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Who went from A8 to Amiga?

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Zx81 to Atari 400 to Atari 400 ram upgraded to 32k to Atari 800xl to an Atari 520st with no internal drive to PC 

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My journey was:

  • Atari 130XE  + 1050 (grandfather) ->
  • Atari 800 XL + XC12 (mine) ->
  • Atari 800 XL + 1050 (mine) ->
  • PC AT 286 (dad) ->
  • Amiga 500 + 68020 (mine)
  • PC 486 DX/2 (dad)
  • + uncounted Intel/AMD based PCs clones with no soul (mine)

 

Much later I got a MegaST for cheap. I remember that pure ST machines had not much appeal in contrast to the massive world of Amiga (demoscene, apps, games, upgrades).

Much much later I got a UltraSatan SDCard Adapter for the MegaST and I finally started to like the 16 bit Ataris. But still my love-to-machine-index would be:

  • XL/XE > Amiga > ST

 

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My career from 1983 to ca. 1995: Eaca Colour Genie > 800XL > 130XE > Amiga 1000 > Amiga 3000

 

Since the mid nineties i am using Macs most of the time. I have plenty of retro stuff, but only use my 8bit Ataris regularly. There is a 576NUC+ sitting next to my iMac on my desk.

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My history,

 

ZX80

ZX81 with ram pack

Vic20

Atari 800

Atari 800XL

Atari 130XE

C64

ST (1 day only)

Amiga 500

Amiga 500+

Amiga 1200 with HD and 68030

PC

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Mine:

 

TRS-80 MC-10

Vic-20

Atari 600XL

Atari 130XE

C64

TRS-80 CoCo 2

IBM XT Clone

Atari 520ST

Amiga 1000

286 Clone and every new gen PC since, with a few Mac once in a while.

 

Note: I had the 130XE, C64 and CoCo 2 at the same time. I ran my BBS on the C64, coded on the 130XE and used the CoCo as a terminal since I could use a 60 or so column mode with the terminal software I had.

 

Today, my lab consist of:

 

Atari 800XL (Pal)

Atari 65XE (U1MB, VBXE)

C128

Amiga 500 (Pal)

My dev workstation (i9 10900k, 64gig ram, 64Tb of HDD (16x 4Tb), 3x 512gig SSD (one PCIe 4.0 (System drive), two PCIe 3.0 (Git and video capture)), RTX2070Super, 4kHD Pro capture card)

One Lenovo laptop used as a mobile dev machine (Ryzen 2700, 32 Gig)

One Lenovo laptop used in combination with my 3D printers (Haswell i7, 16gig of ram)

One iMac 27", last Intel based model, (i5, 32Gig). Mostly use for web dev and FL Studio

 

 

 

 

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1980 - ZX80

1980 - Atari 800

1983 - Atari 800XL

1985 - Amiga 1000 & Atari 520ST

1987 - Became a game developer - so every system ever released and many that are/were not, ongoing 🤣

 

Habitual Mac user now...

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1982 - Dragon 32 (which was really my Dad's)

1986 - Atari 130XE

1989 - Atari 520STFM

1994 onwards - PCs (starting with a 486 66DX and currently using an AMD 5600x)

 

However, I did buy an Amiga 1200 in 2001 (for 15 quid off Ebay!!), which I then swapped with a mate (because it had become faulty) for an A600. I did also buy an 800XL in 2017 which has a Sophia and U1MB in it.

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i remember starting off with a 48k zx spectrum, then was blown away by a mates atari 8bit, so that was me atari 800xl obtained!, then i saw the atari st when it came out and wasnt to impressed at all, thought id keep my 8bit for a while longer... then i saw and heard an amiga running some demos, plastic passion and bar-brian! i was hooked had to get an amiga and so i did... was happy with it for years, followed the demo scene and collected just about all of em!... then i got a pc, mac, raspberry pi!! etc - still got an amiga 1200...

 

respect to jay miner - atari, amiga - creator extrordinare.

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Posted (edited)

TLDR; I skipped the closed-architecture 16-bit era altogether and went straight from the Atari XL/XE to the PC platform.

