I was introduced to the Amiga computers via the then new Amiga 1000 in the mid 1980s. Being dirt poor, I thought it interesting but academic to me at the time. In 1992 I was able to replace my ageing and partly broken Commodore C=64 with a used Amiga 500. By 1993 I had a brand new Amiga 1200 and I was thoroughly hooked forever. In 1995 I upgraded to an Amiga 4000 that I have been adding to and upgrading since. Even at this late stage I still find that the Amiga, now twelve years of age, is better able to meet my computing needs than anything the wintel platform can offer. By that I mean a PC with a 1.8 gighrz intel and 258 meg of ram running Win98. Amiga is a stable and flexible platform that does miracles in a fraction of the resources used by any other platform.
A simple recitation of my upgrade history is revealing. I don't remember all the dates, but it went like this.
I bought a used Amiga 500. AmigaOS 1.3 68000 processor, 1 meg Ram, floppy drive only. I like.
Upgrade the 500 to a one meg agnus chip. It works better.
I add a second 880k floppy, and a old 5.5 inch 440k floppy I use to hold a few programs. This is the best the A500 will get.
Replaced the 500 with a new Amiga 1200. AmigaOS 3.0 68020 cpu, AGA graphics, 6 megs ram, 80 meg hard drive. Woo hoo!! Hard drive, yea!!
Shortly thereafter I upgrade to a MC68030/40 cpu with math co-processor. This puppy is now flying. It works great.
Add 4 more meg of ram, replace the 80 meg hard drive with a 256 meg drive. It was getting crowded. Everything works great once my drive image has been transferred to the new drive.
Add the scanner, and the 17 inch Idek Ilyama multiscan monitor. New worlds open up. Everything works great.
Gonzo upgrade. Enter the Amiga 4000. AmigaOS 3.0 MC68040/25 CPU. 18 meg of ram, IDE WD 1 gig hard drive, 1.7meg floppy, SCSI card CD rom. Once I get it home I over write 100% of the OS and other stuff by moving the drive image of the 1200 to the 4000. Everything works great.
Add a second hard drive, IDE WD 1.2 gig. WOO HOO!!! What to do with all that space?
Add a ZIP drive, SCSI external. It works great. I don't even open the envelope with the software in it for six months. Who needs it?
Upgrade the GVP SCSI card with a new chip. I am getting faster data transfer from the SCSI devices.
Disaster! The GVP SCSI has an external port problem. Replace it with a DKB Rapidfire, and add 8 meg of ram at the same time. Everything is back to normal, plus I have 26 meg of ram.
Upgrade to AmigaOS 3.1 and a Buster 11 chip. The system is more stable, than the super stable it was.
Disaster, again. The 1.2 gig drive is going down fast. Replace it with a IDE WD 4 gig drive.
Acquire and install a Cybervision 64/3D RTF card with scan doubler. 800X600 and larger screens. This thing rocks.
Acquire two external SCSI boxes at a moving sale (see into the deep depths of UNIX addiction at the same time, scary). They are complete with 1.7 gig Fujisu drives. Daisy chain them to the ZIP drive. 3.2 more gig of storage space, and the computer is taking over the desk.
Replace the DBK SCSI card with a Phase 5 Fastlane SCSI card. Reason? More ram and faster transfer speeds. I am up to 66 meg of ram, and have room for still more.
Upgrade to AmigaOS3.5. Unbelievable. Increased functionality, better looking, more stable.
One of the Fujisu drives is going down. Replace it with 3 gig of drives.
Acquire and install a CD-RW. I am a monkey in the banana plantation.
Aquire another Amiga 4000 in a Toaster Oven. I replace the missing battery on the newer board, and spend a good day and a half mixing the parts from the two machines to the best effect. The external SCSI boxes are retired, all drives are now in the machine. The main advance besides the toaster Oven itself is the 040/40 and warp engine. 64 meg on the local bus and SCSI on the local bus. I now have 80 meg fast ram. Speed has been redefined. The computer moves from the desk to the floor. I need something to raise my monitor off the desk.
Promptly upgrade the entire thing to OS 3.9.
