World of Amiga '97 - London report
This is a report of my visit to the second largest Amiga fair on earth, the World of Amiga show in London, May 16-17 1997. This show marked the first appearance of Gateway 2000, the new owners of Amiga International. I do not know the exact number of visitors, but it was about one third to one half in surface space of the Cologne, Germany show (Nov. '96). It was well packed, reminded me of the late eighties German Amiga shows in attendance, which can only be typefied as miraculous. Excellent for a 'dead' platform and a testimony to how much interest there still is in the Amiga. WoA Logo

Below are some thumbnails you can click on to see the full pictures. I have chosen for good quality against reasonable size/compression (and against my photography =). The originals are better, if you want these pictures for a magazine, don't hesitate to contact me (address obscured to thwart spambots, replace at with @ and remove the capitalized word).

 Friday, May 15th - PR time

The enchanted Friday, G-day. The show hasn't begun yet, but a large number of Amiga enthusiasts already made their way to the Salon Bourg room in the Novotel, Hammersmith, London, to hear the new owners of Amiga speak, hopefully about the wonderful new future plans they surely must have forged already. Yours truly decided to attend this no doubt historic event and after consulting his IRC cronies decided that London was a swim too far, and should be taken by Eurotunnel. Unfortunately, two hours of sleep didn't prove to be enough and the reserved seat was missed. Although all teleport pads were taken for the afternoon, a planeticket could thankfully still be procured on time. The conference was hosted by Dr. Jim Taylor, vice-president of Marketing, Gateway 2000 and Petro Tyschtschenko of the rechristened Amiga International. As expected, no earthshattering plans or demonic devices were revealed, the respective PR's: AI, Gateway.

As a great fan of behavioural sciences and general skeptic of hype I was much Dr. JT speaks more interested in the conviction with which these matters were presented and the reaction of the public present. Dr. Jim Taylor gave me the first impression of an experienced businessman, confident, smooth, charismatic, some would say arrogant. I couldn't detect any dead eye syndrome though and his longer than usual hairstyle surely must be a good sign :) He presented the subject matter with some humour and apparent conviction, thanking "you the Amiga enthusiasts, who made it all possible". Gateway's businessplan revolves around consumer satisfaction and his calculatingly inspired speech would have given a less hardened audience the totally warm fuzzies, I'm sure. My overall feelings were a mixture of weariness and of moderate elation. This man is, although a suit, obviously knowing what he does and doesn't bullshit about much. Transposed to the entire Gateway organization that could mean expediency in reviving the Amiga, but also no remorse at liquidation or at least rolling of heads if things don't proceed according to plan soon enough. The question round was kept short, and stupid/repeated questions quickly dealt with.

Next came Petro Tyschtschenko, president of Amiga International. In many PT and JT (no link) respects the opposite of Dr. JT, with his lisp and German accent, soft spoken and lacking any sign of charisma he reminded me mainly of a vicar. At one point making a vague promise of something by November. November is in itself a good date if AI can present actual product, licensed OS development or otherwise to the German public in Cologne, and be in time for the christmas season. This does not preclude any announcements before then of course. The most important points made were IMHO 'broad licensing' and 'cooperation'. It remains to be seen whether this will result in a source license to PIOS or a hardware cooperation with phase 5 for example. Although talks with PIOS and phase 5 employees present suggested no clear movement in this direction, I remain hopeful. After all, and this was the general undertone of the entire press conference: "give us room, it's much too early to say".

 Saturday, May 16th - Showtime

The grounds

The show grounds. Busy busy busy. All around me I saw people carrying all kinds of accelerators, CD-ROM drives, harddisks and miscellaneous other upgrades. The stack of A1200's one of the exhibitors had didn't seem to get significantly smaller during the day, but other exhibitors were doing good business it seemed, mainly selling software (upgrades), add-ons and whatnot. This indicates what we already knew: very little new Amiga blood, but a lot of enthusiasts holding on. I picked up a black Wizard 3 button mouse and the Magellan upgrade, a.k.a. Directory Opus 5.6. My need for an Ethernet card seemed to be satisfied by Blittersoft, but their Ariadne was priced far too high. Little success in haggling and the fact that I got the usual obnoxious story about how much code ShapeShifter stole from Fusion (which incidentally just said 'Emplant Macintosh Pro' in its window and wonder of wonders, didn't have anything installed that could be run to test..) made me decide against supporting them. The following week I ordered the same card from Germany for a great deal less money as well.