 

I wasn't even aware that there was such a thing as a "personal computer" until the first day of 6th grade; September 1983.  I chose Computer Programming, instead of Woodshop, as my elective course.  I walked into the classroom and saw that the walls were lined with workstations; Atari 800s with 810s and Atari 800XLs with 1050s.  It was at that exact moment that I knew exactly what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

 

I learned to code on the Atari 8-bits for the three years of Junior High.  When I started High School in 1986, and was old enough to get a job, I bought an 800XL, a 1050, and a 1027 printer.  Eventually I became aware of other 8-Bit systems.  One buddy had a Commodore 64 and both schools had Apple IIs in various classes and offices.  But it wasn't until 1990, just after I had graduated High School, that I even SAW my first 16-bit computer.  It was a 1040ST on display at the Air Force base Commissary.  The graphics were pretty cool; Battle Chess.  But I simply wasn't interested enough to look into it any further.  Besides, I was still smitten with the Atari 8-bit.  I had just upgraded my 800XL to a 130XE with an XF551 and an ICD MIO.

 

This is also the period in which I entered the workforce.  I got my first exposure to an IBM PS/2 with VGA and a SoundBlaster card.  I was playing Alternate Reality: The Dungeon on the Atari and Eye of the Beholder on the PC at the same time.  Then the Sega Genesis came out.  Space Quest III on the PC and Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis sealed the deal on my transition away from the 8-bit as my primary computing and gaming platform.  Don't get me wrong.  The Atari 8-bit has always been, and will always be, my first love.  But that love became more and more nostalgic than functional.

 

It wasn't until later in life, and to the point of the op's question, that I dove hard into the 16-bit systems.  In 1992 I started making real money and was able to back-fill my computing experience.  I have owned and used Atari ST and Amiga machines of every kind, ever since.  My Atari Falcon and Amiga 1200 machines are both decked out with all the modern accompaniments.  I prefer to do nostalgic application work on the Falcon and 16-bit gaming on the Amiga.  But there is always a modern PC in the primary position and it is always where I do any serious work or play.

Edited by pixelmischief

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I wish I had gone A8 to Amiga.   

 

I bought a 520ST in early 1987.   A combination of misplaced brand loyalty, impatience, youthful naivety and the inconvenient fact that the Amiga 500 didn't exist yet (it was launched in the UK later in 87 IIRC).

 

I spent a good chunk of the back side of 87 and most of 88 with a bad case of Amiga-envy.  My mate got one and although the games looked mostly the same, they sounded so much better.  Sold the ST in 89/90, went to uni, bought a few PCs of various levels of crappiness.  Occasionally toyed with the idea of buying one of those Amiga 1200 from amiga.eu back when you could still buy NOS ones but mostly forgot all about it.

 

Until I bought an A500 in 2016.   And then a few more.   And then a couple of 1200s too.   And yeah its a good machine.  Better for games that the ST was due to that sound processor.   But it has never impressed me the way the 800 did, and still occasionally still does.  Maybe I just grew to expect too much.  Perhaps the legend in my mind could never be matched by reality.  I even got a ACA1221 accelerator and tried to play Sim City 2000, but it just sucked with laggy gameplay and that annoying interlaced screen.  

 

I have an ACA500+ but more than half the WHDLoad games I try seem to crash with weird exception errors, or memory problems.  Tried this on 3 different A500s - both PAL and NTSC, both KS 1.3 and KS 3.1.  

 

One day I will find the time to get the most out of this machine....   

 

 

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28 minutes ago, oracle_jedi said:

I bought a 520ST in early 1987.   A combination of misplaced brand loyalty, impatience, youthful naivety and the inconvenient fact that the Amiga 500 didn't exist yet (it was launched in the UK later in 87 IIRC).

 

I spent a good chunk of the back side of 87 and most of 88 with a bad case of Amiga-envy.  My mate got one and although the games looked mostly the same, they sounded so much better.  Sold the ST in 89/90, went to uni, bought a few PCs of various levels of crappiness.  Occasionally toyed with the idea of buying one of those Amiga 1200 from amiga.eu back when you could still buy NOS ones but mostly forgot all about it.

I was sort of in the same boat.   However the brand loyalty trap was easy to get out of.   I already knew Atari was being run by the Commodore guys and the Amiga was designed by Miner.   So I could have easily justified switching sides.    But it really came down to cost before the A500.   Also popularity.   It's easy to forget but before A500 the ST was significantly outselling Amiga.  I learned the hard way that the popular computer gets the most software support from owning an 8-bit and watching the C64 get all these games and cool software packages that I couldn't.   So I didn't want to end up in that position again.  At the time it wasn't yet obvious that in a few years both computers would be losing software support to PC.

