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Old 05 July 2015, 15:00   #1
fatboy
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Here's a thought?

Having been an Amiga fan since the A500 days (still using an A1200 today), I've often read threads about 'what if Commodore hadn't gone bankrupt?'.

People have constantly fantasied about what kind of machine would be available today?

Personally I think the Amiga range would have drifted into obsecurity anyway (please don't burn me at the stake! )

Looking at today's market I'm not sure where it would have fitted or even stood out from the crowed. Maybe it could of taken the Apple crown as an alternative (and expensive) to the Windows PC? Maybe it could have been a dedicated hand-held gaming device or smart phone, but I doubt it.

As they say 'the brightest light burns fastest' and maybe that's why a true Amiga model for the 21st century was never going to happen.

I remember it for what it was, the stand out machine for a generation and now, one of the best hobbyist machines for collectors

The king is dead....long live the king!
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Old 05 July 2015, 17:52   #2
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Nah. If the CBM wouldn't have gone bankrupt we would be using Amigas. The current market format that we have with PC and Apple alternatives is IMO just a mishap of Commodore going down.

To my recollection, there has been no "outshining" like the PC took over because it was so great by comparison to the Amiga... Instead, Commodore started crashing and that let way for the PC to become grand and great. It's a subtle difference - like in the olympics, if the favourite runner gets ill and cannot participate, that doesn't mean that the winner is the best there ever was.

I remember back in the day that a PC was complete junk - just DOS when the Amiga already was living it large with a Workbench and icons and don't forget the abundance of software. Actually, that's why we still use Amigas because of the large slice of software that is still around. You should see some "back in the day" documentaries about Macs and how crap they were with mice that did not function properly until Steve himself pushed for a better mouse - Stuff like that. . .

Perhaps the "Amiga" per-se would have been rebranded into something with more powerful hardware - like Apple switched from PPC to x86 "recently" but otherwise since I'm using the "Amiga" daily I do not see something preventing "a large audience" from using an Amiga on a daily basis. Some software is crap and sketchy, other software looks professional but Workbench and the working style of the Amiga is, even 20 years later, still very conceptually competent with what you have on the market.

I have this tool, I think it was made in '95? or something like that... It minimises windows to icons on the workbench. I don't understand why I cannot have that on my OS X machine - it would be so much better than minimising into the "dock" where all the trash-of-the-day gets accumulated to be forgotten. So, that's '95, this is 2015... Due to a brain-bug I'm frequently trying to find the Directory Opus icon on OS X when I switch machines. I've tried PathFinder and all that but it's just not up to par...

Remember that most of the highly-appreciated operating systems right now run on 60 years old software. OS X is really a pretty interface with a very dirty grit Mach Kernel and 60 year old software like awk, grep, sed holding it together and performing vital functions. You could say that Macs also use Python and Ruby scripting but, hang on, wasn't the Amiga using AREXX ages ago? Come to think when Windows NT came in with a "newly discovered permission system" which was just a spin-off of POSIX ACLs (again, ancient tech).

I'd rephrase this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatboy View Post
The king is dead....long live the king!
to something like:
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatboy View Post
The king is dead....let's loot him!
because that's more or less what happens these days. :-)

Nothing wrong with sharing ideas but let's not get misguided into the chicken or egg question. For a long while Amiga was the desktop end-user computer alternative while the PC was an allotment of ugly cases, ugly monitors in monochrome and even when they discovered the whole spectrum of colours, you still weren't able to do the funky stuff you can do with Workbench palettes.

I realise I got used to working on Macs and PCs so some stuff on the Amiga seems unconventional - then again, those are just conventions, could just as well have been Amiga conventions than PC or Mac conventions...

Not looking to start a holy war! By all means, the current Mac / PC is far better than what the Amiga can offer but you have to put things into a historical context.

