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Bob Murphy: Impressions of the Amiga International 98 Show.

The show was very upbeat, a bit out of character for a user community that has not seen any new machines or support for the last 5 years. Many manufacturers were there with hardware and software, such as NewTek, Holger Kruse (creator of Miami, from NordicGlobal), Kermit Woodall from Novadesigns (Makers of ImageFX), Dr Greg Perry (creator of Directory Opus) courtesy of Wonder computers, who were selling lots of Amiga products, along with National Amiga, and Randomize. This was in addition to Petro, Derrick Lyle, and Jeff Schindler also being available, for contact with the users and dealers, as well as signing autographs, and Petro sticking boing balls on passersby!

There were many seminars, ranging from programming, and other heady subjects, to product demonstrations. The most heavily attended one, ending up being standing room only, was Dr. Alan Havemose giving an explanation of the new systems, the hardware, as well as the new ideas in software as far as OS5.0 goes, as well as an explanation of the frequently misunderstood "Bridge Systems" running on Intel hardware. (These are explained in the following sections)

The speeches are not a complete transcript, they are from a mediocre tape recording, as well as my recollections. (My memory being regarded as mediocre as well)

Keynote Speech:

Petro Tyschtscenko: No one can walk backwards into the future.

Strategies: To combine computers with this concept, we will have a brighter future.
Short overview, last few weeks, show in London. Announcement to just the Amiga press. A lot of different opinions of the concept. We have survived two bankruptcies, and every step forward [now] is a step into the future.
Focusing on the development of the next generation, using x86 for development. Jeff Schindler has done a good gob in a difficult situation. Petro assures "We have a plan, a good plan for the future with our Amiga"
The "Amiga Classic", the existing line will continue to support the PowerPC, as an accelerator, with assistance by Haage & Partner, and Phase 5 and a lot of others. OS4 will support most existing applications through software emulation. We are working with other 3rd party hardware vendors to develop a hardware bridge, "Amiga Classic card" that will make the bridge better. This is meant to bring the brand-new Amiga (in OS 5.0) to the next generation using the most evolutionary, and revolutionary technology of hardware and software. The new Amiga, as well as the Amiga Classic will be distributed by Amiga Int Inc. The sales and marketing division.
The money from sales of the Amiga theme CD will go to finding genius in the Amiga community, there is $500(us) in the fund right now. (He mentions that it's for sale at the show as well as encouraging people to attend the Cologne show.)
Amiga is back, back for the Future. Our community is ready for another race with the Amiga, for which Jeff will develop (with the new Amigas)
Thank you and enjoy the fair.

Jeff Schindler:

Good morning, and thanks to Petro, without him, who knows where the Amiga would be. And thanks to Randomize for putting on the show.

One of the big questions is "What is Amiga" When Gateway took over, that came up a lot. Multimedia patents, custom chipset, small, efficent operating system. If that's all it is, there's not much. It's got a limited future .
It's really about freedom of choice, not settling for the norm, "I want something special, I want something unique." It has a great following all over the world. Every high-tech company they visit has someone who uses or used the Amiga. They want to know where it's going.
We want to get the Amiga back, to be the world leader by getting into an open architecture, and into the Digital Convergence marketplace, which no one owns.
We want to break through into this new market. Ease of use. If the older generation can't use it, it is not easy to use. The PC world is nowhere near this. Affordable. A very low price point. High end boxes must be powerful for the price. This architecture should provide this. It is just incredible. We need an architecture that can be upgraded instead of the typical within 3 months it cannot do the newest stuff. The new Amiga must be fun. We're in this because we enjoy it.
3 basic drivers moving this along, the internet, the need to be connected to information. There are no easy devices for people to use. They don't want computers, they just want to do the job. Digital entertainment. The ability for people to use a digtial image to create new things. Expression of the imagination. Consumer electronics and computers are starting to converge.
Some ideas of products, Smart phones, to sub $500 boxes to student portable to Amiga Workstations (high-end) and many in between.
Microsoft may hold the PC market, but today no one knows this new market. We think that these giants will spend billions to find out what people want, we will come out with something to shock the world.

Dr. Allan Havemose, former Commodore engineer, from os 2.1-3.1 and other projects in and out of Commodore. (Dr. Havemose was very difficult to understand, some of this was from memory, I hope to get much more detail from the other technical review, in the user's group meeting)
He wants to go over some of the technical aspects of the new system.
Significantly higher performing than other systems.
Couple of highlights of the new system. The 3d engine will generate 1.2 gigabytes of data per second. (Compared to 7mb for ECS, 28mb for AGA, and 80mb for a $2,000 Glint PC card) This is 7 times higher than a 1280x1024 monitor can refresh at 72 hz.
Plenty of bandwidth for ADSL firewire, etc.

