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Old 31 May 2017, 22:22   #1
Gorf
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Alternate Timeline

(this is a follow-up thread to "Were Amiga owners short-sighted? Could Commodore have helped?", which went in the direction of what Commodore should have done.)

So let's correct history together! What would a timeline look like, if Commodore did things right?
I am just about to enter my time-machine, travel back in time and take control over Commodore. Can I stir it in the right direction?


1. When do we enter the scene?
At the very beginning? Rescuing Amiga by preventing Commodore buying it? Atari would not have done much better ... Who else? So no - let's stick with Commodore.

At the end? Buying Commodore/Amiga in 1994 would be quite cheap. Of course we could do better than the chaos that followed ... but let us be honest: 1994 the Amiga had already lost.

So in the middle. To be precise: just right before Medhi Ali! Let's say 1988.
2. How do we become CEO/CTO?
well... option one would be to simply buy Commodore... since we are time-travelers it should be easy to be a billionaire. Some better ideas?
3. What is the situation "now"?
Irvin Gould has been sent to early retirement. We are the largest shareholder of Commodore. Rattigan was unlawful fired by Gould - we apologize and bring him back as CEO, we are keeping the board and the position as CTO for ourselves.
From here on we start to change things

1988:

First of all we need to cancel all side projects, that never came to life anyway.
Should we abandon PCs right now? I am not sure? what do you think?
ECS, A3000 and AOS 2.0 are in development.

the Amber-Chip should be just little bit more powerful, to allow the A3000 to display SVGA (800x600) fickerfixed (1024X768 ist not defined a standard yet...).

Cost effective turbo-hack to 14Mhz for the A2000 - with a turbo-button to turn it off. Also put Amber without ram as a scan-doubler in. Price stays the same - A2000 was overpriced already.

Buy Applix to have a full office-suite (it runs on Unix und VMS at this point, so we need to port it ...)

Hire more Developers!

1989:

A3000, ECS and AOS 2 get released.
A2000 Turbo is released.
Get game-pulishers and developers on board to update stuff to the new kickstart!
The Amiga500+ is in development.

Make the deal with Sun! Just do it!!!
Get a foot in the door of the workstation market (back than this was growing even faster than the PC market!)
Advertise!!

Buy Inmos! Yes thats right, the company that developed the transputer but failed. Why should we do that??
No, not really for the transputer, but some parts of it will come handy a little bit later. We buy it for the patents and for their display chips.

We buy Epix. What was the Atari Lynx would now become the Commodore Lynx.
That attracts more developers and game-publishers.
Bonus: R. J. Mical and Dave Needle are back in the team!

Carl Sassenrath returns for the CDTV project (YES, we are keeping this one!)

Push AAA development - utilizing some of Inmos tec.
Start cmos-ECS projekt!

1990:

A very good year. The Wall is down, new markets.
The 500 sells very well, but at the same time it is coming to an end.
We update to the A500+ with ECS and Amber, battery clock, 14MHz-hack and simm-slots for real fast ram. Of course we try to reduce the chip count and make it more cost effektive at the same time.

the cmos-ECS project produces first prototypes in late 1990.
It is a full CMOS re-implementation of the enhanced chipset - reducing it to only one single chip in 1.5mu tec.

The A2000 gets a HD-Update. No more big-box Amigas without HD.

The A3000 sells well, thanks to advertising. Also the Sun-version helps here.
A3000UX is still available, for markets Sun is not interested in.

The CDTV is released - we did offer it at a lower price, but still it is not a big thing... but it attracts some developers, helps to integrate CD-ROM in the OS.

Releasing some framebuffer-type gfx-cards with Inmos RAMDACs.
Starting RTG project.

the A3000+ with DSP is in development.

(Hire even more good developers.)

1991:

After a very good christmas-season in 1990 but now sales begin to drop again...
But we are prepared of course!

We join with "Insite Peripherals" on the Floptical (20MB floppy-disk)

The one-chip ECS is ready. So basically it allows us to build a A500+ with only two chips, the OC-ECS and a 14MHz 68000. So we can sell the A500+/A300 for a as low as the C64.
We open a small assembly-fabs in Brasil, Southafrica, etc. ... just to avoid import taxes. All they have to do is putting the board in a casing...

AAA is ready! And it has some Inmos-tec inside:
the transputer used very fast serial links (not unlike PCIe) to other transputers or to so called "trams". A T202 tram, would provide you with a (programmable) floppy- and hard-disk-controller and a parallel port... so instead of putting all logic in Mary (AAA-Paula) and CIAs, we just need a serial-link to our T202.

This also provides an easy way to do fast networking via these links. Envoy is supporting this of course.

small extern 8-bit-one-chip-trams provide connections to keybord, joystick, gamepad, etc.
Transputer-links as USB ... only years earlier!
We offer ASB as a free standard for all!
late 1991:
the A3000+ with 68040 + DSP + AAA + SCSI + Floptical + CD becomes the A4000 NG

With a 68030 + DSP, no FPU (optional), no daughterboard (optional), no SCSI, standard HD-floppy + CD and a A1000 style case it is the new
A1000 NG. With monitor for less than 1500$.

both are ready before christmas.

They come with the full Applix-office-suite and a full IDE for all developers and a CD full of PD software an a CD full of games (thanks to the CDTV)!
1992:

half a year after the A4000 NG and the A1000 NG we finally have reduced all the costs to be able to offer the A700 NG (was the a1200 in this reality)
It comes with 680LC30 + DSP + CD as all models do.
This is a A500/1200 keyboard-style computer - probably the last of its kind...