 

As far as Amiga envy goes..  yeah I felt it sometimes.  Usually when the Amiga owners on BBSes would brag about their Amigas and disparage our STs.   But at the same time, I didn't know anyone with an Amiga so I hadn't seen one in action.  I just knew what I saw in magazines.   I'd see screenshots of both systems, and the ST graphics seemed to hold up well against Amigas.   I'd see that ST would get copies of Amiga demos like bouncing ball or Juggler to show "yeah we can do that too",  I mean yeah I knew what the Amiga specs were--  more colors, more features in hardware, etc.    But from my perspective the ST was working fine for me.   It was certainly better than what I had before it.

 

I think it wasn't until 1992 when I finally spent time with an actual Amiga.via a college roommate who had one.    What was most shocking was how most Amiga games looked almost identical to the ST version.   If they were using more colors it wasn't obvious.    Sound--  yes it sounded a lot better.   It's funny it wasn't uncommon to hear digitized audio on ST, but it wasn't until I heard how much clearer they sounded on Amiga that I realized I was missing something.   Sure there were some games that were significantly enhanced on Amiga, but they seemed like the exception.

 

But by that time the ST vs Amiga wars were over..   We both now had PC envy when we'd see other people in our dorm playing games like Doom 😄

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Strangely, I never suffered from Amiga envy. Probably because most of my friends also had STs, so didn't feel the need to jump ship. As someone interested in coding, the ST was the perfect machine IMO for developing your skills on.

 

I finally ditched the ST around '94 when I got my first PC.

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

I learned the hard way that the popular computer gets the most software support from owning an 8-bit and watching the C64 get all these games and cool software packages that I couldn't.   So I didn't want to end up in that position again. 

I wouldn't learn this lesson till way way later, well into the post-dotcom aftermath. By then I would have learned it without even recognizing it - because I didn't have endless funds to be messing with other platforms like MAC and other oddball Unix/Linux stuff.

 

When it came to realworld productivity I was happy with the II+ and //e all the way till the end in the beginning 1990's. So that helped. Already having gotten in on the ground floor with a popular platform in the 1970's.

 

3 hours ago, zzip said:

At the time it wasn't yet obvious that in a few years both computers would be losing software support to PC.

I kinda knew it. But kinda didn't. All very vague and undefined (to my infantile brain back then). All I knew is that I wanted to be able to go into the local circus-like department store and buy computer stuff. The Amiga or ST didn't let that happen.

 

But those stodgy 8086 - 80386 PC's, formerly the domain of ham operators and fat men with turgid odours swirling about them, were becoming meat for marketing companies hellbent on bringing the PC to every home in a friendly consumer manner.

 

3 hours ago, zzip said:

What was most shocking was how most Amiga games looked almost identical to the ST version.   If they were using more colors it wasn't obvious.    Sound--  yes it sounded a lot better.

Pretty sure most games were programmed to the lowest common standard. Even on the AtariST vs Amiga 500 battlefield. If it worked on the ST it would work on the Amiga. Enhancing graphics (I would imagine) is much harder than enhancing sound. So if the Amiga had better sound, it was easy to patch for that.

 

Both machines had 7MHz 68K CPUs. So by using that as the baseline, a developer could double their audience to two platforms.

 

And some of the Amiga's graphics modes were simply not suited to animation, like half-brite or hold'n'modify, or the higher resolutions. No games for those!

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

But by that time the ST vs Amiga wars were over..   We both now had PC envy when we'd see other people in our dorm playing games like Doom 😄

I'm rather happy my 1st Doom experience was pure. I didn't know about it till after I had purchased the PC and was done slogging through MS-DOS and learning that Windows was fancy program manager. So to see such a fun game on rather corporately-dull hardware was a pleasant surprise.

 

I was never looking across the room with envy or agonizing over price/performance specifications for what I would need to buy to have a good experience. I had already gotten a SoundBlaster installed months prior and was up to speed on setting up games and had a good CONFIG.SYS / AUTOEXEC.BAT going. So it was a matter of just install and play.

 

I liked the simple instructions and premise. Learning curve was all of 10-minutes. And DOOM was the second game for which I purchased a strategy guide for.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Keatah said:

And some of the Amiga's graphics modes were simply not suited to animation, like half-brite or hold'n'modify, or the higher resolutions. No games for those!


Absolutely true for hold'n'modify, but not so for half-brite.  Half-brite simply doubled the size of the color palette, the developer could directly choose the first 32 colors.  Animation-wise, it wasn't any more difficult to program.  It was more of a challenge for pixel artists, but I suspect even this wasn't a huge challenge because a lot of games used multiple shades of color in the sprite artwork and half-brite was friendly to that.

