Amiga after Commodore
Author: Vidar Langberget.
Posted : 2000-10-12 00:00:00.0
The end of Commodore
Amiga®, BOING BALL®, POWERED BY AMIGA® are registered trademarks of Amiga Inc.
Will AmigaDE from Amiga mark the return of the home computer that ruled the home computer market in the late 80?s and early 90?s? So what is Ami? In short, Ami is Amiga?s new OS, the first new OS release that will mark a serious push towards the home computer throne it once had since Commodore folded.
The demise of the Amiga started in the early 90s because of a number of factors: Commodore failed to market the platform and develop new machines that kept the technological lead it had when it was launched. Sure, there were new machines released, but they were mostly half-hearted attempts (A600, A4000, CDTV), or they were way to expensive (A4000(T), A3000).
The CD32 console was the last Amiga that Commodore launched in any quantities. But it was too expensive, and the technology looked ancient compared to the PSX and Saturn systems that were on the horizon. The CD32 used the AGA chipset that was also used in the A1200 and A4000. In addition it had a Chunky to planar converter chip to speed up 3D(but it didn?t...). It used the same slow CPU as the A1200 (14 MHz 68020) and the same 2MB Chip RAM. If Commodore had given it 0.5 MB Fast RAM and a 030 CPU, it would have performed 3-4 times as fast. But sadly they didn?t...
However, it sold around 70,000 units at Christmas 93 just in the UK alone. Although these numbers were decent, they couldn?t save Commodore from bankruptcy. Commodore had been in financial trouble for a long time, because of a failed PC strategy that also put Amiga developments in the back-seat.
CBM stayed afloat until April 1994, when they filed for chapter 11 in a Bahamian court. Several buyers looked into the remains, but the liquidators struggled to untangle the C= assets. So the buyout dragged out. When the liquidators finally were ready for an auction of the remains, most suitors had left the scene. At the auction, some of the attendees were: DELL, Escom, the C= UK subsidiary headed by Colin Proudfoot and David Pleasance, and CEI. In the end Escom won the bidding round. For $13 million they bought the remaining assets, including the Commodore and Amiga brand names.
Escom, a German PC manufacturer and retailer, restarted production of the Amiga 1200, without any modifications in just a few months. They set up the subsidiary Amiga Technologies with the HQ in Germany, and a small subsidiary in the UK. They started developing a next-generation Amiga with the PowerPC as the main processor. Old C= engineers like Andy Finkel and Dave Haynie were working for them in various roles.
Once again the Amiga was struck by unfortunate events. Escom?s rapid growth got them into financial trouble, and the Amiga was once again up for sale. This happened in April 1996. Throughout the year, rumours of new potential owners popped up everywhere in the Amiga community. US based VisCORP, a company developing Set-Top boxes and QuickPak, a manufacturer of the A4000T for C= were looking into it, but they couldn?t come up with the $40 million the liquidator originally wanted. This was dropped to $20 million, but nothing happened. Time passed.