It comes either with a Floptical OR a small HD. It is probably 100$ above the real-world A1200. But it is earlier and faster and overall much better.

Since the A1000 NG we get very good press coverage. Amiga is back in the game!

And end of 1992 we land the next hit: the Amiga-PlayStation!

From now on we are kind of invincible

Thats enough for now - let me read your ideas!

Last edited by Gorf; 16 June 2017 at 20:22. Reason: typos - still not good... not a native speaker
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Old 31 May 2017, 23:04   #2
idrougge
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Almost two years ago, I unraveled the future of Commodore: http://eab.abime.net/showpost.php?p=...3&postcount=95
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Old 31 May 2017, 23:33   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
Almost two years ago, I unraveled the future of Commodore: http://eab.abime.net/showpost.php?p=...3&postcount=95
Thank you for the link!
I did not read your post until now - but still we came up with some similarities as the "A700"

Your alternate reality is rather dire... more like a dystropia. But quite realistic if you start the scenario at 1994 ...

to make a "turn around" we have to start earlier... like i did.

I tried to make only slight changes - nothing out of proportion or technically impossible. (You did quite the same....)

in my "reality" the years after 1992 look much brighter. We got much bigger sales on NG Amigas ... all equipped with a full SDK. Or as Steve Balmer would say years later:
Developers, Developers, Developers!

If this thread finds any interest I will continue to describe my "vision" of the years after 1992.
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Old 01 June 2017, 01:58   #4
ViLXDRYAD
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good thing Estrayk would still have done his cracktro music with paradox on an amiga-playstation

at any rate, this is amazing and seems totally on the ground to me; nice work, Gorf! =' D

edit: i hope i did not killed this thread as well as the others ;-;

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Old 01 June 2017, 12:51   #5
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I deleted my rambling as each time I re-read it, it made less and less sence lol. To condense and rewrite however....

My view on this subject is the OCS chipset was kept alive far to long. Even well into the 1200 days developers were all about OCS as why make an AGA game when OCS will sell more. Commodore should of let OCS die and should of cut the 500 far earlier. If AGA had of come sooner the 600 should of been a budget AGA machine, the 1200 the main AGA machine and the 4000 the workstation AGA. If all this had of happened 91/92/93 then we would be seen far better and superior games on the Amiga rather than the washed out ports we tend to of been left with. Those games developed for AGA from the ground up are amazing and far superior to what anything the consoles of the time could produce. Instead of pushing AGA commodore and the software houses rested on OCS and what was once ground breaking was now outdated.

And lets face it games are what sell computers to kids and kids are what push parents into buying computers.

Last edited by Glen M; 01 June 2017 at 13:46.
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Old 01 June 2017, 14:23   #6
Gorf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ViLXDRYAD View Post
good thing Estrayk would still have done his cracktro music with paradox on an amiga-playstation
beging sarcastic? well I like that! :-)

No - since the Amiga-Playstation is CD-only and we are in 1992, copying is quite difficult.
Well that is the reason for having ALL NG-Amigas equipped with a CD-drive.
Not only because it is new und cool and multimedia, but because it will reduce piracy significantly until affordable cd-burners and CD-Rs would become available.

But they might have done it on the classic Amiga, since millions of Amigas are still out there.
Or we might even have hired Estrayk (... read more in my next message)

Quote:
at any rate, this is amazing and seems totally on the ground to me; nice work, Gorf! =' D
thank you very much!
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Old 01 June 2017, 19:06   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen M View Post
I deleted my rambling as each time I re-read it, it made less and less sence lol. To condense and rewrite however....
it's fun to watch your message change every 15 minutes

Quote:
My view on this subject is the OCS chipset was kept alive far to long. Even well into the 1200 days developers were all about OCS as why make an AGA game when OCS will sell more. Commodore should of let OCS die and should of cut the 500 far earlier.
I don't think so:
The PC had no problem with old EGA-Dos games or later VGA-Windows games und later Direct3D... and today you can still play Dos-Games on a modern PC!

AGA was just not powerful/new enough - that is why I skipped it totally.
We have AAA NG-Amigas now!

Quote:
If AGA had of come sooner the 600 should of been a budget AGA machine, the 1200 the main AGA machine and the 4000 the workstation AGA. If all this had of happened 91/92/93
Im my scenario AAA (not AGA) comes just a little bit earlier than AGA did in reality. We pushed chip-development with a lot more resources and developers - and we knew exactly what the specs had to look like! (later more)
So end of 1991 is quite reasonable.


Quote:
And lets face it games are what sell computers to kids and kids are what push parents into buying computers.
That is true to some point. But we are entering the 90s and things change a little bit. We have now the 2nd generation of Amiga users - or the first generation did become the second:

The game-kids from the 80s are now young adults. They want different games and also be able to work - all on the same machine.
A lot of people where leaving the platform, because there was no viable upgrade path. For those we created the NG-Amigas - markets are the US, UK and western Europe.
But by canceling the A500 Commodore missed a lot of new approaching markets like south America, eastern Europe, India, maybe even China?

The A600 did cost Commodore more to produce than the A500+ ... instead of being cheaper as planed.

That is why we pushed the One-Chip-ECS project! Now the A300 is even cheaper to produce than the C64. We keep it alive even after we release the AAA NG-Amigas and we sell a lot in new markets.

As for Games:
As mentioned above, we are producing the Lynx. This handheld is cartridge based. That means since 1989 we are a official game-publisher.
We work closely together with developer teams - even finance new project.
These contacts will help us immensely to push new AAA-based games now in 1992!

