I’m not entirely certain why, but I found myself on Wikipedia reading the Amiga article. Things started to get very nostalgic when looking through the list of various Amiga models. I’ve owned five different computers, and the first two were Amigas, specifically the Amiga 500 and the Amiga 2000.
Would you just look at those system specs? About half a megabyte of RAM, a ~7 megahertz processor, no hard drives…
I admit to being a naÃƒÂ¯ve little child, but I thought those computers were awesome. I could hardly imagine anything better until middle school! I distinctly remember a conversation I had on the bus to school (fifth or sixth grade) about computers; my friend asked if my computer “had windows on it.” Windows? Well, whenever I opened a folder, it popped up in a window thing. Was that what he meant? Seriously, I had no idea that there was something called “Microsoft Windows”!
And to this day, what made my Amiga systems great has yet to be taken away by Windows: the games. Whether it was the elegant simplicity of The Talking Coloring Book when I was really young, the clever courses of Miniature Golf (exact title unknown, though it had two sequels, which I also had), or the mayhem of Menace and Turrican II, there was always fun to be had on the Amiga. If I use a Windows computer for another ten years, I doubt I’ll surpass the amount of time spent gaming on the Amiga with what passes as games for computers nowadays. Blah.
Other games that stand out: SimCity, SimAnt, Populous, Lemmings, James Pond II, and so many more that I can recall the game-play of but not the title.
I also loved that I could customize what the cursor looked like very easily. I kept it customized as a little sword or magic wand, reminiscent of something you may see in the original The Legend of Zelda game for the NES. Why can’t I do that easily on Windows?
As for *real* applications… Well, the word processor is the only one I ever remember using. In all honesty, I wish I could still use it to write. I don’t recall there being a full grammar check (or even a spelling checker?), so I actually grew up with a computer that allowed me to actually improve as a writer while typing, rather than relying on various technological aids. Additionally, there was an awesome little tool that, in addition to word count, gave various grammatical statistics about the document — what percentage of sentences were passive and so on. It also reported at what reading grade level the document was written at (which perhaps led me to believe I was a better writer than I really was), even comparing it to other well-known documents such as the Gettysburg Address and half a dozen others. Why can’t Microsoft Word do this? Why can’t Writer?
You don’t have to take my word for it that the Amigas were great computers. Do you remember in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home when Spock is using the Vulcan supercomputer (the one that asked him, to his confusion, “How do you feel?”)? Yep, you can thank Amiga for that. So great, an alien civilization 300+ years down the road are still using them!
While I still had my Amiga 2000, my sister received a Macintosh System 7 computer from her school (for free!). I think it was somewhere in the 7.6.x line. We both got a lot of use out of it, until I finally entered the age of modern computing (and the internet!) in 2000 with a Hewlett Packard system. I had it for a few years until I realized I was making enough at work to build my own computer piece by piece. It was that self-built computer I recently replaced with my new Dell system.
Both of my Amiga systems belonged to Dad, and he gave them to me, I think, as he upgraded to something newer and better.
If you ever get a chance to use an Amiga, don’t pass it up — especially if there are games to be played. And if anyone knows if the games I mentioned above are available for Windows (preferably for free — and by free, I also mean not pirated), please let me know. I miss those old games!
And that’s my story. I’d love to hear yours — what got you started with computers? How old were you?