europe for a short side-trip to Brussels before travelling to Cardiff to attend A-EON Technology's DevCon 2019 organised by Matthew Leaman. It's always good to catch up with active Amiga developers to discuss the finer points of AmigaOS over a beer or glass of wine (or in the case of Steven Solie a coca-cola as he doesn't drink alcohol). Finally, it's over to Cologne in Germany to attend Gamescom 2019 in Cologne at the invitation of Andreas Magerl of Amiga Future.

This will be my first visit to Gamescom, which by all accounts is a massive affair and probably the largest video games show in the world (based on the number or visitor and exhibitor space).

Last year 370,000 visitors and 1037 exhibitors from 56 countries attended the event. I'll be joined on the Amiga Future stand by Daniel Mussener along with his AmigaOne X5000 and A1222 and together we will help promote A-EON's AmigaOne hardware, AmigaOS 4.x and of course Daniel's excellent selection of Amiga OS 4 games.

Gamescom 2019

I will also have my latest ALICE Laptop with me, courtesy of Alex Perez of Rabbit Hole Computing, and will be able to demonstrate the Classic version of AmigaOS 4.1 Classic and the AmiKit version of AmigaOS 3.x with it's unique Rabbit-hole features which allows mainstream Linux programs such as Firefox and Libre Office to be run from the AmigaOS workbench. While I'm in Cologne I will be staying with Daniel and his family and will get to meet his new baby daughter.

Before I return to New Zealand I will also try to squeeze in some other Amiga related business. It's a very busy schedule but, as I've said several times in the past, it's a hard life and someone's got to do it. 😉 Of course the trip is not just about Amiga fun and I have to attend to some other non-Amiga business too.

Standing on the Soapbox

Talking Amiga Future. While my blog has been quiet of late I have continued to submit my regular Soapbox articles to Amiga Future magazine which is published bimonthly in both German and English language editions. The next issue to be released is number 140 which probably makes Amiga Future the world's longest running professionally produced Amiga magazine. It has already surpassed the once mighty Amiga Format which ceased publication in May 2000 after 136 issues. Of course the circulation numbers of Amiga Future are a fraction of Amiga Format's in its heyday but it's still hard to believe that 25 years after Commodore's demise a professionally produced full colour Amiga magazine is still being printed. It's a testament to Andreas and his team of editors, contributors and translators....and of course the Amiga community who continue to support the publication by buying the magazine. Long may it continue.

Right, that enough for now. It's a short update but I really need to finish packing my bags.

Until next time..................................



Homeward bound

What a week! It started with the Amiga Ireland 2019 meetup in Athlone and ended with SWAG's Workbench 2019 club event in Chipping Sodbury with visits to Cardiff, in Wales and Aberdeen in Scotland sandwiched  in between. As I'm typing this update in London, England I can truly say I've travelled to all the counties that make up the geographic area of Britain and Ireland.

Amiga Ireland 2019

Following an uneventful journey from New Zealand to London, even transiting through Los Angeles was relatively painless this time, I made my way to Cardiff by coach from Heathrow airport to meet up with Matthew Leaman of AmigaKit. When I'm in Cardiff I usually have the pleasure of staying with Matthew's parents, Helen & Terry and their Old English sheep dog Henry. After spending a day in Cardiff to catch up on recent A-EON Technology business and recover from my Summer to Winter flight, Matthew, Christopher Follett (AmigaKit's technician) and I flew to Dublin to attend the Amiga Ireland show which was being sponsored by both A-EON and AmigaKit for the third year running. We met up with David Pleasance, the former Commodore UK Managing Director, in Dublin airport for the 2-1/2 hour drive to Athlone. Unfortunately, RJ Mical who had planned to fly in from California to attend the show for the first time, had to call off at the last minute because, according to RJ, his doctors wanted to bring forward an important medical appointment for “patching his intuition library” and despite his pleading they refused to delay the treatment to let him travel.

