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Old 30 July 2020, 17:10   #1
stevelord
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Crash And Burn: The Amiga ST Story

I've just posted my latest issue of Tales From The Dork Web, focusing on Jack Tramiel, Atari, Commodore and the original Amiga. I thought I'd post Crash and Burn here in case people wanted to read it.


I've spent quite a lot of time on this, but there's a lot of conflicting information out there and dates often get muddied. This wasn't helped by Substack's size limitations (as it's a mailing list newsletter as well as a web page).


I hope you enjoy it, and in the next issue I'll put forward any corrections, credits and sources of note.
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Old 30 July 2020, 20:17   #2
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And a very good read it is too Steve, thanks! Pulling it all together is definitely a lot of work, and trying to boil it down to a short story is hard... I think you've pretty much nailed it though, especially the characters, the egos, the stunts that Jack (and others) pulled at commodore and elsewhere, the way they'd messed around distributors and burnt trust (that might be worth adding in)...

There's a few typos - do you want those pointing out? Also, can Substack not just have a URL for youtube, as the ?t=X works to give seconds offset.

Looking forward to the next instalment.

Have you read Commodore: a company on the edge, the Amiga years and the Final years at all? (disclosure: I edited the last 2).
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Old 30 July 2020, 20:48   #3
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The typos I can fix on the page, so please do go ahead. I spent a lot of time chopping stuff out to make it work within Substack's limits, got a bit wordblind on the way and missed my usual post deadline so I didn't have much time to edit.

I've tried embedding before but it seems the ?t=X gets cut out. Basically you paste the URL in and it converts it to a Youtube embed, but loses the ?t=X bit on the way.

I've read Commodore: The Amiga Years by Brian Bagnall and Commodore: Company on the Edge but not the Amiga years. To be honest I really would like to see something more on the inside of the production of the Atari ST. It sounds like a really wild time with the lawsuits flying everywhere, Jack Attacks and I'd be keen to see how Shivji's team got the ST out of the door so quickly.
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Old 31 July 2020, 06:13   #4
Minuous
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevelord View Post
I'd be keen to see how Shivji's team got the ST out of the door so quickly.
It's made from mostly generic off-the-shelf hardware. The OS was clearly a rushed afterthought too. So it's no mystery how it was done so quickly.
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Old 31 July 2020, 07:12   #5
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Fascinating video interview with Jack Tramiel!

And excellent story of the tortuous history of the Amiga and Atari!

Thansk SteveLord
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Old 31 July 2020, 12:04   #6
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It's made from mostly generic off-the-shelf hardware. The OS was clearly a rushed afterthought too. So it's no mystery how it was done so quickly.

Yeah I know there's that, I was thinking more about the Jack attacks, the business problems encountered along the way. There's a big gap between the temporary injunction stopping Shivji from working on RBP and the ST coming out - clearly someone wasn't playing by the rules and it was probably down to Jack.


For example, the business bullshit that Bil Herd put up with for the C128 is really well documented, as are the business events leading up to the birth of the C64 (like the fact that Jack didn't want to pay for *anything* to do with the C64 until it was released, even a new case design). I've not been able to find much around that part of the folklore, not even from his sons when it comes to the ST.
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Old 31 July 2020, 13:26   #7
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Excellent article, thanks stevelord

I find the part about Dave Morse trying to sell the Amiga to Apple very fascinating "what if" scenario.

I remember reading Steve Jobs rejected it because the design had "too many chips" or something along those lines. Anyone recognise this and what book or article this anecdote comes from?
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Old 31 July 2020, 14:18   #8
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Have shared a doc with you Steve to your substack email address.
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Old 03 August 2020, 21:28   #9
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Thanks, Chiark for all your help. I actually found a really good series on the Atari ST for anyone interested. Turns out Dadhacker worked on the ST and wrote a few posts about it. Sounds just as hellish as I thought it might've been -https://dadhacker-125488.ingress-alpha.easywp.com/the-atari-st-part-1/
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Old 03 August 2020, 23:05   #10
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Thanks, Chiark for all your help. I actually found a really good series on the Atari ST for anyone interested. Turns out Dadhacker worked on the ST and wrote a few posts about it. Sounds just as hellish as I thought it might've been -https://dadhacker-125488.ingress-alpha.easywp.com/the-atari-st-part-1/
Thanks for that, was very enjoyable, theres a part 2 also by just changing the url to... part-2
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Old 15 August 2020, 18:41   #11
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I think it's interesting to note that thanks to Apple, Digital Research's GEM OS was limited on the PC to two equal sized windows which couldn't be resized or closed to the best of my knowledge and there were no longer desktop icons. Curiously, Apple never went after Atari's version of GEM which wasn't crippled at all.

I remember back in the late 80s and early 90s coveting the Atari ST. I loved looking in the magazines at the screenshots of the applications with Atari's system font and thought it was the coolest thing I ever saw. It wasn't until I bought my Amiga in 1991 that I realized I had the better computer and OS and I started with 1.3 right before 2.x became available.

Years later, I ran a variety of Atari emulators and I was shocked at how limited the OS really was. It was a pain in the butt just to get the desktop gadgets in the right order in their directory so they ran properly, if at all. Still, I thought the Atari desktop GUI applications (running in hi-res in black and white) looked better than anything I ever saw on the Mac.

Thanks for this - I'm reading with great interest.
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Old 30 August 2020, 03:25   #12
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Fascinating read! I can’t wait for the next installment.
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