Last edited by eva; 05 July 2015 at 18:19.
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Old 05 July 2015, 19:18   #3
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x86 has far too much legacy, if 68k had won the CISC battle we'd have more efficient CPUs now... and if the Risc revolution had worked, maybe we'd be using PowerPC chips in our PCs. But... well, ARM is set to win out in the long run as mobile computing becomes the biggest market. I only wish they'd hurry up and produce desktop motherboards with socketed high-end ARM chips, i really hate thinking about the x86 that's behind the scenes of everything i'm doing. Yuck.
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Old 21 January 2016, 23:13   #4
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Another consideration (at the time, and for me in particular), Amiga add ons & upgrades were hellish expensive!

I remember paying £99.99 for a 4mb simm for my a1200 trapdoor expander, you could nearly buy a PC for that much!
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Old 22 January 2016, 12:32   #5
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Sorry guys, but the truth is that the Amiga stopped being revolutionary with... err... the Amiga 1000. Commodore just milked the cow dry with the subsequent models and everything was just too little too late.

Yeah, sure, we have a bunch of stuff on paper on how Acutiator, Hombre, the PA-RISC thingy or whatever would've rocked the socks off x86, but there's no real demonstration of that.

This graph explains things quite nicely:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CZA25anWAAANb2v.png:large

Amiga could've replaced the Macintosh, but it would've never displaced Windows. Never. Even if Commodore didn't close down in 94.

Now, if we want to talk of an alternative reality where Jay Miner kept working on Ranger and Commodore released it without any budget cuts to the design... that would be completely different
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Old 22 January 2016, 13:05   #6
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jbenam is right - Commodore's demise had started even before the Amiga 1000 was launched. They had one shot to turn things around (when Rattigan was in charge) and Gould blew it by firing the guy - Commodore wasn't killed by competition, it committed suicide taking the Amiga down with it.

Had Rattigan remained at the reins, perhaps things would've turned out differently - the A500 was huge in Europe and if sufficient R&D had gone into keeping the Amiga competitive and innovative then perhaps it'd still be around today. Even then, the Amiga might never have fully recovered in the US from Commodore's botched handling of the 1000's debut.

Looking back without the rose-tinted glasses it's amazing to me how successful the Amiga was in its time *despite* the constant blunders being made by management.

If the 1000 had launched successfully into the US and assuming the 500/2000 had arrived sooner I could have imagined the Amiga capitalizing on it's success in desktop video and 3D graphics - possibly even competing with SGI in the fledgling CGI industry (LightWave was hugely popular with smaller VFX shops).

This hypothetical Amiga workstation would've had no issues doing DTP and print-res artwork so Apple might've lost some ground there. It's fun but also sad to speculate. Still, if things hadn't turned out the way they did, perhaps we'd all be jaded with our state-of-the-art Amigas and be collecting/emulating something else instead (Macs? )
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Old 22 January 2016, 21:22   #7
Mrs Beanbag
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Amiga sales peaked in 1991... interesting...
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Old 22 January 2016, 21:47   #8
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Amiga sales peaked in 1991... interesting...
Yep - CBM was selling tons of A500's (Rattigan's idea) and then screwed up their own market by releasing the A500+ (followed soon after by the A600). They'd also p**sed a ton of money away on the CDTV.

Rattigan was pushed out in '87 so by '91 Commodore's fate had already been sealed for 4 years.
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Old 23 January 2016, 16:57   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs Beanbag View Post
x86 has far too much legacy, if 68k had won the CISC battle we'd have more efficient CPUs now... and if the Risc revolution had worked, maybe we'd be using PowerPC chips in our PCs. But... well, ARM is set to win out in the long run as mobile computing becomes the biggest market. I only wish they'd hurry up and produce desktop motherboards with socketed high-end ARM chips, i really hate thinking about the x86 that's behind the scenes of everything i'm doing. Yuck.
The x86 as they are now are pretty efficient despite their legacy.
Do not forget that the 64 bit instruction set added new registers and removed old cruft such as support for segmented addres space and the likes: it is now a more modern instruction set.

