Amiga after Commodore
Author: Vidar Langberget.
Posted : 2000-10-12 00:00:00.0
Gateway enters the stage
In April 1997 the surprise news that Gateway, a large US computer manufacturer had bought Amiga for $15 million surfaced. The Amiga community was filled with cautious optimism. Such a large and successful corporation must have the competence to successfully re-launch the Amiga, was the general idea in the Amiga community. Or did they? Gateway set up Amiga Inc., the R&D office in the US, and Amiga International, the marketing and sales arm, run by some of the old Amiga Technology staff in Germany.
At the World Of Amiga show in London a month after Gateway bought Amiga, Gateway assured everyone they would bring the Amiga back, but that they would need some time to look over what they had bought.
Jeff Schindler, the engineer behind the Gateway Destination PC/TV hybrid, became the head of Amiga Inc. Alan Havemose, a former C= software engineer was hired as VP of Development. A few other people were hired, among them Fleecy Moss, a corporate consultant and avid Amiga supporter, and Bill McEwen, a software evangelist with wide contacts in the computer industry.
It took a year before Amiga revealed their plans. Once again it took place at the WOA. They announced they would use a not yet released CPU/media/graphics processor with 400mpixel/sec fill rate and the ability to decode 4 MPEG(2?) streams simultaneously. They planned to develop a new OS would use a 3rd party kernel. The kernel partner was supposed to be announced within 30 days.
But it was November before Amiga announced that they had selected QNX Neutrino as the basis for the new OS. Things developed VERY slowly. Around the same time Fleecy Moss contract with Amiga was terminated. Many amigans took this hard. Fleecy was the last true amigan at Amiga.
In early 1999, Jim Collas was appointed president of Amiga, and announced a fast-track plan. Jim Collas had previously been a VP at Gateway. Jim Collas wanted the Amiga to be a part of the Digital Appliance revolution everyone are talking about. With Collas at the helm, things began to happen. Major newspapers and online publications posted articles and interviews about the Amiga. Collas also restarted development of the classic AmigaOS, to support the current Amiga market, until the new OS and new machines appeared.
In early June 1999, Amiga announced that they would use the Linux kernel instead of the QNX kernel, because of the significant mind share Linux had (and still have). The Amiga community burst into a lot of very heated discussions on the subject. Few liked the idea of a large monolithic kernel as the basis of the new Amiga. But Collas communication skills proved valuable. He convinced most Amigans that this was a good solution for the Amiga. The kernel Amiga would use would be heavily optimised and tweaked to offer better multimedia performance.
July 1999 was a month the Amiga community will remember forever. The buzz and excitement created by the new plans and not to mention the WOA show in London in the middle of the month was unbelievable. A prototype of a new low end Amiga was shown and a more detailed presentation of the OS plans took place. Hundreds upon hundreds of amigans listened to audio broadcasts from the show and participated in IRC channels where many of the important people at the show participated.
After the WOA, Amiga was more silent, and it came as a shock in late August when Jim Collas left Amiga. The day after, Bill McEwen got the notice that his contract wasnt renewed. Amiga went into silent mode. Amigas new President, Tom Schmidt, the COO under Collas announced that the hardware would be scrapped, and that the new OS (or OE which stands for Operating Environment) would run on other operating systems as a interface for STBs and the like towards the web. The Amiga community was shocked and upset. Amiga dealers experienced a total halt in sales. Lots of amigans that had hanged in there, suddenly gave up on the Amiga. They were fed up. Once again their hopes had been crushed.