Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby appiah4 » 2019-5-15 @ 13:01

Grzyb wrote:TF530, ScanPlusECS... somehow I doubt if these were available in 1990 :P


Instead of contemporary accelerators like TF530 there were Apollo accelerators, instead of IDE devices there were SCSI devices, instead of Scan Doublers - who the fuck needed scan doublers, there were RGB monitors. Your point was?
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby SpectriaForce » 2019-5-15 @ 13:43

appiah4 wrote:
SpectriaForce wrote:Some people over here compare apples to pears. The Amiga 1000 came available in 1985 and is the first Amiga. The A500 followed in 1987. I think that it's unfair to compare the Amiga 1000 or 500 vs. a i8088 pc, which does not represent the cutting edge of pc technology at the time of the Amiga. It would be more fair, from a technology stand point, to compare the Amiga 1000 with the most advanced pc, the IBM PC AT, with a i80286 CPU, hard disk and with optional EGA, which came on the market in 1984. By 1987 you could already buy a i386 pc with VGA (sure it was as expensive as an entry level car but hey you could!). Furthermore almost no one owned an Amiga 1000 in 1985. The system was too expensive for most folks (just the system alone without monitor was expensive). Besides the Atari ST series (1985) was a major competitor for the Amiga series.


Sure, yeah let's do that.

The fastest x86 available to PCs at the time of A1000 launch was the 286 12MHz, and the IBM PC AT had a measly 6MHz 286 whereas the A1000 launched with a 7MHz 68000. The A1000 came with a 3.5" (albeit DD) floppy drive while the AT still used archaic 5.25" floppies. Furthermore, not only was the A1000 a 16/32-bit computer whereas the AT was 16-bit but also came with a multitasking GUI OS that the PC would not catch up with for half a decade yet. The A100 also sported the original chipset companion chips, which included Paula that could do 4 channel Stereo sample based audio whereas the 286 was limited to PC Speaker with not even the Adlib being on the market yet, as well as the Denise that could push incredible 16 color sprites (out of a staggering 4096 color pallette) at a speed and resolution that the 286 EGA upgrade could not even dream to (and that upgrade alone cost about the price of an A1000) onto an RGB monitor that again the PC could only dream of. Come 1987 the situation was not any different for the A500, hence the system's incredible success in the market. The IBM PC platform would only catch up to the Amiga with the IBM PS/2 and what did that cost, 3,600 dollars for the Model 50? Come on.

Amiga absolutely decimated the PC AT, and the early ST was even more of a joke in comparison.


One of the reasons why the IBM PC AT was so expensive is that it has a hard disk as standard equipment (Amiga 1000 did not), that it used the standard for business software (IBM DOS) and it came from a company with excellent support. The PC AT can also be easily expanded (Amiga 2000 came in 1987 which sort of jumped in that void) and is a serious computer (e.g. with a proper keyboard).

I agree that the Amiga 1000 was quite a revolution in computing in 1985, but don't forget computers like the Apple Lisa (1983), Macintosh (1984), Atari ST (1985) and some odd balls like the Acorn Archimedes (1987) series.

The two computers (Amiga 1000 and PC AT) were really positioned for entirely different markets (image, video, audio, home use vs. office, accounting, scientific).
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby SpectriaForce » 2019-5-15 @ 13:56

Murugan wrote:That's the only thing I will do too when I'll buy one again :)
Just doubting between a 500 and 600. Shouldn't have sold them a few years ago...


The prices have just become completely insane (I used to be able to buy A500 sets all day long for under € 50 and snow white A600 under € 70, flip them for a small profit to buyers in other countries, but that's over) and the available upgrades make the hobby really expensive for my taste. Unless you are serious about actually using an Amiga on a weekly basis, it doesn't make sense anymore.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby Scali » 2019-5-15 @ 14:58

SpectriaForce wrote:One of the reasons why the IBM PC AT was so expensive is that it has a hard disk as standard equipment (Amiga 1000 did not)


Pretty sure that an A1000 + HDD upgrade would not be more expensive than an AT.

SpectriaForce wrote:that it used the standard for business software (IBM DOS)


Not sure why that would make it more expensive. In fact, the whole point of the PC market was that clones could offer PCs with DOS for considerably less than IBM did.

SpectriaForce wrote:and it came from a company with excellent support.


Pretty hard to make any kind of comparison that way.

SpectriaForce wrote:The PC AT can also be easily expanded (Amiga 2000 came in 1987 which sort of jumped in that void) and is a serious computer (e.g. with a proper keyboard).