Also Intel has proven that they are talented enough to make these inefficiencies less relevant by improving the CPU pipelining: the CPU may only have a few registers in their instruction set but in reality it has dozen times more actual registers which are dynamically allocated transparently in order to improve instruction reordering, scheduling, branch prediction and so on.
The actual instruction set as it is is almost entirely reinterpreted internally as something much more efficient and it is now really hard to affirm that it not being as lean and mean as a RISC gives it a performance penalty.

And although there are some hints that the latest ARM 64 bit (especially the ones designed by Apple CPU engineers) really are more efficient (at least in terms of performance /Watt) the RISC/CISC debate is far from being settled.
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Old 23 January 2016, 17:08   #10
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Originally Posted by jbenam View Post
This graph explains things quite nicely:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CZA25anWAAANb2v.png:large

Amiga could've replaced the Macintosh, but it would've never displaced Windows. Never. Even if Commodore didn't close down in 94.
Yeah, an Asymco fan. (https://asymco.com, the guy who made this great graph and many others such as this one where the Amiga sales curve also appears but in absolute terms this time: http://www.asymco.com/2012/01/17/the...nal-computing/).

There was indeed no hope of displacing the PC, PC sales have always been consistently higher than Amiga sales throughout the Amiga history by a very wide margin as the graph shows.

PCs were supported by the enterprise market which could afford much more expensive machines and software even if both were clearly not as performant as their home computer equivalents (Amiga, ST, Mac). It is quite a sad state of affair but given C='s marketing ineptitude there was never any hope of overturning this wave.
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Old 23 January 2016, 18:10   #11
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The x86 as they are now are pretty efficient despite their legacy.
Do not forget that the 64 bit instruction set added new registers and removed old cruft such as support for segmented addres space and the likes: it is now a more modern instruction set... The actual instruction set as it is is almost entirely reinterpreted internally as something much more efficient and it is now really hard to affirm that it not being as lean and mean as a RISC gives it a performance penalty.
They certainly perform, but at what cost? There is a LOT of silicon required. There is a RISC core of sorts at the centre of it all, imagine if they completely dispensed with all 8086 8-bit and even 32-bit compatibility. There is still just far too much junk in there, and a long pipeline to deal with it all, and they use every trick in the book to minimise the impact of that. It works, i'll give them that, it's just not very aesthetically pleasing. For however much you care about that.

Quote:
And although there are some hints that the latest ARM 64 bit (especially the ones designed by Apple CPU engineers) really are more efficient (at least in terms of performance /Watt) the RISC/CISC debate is far from being settled.
m68k is kind of part way between CISC and RISC. It's got some fairly powerful instructions, but unlike 8086 code is highly orthogonal, while also giving good code density.

ARM with Thumb2 could perhaps be considered on its way back into CISC territory(?)
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Old 23 January 2016, 18:25   #12
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There was indeed no hope of displacing the PC, PC sales have always been consistently higher than Amiga sales throughout the Amiga history by a very wide margin as the graph shows.
Well, there wasn't really any need to - Apple have continued to sell their computers despite Windows PCs dominating the personal computing industry.

If the Amiga had survived it would have had to adapt with the times - in all likelihood it'd have become much like Macs are now - same hardware underneath as commodity PCs, just a different OS.
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Old 23 January 2016, 18:34   #13
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If the Amiga had survived it would have had to adapt with the times - in all likelihood it'd have become much like Macs are now - same hardware underneath as commodity PCs, just a different OS.
The markets were completely different though, Apple could survive a radial change in the underlying architecture because there wasn't a need to retain backwards compatibility of software, applications could just be recompiled to the new target.

AmigaOS was also a drawback itself at that point, being designed with no expectation of memory protection, and with so many people who bought Amigas for games that took little notice of the OS anyway, people were upset enough that games didn't work on KS2.x.

Amiga would have had to find a different niche.
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Old 23 January 2016, 19:02   #14
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As I already noted above, by the time KS2+ came about the Amiga was already doomed - forward-thinking decisions could and should have been made much earlier.

The A4000T's beginnings of modular design and the CD32 effectively replacing the home computer line with a console were the right choices for the future direction of the Amiga, they just came way, way too late.

