This is a report about the things concerning the Amiga I managed to see
in one day, if you want other CeBIT related stuff visit the
Cebit '96 server.
Below are some thumbnails you can click on to see the full pictures. I have
chosen for reasonable quality against very good size/compression. For this end
I have converted the JPEGs to 256 colours with dithering. The originals are much
better, so if you want these pictures for your own page or magazine, don't
hesitate to contact me. I also haven't got all pictures here as they were
scanned for me, some (like the Motorola booth) might appear later on.
The entrance to the CeBIT grounds. It took a while to get there but we
managed :) The entrance fee was 50 DM, quite a bit for a show, but since the
CeBIT is mainly business oriented it's reasonable I guess. Just too bad I
forgot to reclaim it when we left as I had a press pass (I was reporting
for the Dutch Amiga Magazine). Come to think of it, I also forgot to swindle
MicroSoft out of a free meal at their stand..
Our last stand? Noone suspected Escom would sell Amiga Technologies as quickly
as they bought it, but it happened anyway. A literal sign on the wall was a
multitude of people bringing up graffiti on the neighbouring wall and chanting
Amiga! Amiga! in front of the stage, since the multimedia presentation with
air guitar and all didn't involve an actual Amiga.. Their booth was nothing
spectacular, though tidy. Twice a day an A1200/Surfer was given away in a
lottery, some people weren't doing anything else but filling out the contest
cards all day.
A much more heartening sight were the three Amigas on display at the Motorola
booth, everything else there was promoting the PowerPC architecture, which
hinted at what Motorola's ideas with the Amiga were (sorry, picture delayed).
Back to the Escom booth. The news of the day was the Walker prototype, although
now cancelled (well, rumours do fly) it was what everyone was waiting
for: activity from Escom/AT showing that they are doing something. It's
design was already heatedly discussed on the grounds, some were likening it
to a cross between a vacuum cleaner and Darth Vader's helmet, others were of
the opinion that it looked great and wouldn't fall out in a modern study or
living room. It certainly is a novel design, one that is at least good for
getting the attention.
What was far more interesting were the internal specifications:
68EC030/40 MHz, integrated super I/O chip for high speed EPP parallel port
and a fast serial port, modular design with one common bus for future
upgrades such as PCI, integrated 4x CD-ROM drive and OS 3.2 with some
bug fixes and enhancements. The motherboard is in the LPX format, so third
party vendors or licensees can fit it in a more standard desktop or tower
casing. The top can be removed and ready to fit '2nd stages' to be inserted
between it and the base box for a towerlike expansion system. These modules
would be distributed by AT to third party vendor specifications for optimal
variety of expansion sizes. Or so the plan went.. A rudimentary Scala demo was
running, there was no room for extensive scrutiny of the innards, software or
hardware. Too bad it is not in the plans anymore, would have made the bookies
happy on betting whether it would have succeeded. IMHO a 68030 is
underpowered, even by Amiga standards, but at 40 MHz it is still faster than
my current A4000..
The Motorola booth not only hosted far more interesting hardware, but also the
Amiga developer conference. That alone was very good news to me, nothing could
do the Amiga more good than a strong relationship with this renowned
semiconductor manufacturer. If all VIScorp/Amiga Technologies are claiming is
to be true, much of what was discussed there is still valid, so I guess the Non
Disclosure Agreement I signed is too. Unless someone has $250.000 US lying
around for small change I cannot divulge what was discussed there, but it
seemed like the Amiga was finally on the right track for a change, handled by
capable people. The picture depicts the people who spoke on various aspects of
future hardware and OS development, draw your own conclusions from that. From
left to right (if memory serves correctly): Dr. Peter Kittel (formerly C=,
then AT documentation, now (also?) at PIOS in the same position), Gerald W.
Carda (Phase 5), Dave Haynie (formerly engineer at C=, now at Scala and
consulting for AT/PIOS, a.k.a. hardware GOD to some), Andy Finkel (formerly OS
development at C=, now also at Scala, consulting for AT/PIOS), Jochen Becher
(Haage & Partner), Cristoph Gülicher (product manager software at AT),
John Round (Motorola). Not everyone is on the picture, I think Frank Reklies
from MaZET (Walker) is missing. I hope I got everyone right :)
Dave Haynie. Is it a bullet? Is it an aeroplane? Is it the Amiga hardware
Guru, or what? Of course I couldn't let the chance slip to talk to the man
himself, and snapshot him with the Amiga Magazine in the hands. In spite of
some subtle attempts at deeper probing to what was going on within AT/Escom
and with the future of the Amiga in general, he wasn't willing to tell much
or wasn't sure, he kept his comments neutral and unsuggestive. It seemed he
might have suspected about the Escom -> VIScorp sale, or he wasn't ready to
commit himself to the extent that he might risk another emotionally painful
demise of the Amiga by Escom's hands. So we chatted some about music, disk
salvaging, pets and probably much more things I completely forgot about.
I successfully restrained myself repeatedly from falling to his feet
exclaiming "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!" :^)
After the developer conference which lasted well into the first cleaning crew's
rounds I met with Cristoph Gülicher to show the current
AWeb beta; I like to think that he
was impressed :) On an (almost) unrelated note: he voiced his disappointment
with the unprofessional attitude of some Amiga developers, although I shall
not mention names. After all was said and done (well, I only nearly
got that nice German IBM rep girl's phonenumber ;), it was time to hasten our
retreat and contemplate on the long way home, dusk had long before fallen on
the grounds. The show was so huge my feet were hurting and still we didn't get
a chance to see even a fraction of the grand design.. I will not bore you with
the tales of how my buddy drove through flowerbeds and scarcely avoided hurting
some sleeping ducks and truncating trees due to the effects of being exposed
to hours long of Amiga rants from me and of exhaustion in general ;)
Will Amiga Technologies survive the technological tides of time? Will we
ever see a Walker (replacement)? Or a PowerAmiga? Will I ever get a friend as
crazy as to drive an Amiga fanatic across half of another country again? Will
IBM still be employing nice female reps? Will they receive hazard bonuses?
Till next year?
Yeah, next year in Hannover!