1. 22
  1.  

  2. 12

    Commodore was spectacular in how well it could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Amiga was the most amazing machine the world had yet seen in 1985, they had possibly the best team of hardware and software engineers in the world, but management just…couldn’t leave it well enough alone.

    Bizarre decisions like:

    • The Amiga (later retroactively named the Amiga 1000) had a sidecar expansion port. The Amiga 500 had the same port, but upside down…so that all of the existing peripherals had to be upside down to work. Given how they were designed, it meant that none of them would.
    • The Amiga 2000 was the first machine that could use the Video Toaster, and the Video Toaster was the killer app for the Amiga. Then they made the Amiga 3000, which could also use the Video Toaster, except that the case was a quarter-inch too short for the Toaster card.
    • The Amiga 600 had a PCMCIA slot. Except that they rushed to manufacturing using a draft of the PCMCIA spec, rather than waiting for the final specification. The end result was that regular PCMCIA cards often wouldn’t work on the Amiga.
    • Amiga Unix on the Amiga 3000UX was considered one of the highest-quality SVR4 ports ever. Sun offered to produce the Amiga 3000UX for Commodore as a Sun-branded Unix workstation that could run Amiga software…and Commodore declined.

    We’d all be using Amigas now if Commodore’s management had literally been anything other than hilariously incompetent, I swear.

    1. 4

      Jimmy Maher’s book about the Amiga explores a number of these bizarre decisions and reaches a similar conclusion. The title says it all: The Future Was Here! http://amiga.filfre.net/

      1. 2

        Agree with everything except conclusion as even less incompetent companies failed including Sun. Only Apple survived and even they became are now basically producing PCs with their distro.

        However we might have been living in a different future if Amiga had an opportunity for a bigger impact. Mine certainly is as I went to study mathematics instead of CS because I could not imagine developing software for PCs in DOS era.

        1. 1

          Are you certain that the first 2 issues (upside-down sidecar port & case too short for toaster card) were the fault of management & not engineering?

        2. 6

          An interesting project. Some detail: https://www.c256foenix.com/forum/the-specifications/early-specifications

          I like that the engineer behind this is trying to limit herself to components that would have been available in 1987. Of course this opens up several problems, particularly around the SID. Still, it’s a wonderful conceit to imagine that one circa-2018 person, working in their spare time with their personal resources, can design, test, produce, market, and distribute a product that a circa-1987 multi-million-dollar international corporation “should have”. Who will buy or use such a thing? Yet, this isn’t the first such attempt to resurrect the C64 platform:

          By contrast, some commercial attempts:

          It’s fascinating how we continually reinterpret the past as we build upon it.

          1. 2

            “If you were to go back in time to 1987, this is probably similar to what would have replaced the Amiga if Jack Tramiel had never left Commodore.”

            Cool project, but I don’t think this is true. Amiga 500 had 512KB of RAM because it was bloody expensive. So did majority of competitors. Nobody would put 1.5MB in a computer at that time because it would severely reduce number of units you could shift for little benefit. Pretty much all software written at that point needed far less than that (even on multitasking Amiga).

            Also, I believe 65C816 did not run at 14Hz back then. Not many chips did and both Amiga and Atari were running at 7-8Hz.

            1. 3

              The A500 could be expanded up to 7 MB though, so I don’t think it’s completely out of line.

              I wonder if the CPU is actually the W65C816S, which is readily available at 14 MHz. I sent an email to Stefany and asked about it.

              Edit: it is indeed the W65C816S from Western Design Center.