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Old 14 April 2008, 16:23   #1
DigitalQuirk
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Me in 1989: One big Amiga nut

I've been going through my massive collection of diskettes from my Amiga 500, some of which are 20 years old. This is a picture of me, created on October 19, 1989 (according to the date stamp of the file), originally created on an Amiga in .iff format using DigiView, now converted to .jpg:



In this year, I was in my final year of high school. Some details about my Amiga usage in 1989:
-I was using an Amiga 500 with the A501 belly expander, a 1084s monitor, and a 1011 external disk drive attached.
-I had added a generic mail-order 2400 baud modem and an Epson LX-810 9 pin dot matrix printer both in 1989.
-My Amiga was originally bought around February of 1988, making it roughly 20 months old by this time.
-I was running Workbench V1.2, with Kickstart V1.2, but also had a "Copy" of Workbench 1.3 that I got from a friend.
-My computer usage averaged roughly 4 hours per evening, and was a mix of gaming, writing things, connecting to BBS's, drawing things in DeluxePaint, writing BASIC programs, and tinkering around.
-My word processor that I used for everything was Textcraft Plus, which I bought when I bought my printer.
-I also bought Pagesetter in the summer of that year, wanting to learn about and get into Desktop Publishing.
-For terminal emulation, I was using Starship Term V1.0a, a Public Domain terminal emulator.
-I was using a "Copy" of DeluxePaint II that I obtained from the art center's Amiga 1000 at my school.
-I wasn't much into pirating then; all of my games were bought. I was of the mindset that I wanted to "Support" the Amiga platform as much as I could financially. I was hopelessly loyal to all things Amiga.
-Nearly all of my software and hardware purchases were made at Con-Pute in Oshawa; the store where my first computer, a Vic 20, came from!
-I worked at the Burger King directly across the road from Con-Pute that summer; I wanted to work there specifically because it was across the road from my favourite computer store.
-If you were to look at my game collection, it would have included Space Harrier, Super Hang On, The Bard's Tale, The Bard's Tale II: Destiny Knight, Double Dragon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (it was a really good price), Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Hero of the Lance, and It Came from the Desert.
-I bought an issue of Jumpdisk the month this picture was taken; 12 months after my very first Jumpdisk ever! I also bought my regular issue of .info magazine. I bought these because they were both created using Amiga computer technology, and I wanted to support that. I still have these in my collection:


It was a really good year to be an Amiga nut. We had the best games, there was so much good software, there were numerous publications from which to choose, and the future of the Amiga seemed to be unlimited. Commodore was at the top of their game; Amiga's were selling in spite of the lack of advertising. On a personal level, I was breaking into new dimensions of computing at a phenomenal rate.

Last edited by DigitalQuirk; 14 April 2008 at 16:41.
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Old 14 April 2008, 22:56   #2
Motorola Inside
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I liked to read your story of that year.
Some thinghs in that year were similars to me .About Amiga you was more lucky because i had not enough money to expand my A 500 like you..and i had only pirate software ..
The only money that i spent often was to buy magazines ( I still have a collection of about 350 magazines about Amiga ).
Cheers!
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Old 14 April 2008, 23:58   #3
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Great post and welcome to EAB.

I love it when a new member comes along and shares their memories of what the Amiga meant to them back in the day.

Some nice pics. 1989 was one of my favourite years - just being old enough to go and see Batman the Movie at the cinema and moving from an Atari ST to my very first Amiga 500 - in the Batman pack!

And Bloodwych was released!

A great year.
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Old 15 April 2008, 00:28   #4
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haha good year indeed it was met my wife, bought my very first car, and started university all in 89 as for computers I only dreampt of an A500 back then as I was a poor student (lotsa savings to buy that 84 Rabbit) & still loved my 64 at the time
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Old 15 April 2008, 15:28   #5
DigitalQuirk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motorola Inside View Post
I liked to read your story of that year.
Some thinghs in that year were similars to me .About Amiga you was more lucky because i had not enough money to expand my A 500 like you..and i had only pirate software ..
The only money that i spent often was to buy magazines ( I still have a collection of about 350 magazines about Amiga ).
Cheers!
Do bear in mind that I had owned the Amiga for 20 months by then, so I had 20 months to accumulate games and hardware. When I sold my entire C64 system, which included monitor, computer, disk drive, printer, modem, mouse, joystick, Warp Speed cartridge, and hundreds of disks, I still had to chip in some of my own cash just to buy one A500 with a 1084s. The A501 was an Xmas gift from my parents in December of '87. By then, I had already bought Space Harrier, Super Hang On, Double Dragon, Bard's Tale, and my first couple of Jumpdisks. I saved up my money from part time jobs to buy the A1011 next, then I put the Epson printer on layaway and made payments. The 2400 baud modem was mail order and was thus very cheap for a modem. I basically spent all of my money on my Amiga. In retrospect, I would have been better off upgrading to the Commodore 128 as planned, but I was young and foolish and wanted the best.