Last edited by Gorf; 12 February 2018 at 23:56.
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Old 01 June 2017, 19:17   #8
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still in 1992

Bevor I can go on and describe the following years, it seams I have to go a little bit more into detail what we archived so far and why the changes we made, will bring a much brighter future für the Amiga.
So let me tell you from my last visit in Gorf's fascinating parallel universe in the year 1992.

We have to put some light at the following subjects:
  1. AAA-chipset
  2. NG-Amigas - all models
  3. classic Amiga - A300 und A3000-laptop
  4. the OS and software
  5. Marketing and PR
  6. what happened to the C64


well ok ... i spend definitely to much time in that universe, didn't I?

Last edited by Gorf; 01 June 2017 at 22:03.
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Old 01 June 2017, 21:05   #9
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still in 1992

1. the AAA-Chipset with Inmos Enhancements

During our jump to ECS and AOS 2.0 we stayed in close contact to developers. We offered active help und a good SDK. We made sure everybody understands, that we did not publish the APIs for fun: you have to use them, to stay compatible.

And to stay backward compatible is mandatory - at least that we have learned from PCs ans Windows...

For our new chipset we take the best ideas from AGA and AAA as well as some from Hombre (2D part), Blossom (Inmos Blitter project), natami/saga, Suzy (Lynx Blitter) and Inmos Transputer serial links.

Of course we have to keep complexity a low as possible. Most technologies were already available at this point - just not in that particular combination.

No 3D

While we will have some support for pseudo-3D and a DSP from AT&T that helps us here ... we have no shader and no hardware pixmapper.
Hey, but we are time-travelers! we know that will be important!
Yes we do - but it just would be to expensive at this point. We can not wait for smaller structures in silicon - we have to act now.
But we are better prepared

full 32-bit and VRAM

All chips are full 32bit CMOS with a full 32bit memory-bus..
except Linda/Monica: they will sit on the serial-port side of our VRAM.
In contrast to the original AAA-plans there will be no DRAM option.
This reduces complexity in chips and on the board.

Andrea (Agnus Blitter)

Blossom (Inmos) had support for 32k Blitter-objects, Suzy (Lynx) unlimited number - well limited by RAM. We own now both technologies and take the best tricks and concepts and combine them with Agnus to create the fastest and most powerful 2D Blitter out there.

The Copper will be a little bit more programmable und can do conditional jumps und some calculations on its own. (small cut-down transputer core)

Both can handle old-style lists and are ECS compatible.

Mary (Paula - sound etc.)

Mary will not get the full AAA-upgrade, as it was planed.
It will be more like "Pamela" in the vampire SAGA.
So we get 8 channels in 8bit or 16bit - the sampling rate is independent from video.
More sound effects are possible with the AT&T DSP.
A mixer will combine Mary's output, the DSP-output and the CD-output.

all logic for disks, CD-drive, parallel-port, keyboard, mouse, network... will be outsourced via Inmos-serial links to ether a T202 module, a link-port (network) or
ASB (amiga-serial-bus = early usb)

Linda/Monica

they will actually create the video-output for us. fetching the data from VRAM and feeding the DAC. Playfields, sprites, color-lookup will be handled there.
Basically they offer what was promised with AAA plus some nice scaling features as described by Ed Helper for the Hombre, but without the "packed" screen modes.
We have now up to 10 bitmaps, or 8bit chunky with clut, or 16-bit chunky, or 3x8bit = 24 bit (rgb AND yuv).

Since we have at least two line-buffers, we can now scale the output.
This can be triggered by Copper for every line. Allowing zoom-effects, wobbling, tilting and so on.. giving us nice pseudo-3D effects as well.
  • Sprites are now up to 128 pixels wide and can also be scales/zoomed.
  • An additional playfield is added (like in SAGA).
  • Planar and chunky can be mixed by allowing one bitplane to be 8-bit chunky

If you combine these features you end up with something like:
1st play-field containing the 8-bit-plane with 256 colors --> background.
2nd play-field with 4 bitplanes 16-colours out of 24-Bit --> objects in the middle
3rd play-field with 4 bitplanes 16-colours out of 24-Bit --> objects in front...
+ Sprites possibe as 4th play-field

With two line-buffers two of these play-fields can be zoomed or tilted individually... the sprites as well in addition to that
Wow I can imagine some crazy demos with that ....

other use case:
assign the 2nd line-buffer to a different screen. E.g. a 16bit deep chunky screen with just 320x200...
Now you can display that screen on top of your 640x400 256-color workbench
In A WINDOW! smoothly moveable!

Also we can assign the second line buffer to a additional input source - Linda has pins for that.
So a digitizer-card would feed Linda via a video-input-port.

We can tell Linda via Copper to switch between these two line buffers at any position.

What about the dual-chipset feature from AAA?

we keep that for the higher-end NG-Amigas (A4000 NG and A1000 NG)
Since Linda/Monica feed from the serial output of our VRAM we need to implement some tricks to really speed things up:

We can add a second output channel to feed the second pair of chips - but we would need to read from different banks, or else we would have to wait for the first one to finish and would not gain much speed...

But we want to read the even pixels with Linda1 und the odd pixels with Linda2!
Data that is right next to each other in RAM ... well is it?

Not if we implement a small MMU for our chipram. Now Andrea, Mary and the CPU see the data of a screen as a coherent block - while for Linda1 und Linda2 it are two different blocks of data in different banks.

With that trick we get 1024x768 in full 24 bit - even higher resolution on 16-bit screens.


The Hydra!

one more thing...