 

The issue is that early Amiga owners with the OCS chip set didn't have the half-brite mode (it is the Amiga's equivalent of the CTIA/GTIA schism), so developers had to decide if they wanted to target the lowest-common denominator or not.  I think it's mainly Amiga 1000 owners who were affected.

 

I kind of wish the A8 had offered a half-brite mode for GTIA Graphics 10, it would have provided something like 8 developer-chosen colors and 8 half-brite shades.  That would have been something a developer could build a game around.

Edited by FifthPlayer
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Actually there is a HAM game, I think it's called Pioneer Plague by Bill Williams (the name may be wrong but it's a genuine HAM game) (Not sure if it's the same Bill Williams from Alley Cat)

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14 hours ago, Keatah said:

I kinda knew it. But kinda didn't. All very vague and undefined (to my infantile brain back then). All I knew is that I wanted to be able to go into the local circus-like department store and buy computer stuff. The Amiga or ST didn't let that happen.

 

But those stodgy 8086 - 80386 PC's, formerly the domain of ham operators and fat men with turgid odours swirling about them, were becoming meat for marketing companies hellbent on bringing the PC to every home in a friendly consumer manner.

That's not how I saw PCs in the 80s haha.   To me they seemed like the domain of the suits and their administrative assistants--  strictly business.   If you had one at home it was to bring your work home.   To me it seemed they were never going to be affordable enough to be a home computer for hobbyists like me.   They were never going to be good choice for gaming (VGA and Soundblaster didn't show up until late 80s)

Computers like the A8 and C64 were affordable mainstream computers for people wanting to tinker, code and game and the ST and Amiga seemed like the natural extension of that.

 

15 hours ago, Keatah said:

Pretty sure most games were programmed to the lowest common standard. Even on the AtariST vs Amiga 500 battlefield. If it worked on the ST it would work on the Amiga. Enhancing graphics (I would imagine) is much harder than enhancing sound. So if the Amiga had better sound, it was easy to patch for that.

In retrospect that's what happened.    At the time I guess I assumed that developers would use all the capabilities they could and they would have to downgrade it when porting it to ST, PC etc.   Unlike the 8-bit era, the 16-bit era the various machines had similar enough graphics capabilities that they could reuse the same graphics assets on all the platforms so they did that a lot.

 

15 hours ago, Keatah said:

Both machines had 7MHz 68K CPUs. So by using that as the baseline, a developer could double their audience to two platforms.

Yeah, there was also the Apple IIgs that got a bunch of ports from ST/Amiga, and the graphics looked the same as well, but its CPU could not compete and those games didn't perform so well 

 

15 hours ago, Keatah said:

And some of the Amiga's graphics modes were simply not suited to animation, like half-brite or hold'n'modify, or the higher resolutions. No games for those!

That was the kind of thing that was not so obvious looking at the Amiga specs.   ST had various HAM-like schemes implemented in software (Spectrum, Photochrome),  but they were not suited for gaming either.   But it was still common to make several palette swaps on a screen and not impact performance for games too much (I assume you could do that on Amiga as well).   So games on both platforms could use a higher amount of colors than their specs suggest, just not with the complete freedom of "any point any color"

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22 hours ago, Tickled_Pink said:

Strangely, I never suffered from Amiga envy. Probably because most of my friends also had STs, so didn't feel the need to jump ship.

 

Yeah this was true for me, all the people i knew had STs, and thus access to software was far more important, plus the ST was marginally cheaper.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/6/2022 at 1:35 PM, oracle_jedi said:

I wish I had gone A8 to Amiga.   

 

I bought a 520ST in early 1987.   A combination of misplaced brand loyalty, impatience, youthful naivety and the inconvenient fact that the Amiga 500 didn't exist yet (it was launched in the UK later in 87 IIRC).

 

I spent a good chunk of the back side of 87 and most of 88 with a bad case of Amiga-envy.  My mate got one and although the games looked mostly the same, they sounded so much better.  Sold the ST in 89/90, went to uni, bought a few PCs of various levels of crappiness.  Occasionally toyed with the idea of buying one of those Amiga 1200 from amiga.eu back when you could still buy NOS ones but mostly forgot all about it.

 

Until I bought an A500 in 2016.   And then a few more.   And then a couple of 1200s too.   And yeah its a good machine.  Better for games that the ST was due to that sound processor.   But it has never impressed me the way the 800 did, and still occasionally still does.  Maybe I just grew to expect too much.  Perhaps the legend in my mind could never be matched by reality.  I even got a ACA1221 accelerator and tried to play Sim City 2000, but it just sucked with laggy gameplay and that annoying interlaced screen.  