Iarla Reidy - Amiga Ireland organiser

Matthew ferried us safely to Athlone and after checking into our hotel we made our way to the Silver Oak Indian restaurant where the traditional Amiga Ireland Friday night dinner is held. It was good to see many familiar faces from previous shows plus a host of new people who where attending for the first time. As Matthew will confirm, I really like Indian food (understatement) and, after I ate my usual Chicken Vindaloo, we returned to the conference room in the Prince of Wales hotel to continue with the Amiga fun. A few hardy souls continued talking and drinking into the early hours of the morning and it was almost 4:00 am when Christopher and I finally made it back to our rooms. Matthew was more sensible and sneaked off around 1:00 am. Hey who said wimp? 😉 On Saturday morning we still managed to get up reasonably early. I set up the A-EON display which included a Tabor motherboard and copies of the Heroes of Gorluth, the new AmigaCD32 game from AMIworx which is sponsored by A-EON Technology, while Mathew laid out his AmigaKit wares. Although Amiga Ireland has a very strong Classic Amiga flavour it was good to see several next-generation machines on display. Allan Ullmann was kept busy throughout the show demonstrating applications and games on his AmigaOne X1000.

Mike Clarke using Bars n Pipes - AmigaOne X1000

I'm sure Lyle Hazelwood will be pleased that Michael Clarke of Psygnosis fame composed a tune using Lyle's AmigaOS 4 version of Bars n Pipes. Even better, knowing my interest/obsession in all things Commodore, Mike presented me with a Commodore LED watch dating back to the mid 1970s.

Commodore LED watch

Neil online via wifi and X1000 hamper basket 😉

Meanwhile, driver wizard, Neil Cafferkey took the most unusual case prize for his AmigaOne X1000 wicker basket system on which he demonstrated the latest version of the A-EON sponsored wifi driver. Expect more news soon. Although the show was dominated by Classic Amiga machines there was good interest in the Tabor motherboard, especially from the Polish contingent at the show. Dan & Ravi from the Retro Hour Podcast gave a presentation and John Shawler of the Amigaos Podcast made the long trip from the USA. Michael Battilana of Cloanto also made another appearance.

After show wind down gathering

What can I say about Amiga Ireland? The show is an excellent mix of Amiga games, competitions, presentations and interviews. One of the best parts of Amiga Ireland is the Saturday night wind down after the show officially closes. It's involves a trip to the local kebab/fish & chip shop for a quick bite to eat before heading to a private room booked by Iarla in a traditional Irish pub for discussions about preemptive multi-tasking and custom chipsets washed down with a liberal dose of local brew. Unfortunately this year Matthew, Christopher and I had to leave a little earlier than we would have liked as we had a 6:00 am drive back to Dublin airport. However this time it was me dragging Matthew the ''party animal" back to the hotel. 😉

From it's initial inception four years ago the attendance has grown year on year and according to Iarla Reidy, the founder and organiser, the 2019 show officially attracted 99 visitors. While the attendance has continued to grow the event has lost none of its Irish warmth and charm which, when mixed with good Amiga people and fun makes it a winning combination.

Only Amiga Ireland 2019

The only complaint I have is the room was too small for the number of exhibitors and people who attended. 😉 It's a great problem to have and Iarla has moved the venue to a larger room at the nearby Radisson Blu hotel for next year's show which is set for the 17th & 18th January, 2020. I plan to attend again and hope to see many of you there too! 🙂 For more information please visit Amiga Ireland's website.

