1980S BEDROOM BRILLIANCE the Commodore Amiga computer has reached the ripe old age of 30 and is still blazing in the hearts and minds of anyone who took keyboard and joystick in hand and shut the door on their parents.
The computer, which represented a leap up from other bedroom botherers like the Commodore 64 and the Spectrum 48, launched with the A1000 model in 1985 to a soundtrack that included Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms and the coming together of Mick Jagger and David Bowie for a street-based dance off.
The Amiga's 512KB of RAM and huge colour palette was immediately popular, but the system really took off in 1987 with the Amiga 500, leading to international sales of six million units.
Eben Upton, founder and CEO at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, told The INQUIRER about his experience of the Amiga computer and the influence it has had on his work.
Upton, who was present at the Amiga celebration in Mountain View, California, said that he was relatively late to the Amiga experience but that it had a big impact on him.
"The Amiga is one of only three machines I've really understood down at the hardware level, the other two being the BBC Micro and the various iterations of Raspberry Pi, and is the only one that I only programmed in assembly language. I was unable to afford any other tools," he said.
"I bought a shop-soiled Amiga 600 for £200 in Lewis's in Leeds just after Christmas 1992, so I was definitely late to the party, but I loved it and got two and a half good years of gaming and programming before leaving home. (Upton does not recall using the device for school work.)
He added that, while other hardware was available, the Amiga had the edge thanks to its "modern style" that still inspires technology today.
"The really interesting thing about the Amiga is that it was the first home computer to take a step towards a 'modern' partition of work between the CPU and task-specific accelerator hardware," he said.
"Prior to the Amiga, custom hardware was only really used to handle fast, simple, real-time tasks like video and audio output, disk access, DRAM refresh etc.
"30 years later, we have 3D graphics, video codecs and other accelerators in most devices. In fact in many platforms, including Raspberry Pi, the area devoted to accelerators dwarfs that of the CPU."
Upton shared his photograph of the very early Amiga prototype called Lorraine.
The Amiga grew up alongside rival machine the Atari ST, another 512KB number that also first saw light, or at least some light between barely parted curtains, in 1985. The ST, which was the first of the pair to boast 1MB of RAM, turned 30 in June this year.
Back to the Amiga, which overshadowed its ST rival, and became ground zero for games and design teams that made an impact at the time and continue to do so.
The Amiga 500 was a hobbyist machine and a gamer's paradise. At a time of limited television and tape cassettes, its advanced sound, use of a disk drive, and graphical gaming leaps made the Amiga the thing to have in your bedroom.
Times change, though, and things like the Nintendo Entertainment System started to make a grab for hands and hearts and Amiga as we knew it came to be no more.
The Amiga is being celebrated this weekend at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. It could be as flashy as the launch, which featured 80s luminaries Debbie Harry and Andy Warhol.
You can buy tickets now - if you are quick and reasonably local - and for $100 you get full-day passes and access to a celebratory banquet.
Anyone who isn't that hungry and doesn't have the whole weekend can spend $20 on a day pass, which provides access to rare artefacts and memorabilia. µ
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