Add an X-surf Ethernet card. With the addition of the cable modem, "Tux" the AMD 200 Linux computer, and a lot of cable I hope to have a house wide network soon, including my Amiga.
Ancient (1995) 1 gig WD drive is failing. Replace it with a 1.6 gig WD I have from the tower's original configuration. I have DH0 through DH8 gack!
Disaster! The ever faithful Idek Liyama is making bad smells and looking funny, worse the Amiga is going batshit. Drive lights everywere. Upshot, I replace the Liyama with an IBM G74 SVGA (Thank you scan doubler) I have to admit that logo on the monitor looks funny with an Amiga screen under it. The Ilyama is not headed for the trash yet. It is too usedful to toss, I'll have it checked out and repaired if possible.
Swap the 4 gig WD drive for a 13 gig WD drive. You have to love OS 3.9. The previously impossible drive size is no problem now
The Year of Hell. (A great OS does not mean hardware lasts forever.) The problem of above returns with a vengance. After a several month down time due to my back being painfully out I finally discover that the tower is to blame. The power supply is shot. With parts from yet a third A4000, the purcnase of a cheap PC case, and that old and not so faulty WD 1 gig I painfully resurrect the Amiga. The Baby Monster is dead. All hail Amigastine! All SCSI devices are in that aformentoned PC case, the IDEs are in the desktop case with an extra fan in the front. Warp drive in a desktop case, I shudder to think of the heat.
And now: AmigaOne, the adventure continues. I have taken delivery of my AmigaOne built on the A1G4 board. 256 meg of Ram 80 gig hard drive. Right now running Deiban Linux while I wait for the release of AmigaOS 4. I love Amigastine, but she is getting long of tooth. For a computer she is ancient beyond reason. Would that the love affair could last forever, but reality says Amigastine will not. Yes, she with the new bay fans can run without a crash for weeks. (Something my Win 98 box cannot manage for days) Yes she does the grunt work around here while "Gate" (said winbox) spends it's time surfing the internet and reading mail.
Looking for more space for the SCSI drives I pull my old 486/66 (retired 2001) out of the attic. I take the still working cards out of the full sized tower, remove the RAM, and gently chuck them in the trash. The tower now houses the Amiga's SCSI drives, and the RAM was fitted to the warp engine for a total of 112 meg fast RAM. The 486/66? It was bought new a ltttle before the Amiga 4000. It is dead and useless, the Amiga is still doing wanted and useful work.
I have the Amiga OS4 pre-release in hand. I solve a little problem with the Debian Linux install not seeing the CD drive, get the BIOS updated and install same. I have Final Writer and Final Data working. I am slowly building the A1 to the point it can assume primary Amiga duties from the ailing Amigastine. Much work needs to be done yet including work at Hyperion on OS4 itself. Amigastine soldiers on in the interim.
That is the basic upgrade history of my machine. It has had some hardware problems that required repair, but that added nothing so they got left out. I have also left out the more extensive software history of the machine. As to what software I do have see below.
Amigastine on the desk. Monitor back up where I like it. Click to see the picture in more detail. You can see the SCSI case as well as the Amiga 1000 and the Amiga 3000 hiding under my desk.
My Amiga 4000 computer, named Amigastine housed in a Amiga 4000 Commie desktop case and a converted PC case for SCSI devices. Configuration as of December 2002.
Operating System: 3.1 ROM, AmigaOS 3.9, Kickstart 40.68, Workbench 45.1 Object oriented multithread multitasking enviroment in either CLI or GUI.
CPU: Motorola MC68040/40
Memory: 112 meg fast ram, 2 meg chip ram.
Graphics: Cybervision64/3D RTG card. 64 bit graphics, 1152 x 900 in 16bit, 800 x 600 in 24 bit.
Monitor: 17' IBM G74 SVGA
Sound: On board 8 bit stereo sound (I have never upgraded this) Soundwerks subwolfer speaker set.
SCSI Controller: MacroSystems Warp Engine
Ethernet: X-surf ethernet card
Hard Drives: IDE: 1 gig Western Digital, 13 gig Western Digital. SCSI: 1 gig Seagate, 1.7 gig Fujitsu, 2 gig Seagate.