Also, consider that I typically bought software when it was a good price. When I bought Textcraft Plus, it was marked down and was very inexpensive; same deal with Pagesetter. I would frequently rummage through the clearance bin for anything Amiga that looked good.

The only thing I didn't like about the Amiga scene back then was the fact that the vast majority of coverage for the Amiga was either for video production or video games, and the computer got pigeon-holed. I always felt the Amiga had many more talents than that and could have easily taken on the Mac for desktop publishing as well as the PC for business and productivity, had Commodore managed Amiga properly. As far as I was concerned, Amiga was the first computer that really could do everything well.
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Old 15 April 2008, 16:22   #6
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Originally Posted by DigitalQuirk View Post
D... In retrospect, I would have been better off upgrading to the Commodore 128 as planned, but I was young and foolish and wanted the best....
no my man..trust me the best thing you did was to buy an Amiga and not a 128..unless you programmed in CPM or used business applications strictly written for the 128 it was basically a 64 at heart indeed!
when I got mine I basically spent 99% of the time in 64 mode...type 'go 64' <return>
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Old 15 April 2008, 19:27   #7
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no my man..trust me the best thing you did was to buy an Amiga and not a 128..unless you programmed in CPM or used business applications strictly written for the 128 it was basically a 64 at heart indeed!
when I got mine I basically spent 99% of the time in 64 mode...type 'go 64' <return>
This is retrospect, as in, if I knew then what I know now. I became far too obsessive with my Amiga. I had no interest in buying a car, though I had my driver's license. All my money went into Amiga. All my time went into Amiga. I didn't want to go to school much after high school; I just wanted a job so I could keep buying Amiga. My parents became concerned, so I moved from home and rented a tiny bachelor apartment just so I could spend more time with Amiga.

I could've learned just as much from the C128 and do as much "Real" work with it as I did with my Amiga. It would have cost me less, and I probably would not have been so obsessive about it. I would have saved a considerable amount of money, which could have gone towards a car. I probably would have pursued a career in photography or journalism instead.

Of course, if I went that route, I may have regretted not buying the Amiga when I had the chance.
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Old 15 April 2008, 21:24   #8
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hmm interesting outlook indeed you might say you were addicted to the Amiga
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Old 15 April 2008, 21:28   #9
Motorola Inside
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalQuirk View Post
This is retrospect, as in, if I knew then what I know now. I became far too obsessive with my Amiga. I had no interest in buying a car, though I had my driver's license. All my money went into Amiga. All my time went into Amiga. I didn't want to go to school much after high school; I just wanted a job so I could keep buying Amiga. My parents became concerned, so I moved from home and rented a tiny bachelor apartment just so I could spend more time with Amiga.

I could've learned just as much from the C128 and do as much "Real" work with it as I did with my Amiga. It would have cost me less, and I probably would not have been so obsessive about it. I would have saved a considerable amount of money, which could have gone towards a car. I probably would have pursued a career in photography or journalism instead.

Of course, if I went that route, I may have regretted not buying the Amiga when I had the chance.
How and when finished your 'Amiga Adventure'?I am really interested about your story.

I also became Amiga maniac' especially since 1996 when i just had bought my Amigas but I was hoping of a renaissance of Amiga (that remained a chimera for years till now).In that period i was always on Internet to look for news about Amiga and spent many money in magazines.. what a crazy period
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Old 16 April 2008, 16:04   #10
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Well, my 'Amiga 'Adventure' didn't suddenly come to an end; it was a long process of growing up and recognizing what was really important.

As you know, when I finished high school, I got a job and moved from home. I wasn't particular about what I did for work, so I did different jobs, usually bouncing between construction work and security. I wasn't even that particular with my girlfriends; sticking with whoever could tolerate my Amiga obsession the longest. I was living on the hope that one day, the world would come to its senses and recognize the Amiga as being the best computer for everything; and when that would happen, I would be in demand with my extensive Amiga knowledge.