Even the Amiga 1000 could be expanded quite nicely, with its sidecar support. And the Amiga 1000 came with a 'proper keyboard', as did the Amiga 2000.

SpectriaForce wrote:I agree that the Amiga 1000 was quite a revolution in computing in 1985, but don't forget computers like the Apple Lisa (1983), Macintosh (1984), Atari ST (1985) and some odd balls like the Acorn Archimedes (1987) series.


If anything, all these computers merely prove the point how unique the Amiga is with its custom chipset.
All the computers you mention, have very dumb graphics hardware, and certainly nothing like the copper. They rely on brute force from the CPU.
I think the Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit are much closer to the Amiga 'genetically', than any of the computers you mention.

SpectriaForce wrote:The two computers (Amiga 1000 and PC AT) were really positioned for entirely different markets (image, video, audio, home use vs. office, accounting, scientific).


I don't think they were.
The Amiga was as much capable of office, accounting, scientific computing as an AT would be.
In fact, the whole point of adding the PC compatibility sidecar/bridgeboards was to cater to that market. The Amiga could have held its own in those markets even without these PC compatibility addons, if proper ports of the killer apps had been made. There were no technical limitations. The Amiga's CPU was not that far off from the 6 MHz 286 in the AT (and the clever chipset made it more efficient as well). Since it was a CPU with a 32-bit addressing model, there was no problem expanding the Amiga's memory to multiple megabytes. Adding a HDD was no problem either. And as we already discussed, the graphics and sound were better than the AT's by a mile.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby Grzyb » 2019-5-15 @ 17:27

Scali wrote:I think that has more to do with the fact that the A3000 wasn't very useful for most people.
Amiga 500/1000/2000 set the standard, and most software didn't require more than that. So for most people there was little reason to spend the extra money on an A3000.

Oh, there was a lot of people who needed something faster than 68000@7MHz, or even 68020@14MHz - but those people were usually purchasing various accelerators, 3rd party tower cases, and so on.
There must have been something wrong with Commodore's pricing policy if customers prefered to screw around with low-end models and 3rd party enhancements, instead of simply buying an A3000 or A4000.

An 020 board was enough

OK, 68020+68851 MMU was enough for Unix, and both were available on A2620 card.

Pretty sure that an A1000 + HDD upgrade would not be more expensive than an AT.

Was it even possible to buy an A1000 with HDD? Must be some later 3rd party thing?
AFAIK the first Amiga sold with an HDD was A2000HD, in 1988 or so - which was somewhat late, considering that PCs shipped with HDD by default in 1983.

appiah4 wrote:who the fuck needed scan doublers, there were RGB monitors

Those who worked with a computer for eight hours a day didn't tolerate interlace.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby Scali » 2019-5-15 @ 18:01

Grzyb wrote:Oh, there was a lot of people who needed something faster than 68000@7MHz, or even 68020@14MHz - but those people were usually purchasing various accelerators, 3rd party tower cases, and so on.


They were? I never saw them.
Yea sure, years after Commodore had kicked the bucket, and the enthousiast community developed these A1200 accelerators, PCI converters, tower kits etc.
But that's not what we're talking about here, is it?
Back in my early Amiga years, I only knew of one friend who had an A2000. Everyone else had an A500, A600 or A1200.
I don't know anyone who had an accelerator for any classic Amiga. Only for A1200s.
So in my experience, accelerators weren't a thing until the (late) A1200 days. We're talking 1995+.

Grzyb wrote:There must have been something wrong with Commodore's pricing policy if customers prefered to screw around with low-end models and 3rd party enhancements, instead of simply buying an A3000 or A4000.


There was.
The gap between an A500 and A2000 in price was huge.
Same with A1200 and A4000.
In the demoscene, an A1200 with 060@50 accelerator became the 'gold standard'. It was much cheaper than an A4000, and you had what you wanted: the AGA chipset, a fast CPU, enough fastram, and a HDD.

Grzyb wrote:Was it even possible to buy an A1000 with HDD? Must be some later 3rd party thing?


Not in the A1000 itself, but the A1060 sidecar included a HDD which could be used either by the Amiga or by the PC compatibility hardware in the sidecar.
There were also third-party HDD controllers for the A1000 expansion port.