Other Drives: 1.7 meg floppy, DEC ZIP 100 internal SCSI. Ricoh MP6200S CD-RW.
Mouse: Logitech "Mouseman" with "Tuoplo" interface serial to bus plug.
Keyboard Off my Gateway SE500
Scanner: Epson 600C
Printer: Hewlett Packard Color LaserJet 5m
Software: No computer is long useful without software, so I have some. I am not much of a game player and I consider the productivity stuff to be my toys. Desk Top Publishing is my fun thing, so flat graphics and the text to go with it are the deal. This list covers the major softeware on Amigastine. The list is not totally inclusive and skips all the little stuff that every computer user needs and wants. However, it does demonstrate that the software IS available for the Amiga.
Art Department Pro 2.5: An older and no longer supported graphics package. It still as its uses so it stays on the machine.
Aladdin4D: 3D modeling and animation software. Some day I'll learn to use this.
AWeb II: Decent browser for the Amiga. I use it to check my web work (like this). Once the network is up in might get real web use.
BurnIT V2: The mighty engine of my CDR. It is simple and powerful software, I recommend it.
CrossDOS 7 and CrossMac: These two programs, developed by a local programer, (to me) are essential to running an Amiga. Seamless integration of other file formats. Something the Windows world doesn't even dream of.
Deluxe Music 2: It's old, it creeks, but it's fun to play with.
Deluxe Paint 4.5: Yes, the program that came bundled with the A1200 all those years ago. No it hasn't seen an upgrade since, but it still has it's uses, so I still use it. I was very fond of Electronic Arts before they dropped Amiga like a hot potato.
Final Calc: Good spreadsheet. I wish I knew how to use one.
Final Data: Smugly powerful little database program. I get good use from it.
Final Writer 97: My favorite program bar none. As simple or as complex as you want it Final Writer meets all my text based needs. This page is written using it. Everything on the website was written using it.
Games: That "G" word. Yes I have a few. Megaball AGA, Imperial, Klondike, Pinball Fantasies, and a few other minor things pulled from Fred Fish or Aminet.
ImageFX 4.0 / 3.5 / 2.6: Yes I have three different versions still running. Although I don't use 3.5 very often. Why keep the older versions? 2.6 has the most flexible loader in Auto FX, and that is all it gets used for, converting my downloads to IFF. 3.5 handles transparent GIFs better than 4.0 does. For some reason 4.0 interprets the transparent color as black, no matter what. And 4.5 for all the heavy lifting. It is the best ImageFX to date. Thank you Kermit Woodall.
Directory Opus 5: Still the best file manager I have found.
Parnet: Still the best networking solution for the money. It's hard to beat "free" with a stick.
Prowrite: The first Amiga word processor I had worthy of the name. I haven't used it in a good long while. Nostalgia and inertia keep it on the machine.
Quarterback Tools: Disk utilities that are still useful.
Typesmith 2.5 A powerful font editing tool that I mainly use to turn TrueTypes into Adobe Type 1 fonts.
The Rest of the Pack:
As with most Amigians I do not have "an" Amiga. All the Amigas I have ever laid hands on I still have.
Amiga 500, 2.1 rom. Somewhere in the attic.
Amiga 500 1.3/2.1 switcher, 68010 processor (Taken from an NCR cash register server) Somewhere in my attic.
Amiga 1000, 1 meg insider board and kickstart disks for 1.0 to 1.3. I got this as a matter of collection and something to play with.
The "Amooga" Amiga 1200 3.0 roms, Amiga OS 3.0, still with the GVP 030/40 turbo 10 meg ram 512 meg Quantum HD, and Squirrl SCSI. 4X SCSI CD/ROM and a SCSI Zip drive in an external case. This is my main back-up Amiga. It needs upgrading to 3.5 at the least. I also finally laid my hands on an exteranl scan doubler. Now I can use the flat screen monitors with the no graphic card Amigas.