And regarding AmigaOS, yeah - there'd have been some growing pains but no worse than Apple's 68k->PPC->x86.
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Old 23 January 2016, 19:27   #15
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And regarding AmigaOS, yeah - there'd have been some growing pains but no worse than Apple's 68k->PPC->x86.
on a technical level you might be right, but it's a question of whether the customer base is willing to put up with it. Apple already had a much bigger market of people who really had no alternative but to accept it, Amiga didn't, we had a lot of hobbyists and gamers, and by 1990 when Kickstart 2.0 came out there was not much an Amiga could do that a Mac or PC couldn't, albeit more expensively.
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Old 23 January 2016, 19:48   #16
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Yep - CBM was selling tons of A500's (Rattigan's idea) and then screwed up their own market by releasing the A500+ (followed soon after by the A600). They'd also p**sed a ton of money away on the CDTV.

Rattigan was pushed out in '87 so by '91 Commodore's fate had already been sealed for 4 years.
To be (somewhat) fair, the CDTV was a pretty interesting and unique product at the time. Wrong pricing and confusing marketing screwed that one up.
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Old 23 January 2016, 19:55   #17
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They certainly perform, but at what cost? There is a LOT of silicon required. There is a RISC core of sorts at the centre of it all, imagine if they completely dispensed with all 8086 8-bit and even 32-bit compatibility. There is still just far too much junk in there, and a long pipeline to deal with it all, and they use every trick in the book to minimise the impact of that. It works, i'll give them that, it's just not very aesthetically pleasing. For however much you care about that.
Well, there you said it.. 99.9% of PC buyers do not care if the CPU is elegantly designed, do they? As long as the PC feels snappy and the pricing is right most ppl can't be bothered with details about CPU architectures.
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Old 23 January 2016, 20:01   #18
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on a technical level you might be right, butit's a question of whether the customer base is willing to put up with it.
Unfortunately we'll never know - certainly we've seen that gamers are (sales-figures wise) happy to abandon backward compatibility for next generation consoles (heck, they'll even buy the same games again 'remastered') - and the pro segment (video, graphics etc.) that the Amiga appealed to were using mostly system-friendly apps that would have ported over to newer architectures.

Part of the problem with the A500+ was that it was an A500 - consumers expected backward-compatibility because it seemed to all intents and purposes the same machine. But you didn't hear many Amiga owners complaining that their C64 games wouldn't work on their new computer

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To be (somewhat) fair, the CDTV was a pretty interesting and unique product at the time. Wrong pricing and confusing marketing screwed that one up.
Yes, but sadly that whole living-room multimedia buzz was misreading the market - not just for for Commodore but for Philips and 3DO too. I get that it seemed like a natural fit for the Amiga hardware but just because you can do a thing... you know the rest
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Old 23 January 2016, 20:11   #19
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If the Amiga had survived it would have had to adapt with the times - in all likelihood it'd have become much like Macs are now - same hardware underneath as commodity PCs, just a different OS.
This topic comes back regularly like the flu.. I once wrote that the Amiga needed to find its own very specialised niche because simply having a different OS in grey PC boxes after say Windows 2000 wouldn't have been enough. Not even close.
However with its legacy in the gfx biz it could have pushed hard to stay ahead of the competition by pushing hard on the multimedia bits. Maybe they could have become nVidia and be the leading developer of graphics cards..
If they'd stayed in personal computing and trying to be the "other Apple" can't shake the feeling that even if they hadn't gone bankrupt in 94 they would have had in 97... or in 2000.. or 2005... or 2010..
To paraphrase Yoda..
Difficult to see the past is.. Always in motion the alternative realities are.
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Old 23 January 2016, 20:29   #20
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If they'd stayed in personal computing and trying to be the "other Apple" can't shake the feeling that even if they hadn't gone bankrupt in 94 they would have had in 97... or in 2000.. or 2005... or 2010..
I think there's a lot of truth to that - Commodore never understood what it had - they were a company that made cheap computers and spent most of their R&D on ways to cost-reduce them further. There was never any vision there (in the management that is).
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