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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved

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What is Amiga History Guide?
What is an Amiga?
How can I contribute?
Where can I download a copy of the site?
What are the origins of the Amiga History Guide?
Free services used on the site

What is Amiga History Guide?

As the name suggests, Amiga History Guide is a website dedicated to preserving the history of the Amiga platform. At the time of writing it is the largest and most popular site of its kind, attracting over one thousand visitors per week.

The site differs considerably from other Amiga web sites. My goal when creating the site was to preserve the fragile cultural element of the Amiga market, providing a coherent snapshot of the events and opinions at a specific time. It does not provide specific game or application reviews, instead focusing upon the people that form the market and user community. As a result, the majority of content will relate to the various owners of the Amiga, user reaction to specific announcements, or particular products that were gaining attention at the time. This enables AHG to provide a diverse range of content (such as early plans to port Windows NT to the Amiga) that would be ignored by traditional Amiga news.

Amiga History Guide also presents years of research on little-known Amiga products. The prototypes section demonstrate numerous examples of Amiga products that were never seen by the general public, yet provide interesting glimpses of the possible direction of the platform. The Arcade section also offers a fascinating glimpse of the Amigas role outside the home computer market. There are many other stories that await anyone who wishes to learn more about the Amiga platform.

What is Amiga?

The Amiga brand has been defined in many ways, covering both software and hardware. The Amiga computer, launched by Commodore in 1984, gained international success throughout the US and European markets as a game machine and 3D development platform. The first Amiga - the Commodore Amiga 1000 - offered unparalleled graphics and sound that exceeded contemporary Macintosh & IBM PCs. The key to its power was a custom-designed set of chips that would each perform a specific task, such as graphic output or sound. The concept was years ahead of its time. It was only in the mid-1990s that the PC would develop to a stage where it could compete with the Amiga graphics capabilities.

Over the years numerous Amiga computers were launched, appealing to the low & high-end of the market. Low-end systems, such as the Amiga 500 and 600, provided a computer for the masses. Younger audiences were drawn to the wide range of games, while the older market were served by award-winning graphical and word processing packages. High-end workstations, such as the Amiga 3000 & 4000, were aimed towards businesses and professionals. Many of the graphical effects seen in movies and TV shows of the late 1980s/early 1990s were produced on the Amiga. As a result, the Amiga gained a following for its ability to produce professional results.

In 1995 Commodore International - the Amiga's owner - entered liquidation, ending the Amigas domination of the home computer market. Since that time the brand has been purchased numerous businesses (Escom, Gateway and Amino Development Corporation), who wished to utilise the brand recognition for their own needs.

At present the Amiga brand is owned by Amiga Inc (formerly Amino Development) - an American-based startup company. The company are currently developing a range of platform independent products for mobile phones and PDAs. Among their client base is a little known firm called Microsoft.
The original AmigaOS has been licensed to a third party developer, who have ported the operating system to the PowerPC platform (also used by the Apple Macintosh). The resulting product, AmigaOS 4.0 is a PPC-native operating system that supports modern hardware, while providing a sandbox emulation for older applications and games.

How can I contribute?

I am always on the lookout for new information about the Amiga. Do you know of a hitherto unknown Amiga prototype? Do you have an Amiga story to tell? If so, contact Gareth Knight

Where can I download a copy of the Amiga History Guide site?

As a result of various attempts to steal the site and host the work as their own a few years ago I no longer offer a download. Besides, the compressed site archive would take up 170Mb of web space that could be better used for unique content. If you wish to utilise a local copy the AiG/AHG website is distributed on the Kickstart Archives from Thomas Unger. If any Amiga magazine wishes to provide a copy of the site on their CoverCD you are required to contact me to request permission. I can be e-mailed by clicking here

What are the origins of the Amiga History Guide

Having written numerous magazine origin stories, you would think I would be able to write my own. It was easy to describe how others work has influenced the market, yet it feels like vanity to suggest your own work has such an influence. Web sites are transitory and rarely have the influence that a mainstream title would carry. Most of the decisions made during development will also be extremely boring or irrelevant to a reader, yet will be moments of revelation for the author.

In this state of mind I would like to describe my own small contribution to the Amiga market.

Amiga Interactive Guide - 1997

The site has a long and winding development that began over 5 years ago. Amiga Interactive Guide (the original title) began in early 1997 as an AmigaGuide file intended to replace the online help documentation provided in Workbench 3.0. A simple installer was provided that would copy the file to the Help: directory, allowing it to be loaded whenever the user pressed the HELP key. Throughout 1997 it was gradually expanded to cover other topics, such as Commodore Amiga models, emulation & magazines. The first officially released version was v1.6, that was finished on 25th June 1997. Earlier versions were intended for my own use only, while I created the guide structure and work on various aspects during my spare time.

Amiga Interactive Guide version 1.1
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AiG v2.2 - the final AmigaGuide version

By September 1997 the AmigaGuide had grown to 500k and was in danger of losing focus upon its original aim. To enable the continued development of Amiga Interactive Guide, a spin-off "lite" version called BenchPress was released. BenchPress covered areas relevant to Workbench 3.x, but avoided detailed descriptions of the various Amiga systems and other superfluous information. This enabled Amiga Interactive Guide to expand its coverage of other aspects without being limited to the document structure of a help guide. I later defined this stage as the third phase of AiG.