 

I have an ACA500+ but more than half the WHDLoad games I try seem to crash with weird exception errors, or memory problems.  Tried this on 3 different A500s - both PAL and NTSC, both KS 1.3 and KS 3.1.  

 

One day I will find the time to get the most out of this machine....   

 

 

I echo this exactly.

 

Went from A8 to ST.  I loved the ST (over time) - but ended up "retiring" it in ~ 1989/1990 for the PC, where in retrospect I think the Amiga would have served me for several more years..  The ST (mono monitor) was really good for running a BBS though..   (and please no one take this as a diss on the ST - I learned a LOT from the ST and have many good memories on it).  

 

Also, same experience with getting an Amiga much later -- a 500 and 1200 sometime in the last 6-8 years, and ironically the same accelerators (ACA500+, ACA1221. lol).  

 

I think the Amiga not impressing though may be an expectations thing.  The A8 was extremely powerful for the time, and even had some features the Amiga didn't (Atari SIO = USB,  5 channels of sound - 4 POKEY + 1 TIA, and the original 800 had a better keyboard, Cartridge port).  The A8 also impressed by allowing you to get a lot more colors on screen than you might expect because some games did figure out a way to expose a lot of the 256 color palette, and the low resolution leant more to blending colors together on screen from nearby pixels anyway.  The crisper Amiga graphics (IMO) didn't lend as well to blending.  The A8 also felt more cheery (cyan color background), and a bit more communicative (sounds played through POKEY when loading software, connecting to a BBS, etc).  

 

OTOH consider that the Amiga has an effective multitasking OS!  despite very meagre resources.   For software, *Frontier Elite 2 shows a graphical and scale masterpiece that runs fun even on a stock A500, and (in my opinion) truly blows away anything the 8bit computers could do.  The Amiga wasn't perfect (a 6 year old CPU at launch that stuck around for 7 more years on the most common models) but just consider that the PC didn't really surpass it in capabilities until several years later, and even then it took a while to do so at a competitive price.  

 

(P.S.  IMO the biggest weakness of the A8 was the amount of storage the floppy drives offered throughout it's commercial life.  720-880KB on 3.5" disks was really nice on the ST/Amiga).  

 

*Frontier Elite 2 also runs decently on the ST..  just without the awesome music and sound of the Amiga

Edited by Xebec
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So, my computing journey was TI99/4a (though just used to play games before being replaced by an NES never to look back on the machine again) to PC in Dec 1992 onward.  The End.

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On 4/6/2022 at 1:35 PM, oracle_jedi said:

I bought a 520ST in early 1987.   A combination of misplaced brand loyalty, impatience, youthful naivety and the inconvenient fact that the Amiga 500 didn't exist yet (it was launched in the UK later in 87 IIRC).

 

That was my story only with getting an STe in '92 for a graduation gift.  Since I only knew about both 8 & 16-bit Ataris from reading Antic in the late 80's, I was with Team Tramiel back then.  I needed the ST for college for typing papers & accessing the school's VAX computers from home, plus I'd already got spoiled by using the Macs in high school.  To do all of that on a A8 would require purchasing lots of special hard ware from mail order companies, but the place I moved to already had a ST dealer and user group.

 

But I also learned the hard way of how loyal the Tramiels really were to their customers when they dropped their whole computer line but also the Jaguar after a couple years.  That's when I stopped being a fanboi for any brand, it's just best to use what you have "now" and be ready to switch when something comes along that can meet your needs better.

 

Yeah, I could have gotten an Amiga since it's better for games but I've also could have gotten a Mega Drive as well.  Even with an Amiga I'd still would have to get some kind of PC emulation cause it wouldn't be able to use PC formatted disks to take my work to & from school like I could with the ST.

 

But no matter what, getting a Windows PC was ineviable in the 90's, especially for getting in game development or anything in the IT field.

 

Maybe someday I'll enjoy playing a collection of Amiga games, I had Amiga Forever and it was a nice sampling...though it could have included some games from Pysgnoisis or Bitmap Bros.

 

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For PC it really comes down to data interchangeability with peers and institutions. Tramiel's toys never had enough longevity or factory support to develop the necessary stability. And of course we all know Tramiel was all about business and profit. No real knowledge of what it would take to make an industry.

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I went from VCS to A8 to Amiga, but at the time I didn't know those machines were designed by the same people (Jay Miner, Joe Decuir...) and have many things in common.

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