This is an Amiga slated report of one day of the CeBIT '97 show, if you want other CeBIT related stuff visit the Cebit '97 server.
Below are some thumbnails you can click on to see the full pictures. I have chosen for good quality against reasonable size/compression. The originals are much better, so if you want these pictures for your own page or magazine, don't hesitate to contact me.
|The entrance to the CeBIT grounds. Abandon all hope, ye who entereth here, for ye shall not see much Amiga.. Cuts down on walking a lot though :/ This year I again forgot to see if I could get a free M$ meal, but a gigantic Milka bar largely made up for that :)|
|First stop, the Motorola booth. The island in the stormy sea of Wintel dominance. Mainly touting a cluster of PPC developments and platforms, amongst which of course PIOS. Didn't actually investigate very much else, I guess Moto is pushing on with PPC development. Phase 5 was not present, only a PowerUp board for the CyberStorm Mk II. Silly me, didn't make a picture of it. It consists of a board with a PPC and socket for the 68040 or 68060, piggybacking onto the 68k socket of the Mk II with a cluster of thick pins looking like some medieval torturing device. I wouldn't mind some torture of this kind myself, though the room in a desktop A4000 will be almost used up by it, especially if phase 5 ever release a graphics card that directly plugs onto it. Since this is only a development board of course and the final version will consist of one board with 68060 and PPC instead of the current piggyback solution (and hopefully a reasonable tradeup program) it shouldn't matter. No mention of Amiga anywhere on the accompanying card, only a reference to phase 5. Next to it was a Maccelerate card in the same glass vitrine.|
|So what do you do, being a rabid Amigoid walking around a show this size, not seeing Amiga mentioned anywhere and starting to show some symptoms of withdrawal? Right: go and see the doctor :) After this snap at least I can say Amiga has been sighted at CeBIT '97. Sadly, the publisher announced his decision to quit publishing AM just after the show (and two days before the Gateway purchase has been announced).. Financial grounds, steep decline of sales etc. Sob. The end is not at hand however, as this corner of the Moto booth showed, and the main reason for my journey to Hannover this year. Dr. Peter Kittel showed the PIOS One, or as the two colourful single page brochures (English and German) announced, the two variations on the theme. Maxxtrem is aimed at the Mac market, with MacOS, BeOS and Linux bundled, starting at 200 MHz PPC (603ev). TransAm is aimed at the Amiga market, with a PPC 603e starting at 133 MHz and bundled with pOS, BeOS and Linux for PPC. Not Net/FreeBSD (can't remember which has been ported to PPC), but 'the other PPC version'. Both machines are actually not the same design with just the PPC module differing, but also have some different ports, like ADB on the 'Max' and ISA on the TransAM. One of these days I'll scan and add the brochures when I get them back from AM.|
|The heart of the PIOS One. As you can see it's out of the machine, and not without a reason. Just before the show it was discovered that Intel, as the good doctor put it, "in their almighty wisdom" decided to change some specs on the only bloody Intel chip in the PIOS One design and consequently the part didn't function as specified. Something about 3.3 and 5V pins being connected and causing conflicts.. Quite a damper, as I was at least looking forward to seeing the machine in action, if not running pOS out of the box. Dave Haynie was working on the problem in the nearby Hildesheim HQ as we spoke (Sunday), and according to the doctor would continue working on it day and night to make it at least to the end of the show (Wednesday). If it wasn't for his experience, testing the design before powering up, it would have blown up.. Later I learned that they ran into some other difficulties and the prototype still did not function at the end of the show.|
|And that's where we found Andy Finkel twiddling his thumbs, waiting. "My software is perfect, so once Dave gets here I'll stay." <G> Amongst insights as these I also learned that the best way to destroy a CD-ROM is to put it in a microwave, put a glass of water on top and engage =). Though I have not personally tried it myself, I understand it is quite spectacular, if you're into creating lightning :) Apart from saving out a specialist CD shredder machine, why not just pour some gasoline on it and light a match? "Not high tech enough" :) Good to see someone with a healthy sense of humour in the face of adversity. Similarly, when asked about his expectations on how PIOS would fare, he was cautiously optimistic. Paraphrased: "An official license is mandatory if we want to port AmigaOS to our machines, until then we have enough elbow room with the current bundles, as we are mainly a hardware company, and a very competitive one at that". And this was of course before we knew about Gateway. We then wandered over to the showcase containing the PowerUp card and commented on the 'functional' design ;) We also talked about the Gateway 97 conference the day before, and I mentioned Carl Sassenrath's appearance. I wondered what Andy thought of REBOL and mentioned that according to Carl, 'he has sold his Toyota' to fund development. "Carl is a smart man" was his reply, and I guess I can only agree with that.|