As for PCs shipping with HDD, yes there were... However, there were also plenty of PCs still shipping without one. Case in point: my first PC was a Commodore PC10-III, which I got around 1988. It only had two 360k 5.25" DD drives.
I also have a Philips P3105 from 1987, which has two 3.5" 720k DD drives, no HDD. We had many of those at my school. HDDs were available for PCs, but certainly not standard. And certainly not required. I recall using software such as WordPerfect 5.0 from 360k floppies, which worked quite well.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby Grzyb » 2019-5-15 @ 18:41

Scali wrote:
Grzyb wrote:Oh, there was a lot of people who needed something faster than 68000@7MHz, or even 68020@14MHz - but those people were usually purchasing various accelerators, 3rd party tower cases, and so on.

They were? I never saw them.

Well, I don't know details, ask appiah4, as he was writing:
appiah4 wrote:
Grzyb wrote:TF530, ScanPlusECS... somehow I doubt if these were available in 1990 :P

Instead of contemporary accelerators like TF530 there were Apollo accelerators


Scali wrote:Not in the A1000 itself, but the A1060 sidecar included a HDD which could be used either by the Amiga or by the PC compatibility hardware in the sidecar.

Oh dear, I've just found this - http://home.total.net/~hrothgar/museum/A1060/index.html
No, there wasn't an HDD in A1060, there was a 360KB FDD, but it was possible to remove the FDD, stick in an HDD instead, and cover the hole with a cardboard, LOL...
And such an HDD doesn't seem to be directly accessible by Amiga software, more like a remote server share, and... "It was slow as a server".
I doubt if it was possible to run Amiga games off that HDD.

Pretty typical for all those Amiga extensions - lots of work, possible problems, poor results.

Case in point: my first PC was a Commodore PC10-III, which I got around 1988. It only had two 360k 5.25" DD drives.

But if you later wanted to add an HDD, it was as easy as turning a few screws, and connecting some cables - even the HDC was already onboard.
And all the software was ready to use the HDD, I think by that time even "booter" games were all ripped to COM/EXE files.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby BloodyCactus » 2019-5-15 @ 19:06

There were loads of addons for A500, GVP made heaps. scsi side cars, accelerator etc.

You could get an 68020 upgrade card for the A500 in 1987, CT in Germany made the PAK-68, had a 16mhz 020 CPU + 16mhz FPU ('881).

as for scsi.. there were heaps of adapters for A500. Supra had one out in 1987.

One of the easiest upgrades was changing the 7mhz 68000 to a 10mhz or 14mhz 68000.

In Australia, accelerators, ram expansions, scsi, was really popular with Amiga users.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby Scali » 2019-5-15 @ 19:09

Grzyb wrote:Well, I don't know details, ask appiah4, as he was writing:


Don't confuse things. I know that accelerators existed (heck, even Commodore themselves made them). I am saying that I never saw them 'in the wild', because they were expensive niche products.
You seem to have a tendency to rewrite history based on things you google up.
Just like your claim of PCs having a HDD by default since 1983. Yes, if you google, you will find that PCs with HDDs installed as standard were sold that early.
However, what you can't easily google is that the majority of PC users still used low-end 8088 floppy-only machines late into the 80s.

Grzyb wrote:Oh dear, I've just found this - http://home.total.net/~hrothgar/museum/A1060/index.html


Not sure what that hackjob is, but here is an A1060 with original MFM HDD (a 'hardcard', see also http://theamigamuseum.com/wp-content/up ... ochure.pdf), where the 5.25" disk drive is still in place, obviously (a PC compatibility sidecar without 5.25" drive would be pretty useless, since the Amiga uses only 3.5", and 5.25" was still the standard format for PCs in those days):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PamfEkIbQU

And here's an Amiga 1000 with a third-party sidecar HDD: https://youtu.be/upjRQZ3c-6w

Grzyb wrote:But if you later wanted to add an HDD, it was as easy as turning a few screws, and connecting some cables - even the HDC was already onboard.


Again, don't confuse things. The PC10-III had an XT-IDE controller on board (which is NOT compatible with the common AT-IDE interface).
There have only been a handful of HDDs ever made, that were compatible with that interface. They were extremely rare.
When we had our machine upgraded with a HDD, the shop installed an MFM harddisk with 8-bit ISA controller.
I didn't use the onboard controller until years later, when I found a Seagate drive for it.
And let's not get into low-level formatting these drives, using debug.com before first use.