We call the system of Inmos-Transputer-links inside of the NG-Amiga "Hydra".
and it has one more feature.
usually all data from floppy, cd or hd would end up in a buffer inside Mary. Mary would write this to chip-ram or the CPU can fetch it from Mary... oh thats slow..
So we add an small DMA-capable chip to the fast-ram-side of our Amiga.
This chip has also a serial-link connected with Mary.
So we can order Mary to read from floppy and send data to the DMA-chip... writing to address xyz in fast-ram!

Convinced? Come into my world and buy one now!

Last edited by Gorf; 16 June 2017 at 20:34.
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Old 03 June 2017, 22:12   #10
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still in 1992

2. The Next Generation Amigas from 1992

Here I am going to describe all 4 different flavors our alternate reality has to offer in the year 1992. The label NG or Next Generation is on propose of course:
Amigas did the rendering on Star Trek the Next Generation and we are actively supporting the studio with hardware and technical advice.
We place our TV adds right there of course!

What all models have in common:

AAA+ chipset as described above at 32bit 14MHz
All models except the PlayStation have an additional VGA port and work with any VGA monitor.

Hydra:
serial interconnect between components on the board and a fast network port. in 1989 transputer links reached 20Mbit/s - we moderately update this to our trusty 28 MHz clock.
ASB:
Our USB before USB was invented - stable and solid 3.5 Mhz frequency to reduce costs for peripheral components. Keyboard, mouse, joystick, gamepad, midi, external floppies, ...
Old joysticks are not longer working without adapter ... we sell adapters.
AT&T DSP 3210:
Thanks to Dave Haynie we integrated this chip in all our models. It offers blazing fast floating-point operations, mp3-decoding, sound-effects and a soft-modem. So every Amiga has a modem build in. We are ready for the internet.
T202+:
Hooked onto Hydra this modified Inmos-chip gives us buffered IDE, internal Floppy, parallel-port, cd-controller. All fully DMA.
dual-speed CD drive in every model.

Parallel port, but no classic-serial port. Inmos-link to serial via adapter.

The differences:

The CPU ranges from MC68EC030 over MC68030 and MC68LC040 to full MC680040.

Only the top-model has SCSI build in :-/.
We needed to keep the costs down for the A1000 NG and the A700 NG...
But we endet up with a far better IDE solution than in the boring reality.

Only two different mainboards. We need to offer a good price and so we reduce overhead as far es possible. A4000NG und A1000NG share the same mainboards, but have different processor modules.
Both have a connector for a ZorroIII busboard, but the A1000NG comes without such a board ...

The A700NG and the Amiga PlayStation share exactly the same board.
Everything except the Ram is SMD. the PS is missing some parts as a parallel-port or IDE connector...

Having only two boards allows us also more flexibility inside what model a board will end up. So we can not produce too much of the one and too less of the other...

The parade:

A700NG:
This is of course the successor of the A500. It is labeled 700 instead of 1200 because we keep the 4 digits for our big-box models exclusively.
  • 68EC030 + DSP @ 28 MHz
  • AAA+ single config
  • 1 MB chipram (VRAM) (expandable)
  • 1 MB fastram (DRAM) (expandable)
  • CD-drive (top loader)
  • 1.7 MB floppy (can read all formats) or Floptical
  • small HD (20-40 MB) or Floptical
  • module port, but no expansion port (more infos later)
Local dealers can choose to build in more ram or add both Floptical and HD...
We ordered a insane number (guarantied minimum) of 5 million 68EC030 for the next 3 years from Motorola to get a really good price.
Still the A700NG is a little bit more expensive as the A1200 (same as the Atari Falcon was).
(Atari did put in 33MHz 030s but clocked them at 16MHz and connected them to a 16bit bus... )
Price: £499 or $777

A1000NG:
since the A700NG is a little bit more expensive and lacks a real expansion port , we hope more customers will take the jump and buy a A1000NG instead.
They come with a full 68030 with mmu, since we need that for our later OS development. there is a empty socket for the FPU
Dealers can upgrade it with a FPU or 040 (A4000NG processor module) or Floptical.
  • 68030 + DSP @ 25 (late 1991) 28, 33 MHz
  • AAA+ single config can be upgraded to double
  • 1.5 MB chipram (VRAM) (expandable)
  • 2 MB fastram (DRAM) (expandable)
  • CD-drive 5_1/4 inch standard
  • 1.7 MB floppy (can read all formats)
  • HD (40-100 MB)
  • ZorroIII and video-port (expansion board with 3 slots needed)

the slim design does not allow more than 3 cards - but it does really look great!
inspired by the original A1000 with keyboard garage - hope i can send some pictures later...

Price: £1099 or $1599 in bundle with monitor
A4000NG:
The wet dream for all amiga fans. She has got it all.
The drives (Floptical and CD) are motorized slot-in.
The case is a little bit higher but does not show it that much, because we have no garage ...
It allows to put in two more floppies or a additional CD-drive and a floppy...
Tower model is on the way
  • 68040 + DSP @ 25 , later 33 MHz
  • AAA+ double config
  • 2 MB chipram (VRAM) (expandable)
  • 4 MB fastram (DRAM) (expandable)
  • CD-drive 3(1/2) inch standard
  • Floptical
  • SCSI
  • HD (100 - 200MB)
  • ZorroIII and video-port incl. expansion board with 5 slots

It is equipped with a better RAMDAC (by Inmos) and can show higher resolution..
A config with a second RAMDAC is possible: dual-monitor with 800x600 each.
For two highres monitors a additional gfx-card is needed...