|At this point an even more fanatic (than me) Frenchman (whose name I failed to catch despite asking twice) clamped on to me (sorry if you're reading this, but I didn't have much time to boot :) and tried to convince me of about a dozen things I already knew and agreed with. One of his colleagues interrupted with a rumour that he had just spoken to a Commodore representative and learned that they had a bid in with 'a French connection'. Hmm, naturally I had to investigate. Commodore as we all know was bought by Escom and now the surviving Dutch chapter has picked up the name for marketing purposes. This year's CeBIT sounded their debut and I had to admit with a smart stand. Not much to see in the way of technology, but interesting anyway. The rep I spoke with first tried to convince me VISCorp had bought the Amiga months before. I relentlessly probed on nevertheless, and after he left me standing momentarily for some frantic communication with a seemingly higher manager type (to either conceal his ignorance, to negotiate how much he could tell, or both?) he came back to resolutely deny the rumour. The official line basically read: "We do not intend to acquire any new technology at this time, and will continue to push boxes". Which was just as well, as one of my nightmares was that old Commodore management, whom I've disfavourably encountered even during their better times around 1990, got hold of the Amiga again. Since Gateway stepped in this became immaterial anyway, and we might never know the truth.|
On to something entirely different. Since I was reporting for two magazines at
this time I had a little peek at what Apple was doing, one of the last great
bastions of resistance if you will. Their booth somehow made me think of IBM =)
The rest of it was quite nice though, especially one of the
affiliate companies' lady representative showing Softwindows (Insignia). She
indirectly agreed that M$ sucked and had no idea why anyone would want to emulate
W95 on a PowerMac <BG> (was it my charm, or my reassurances of my Amiga
origins? ;) ). The emulation looked OK though, and ran at a decent speed (on a
very decent PPC of course).
Next to NeXT, MacOS 7.6 and some nice speedy demos (sigh, I want my PowerUp..) Apple showed their top of the line Powerbook 3400, with a 240 MHz 603e, hot-swappable port for CD-ROM and the like, infrared port and other niceties. I talked to one of the reps present and asked him about ShapeShifter. He seemed to know about it, and, although excusing himself as being a third party developer and not officially speaking for Apple, said that Apple probably doesn't care about it, their market is somewhere else, especially since no 68k Macs are made anymore. A PPC version would probably not change much in that respect either, considering Apple is actually glad to have more clones and thus OS support/sales.
Some other highlights of the show included DVD storage (4.7 to 17 GB), the first
usable rewritable CD players, 17" LCD screens and probably 95% of the show that I
couldn't cover. Windows CE was not one of the highlights as far as I'm concerned,
but there was this positively HUGE mock-up of a 'palmtop', with several people
sitting on it :) Philips showed 'WebTV', an ARM (4000?) RISC powered gadget about
half the size of a VCR with IR keyboard and remote control. 2 MB of RAM, 33k6
'software' modem, smooth scrolling and with smart graphics/anti-aliased fonts it
looked very good to me. A whole lot better than their failed CD-I effort of the
year before, and as far as I can see no VISCorp ED can measure up against it,
most certainly not with a measly 020 in it.. I mailed some colleagues and surfed
to the AWD News page and hovered
as long as I could, trying to lock it on one of the AmigaQuake pages ;)
And what do you know? Just half an hour after I upload this report I hear that M$ is buying WebTV for $425 million.. They've got a good eye, have to give 'em that. An Evil one, but good nevertheless. Some people tell me they were not impressed by WebTV. After M$ fires up the 'ole marketing juggernaut they will probably sell their grandmothers for it anyway, if we see a pricedrop soon enough. Or it might fail just as miserably as MSN.. I didn't hold much truck with STBs until I saw WebTV. Too bad.
Also just heard that ED is probably not going to see the light of day due to VISCorp's management and policy change (not that it changes anything significant).
|The colourful Philips grounds||Some pictures to give you an idea of the size of this show. And then multiply it by 50.. About 610,000 visitors in about a week time..||Another year, another show..|
Famous last words: You could just as well read the closing part of my CeBIT '96 report, it's just that we are a year further down the line. Things are looking up again however, with Gateway 2000 as the new proprietor. Next CeBIT will probably be more interesting, with phase 5's A\Box and maybe an AmigaOS driven PIOS machine. Heck, we might see a real live PowerAmigaOS even. Oh, I went by train this year :)