Paying rent meant that my Amiga budget was a lot smaller. My new purchases were basically Jumpdisk and the occasional new game. As such, my system stayed at what I had at home, consisting of the A500, A1011 disk drive, A501 RAM expansion, Epson LX-810 printer, generic mail order 2400 baud modem, and 1084s monitor. At one point, I even ran a moderately successful BBS from my Amiga 500 system with BBS-PC!.

1992 was a big year for change for me. First of all, my Amiga was now four years old. I wanted a hard drive badly. I discovered that, in '92, I could easily afford a used 40MB IDE hard drive. The trouble was, the hard disk controllers for the Amiga 500 cost as much as a used PC! First and foremost, I recognized the fact that, had I bought a PC instead of an Amiga 500 back in '88, I could have just popped in any cheap used IDE hard drive. For what my A500 system had cost me, I probably could have bought a PC for the same money. This frustrated me to no end. Granted, the games would have sucked, but I was at a point in my life where I wasn't playing games much anymore.

I had moved to another apartment, and after a very hot summer, my power supply was making some funny noises. I realized I did not know what I would do if it failed. I had just dropped $350 on a new bicycle to get around on (I got tired of walking and taking the bus, and my previous bicycle was stolen), and a new Amiga cost a lot more than that. I realized I could justify the cost of the bike with the money saved by not taking the bus or taxi, but I could not justify replacing my Amiga 500 if it failed. I should note that, at this point in my life, all I owned was my Amiga 500 system, my bike, and a boombox radio. I didn't even own a TV!

My wake-up call came one cold, rainy November day when I was in my apartment, drinking a coffee and smoking a cigarette, watching a very old man on the street below delivering newspapers door to door. He wasn't dressed for the rain at all; the poor old man looked soaked and miserable. I thought about how good I felt being warm and dry in my apartment; then it occurred to me that the old man could be me some day! He wasn't doing it because he wanted to; he was doing it because he needed the extra money! What was I going to do at his age? I certainly wouldn't be able to work construction. That's when I realized that my obsession with Amiga had robbed me of my dream of having a career in the computer industry, and sending me down a path towards misery. The world wasn't going to wake up and recognize the Amiga; in fact, Commodore was blundering badly at this point. That was the moment I decided I would shut down my BBS, move out, and go back to school. I easily qualified for a student loan, and given my minimalist lifestyle, I had no trouble living on it.

The last straw came with my exposure to PC's. I was learning the PC business apps, which included Lotus 1-2-3, dBase III Plus, WordPerfect 5.1, along with programming languages such as COBOL and C++. My programming books came with compilers designed to work on the PC; as well, I had the student versions of the business apps. I put everything on low density disks and tried running them with PC Task on my A500, but it was dreadfully slow. I managed to find an older version of WordPerfect for the Amiga. I really wanted a hard drive badly, and while 30 and 40MB IDE drives were almost free, the controllers still cost as much as a used PC. I did fiddle with an old 2090 card and a slingshot expander I managed to find for $20, but the old RLL/MFM hard drives it used were often dead or were on their way out. SCSI hard drives for it were expensive. I barely managed with my Amiga to get through my first year.

Starting my second year in '94, a light came on in my head. If a hard drive controller cost more than a PC, and if I needed to run PC software anyway, why not just build a cheap PC for that purpose? I ended up building a PC from an Epson Equity '286, which sported a 30MB hard drive, 640k of RAM, EGA graphics, a 15" orange monochrome EGA display, one high density floppy, and a high speed multi I/O card, all for $100. I moved my printer and modem (now a USR Sportster 14.4; an Xmas gift from my parents) over from my Amiga. I loved the crisp, flicker-free high resolution display. I loved the terminal software, and really loved the offline mail readers for the PC. My transfer speeds with the Sportster were almost twice as fast over my A500, and I was finally able to use its fax capabilities with the free software I got with it. My business apps ran exceptionally fast, as this was a 16Mhz machine.

That marked the end of my Amiga adventure. I realized after a month that I hadn't touched my A500, except to watch TV on the 1084s with an old VCR I bought from a guy in a junk shop for $20. I was a bit emotional when I packed it away, but I promised myself I would never get rid of it. I just needed the space so I could get the PC off of the kitchen table.