Price: £1700-£2400 or $2500-$3000
(depending on monitor, ramdac, HD, Ram)

The Amiga Playstation:
Our lifesaver. All NG models are great and they start to sell well.
But PCs are getting cheaper and cheaper and we have to keep up. So our margins are shrinking.
To get good conditions at Motorola and others we needed to place huge orders.
Now we need to sell. We are condemned to success.
Later in 1992 we introduce the Amiga PlayStation.

As mentioned before, it has the exact same mainboard as the A700NG. Just some connectors are missing. No keyboard, mouse, floppy, parallel, and hd obviously.
It is the first 5th generation console out there - beating the other PS by more than two years!
Out there are SNES, NeoGeo, and (also 1992) the Philips CD-i.
Atari has failed to produce the Panther and the Jaguar is still far away
Basically we do not have a competitor ;-)

Studios and developers had now more than 6 month to develop and test new games on NG-Amigas. We actively support them.
We also provide a team to upgrade and port classic Amiga games.
They are to 95% compatible - but some need minor changes. Of course changes are needed to run from CD or upgrade the colors to 8-bitplanes...
So we can offer more games on release day, than others have in total.

On focus however are new games of course - we made an exclusive deal with id-soft to port wolfenstein to Amiga and bring out their next game on Amiga first!

The 68EC30 + DSP + chunky mode is more than enough for Doom
(look at the atari-falcon port "bad-mood")
  • 68EC030 + DSP @ 28 MHz
  • AAA+ single config
  • 1 MB chipram (VRAM)
  • 1 MB fastram (DRAM)
  • CD-drive (top loader)
  • controller
  • module port (mpeg or 3D - more infos later)
  • modem
  • network port

the modem and/or network port are features no other console has.
Lan-parties are coming :-)

Price: as low as possible ... around £400 or $600 at start - less later.
We will earn money with games and add ons.

Last edited by Gorf; 10 June 2017 at 22:17.
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Old 06 June 2017, 07:54   #11
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This reminds me that someone really should make an Oil Imperium (Amiga only, naturally) style game where one could take charge of Commodore international, starting from eighties on, assigning money for research, marketing, cutting costs & corners etc

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Old 06 June 2017, 12:32   #12
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Excellent idea!
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Old 06 June 2017, 19:25   #13
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this thread would make a good game.... we had Theme Park...

now... Amiga Park - take your pick from alternate bosses to create your Commodore future...

Characters...

Jack Tramiel
Irving Gould
Mehdi Ali
Lew Eggerbrecht
David Pleasance
Kelly Sumner

and others...
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Old 06 June 2017, 20:29   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jizmo View Post
This reminds me that someone really should make an Oil Imperium (Amiga only, naturally) style game where one could take charge of Commodore international, starting from eighties on, assigning money for research, marketing, cutting costs & corners etc
I like that idea...

guess that would make my story the first walkthrough for this game
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Old 06 June 2017, 21:33   #15
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still in 1992

I did not mention some important peripherals before. Let's do that now:

The mouse and the gamepad.

Mouse:

the CDTV had a really nice mouse - no idea what commodore was thinking, when they took a big step back into the 80s with the mouse for the A1200.
We change that of course.

All computer-models come with a decent mouse close to the CDTV stile.
But they are equipped with a scoll-wheel!
Amiga was always superior at scrolling, so a scroll wheel is a quite natural evolution. In 1992 there are not that many applications that require is that much yet, but web browsers are coming fast.

The mouse does still have a ball and needs cleaning every week ... only the A400NG ships with a shiny fancy optical mouse!


Gamepad:

the CD32 Gamepad was not that bad, bot not that good either. It should be a little bit more ergonomic - what are your thoughts on this matter?

As an addition there are now two scroll-wheels on the side - one left one right.
This allows us to scroll fast through lists, like when playing music CDs, and select items displayed in a grid (multi-game compilations, virtual keyboards...)

Last edited by Gorf; 07 June 2017 at 02:51.
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Old 06 June 2017, 22:25   #16
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3. The Classic Line of Products

Some argued it would be a mistake to offer a A500-like Amiga with ECS in parallel to the new line of AAA NG-Amigas.
But
  • we need something cheep for non-first-world countries
  • we need visibility and numbers

A500 classic mini:
Since we condensed the ECS including CIAs into one single cmos-chip, we can produce such a device at very low cost. And every Amiga out there is a ambassador for our course.

We reduce costs even further by going full SMD and shrinking the case to a A600-style-casing. There is no trapdoor and no expansion bus.
PCMCIA II is not ready in 1991, when we introduce this model, so there is no PC-Card slot.
But it gets a real HD-floppy ... since they do not cost more than DD.
We even integrate the power-adapter in the same small case!
It comes as it is and it stays that way - if you want something modern and expandable go for the NG-line. If you want to upgrade, buy a new one.
  • 68000 @ 7/14 MHz (turbo-switch)
  • ECS on single chip
  • clock with battery
  • 1 MB chip-ram
  • 0.5 MB real fast ram
  • HD-floppy (HD only in turbo mode)
Name: A500 classic mini
Price: $299
The A3000 Laptop:
Users in the 90s (and later) always dreamed of a amiga-laptop.
But the new AAA chipset is simply to power hungry.
The new one-chip ECS is not!
Quite the opposite: it is probably the most efficient computer chipset out there.

We combine it with a 68030+DSP and variable clocking - we also allow the DSP to be turned off when it is not needed. The CPU runs at 7, 14 or 28 MHz.

The second reason there was no Amiga-laptop is the price and the quality of colour LCDs - even the expensive panels look terrible in 1991/92. They are not made for playing games at all.