Joining the legions of the undead

Way back in August 2013 I posted news that Igor Majstorovi was taking pre-orders for  the Vampire 600, a new FPGA accelerator that he was developing for the Amiga 600. Fast forward to 2019 and not only is the Vampire 600 available but a version also exits for the A500 with an A1200 Vampire waiting in the wings. Sold under the Apollo Accelerator brand, the Vampire is a Classic Amiga Accelerator that uses the Apollo core which is a code compatible Motorola M68K processor which is claimed to be 3 to 4 time faster than the fastest 68060 CPU. As each Vampire board is hand built there is a waiting list of eager Amigans so when I saw that Marvin Droogsma had a Revision 2.0 Vampire equipped A600 for sale at the Amiga Ireland show I was keen to add it to my collection. You might remember Marvin was the co-producer and MC of the highly successful Amiga 30th Anniversary show held in Amsterdam in 2015. However, I did not want to deprive another potential Vampire purchaser so I asked Marvin to let me know if the system remained unsold at the end of the show. Lucky for me it was still available and so I am now the proud owner of a Vampire accelerated A600. Incidentally, the silkscreen on the A600 motherboard is labelled as the A300 rev 1, further proof that the A600 was originally intended as a lower cost entry level Amiga. From revision 1.3 onwards the "June Bug" motherboards were relabeled as A600.

The Northern lights

Flying into Aberdeen

After the Athlone show we made our way back to Cardiff and the following day I travelled to snowy Aberdeen in north-east Scotland  to attend the AGM of a small high-tech company of which I'm a minor shareholder along with some of my former business partners. I haven't visited Aberdeen since 2011 and there has been many changes in the intervening years. The Western Peripheral Route has finally opened and, although not fully completed, has significantly reduced traffic congestion in the "Granite' city.

Triaxial inclinometers and magnetometers

As the home to the UK oil & gas industry, Aberdeen has always been a prosperous city but the effects of the oil industry downturn are still very obvious. When the oil price plunges, motorists may benefit from lower petrol prices, but the international oil & gas industry reduces its costs by closing down operations and drastically laying off staff. It's a brutal industry! My taxi driver previously worked for a specialist core analysis company in Aberdeen but was laid off two years ago at the height of the oil industry recession. It was still good to catch up with my old partners and we shared a whisky or two and put the world to rights. 🙂

Tabor News

After my short Aberdeen trip I returned to Cardiff and joined Matthew and AmigaOS 4 Team Lead, Steven Solie, who had flown in from Canada, in a meeting with the representative from the PCB manufacturing company that is coordinating the next Tabor motherboard run.

Tabor - AmigaOne A1222

It was a good meeting and another step towards the production of the Tabor motherboards and the AmigaOne A1222's official release. The company will manage the PCB production and organise the board re-spin which is needed to replace a few onboard components that are no longer available. Coincidentally, the PCB company has several facilities in the UK including one in Irvine, a town in North Ayrshire, Scotland where Commodore had its European Amiga 600s manufactured by Samina-SCI. It's also the place where ESCOM set up a UK assembly and distribution base which supplied my first non-Amiga computer ESCOM PC, a very disappointing experience if the truth be told. Irvine was part of Scotland's booming "Silicon Glen" economy which took a massive hit after the dotcom bust. In 2002, Samina-SCI closed down its Irvine plant with the loss of 750 jobs. Even more coincidentally, as a child I lived and went to school for several years about 7 miles from Irvine and later, after university, the first company I worked for had its headquarters nearby and I moved back into the area for a few years before the company relocated to Aberdeen.

Keith with his AmigaOne X5000 and A1222

Meanwhile, getting back to Tabor. All round Amigan, Keith Dumoulin from Canada, has continued putting the AmigaOne A1222 through it paces. He borrowed Matthew's prototype Tabor board to demo at the Toronto WOC Show in December last year but so far shows no signs of returning the board which is giving him a lot of fun. 😉 Keith has fairly typical Commodore & Amiga background. He started with a VIC 20, then upgraded to C64 on which he ran a two line BBS with a friend. He acquired his first Amiga in 1987 from a friend whose parents bought him an Amiga 1000 when he really wanted a Dell PC. (There's no accounting for taste. ;-)) He bought the Amiga 1000 at a discounted price and the friend got the Dell PC he wanted. Keith became instantly hooked and after several upgrades eventually traded A1000 in for an A500. He put his A500 to good use, printing menus for a few local restaurant and got in digital signage. He upgraded and modded the A500 and, after he got his first credit card, purchased a brand new A1200 and external hard drive. He sold his A500 and used the funds to upgrade his A1200 adding a 68030 Accelerator and extra Fast Ram. He also purchased a second A1200 to provide digital adverts using a huge projector in a country music bar. Yee haw! Keith began acquiring and restoring Amigas for his own use and to help others and now has a complete collection of Classic Amiga models. For a couple of years he was a member of the core Vampire testing team but more recently has developed a passion for next-generation AmigaOne hardware.