If you like, I made a tribute for my Amiga 500 here: http://digitalquirk.ca/amiga/a500tribute.html

As for my bike, it too eventually failed; but like my Amiga, I hung onto it even after part of the frame broke. I rebuilt that; you might be interested in that story here: http://digitalquirk.ca/bicycle/bikerebuild.html

As for me, I'm doing quite well today; I've given up on smoking for over 12 years now, have a good job that I enjoy, own a house, a nice car, and have a family of my own. I am no longer "Obsessed" with Amiga, though I have turned it into a nice hobby. I also have a pension plan and retirement savings so I won't have to be that old man one day.
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Old 16 April 2008, 18:48   #11
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LOL that is quite a story :-)

So what Amiga hardware do you own nowdays?
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Old 16 April 2008, 19:44   #12
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LOL that is quite a story :-)

So what Amiga hardware do you own nowdays?
I still have everything noted in my tribute page: http://digitalquirk.ca/amiga/a500tribute.html

I also picked up a "Backup" A500, as well as an A590 populated with 4MB of RAM and a 600MB hard drive. I have a SCSI Iomega zip drive to facilitate transferring files back and forth to my PC, which has an internal IDE zip. WinUAE reads native Amiga zip disks fine.

I also have a CD32 system I rescued from a flea market:



My main Amiga these days, however, is my A2000 that I picked up at last year's World of Commodore:



Presently, it's loaded with a triple kickstart switch which can be switched between Kickstarts 1.3/2.0x/3.1, as well as a 68010 processor and a GVP SCSI card which is fully populated with 8MB of RAM and holds a 2.1GB SCSI hard drive. I've replaced the clock battery with a cordless phone one. It's presently loaded with Workbench 2.04. I can boot to a Workbench 1.3 system from my SCSI zip drive if I like.
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Old 16 April 2008, 20:46   #13
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So how is the experience of using Amiga nowdays for you?

Since Amiga destroyed (or almost destroyed) your future, is it positive experience?

I can not get to your site BTW.
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Old 16 April 2008, 20:47   #14
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I can not get to your site BTW.
No problems with it here...
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Old 16 April 2008, 22:03   #15
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I congratulate to you Paul for your commovent story about your 'relationship' with your Amiga 500!
Many things that happened to you remember me some similarities with my past life in 'Amiga limbo'.
I really liked to read 'all in one breath' all you've written!I hope you will write more in future!
Cheers!
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Old 17 April 2008, 14:24   #16
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So how is the experience of using Amiga nowdays for you?

Since Amiga destroyed (or almost destroyed) your future, is it positive experience?

I can not get to your site BTW.
You don't understand.

It wasn't the Amiga that almost destroyed my future.

It was me.

I had to come to terms with my own shortcomings. It was my obsessiveness that would have been my undoing. Since then, I have not allowed myself to become obsessed over any one thing. I had to learn to create balance in my life if I was to grow beyond what I was back then. Balance meant that I didn't have to give up the things I loved doing; it only meant that I had to make other aspects of life, such as my career, equally as important. If I had decided to get rid of the Amiga and focus on my career, then I would have simply exchanged one obsession for another.

I also learned not to get hung up on a dream. People have always told me to make sure to follow my dreams. Well, sometimes dreams conflict. Sometimes, dreams are built on a shaky foundation. I have discovered that, while I can allow dreams to be my guide sometimes, I cannot let them determine my life for me. Dreams can easily lead to obsessions if we let them, and it can be emotionally devastating when we discover we cannot make that dream a reality.

If you can't get to my web site, you could try going directly to the IP address where my web site resides:

http://99.253.2.30/amiga/a500tribute.html
http://99.253.2.30/bicycle/bikerebuild.html

These days, Amiga is a hobby for me, like any other hobby. I still think it's a fascinating machine, but it doesn't occupy my life. I also have other vintage computers in my collection as part of this hobby, including a Vic 20 system, a C64 system, a C128 system, a TRS-80 model 100 system, and a Mac Plus.

Last edited by DigitalQuirk; 17 April 2008 at 14:50.
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Old 17 April 2008, 23:20   #17
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Ah.. I see. Good it worked out for you.

Now your site works when I use IP (doesnt work with domainname though), I have actually been there before when I searched for Slingshots at work one boring afternoon.
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Old 18 April 2008, 04:43   #18
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Great story DigitalQuirk.
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