We tweaked Amber to act as a LCD-controller and are able to show SVGA 1024x796 at 4 colours - the frequency would be to low (30Hz?) for a CRT but it is fine for LCD.

We aim with this device not only for pro-Amiga-users but offer a UNIX and a SunOS edition.
So we are one of then few UNIX-laptop makers out there. We end up selling more laptops to UNIX-customers as we do to Amiga-users... as the price is quite high.
There are two LCD option - greyscale and color.
  • 68030 + DSP @ 7/14/28 MHz
  • LCD with 1024x768 in grey or colour.
  • Trackball
  • astonishing 4 hours of battery life!
Price: $4000 or £2700
A2000, A3000 and CDTV:
We stopped producing these models in 1991.

The A3000UX-Sun-version was updated with a SPARC-ZorroIII card in the end, because Sun wanted to stop 68k support.
It is a small SPARK-computer with its own ram but without any IO besides Zorro. X11, the window-manager and IO are running on the Amiga-side, so this combination is more responsive than Suns own Spark-models under heavy load.
This card works fine in the A1000NG or A4000NG - so there is no need to keep the A3000 alive.

The A2000 in obsolete of course.

The CDTV served us well to bring games and software to CD, which was important for the touch of the NG models. But it is still not selling that well on its own. But we are not giving up the living room yet - there will be a relaunch in1993 with a NG-CDTV.

Last edited by Gorf; 07 June 2017 at 03:33.
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Old 07 June 2017, 02:42   #17
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4. AmigaOS and other Software

This chapter would be huge if we would like to talk about all relevant topics. So I will cut this down to the most important things and try to be a brief as possible ;-)

We will have look at AmigaOS, ApplixWare, own software and support for other software and games.

To be more flexible, our NG-Amigas will only come with a basic rom and load Kickstart at the firs boot from HD or Floptical. This allows us to ship a upgrade every year and avoids fragmentation.

Comparison

Where do we stand in comparison to other vendors? As we all know AmigaOS was way beyond any other consumer operation system in the 80s and while lacking some features towards UNIX it was way more user-friendly and efficient.

In 1992 this is still mostly true, but others are closing in.
while Commodore did originally not spend that much effort and money towards its hidden gem, we know better of course.

Apple released System7 in 1991. It's no big update: It is still single-user and lacks real preemptive multitasking and memory protection. At least it is user-friendly.

Most PCs are still running 16-bit DOS. Horrible memory layout, text-based interface, single-user, no memory protection and of course no multitasking.

Windows 3.0 was released in 1990 but still needed to run on top of 16-bit DOS. It was not stable at all, did not support games and was all in all a big mess. But still more and more people installed it.

Things got a little bit better for Windows-users with Windows 3.1 in 1992.
No more "real-mode" and better stability - but all in all still horrible!

Atari did not manage to release Multi-TOS in 1992 ... so they still stuck with TOS - not much of an operating system to begin with.

Nextstep is superior in every way, but no-one can afford a NextStation...
OS/2 is out there but is too expensive and too memory hungry and slow.
BeOS is still 3 years away.

BSD is fighting its copyright-war with AT&T, while Hurd is almost ready of course

Linux got just released but it is far from being usable for an enduser.

So with our (improved) AmigaOS 3.0 we are still very competitive. Sure: the GURU is our trusty companion, but multiple reboots throughout the day where very common on all the above systems.
But we are lighter, faster and more user-friendly. We have better support for multimedia and our famous preemptive multitasking. And we are fully 32-bit.

AmigaOS

the kernel:
As we know by now it is hard to change something on Exec or the library-system, without breaking compatibility. AOS has a single-memory layout and there are not many ways to use the mmu to increase stability. Therefore we will leave things as they are for now.
In our labs we are developing a virtualized version: this means you can start a new instance of Exec with ist own memory region, if you have a mmu.
This version will ship at first only as a tool for our SDK, so developers can test run there software without constant reboots - only the vm needs to be started again.

Dave Hayne, now chief of our special-hardware group, built a 2x68030 (and later 2x68040) card with a "reverse-buster" for ZorroIII. A slimed down version of AOS is running on every core. So this is not real SMP, but you can choose on which card you want to start a task, send some data and tell where to store the results. This is great for stuff like raytracing!

Later we will introduce a modified Exec acting as a Hypervisor and combine both projects: You can choose on which cpu you want to start a new instance of AOS - freeze it and move it to another cpu and so on...
With our new RTG-system these instances can also have (slow) graphical output.
(Basically how QubesOS works today)

For small systems all this would require too much ram anyway, this is why we still ship the A700NG without mmu (and because it costs less and produces less heat).
RTG - Enlightenment:
We were producing some framebuffer-style gfx cards in the last couple of years, taking advantage of our InMOS technology we acquired. That gave us the opportunity to develop and test our new retargetable gfx-system.
It supports up to 24bit, chunky, planar and yuv. it converts everything automatically. it takes advantage of everything AAA has to offer, but there is also a software fall-back for every function.

Instead of modifying Intuition we create a new gui-system: Enlightenment.
We take the best ideas from Intuition, mui, feelin, EFL and Arcan and implement it in a clean and object-oriented message-based way.
Intuition.library is still there for old software, but it only uses Enlightenment functions.

Enlightenment can handle multiple backends at the same time (multi-monitor-setup), a screen can occupy one, two or more monitors, screens can be moved from one monitor to another, windows can be moved from one screen to another - every app can be maximized to fullscreen and back to a window.

It offers a full widget-set, but also an easy way to define custom widgets...
It is scriptable and offers an easy way to give your little script a gui.

