Interesting Times

by Eric Schwartz
from the AmiTech Gazette, April 2011

It's an interesting time in the world of Amiga-esque stuff, at least somewhat. Probably the biggest, realest piece of news is that of the Amiga X1000 boards entering production, and thus closer to reaching end users. While I have little idea what to expect, I do respect Aeon and their relations for attempting to create a new and innovative PPC system with Amiga OS in mind, that is not at a embedded system or netbook-like specification. Regardless of my presumptions and MorphOS bias, I wish them all the success they can handle.

Our old f(r)iend Commodore USA has been getting some press lately, with some promotional material connected to the DVD/Blu-Ray release of the movie "Tron Legacy." For those not already familiar with C-USA, they intend to put out various generic PC hardware in cases that mimic the form factor of classic Commodore or Amiga computers -- a direct replica of the Commodore 64 case in one specific example, and include Ubuntu Linux with Commodore or Amiga emulators included and "skins" to put across some of the legacy look. I wonder exactly who will be the ones taking the bait for these "Commodore" machines. The hardware is nothing to write home about, and the software can pretty much be had on your own PC for next to nothing -- which just leaves the cases. Some of those can even be had from other sources. It feels like a pretty half-assed attempt to cash in on ignorant nostalgia, but I guess if it helps the Commodore and Amiga names to get a little more attention, it can't be all bad, even if the actual product might be.

Speaking of getting the name out there, an image surfaced recently of Chinese-made Android tablet computers with the Amiga logo, presumably part of some of the licensing agreements made a while back. If the price is right, the hardware isn't terrible and it wasn't some kind of April fools' hoax, I'd be tempted to get one, though this really isn't any different in principle than all the Commodore USA stuff I bad-mouthed above (aside from type of hardware being shilled for names and nostalgia).

Finally, I thought I'd share one more bit of something I found in what could be called "spring cleaning." Last month I brought in a bunch of Amiga (and related) magazines, giving club members a chance at them before I tossed them into the recycling bin. It went better than expected, and several magazines found new homes, most going to Bill Core. The number of mags I gave away or recycled pales in comparison to the amount I held on to, but at least I got to clear some space, as well as read through a lot of old magazines to determine which to keep. It's sad to look back and realize how much was done with Amiga hardware and software in the eighties and nineties, and how little is being done today. Anyway, there was one special treat I found in the April 1994 issue of Amazing Computing -- roughly the same time Commodore was declaring bankruptcy, though this was not known to AC yet. In a sort of April fool, they present a news item from the far-flung year of 2004 -- the debut of Commodore's Amiga personal Augmentation Device (PAD) 28. It was presented as a hand-held device with a color touch-screen, built-in camera and video capabilities, and wireless cellular networking. Sound familiar? Not all the-details match up of course, but it certainty seems similar enough to Apple's iPad to notice, even if hypotheti-Commodore beat the truth to the punch by a few good years. I'm guessing neither Commodore/Amiga nor Apple would be likely to choose Mel Gibson for their advertising like the article suggested. Maybe Charlie Sheen is available instead?