At this stage I received the first reactions to my work. 1997 was a very good year for homebrew developments, and magazine journalists were positive about its purpose. However, it was the inclusion on Amiga Forever - the official Amiga emulation CD that encouraged me to continue development. If it were not for Cloanto's CEO Michael Battilana, the guide may have ended at this point (for which he has my eternal gratitude). This allowed me to gain a wider audience, appealing to current & former Amiga users alike. It was also reviewed in Amiga Format, where Simon Goodwin managed to confuse my surname (Gareth Hunt? The guy from the New Avengers?). For the first time AiG was converted to HTML providing a more comfortable environment for Windows & Mac users to read the documentation. This would eventually result in the AmigaGuide version of the subsequent update (2.2) being abandoned and converted to HTML.

AiG 3.0 - the first HTML version
AiG 3.0 - The squares are replaced with boing balls
AiG v3.2 - the grey look

The HTML conversion heralded the third generation of Amiga Interactive Guide. The square buttons of previous releases (actually used because AmigaGuide is so damn ugly) were replaced with the Amiga boing ball - the original Amiga symbol that had not been claimed as the official post-Commodore corporation design at this point. This became a permanent feature of the site, which can be seen today on almost every page. Several new sections were added, including the shocking news that the Atari-Amiga had gone further than anyone had expected, resulting in several internal documents that referred to an Atari 1850XLD, based upon Amiga technology. I also provided more information on Gateway's plans for AmigaOS5 (Yes! 1998 and people were referring to AmigaOS5!) and filled in the backstory of the original Amiga Incorporated.

This period was a time of expansion for the site, resulting in an unprecedented explosion of material to analyse. The site expanded from 3.2Mb in version 3.0 (uploaded on 19/08/1998) to a massive 125Mb in the v3.9 site update (26/06/2002). The majority of content was rewritten to take into account events of the time, certain areas were expanded, and areas that were no longer relevant (such as the majority of Jim Brain's Commodore guide and my subsequent Gateway guide) were expunged. The site design also went through several iterations, going from a horrible yellow background to a red & white look. The site also changed locations, moving from its original home at Geocities to Freeserve, and finally to Emugaming.

AiG 3.3 - the yucky yellow look
AiG 3.6 - the pretty red and white version
AiG 4.2 - the final version before the relaunch

During 2001 and 2002 I continued to develop specific aspects of the website. The magazine section was expanded with an issue-by-issue description of Amiga Format magazine. This has become a major feature of the site, although due to the time required it remains unfinished. I soon followed this with an issue-by-issue breakdown of Amiga Active and Digital magazine. The latest products from Amiga Inc. were documented, providing all-new content for review. Just a few months later AiG followed this achievement by providing web space for the AmiWest 2002 and World of Amiga 2002 speeches and, thanks to Bill Buck of Genesi, I was able to exclusively reveal several concept designs for the Amiga Walker.

... And so we reach the present day. AiG reaches its fourth phase with a new name and professional appearance. As I stated in March 2002, it is difficult to believe that the site has existed for so long and been allowed to develop into a unique source of information. The site has gone from merely recording history to making history. The all-new Amiga History Guide will continue to document the Amiga platform , covering the intertwined roles of AmigaOS and MorphOS. I wonder what the future will hold?

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Free services used on this site

The Amiga History Guide uses a number of free services. If you are a web site author and want to include any of these sites click on the link to their web page and sign up.

Web Counter

The web counter is provided by The Counter.com. They provide a basic no-thrills report on the number of people that have visited your site broken down into a weekly basis and the counter is fairly small and unobtrusive. Once you have signed up they will provide the code that needs to be copied into your web page.

Guestbook
The guestbook is provided by TheGuestBook.com and allows your visitors to leave messages such as commenting on the site. TheGuestBook.com is one of the best ones that I have tried although it does not give you as many options as something like Gate9th. It is very easy to use and only takes a few minutes to set up. The service is paid for using advertisements at the top of the screen.

Forum
Forums are similar in many ways to the guestbook but are used by individuals to chat rather than write a one-off message. They can be used to discuss many topics from different posters. Amiga History Guide uses a discussion forum provided by Network 54. This has several advantages; it organises the messages hierarchically, and gives the option to customise the background to give the same look as the rest of your site. Like TheGuestBook.com the service is providing by including advertisements at the top of the screen.

Mailing Lists
The AHG Update mailing list is provided by Yahoo groups. Yes, I know they are evil...

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Last Update: 11/03/2003

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Latest updates to the Amiga History Guide. (more)


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· Amiga Hardware
· Amiga History.de
· Amiga Magazine Rack
· Amiga-news(en)(de)
· Amiga.org
· Amiga World
· AmigaOS 4.0
· Amiga University
· Commodore Retrobits
· Dave Haynie archive
· Lemon Amiga
· MorphOS Support
· morphos-news.de

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