Best coding style would be to have a separate gui-task for every program, especially with networking and multi-processing in mind. So you can move your main-programm around to other cpus, while the guy-task is on the cpu that handles the gfx-system.

Like Arcan it can run nested on itself - so it is its own backend. This comes comes in handy for our virtualization-project.

Enlightenment consists of many many small libraries. On small systems it will probably offer not much more features as intuition does due to memory shortage.

(Yes I stole the name from the real-world Enlightenment project, as it seems a good name for a successor of Intuition, is fast and has many ideas I would like to see on Amiga)
Workbench:
Good thing is the Workbench is still around in this boring reality in 2017 - and we all know the little add-ons and helpers that make it still usable today.
the NG-Workbench will be based on Enlightenment of course and feature more internal multitasking (like scalos). No more "waiting" mouse-pointer, which was always a shame for a multitasking operating-system. A dock, good requesters, better trash, ... we will introduce these features step by step and add more each year.
Datatypes:
One of the coolest features AmigaOS had to offer, long before any other system. But still room for improvement here.
We add a streaming feature from the beginning. Also we allow easy chaining of datatypes, eg. stream a anim, convert to jpeg and save as single images.
Same goes for filters and effects.
Printing:
The old printer device is stuck in the 80s, when needle-printers had 3 build in fonts and could print only text... while postscript laserwriters are still very expensive, the early 90s are the big time of the desk-jet printers.
We cooperate with HP and others to always get the latest drivers.

We introduce spooler-system and combine it with our datatype system. You can just copy any kind of data to "printer:" - the system takes care of the rest.
Scripting:
Arexx is nice ... but very basic. When we acquired Applix we got our hands on a object-oriented scripting language (ELF). The same is true for ViolaWWW (more down below), that comes with a second oo scripting language (Viola).
We did hire a bunch of experts to find a common ground for all three. (Lua would be such a thing.)
While it is capable to interprete Arexx-scrips just fine, it offers a new elegant syntax (python-like) and oo-features for new scripts.
These scripts are not compiled, but saved as byte-code that allows faster interpretation (and later jit-compilation - not enough ram in 1992).
We call it ORexx AScript
SDK and new language:
All NG-Amigas with a HD come with a comprehensive SDK, with a good editor, good documentation on CD (books are sold separately) and lots of examples and compilers.

We want to make it easy, even for beginners, to code for Amiga. More developers, more programs, more attractive platform. That is standard now, but was not in the 90s, which was a shame.

We also hired Wouter van Oortmerssn and the genius Henry Massalin directly from university. Oortmerssn will bring us AmigaE (with some new ideas) and Massalin is a 68K-compiler wizard.
(Massalin build his own 68030 workstation, a kind of C-jit and a self optimizing unix-clone in pure assembler... in the real world!!)

To AmigaE we add some features from Nim and call it Enim (latin for truly).
(if you don't know Nim yet, have a look at it - probably the most beautiful language out there)

Enim brings us an optional, small, efficient and adjustable garbage-collector. While it is compiled in each binary in real-world Nim, we can utilize a library for this in AOS, to keep the binaries small. This eases memory-management dramatically and helps developers to avoid mistakes and makes programs far more stable.
It is a must for bigger projects on our single-memory-space OS.
continued in the next post....

Last edited by Gorf; 10 June 2017 at 22:27.
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Old 07 June 2017, 05:08   #18
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... continuing from last post

bundled software

ApplixWare
We acquired Appix in 1988, as one of our first moves.
It was a pure Unix software back than and we kept on the Unix development, to be the best selling office-package in this realm. Well - wo do not have much competition there - "Interleave" is the other one.

We bundle it with our Amix to make it more attractive. We earn money with all the other Unix versions.

We restructure the program and decouple the gui from the rest, so we can exchange this part with a Intuition-version and later a Enlightenment-version.

It needs too much memory for small systems but since we bundle it only with the A3000, that's no big deal. Later it is bundled with the A4000, were it needs a 68040 (copy protection). For smaller models it is sold separately at a relatively high price.
So this is not a competitor to other vendors that offer smaller products.

We develop it into a office-suite that resembles the features of Framemaker.
We also start to port it to MacOS and later Windows. This offers users to work with the same software on any platform and helps to finance this project.

As a byproduct AOS gets a posix.library.
LaTeX
We also ship LaTeX/TeX with all NG models. To ease it up, we include a bunch of dedicated GUIs, e.g. a "letter-gui" with fields for header, address, text or a "cassette-gui" to create and print out inlets for your mixed-tape.
Together with ORexx it is easy to make your own dedicated LaTeX-gui.
We also add mark-down-syntax + editor, so you can type right away.
Envoy
since every NG-Amiga has a build-in network-adapter (via Inmos-link) and a build-in soft-modem (via DSP), we ship Envoi with every model.
In addition a TCP-stack and a modem-software. Amiga-crowd will rule the internet
E-mail
a simple mail program in includes as well
(one did come with Applix anyway)
Browser
the Internet is already old in 1992, but WWW is brand-new. So new, that all the other big fellows do not realize what that means. We do.
One of the first browsers was VialoWWW, which came out in 1992. It was a university project by Pei-Yuan Wei and had some features like stylesheets and scripting long before Mosaic or Netscape.
But is was X-Windows/Unix only and soon became forgotten
Not by us. We buy or license it immediately.
We ship it with every Amiga and port it to other systems. We will win the browser-war before it even begins.
Vision
Amiga Vision was a cool program, but Commodore abandoned it somehow.
We do not.
Third Party Applications and Games

We try more and more to become a software publisher as well.
We encourage new developers and offer them a deal. We support or even hire authors of good PD software.
We offer to ship demo-versions and also offer paid space on "batches" of 10k to 100k units, to ship a software directly with a new Amiga.

