Amiga Nostalgia

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 naïve 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?






3 responses to “Amiga Nostalgia”

  1. Senior Avatar

    The 500 was pur­chased new for you for Christ­mas. I for­get how you came to have a 2000, but your expla­na­tion is like­ly correct.

    It is nice to know you enjoyed them.

    Sounds like you need WordPerfect.

  2. Rick Beckman Avatar

    To be hon­est, I don’t remem­ber any Christ­mases pri­or to 2nd or 3rd grade, but I’m cer­tain I had the 500 pri­or to that — I remem­ber play­ing Men­ace while liv­ing at the duplex on Ohio Avenue. I dis­tinct­ly remem­ber paus­ing the game dur­ing a boss fight, leav­ing the room for a few min­utes, and com­ing back to, well, I’m not for sure what it was — the screen was “snowy” and no but­tons returned to the game. Whether it was by design or not, I don’t know, but I pre­sumed from then on that paus­ing dur­ing boss bat­tles doomed your game.

    But yes, I did enjoy them. It isn’t every kid who got to spend time with a talk­ing col­or­ing book pro­gram, print­ing 16-col­or images on a dot matrix printer.

    Kids these days are just spoiled, what with their mil­lions-of-col­ors dis­plays and pho­to-qual­i­ty laser print­ers. :P

    As for Word­Per­fect, I’m fair­ly cer­tain the only time I’ve ever used it was on your com­put­er. The best fea­ture it had, in my opin­ion, was its “Make It Fit” tool; print­ing 20+ page video game walk­throughs is a lot eas­i­er when with just a cou­ple of clicks I can turn it into, say, 12 pages. Using Microsoft Word or OpenOf­fice Writer to do that takes quite a bit more work!

    Although all three eas­i­ly best the Clar­is­Works word proces­sor that came on Mandy’s Mac­in­tosh. I think I’d actu­al­ly pre­fer Works Word Proces­sor (*gag*) over it!

  3. Mike Avatar

    For me aswell this is the sys­tem, I grew up with the Ami­ga we got an A500 in 1989 with the 512k upgrade. We were blown away by the games, the sound and graph­ics qual­i­ty was 2nd to none back then. Sure peo­ple had an atari..Bah waht crap the Ami­ga was all the talk and us kids us to swap games and copy them. Every­one had a list of games..huge amounts of games to play.

    At least now we can enjoy the mem­o­ries and use emu­la­tor and here the games music again thanks to the inter­net and Ami­ga emulators.

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Rick Beckman