We won't have systems until late '99, we've decided to do a development system, with all of the API's on a PC system, because it was the cheapest way to let people develop in advance of the new systems coming out.
Everything between now and '99 is just to get the new systems out and running.

Jeff: We have a plan, but we'll need all of your help to get there. He then showed some of the prototype interfaces that the new Workbench may be supporting. There was a lot of flexibility, as well as Internet integration. There was also a very interesting 3d modeled Workbench.

The keynote ended with an invitation to enjoy the rest of the show, and a hail of inflated Boing-balls from the upper level.

The UGN users-group meeting. This ran more into a discussion by Dr. Allan Havemose than a user's group meeting, but it was interesting nonetheless, and I'm hoping that the recording will yield more detail than the first.

In the UGN (user's group network) meeting the key players that we see are: Derrick Lyle of Amiga Inc, Wayne Hunt from UGN, Robert Hamilton from Amiga Atlanta, and then Dr. Allan Havemose.

Wayne: The UGN was started to get user's groups to grow, as well as get them back where they were in 94, or better. Get them the resources that they need to do this.
Such as: A video library, newsletter exchanges, coordination of events, and/or shows, and a database of user's groups.

Derrick: Amiga Inc is very excited about the idea of UGN. They want to harness the energy in the Amiga community, using them as PR, to keep in touch with the users, and providing support. They were impressed with 9 other countries wanting to come on board, and a few more in the wings.

Robert: One of the things that got Amiga Atlanta on the map was the President's enthusiasm for the Amiga. They've gotten 501c tax-exempt status, go that donations are tax-deductible, and other benefits. Perhaps this may be worth pursuing for other groups. (User's group Packet distributed, I'll try to go over this in the meeting, examples of ideas for groups explained)

Then people went around the room introducing themselves, members were from around the US and Canada, from as far away as Atlanta, and Ottawa. Most of the members were from East cast USA or East/Central Canada.

Dr. Allan Havemose:

Many people misunderstood the London announcement. He speculated that the language difference must have led to the incorrect assumption that the Amiga was going to move x86, which is not the case.

He cannot tell all of the details of the chip, or it's manufacturer.
About the chips. The new system will have advanced 3d graphics. 16 bit audio is not good enough, there must be Dolby surround built-in. He wants to change the way we look at graphics. (Asynchronous) Printing must be replaced. Video and printing should be treated similarly, just on different devices. The UI will be looked at differently as well. A different approach must be taken for a 1600x1200 screen, than on a television. The graphics for the UI will be abstracted with a toolkit for developers. In other words, the programmer doesn't draw all of the menus, he asks (through the programmer's API's) the system to draw a menu with certain features, and the system draws the graphics to suit the device to the output device at the time the program is run.
He wants to take what is great about the Amiga, and bring that to the new system without the baggage of what is not so good on the Amiga. He is also open to other developers doing programs for the OS. The core must be done by him, but the utilities etc, can easily be done by other programmers, allowing the OS guys to concentrate on the business at hand, which is the OS.
Now a little more about the new chipset. The new chips can calculate (in 24 bit) 400,000 pixels at 3 bytes each is 1.2 gigs/second. (see comparisons from the keynote)
The chips can generate more than 7 times the amount of data that can be refreshed on a hi-res 24bit screen. Truly industry- leading performance. He doesn't want to restrict the architecture by making it compatible with older software. (like Intel) Hence the software emulators for legacy software. The options for the development system were PC, Mac, and SparcStation. They chase x86 so that the system would be as cheap as possible, so that the investment in the bridge system to do development on would be minimal.

Wayne Hunt: What we're working on. (UGN)
1) Video Library. Groups should do a video of what they do in the group, or a demo, copies can be made, and everyone can share information.
2) Newsletter article exchange.
3) End-user customer support. Want to send end users with Amiga problems to their local user's groups. They're looking for National, Regional, and State coordinators.
4) Database. In disarray, Wayne is working on it.
5) Corporate, (USR, APC) discounts for user's group members.
6) AAA Awards to encourage development, and increase awareness.

(end of the tape)

Overall, it was a small but very upbeat show, with enough information to keep everyone thinking about the future, as well as interesting things to see and buy for the existing userbase. Hopefully the Amiga shows and community will stay strong and interested until the new systems come out and knock the socks off of the general public in '99.