A1222 running AmigaOS under AmigaOS 4.1

He acquired a Sam 460CR board to try out AmigaOS 4.1 and was very impressed with the performance of the OS. So much so that he is now the proud owner of an AmigaOne X5000 and a member of A-EON's Amiga Developer beta test team.

Keith has been fine tuning UAE to optimise the performance of AmigaOS 3.9 on the AmigaOne X5000 and A1222. More recently he has also been comparing the performance of his AmigaOne X5000 running UAE 060 against his A4000 equipped with an 060@96 Warp Engine and Merlin RTG and CF card by running some classic Amiga demos.

Demo running on X5000 (l) & A1222 (r)

His conclusion: the X5000 can emulate a classic Amiga 060 running AmigaOS 3.9 with perfection. Of course most of the demos can be run directly under AmigaOS 4.1 and do not require UAE emulation, so why does Keith do it? And the answer is because with the AmigaOne X5000 and A1222 he can! 🙂

The French Connection

While I was in Cardiff, Matthew and I also met with Laurent Zorawski and Jean-Luc of Amedia Computer who made the long journey from France to Cardiff to discuss possible future cooperation to help grow the Classic and next-generation Amiga market and user base in Europe.

The French connection - Indian restaurant

After our meeting I introduced Laurent and Jean-Luc to the joys of Welsh cuisine by taking them for an Indian curry! 😉 I think it was the first time Laurent had tasted spicy Indian food so we made sure it was a mild dish. I think they both enjoyed the meal but found my Chicken Vindaloo a bit too spicy. We tried an "interesting" locally brewed Welsh ale but they really enjoyed the Indian beer served in the restaurant. Anyway the meeting was really good and hopefully will lead to greater cooperation in the future.

SWAG Workbench 2019

My final mission before returning to New Zealand was to attend SWAG's (South West Amiga Group) Workbench 2019 mega club event in Chipping Sodbury, a short 25 minute drive north of Bristol. Unlike the Amiga Ireland show, Workbench 2019 was a special one-off double length club meeting running from 11 am to 10 pm for Amigans in the Bristol area of South West England. When I'm travelling around the world I always try to attend local Amiga gatherings if at all possible. SWAG's Brian Hedley knew I was attending Amiga Ireland 2019 and contacted me in June last year to see if I could also attend their Workbench 2019 event.

Me with Brian Hedley

Since I needed to be in the UK for other business I rearranged my schedule to attend their user group meeting. Once again Matthew drove Steven Solie and I to the show, although we arrived 30 minutes late because we missed our motorway exit as Steven and Matthew were in deep Amiga discussions. 😉

Mini Amiga - Speedball

Workbench 2019 had all the traditional Amiga elements: Recap surgery for ailing Classic Amiga motherboards; a Speedball tournament run by Dave Rowland; the complete range of Classic Amiga models including an Amiga 1500 with its original box in almost mint condition and an incredible mini Amiga with monitor and custom made packaging.

Speedball Tournament

There was even a SWAG HAM radio station which was manned by Steve Netting but it was under utilised due adverse ionospheric conditions. Steve, who now works for Redhat, had travelled from Finland to attend the show and presented me with a nice bottle of Koskenkorva Salmiakki , a black Finish vodka with a salty liquorice taste. It was extremely moreish. It was also good to meet Radoslaw "Ferin" Czernik one of our AmigaOne X5000 beta testers from Poland. I also recognised Andy Costin the deputy Chairman of ANT, the Amiga North Thames user group. Several ANT members like Chris Forrester are also members of SWAG and helped to swell the numbers at the Workbench 2019 event.