If you want easy, I'd argue that the Amiga 500 easily beats the PC there: you can just shove a sidecar into the side slot. The sidecar already contains the HDD controller and harddrive, all wired up and screwed into place. Just plug-and-play.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby Grzyb » 2019-5-15 @ 20:32

Scali wrote:Just like your claim of PCs having a HDD by default since 1983. Yes, if you google, you will find that PCs with HDDs installed as standard were sold that early.
However, what you can't easily google is that the majority of PC users still used low-end 8088 floppy-only machines late into the 80s.

Majority? Maybe...
Nevertheless, in the late 80s XT clones, HDD wasn't a rare thing.
On the other hand, I'm absolutely sure that the majority of Amiga users still used low-end A500 floppy-only machines in the mid-90s.

Even today, I sometimes browse auction sites for vintage computers, and guess what:
A500, A600, A1200 are plentiful.
A500 - floppy-only of course, those HDD boxes for them are rather rare and expensive
A1200 - often with HDD, but it's usually some large, modern drive, so I guess they were originally sold as floppy-only
A2000 - somewhat rare, hardly ever with HDD
A1000 - rare, never with HDD
A3000, A4000 - very rare and mad expensive

Not sure what that hackjob is, but here is an A1060 with original MFM HDD (a 'hardcard', see also http://theamigamuseum.com/wp-content/up ... ochure.pdf), where the 5.25" disk drive is still in place, obviously (a PC compatibility sidecar without 5.25" drive would be pretty useless, since the Amiga uses only 3.5", and 5.25" was still the standard format for PCs in those days):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PamfEkIbQU

Not original, there's no HDD in a stock A1060 - the specs clearly state: "Space provided for a Hard Card Device".
And the Amiga has to be booted off a diskette.
Really, I've found it amusing - what's the easiest way to add an HDD to an A1000? By adding a PC to it! :D
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby realnc » 2019-5-15 @ 22:15

If Grzyb has a point, I'm struggling to understand what it is. Can someone enlighten me?
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby brostenen » 2019-5-15 @ 22:20

Grzyb wrote:TF530, ScanPlusECS... somehow I doubt if these were available in 1990 :P


Nope, they were not. Yet you were able to buy internal 030 accelerators, internal IDE controllers and internal scandoublers that delivered the same.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby brostenen » 2019-5-15 @ 22:29

Please browse "Big Book Of Amiga Hardware" HERE
It will give a good window into what was avaliable and when.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby brostenen » 2019-5-15 @ 22:36

SpectriaForce wrote:
Murugan wrote:That's the only thing I will do too when I'll buy one again :)
Just doubting between a 500 and 600. Shouldn't have sold them a few years ago...


The prices have just become completely insane (I used to be able to buy A500 sets all day long for under € 50 and snow white A600 under € 70, flip them for a small profit to buyers in other countries, but that's over) and the available upgrades make the hobby really expensive for my taste. Unless you are serious about actually using an Amiga on a weekly basis, it doesn't make sense anymore.


Sure they have exploded, so have old 386/486 hardware. Owning an Amiga is just as senceless as using a 486 with VLB and GUS. What does an Amiga1200 cost and what does a ready build 486dx2-66/VLB/GUS cost? Compare that and ask yourself what makes more sence to use with the prices it costs these days.

All I am saying, is just because it is expensive, does not make it insane to use. And what about those that have owned their Amiga from way back, when they were actually cheap. Are they supposed to use their machines on a daily basis, just to justify the current market price?
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby brostenen » 2019-5-15 @ 22:56

Grzyb wrote:Not original, there's no HDD in a stock A1060 - the specs clearly state: "Space provided for a Hard Card Device".
And the Amiga has to be booted off a diskette.
Really, I've found it amusing - what's the easiest way to add an HDD to an A1000? By adding a PC to it! :D


There were no real autoboot of harddrive on the Amiga, untill KickStart 1.3 and as the Amiga1000 were shipped with kickstart on a floppy disk. Then it did not really matter that the drive was not autobooting anyway. You still had to fiddle with a floppy disk, and you can actually copy the driver to the Workbench disk and then modify the startup script to load it during start. Else you can solder a socket onto the motherboard, and then have Kickstart 1.3 installed in the machine. Speaking of SCSI harddrives for the Amiga1000. Well... Then there are a number of solutions. Like this one here, that does not autoboot eighter. And regarding games on harddrive, then not every game can be installed onto a harddrive. Game makers eighter did not make it because so few had harddrive, or it was not possible to install on a harddrive, because of some sort of copy protection they made.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby brostenen » 2019-5-15 @ 23:03

Regarding harddrive on all platforms in the 1980's... Owning an harddrive was an insane luxury. Even in 1987.
Nearly all computers that I saw in the 1980's, had no harddrive. C64, Amiga and PC.
Yes, HDD's were avaliable for C64, and that was a serious expensive luxury back then.