Amiga 1200 3.0 rom, GVP 030/40 trubo+ with SCSI. This machine is on "permanent loan" from a friend. If she ever wants it back, it's her's.
Amiga 2000, aquired for a drive. 2.0 roms, AmigaOS 2.04 5 meg of ram. This one has a SCSI card, 200 meg hard drive and a scan doubler, Not as good as an RTF card, but it lets you use VGA monitors in low res screen modes.
Of note this Amiga was eqipped with an 8086 bridgeboard. I pulled the near useless PC hardware out of it. I don't even know if the DOS 5.5 disks work.
Amiga 3000 also aquired for a drive. I get a lot of Amigas that way. 5 meg ram, 030/25 processor, Retnia 1 RTG board (from the toaster over), 3.1 OS and a tiny 130 meg hard drive. I am upgrading this one as I feel like it.
A pair of partly functional Amiga 4000 desktops currently striped to the boards. They awaits a decision to repair, or not to repair .
Oh yes, a CDTV now with keyboard and mouse. The keybaord doesn't seem to work, any ideas?
The Other Computers OK I'm busted, I LIKE computers. I have lots of them. Well not all of the computers I have are Amigas. What is that, Shock? Horror? No just practical considerations. So a brief list of the other machines, running or not, I have in the house.
"Gate" Gateway 500SE, recased. SuSE Linux 8.2 and seldom used Windows 98SE Athilon 1.8 gig CPU, 256 meg RAM 160 gig of hard drive. Soundblaster Audigy with front panel, liteon CD-RW, ZIP 100 drive and a removable bay. Yes, with that on my desk I prefer the Amiga. "Gate" is used for internet surfing and little else.
"Mum" Build it yourself SuSE Linux 8.2 Celeron 1.2 gig 256 meg Ram, a total of 260 gig of hard drive. Mum is my backup server. A computer that exists to backup the other computers. It convinced me to migrate to Linux on all my PC hardware.
"Darth Bemmer" IBM Netvista tower. It has that "Imperial" look to it all black and angles. 1.8 gig intel, 256 meg of ram, 20 meg hard drive (today) CD-ROM and DVD-ROM. OS of the day. Darth Bemmer is my lab machine. I fould myself needing to check out some hardware and I didn't have a computer I could risk fo the job. I got the Netvista becasue it is easy access and you can change the hard drive in two minutes. I do stuff on this machine that breaks things.
"Amanda" Build it yourself SuSE linux 9/Windows98SE. Celeron 1.2 gig. 256 meg RAM 80 Gig of drive. CD-RW. Properly Amanda is my Wife's computer. I hardly touch it except to fix network stuff.
"Stich" Gateway 500SE Windows 98SE/Redhat 9 All the toys, DVD player the works. My son's computer, his money his machine, but it's on my network.
"Thinker" IBM Thnikpad 600X. P3/500 320 meg ram. Acquired "naked", that is no OS, from a local reseller. Not paying the Microsoft tax saved me a hundred bucks. Thinker has the 20 gig drive Armada used to. It is formatted for dual boot, SuSE Linux 9 and Win 98 (seldom used). It's a sweet little machine that takes over primary laptop duties. Other than a lot faster it has the advantage of a CD Rom and floppy drive at the same time.
"Armada" Compaq Armada 7770 Laptop. Win98. P2 233, 82 meg ram, 12 gig hard drive. It broods in its bag. This one is creeky and in fragile condition. I some times have to slam the lid to get the screen to work. It is a working machine, but definatly on the back burner.
The Commodore 64s Yes plural. I have keyboards and I have monitors and 1541 disk drives. I might have enough stuff to put three working system together. None are currently up and running. I don't remember ANY of the commands.
I have never fired this up but the once. I got it becasue someone else didn't want it.
Commodore VIC-20 My very first computer. It's in a box in the garage. Last I fired it up it worked. I miss a few of the games I had for it, but I was never able to do productive work with it.
Redmond Cable, the "weird cable" people. Have a whatisit your need to connect to a thigamabob? Redmond Cable either has the right cable, or can make it. A required to know resource for anyone dealing with older hardware. (Like Amiga users)