Me, Steven Solie & Tabor board

I gave a short presentation about my Amiga history and Steven Solie gave a brief overview of his long time involvement with AmigaOS 4 development, after which we jointly answered questions from the audience. During the Q/A session naturally I was asked for a Tabor update but it was question from Andy Costin which initially stumped me. He asked which Amiga would we rush in to save if our house was burning down. Steven said he had a fondness for his Sam460 and his AmigaOne X5000.

As I have a few machines I had to think long and hard but then I suddenly remembered the Kaikoura earthquake that hit New Zealand on November 14th, 2016. It was midnight and I had just got into bed. As I was trying to drift off to sleep the house began to shake. No problem I thought, it was just another earthquake and, like many others I had experienced since I moved to New Zealand, it would over soon. How wrong could I be! At a magnitude of 7.8 it turned out to be the second largest earthquake recorded in the last 150 years. Instead of dying down, after about 30 seconds the rumbling and shaking got more intense.

My house - X marks the spot

The house was now creaking and groaning and I could hear the metal shelves, in the room that housed my Commodore and Amiga collection, rattling loudly as the shaking became more violent. Books began falling off shelves and I heard a loud crash emanating from my office. I jumped out of bed and ran into my office and tried vainly to hold on to some the shelves as the whole house began to shake, twist and wobble. I knew it was time to get out when a Commodore 1942 monitor flew off one of the shelves. Realising I could not save any of the computers I ran back into the bedroom and grabbed my wife who, unbelievably, was still asleep in bed. We moved into the middle of the bedroom and like good Kiwis adopted the drop, cover and hold position. After about 2 minutes the noise and violent shaking reached a crescendo and then died down as quickly as it started.

Effects of the 7.8 earthquake

After the shaking subsided I discovered the power was out so I located a torch and went to survey the damage. Much to my wife's 'amusement' I went to my office first to check on my computers. Apart from the 1942 monitor and a few other scattered items, my PowerPC iMac G5, a used machine I purchased in the hope that MorphOS would be ported to it one day, had also taken a dive and the screen was damaged.  There was a nasty dent on the floor where the 1942 monitor had bounced but I later discovered it was still working. The rest of the house was OK although several glass and pottery items were broken. Our house is on the sea front and with the real risk of a tsunami we needed to get up to higher ground.

After the quake

Minor earthquake damage

With the power off we could not open the electric gates to drive the car up the hill so we had to walk along the beach before we could head up to higher ground. Fortunately the tsunami never arrived although in one part of New Zealand it was measured at 6.9m. According to GeoNet, the earthquake caused 25 different faults to rupture (a world record) and triggered the biggest local-source tsunami recorded in New Zealand since 1947. It also caused extensive coastal uplift, widespread landslides and landslide dams. It was the second largest earthquake in New Zealand recorded in living memory and in the week after the quake we experienced almost continuous aftershocks with over 4,000 recorded and, for a time, it felt like the ground was continuously moving. Although our house, which is mainly a wooden construction and is designed to flex and bend, escaped damage, several major buildings in Wellington city were damaged beyond repair and were later demolished. So my answer to the question of which Amiga did I try to save? It was either all of them or none of them depending on your point of view. In the end I decided to save my wife! 😉

4 musketeers or gang of 4? 😉

Anyway, back to the show. It was good to see both Victoria and Michael Battilana who also attended Amiga Ireland 2019 the previous weekend. I had a brief chat with 'Amiga Richard', another AmigaOne X5000 owner who is an integral part of the SWAG team. I know I often say this but I continue to be impressed by the sheer ingenuity and passion of the Amiga community and Workbench 2019 did not disappoint in that regard.

Classic Amigas

Unfortunately I could only stay for 4 hours as I was heading back to London to catch my flight home to New Zealand. The Workbench 2019 mega event was a great success with 45 people turning up on the day. It was supposed to be a one-off show but according to Brian the SWAG team are considering making it an annual event. I certainly hope they do. 🙂

Only Amiga SWAG Workbench 2019

That's all for now, back to New Zealand and summertime.