We do the same with games.
Since the Commodore Lynx we work closely with programmers and teams.
And we need these connections for the Amiga PlayStation (APS).
We do have one problem with the APS though: Amiga is an open system and we do want to keep it open. But this also means just anyone can publish a game for the APS without needing a license.
We have a special cd-rom-filesystem, but we need to be able to read standard cd-roms as well - so no angle there except for direct booting.
But we think, with the combination of a special SDK, technical support, direkt booting, worldwide distribution network and certifications and logos we can convince all major and most small publishers.

Last edited by Gorf; 07 June 2017 at 06:28.
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Old 07 June 2017, 06:19   #19
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5. Marketing and PR

Good products sell themselves.
Well - no they don't.

Advertising:
We need to advertise and we do. And we don't let every devision do its own marketing in every country, but we make it a team effort.

We produce good TV commercials - also in cooperation with NewTek (Videotoaster) were we can point out, that the whole commercial was done on Amiga.
Do you know the "Get a Mac" campaign from Apple? [ Show youtube player ]
May this time with a woman "I am a Amiga".

We also take a bold move and rename the company.
What? Are you insane?
Yes, but that is a different matter...
To show that we stand behind the Amiga with everything we have got, we rename CBM Commodore Bussiness Machines to:
C.A.T. - Commodore Amiga Technologies
Finally we got our mascot right in the name!

Towards the end of 1991 and the release of the NG-Amigas we need to create a media-hype. The new models will be presented at a big show (as the A1000 was in the 80s)

We also need to advertise in PC- and Mac-magazines. Not only to convince people of switching over (hard to do), but to stay visible as an alternative.
To show that we a not only good at gaming.

The AmigaPS is a good ambassador on its own of course. Being able to play the same games on the other models as well is a good selling point.
Photographers:
The Kodak Photo-CD launches in 1992.
Everybody was still taking pictures on film, and a photo-shop would develop the film and print it on paper ... or/and give you a Photo-CD.
The NG-Amiga is the ideal platform to watch these CDs, manipulate the pictures, work and play with them.
Together with Kodak we offer a service to upload (horribly slow) your work or send it to us on disks and we will send you back a professional printout or a new Photo-CD.
We need to make the Amiga the king of digital photos, as it is king on video and raytracing already.
CGI:
Thanks to Lightwave an others Amiga is used in quite some tv-produktions as Star Trek, Babylon5, SeaQuest ... we will support studios actively.

With our dual-68K-processor ZorroIII cards and the SPARK-card we can offer faster rendering than most competitors. And we are cheaper than SGI.
Schools:
We will offer special deals for schools and try to install an many Amigas in classrooms as possible.
With amiga Vision, we have software that visualizes a program-flow and is fun to use.
ORexx is ideal for beginners to do the first steps in real programming.
Universities:
since 1989 we offer universities and students special deals for the A3000UX and continue to do so with the NG-Amigas (Amix or AOS).

Last edited by Gorf; 10 June 2017 at 20:12.
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Old 07 June 2017, 07:43   #20
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This is the last entry for the year 1992 (I promise!)
I hope you so far enjoyed my letters from an other dimension.

But we can not travel on to the next year before we answered one more question:

6. What happened to the C64?

1992 is not only a big year for Amiga with a whole line of new products it is also the 10th anniversary of the best sold home-computer in the world.
And while we try to sell more Amigas to hand over the crown - until now it belongs to the C64.

Now the sales figures are only a shadow of its own past. The time of 8-bit-computers is over. So let it die after exactly 10 years?

No - if we go out, we go out with a bang! One last firework!

In the last couple of years we purchased more and more software titles for the C64. One reason was, that only extensive software-bundles could push the sales a litte bit.
the other reason was our secret plan.

We own now GEOS and most titles written for it, quite some games and other all time favorites.

At the same time we shrank the Amiga ECS to one single chip, we did the same for the C64. Or to be precise for the 128 without the Z80 part.
And this time the CPU, the 6510, is as well integrated into our single-chip design. and the CPU can clock much faster (10 times more speed)!
basically it does everything the Chameleon64 does now.
We included the functionality of popular modules, added C128 ram expansions, Geos-ram and a large ROM with all the software we bought.

It "boots" directly into GEOS, from where you can go back to the console, or start C64 und C128 programs and games. You can freeze this programs anytime and switch back to GEOS. Multitasking the C64 way.

The controller for a modern 3_1/2 inch floppy drive is also included.

the board offers no old-style expansion port anymore but we included the module-controller of the Lynx.

Programmes from ROM start almost immediately as the CPU is now up to 10 times faster.

And there is only one place such a board belongs: a laptop!

the C128 highres mode offers up to 640×400 pixels and that is the resolution of our grayscale LCD.

Yes there is no colour.

We put mainly productivity-software in the ROM and some games that are adjusted to look quite good on that screen. We also added a calendar/address-book/PIM software.

The small power-adapter is built into the laptop - but it has no battery!
So you can use it everywhere you find a power plug - or you buy a additional battery-pack.

We sold 20 million units of the C64 alone und quite some C128. There are a lot of fans out there and we hope we can sell up 1 to million of these portable C64

It has next to no boot-time and you can start to work or play faster than on any other device out there.

And it is the first laptop under $1000

Price: $666 or £444 (number of the beast or tree times death in china)

And it has a great retro-style look. Is 1992 to early for retro? we don't care...


Last edited by Gorf; 08 June 2017 at 19:48.
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