EDIT:
Something called "CMD HD 200" was avaliable for C64/C128. An issue of RUN magazine from 1990, had that
model listed for the "low" price of "only" 1499,95 US Dollars. Just imagine what something like that would have costed in 1985.
That is like freaking 2923 US Dollars in todays money.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby BushLin » 2019-5-16 @ 00:45

Indeed. I can't speak for others but for most of the 80's, my programs loaded from audio cassette and the Amiga 500 disk drive was a massive upgrade. We weren't poor, these things were just expensive. Even in 1990 a 20MB hard drive was the same cost as a new Amiga.

I picked up a nice HDD expansion a few years later on the cheap and experienced a boot time which is still faster than any post DOS PC if you count from pressing the on switch to loading a GUI application...

However, by then the world had moved on, Commodore's poor decisions had come to roost and the platform wasn't much improved from Jay Miner's early 80's vision. They just wanted another C64 cash cow and line their own pockets, coupled with many strategic errors, not least laying off many of the original Amiga company when they needed to be developing a PC competitor.

The Amiga was ahead of its time, what was then an arcade style architecture with incredible video and audio chips but for general purpose use in a affordable system you can run in your own home; with new features like multitasking, years before the competition.
However, It took a long time before developers were really using the benefits of offloading work from the CPU, it was really poorly marketed and many didn't even understand the concepts of what computers could do. Killer apps were niche and for great low cost gaming... Er, Nintendo ?

The more I read into what happened in Commodore upper management the more I realised that even if the Amiga guys had been allowed to develop something special again, Commodore would still have managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby bakemono » 2019-5-16 @ 02:30

I think the Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit are much closer to the Amiga 'genetically', than any of the computers you mention.

Amiga is very much related to the 8-bit Atari. Agnus takes the place of ANTIC, Denise takes the place of GTIA, Paula takes the place of POKEY, and CIA (x2) takes the place of PIA.

The way different functions are grouped together among the chips is almost the same. Digging deeper, you see stuff like ANTIC putting an address on the bus so that GTIA can grab data for sprites each scanline. And Amiga does sprites the same way, except the idea was expanded so now there is also time allocated for Paula to grab sound, etc.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby Grzyb » 2019-5-16 @ 04:43

realnc wrote:If Grzyb has a point, I'm struggling to understand what it is. Can someone enlighten me?

The point is simple:
We all agree that Amiga computers were good for games.
But some people claim they were also good for other purposes, especially compared with PC - and this I'm not buying, that's all.
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Re: Why is Amiga so popular with retro community ?

Postby Unknown_K » 2019-5-16 @ 05:00

Scali wrote:
There was.
The gap between an A500 and A2000 in price was huge.
Same with A1200 and A4000.
In the demoscene, an A1200 with 060@50 accelerator became the 'gold standard'. It was much cheaper than an A4000, and you had what you wanted: the AGA chipset, a fast CPU, enough fastram, and a HDD.



I think the Blizzard 68030/50 was the gold standard since few people ever had an 060 in a A1200 (or other Amiga).

I got into Amigas a decade after Commodore went under (early 2000's) when most of the diehards were getting rid of their gear and prices were very reasonable. The early software library was pretty decent compared to what was on the PC pre 1992 or so. The PC was not good with shooters because of the hardware limitations of the time but while the Amiga video didn't change much from the original chipsets (and AGA wasn't that much better) the PC went from Monochrome/CGA to EGA and then VGA/SVGA leaving commodore in the dust while PC sound and CPU were moving much faster then what Motorola was turning out.

Even when hardware was being dumped it was mostly A500's and A2000's while the rarer A3000/A4000 still cost a few bucks (but nothing like today). You could buy an A500 setup for less than or about what A C64 goes for today. The problem is even then finding a cheap A590 sidecar (or more pricey GVP model) for the common A500 wasn't easy and wasn't cheap. I had to get some A2000's with a hardcard because it was cheaper buying that setup then an A590. The A1200 was a dream to game on because I had the 030/50 and an adapter to use my NEC 3Ds monitor (which is in the garage now because it doesn't work anymore). Having PCMCIA for cheap PC networking cards along with cheap IDE laptop HDs was very economical.
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