Paul Nolan showed off his Siamese RTG system on the Amiga International booth, a Windows 95 machine running multiple Amiga Workbench screens in separate windows. Extremely smooth solid window dragging using DOpus and a number of various other packages portrayed the power of this approach. HiQ and PIOS have agreed to release a version running under BeOS on the PIOS One, which should make an interesting combination. Speaking of the PIOS One: The PIOS booth was a bit Spartan and only had a working Keenya prototype running MacOS; the TransAm machine present still refused to work due to some hardware problems, which were thought to be resolved in the very near future. Dr. Kittel was present and spread the word to anyone who cared to listen. On two modest sheets of paper PIOS announced they were looking for some new employees. I didn't pay much attention due to the requested locations (US and Germany).


p5 and CU

phase 5 and CU Amiga shared a booth, phase 5 showing their PowerUp cards. The A4000 tower had one of the developer boards installed, release imminent. It showed a Workbench with some windows and a full WB backdrop playing an MPEG on the PPC, it looked really amazing, giving an inkling of the power available to software that uses the PPC. At the same time a mandelbrot demo ran on the 68060 in a window. According to p5 the software is not quite finished yet, there is still some work to do on properly multitasking the different CPUs, this was apparent in the way the MPEG jerked when the mandelbrot was clicked on. After some talks with Gerald Carda my impression was that phase 5 don't really know what is going to happen next, they might as well scrap the A\Box. They are open for cooperation with AI, and IMHO desperate for it, since their A\Box basically has no future without OS support, which is not their strength. If PIOS gets an CyberFM OS license they don't stand a chance of making it as suppliers of the 'new Amiga', and surely their plans are calling for more than suppliers of third party add-ons. In the long-term supplying proprietary solutions is a lost battle as the Amiga moves towards industry standard parts, PCI and suchlike. Nevertheless I like their attitude, not caring about waiting for something to happen and do their own thing if need be.

As a parting shot I sneaked up on Mr. CyberGraphX himself and in a flash aimed my camera at him, hoping to get the first ever snapshot of King Frank :) Alas, his mighty cloaking device kicked in just as I zoomed in on him and dashed my hopes of making a fortune selling his portrait to the tabloids =) After many hours of belaboured image processing and compositing the various radar and infrared spectra his fading aura emanated I managed to come up with the mugshot as you see it on the right <G>

Suzanne A600

Suzanne A600 On the CU booth Mat Bettinson and Neil Bothwick were frantically labouring to get the webcam online, get TFX to run on the A1200 present and intermittently type some lines like 'busy busy' in the IRC window running on 'Bitch'. The never released Ocean conversion of TFX ran quite nicely on the 030 supported 1200, a shame it didn't make it through the marketing department. If it runs on 040/060 it should make a very nice game indeed, hopefully we will see Gateway putting some weight behind this kind of thing. The most interesting thing though was somewhat ignored by the public, a real live portable Amiga 600 called 'Suzanne' with LCD screen and built-in CD-ROM drive running DOpus. This is not a PAWS luggable, but a DIY job by a single enthusiast. I don't know how many people are waiting to shell out a no doubt sizeable chunk of money for A600 class technology, but it was nevertheless an interesting item. Looked quite professional too. One of the next CU Amiga issues will feature an in depth review of this baby. Speaking of babies: a 7 year old kid with an amazing knowledge of the Amiga playing with this machine proved there is already another Amiga generation in the making =)


Sometimes Virtual Reality intrudes on Real Life instead of the other way around, in this case a small IRCnet #amiga (a.k.a. (ex-)EFnet Euro side) gathering, with 'Dr Ash' holding a makeshift sign grinning maniacally into my camera :) Others present, passing by or doing various other things elsewhere, like selling product, consisted of 'manatee', 'Flabio', 'Slimmy', 'worms' (Andy Davidson), 'PaulN' (Paul Nolan of Siamese fame), 'RexOrient' (Alain Penders showing off WebCruiser and selling Christopher Aldi's New York newsreader amongst others), 'Fingers' (Mat Bettinson/CU Amiga), 'cyfm' (Frank Mariak), 'Babbage' and I'm sure countless others I missed.

 Saturday, May 16th - Developer Conference

IRC relay

The scheduled 17:30 GMT 'developers conference' started off with a slight delay while the live IRC link was established. Kermit Woodall lead the discussion, the room was provided by members of AmigaSOC. On the overhead projector a guideline programme served as a topical map for the conference. Most important points were the Amiga Developer Network's site where developer info is supposed to be pooled and where developers can post their own developer kits for interested parties, third party driver details etc.

Despite some interesting discussion IMHO nothing really interesting got actually done, most people were concerned with their own corner of the market or discussing off-topic things. Some constructive discussion of getting third parties to release developer documentation on their products, like TWAIN, printers etc., how to make other parties like NewTek and Adobe come (back) to the Amiga etc. The JMS/Industry Council Open Amiga Iniative got some room to tell about their objectives, apparently Gateway has responded positively to their effort. The discussion was led by Kermit Woodall, in places turning chaotic due to just about the (figuratively) entire (disgruntled) Team 17 making their presence known :) Andy Davidson voiced his frustration with the way the Amiga market has been developing (i.e. not) in the past years, and his apprehension with Gateway/AI not saying anything significant in their PR the day before. He invited Petro T. (who was sitting in the back of the room, which in itself is a good sign) to speak about these things, even if briefly. Even though I agreed with his feelings, it was not the time for this, however unfortunate it may have been that he could not attend the day before and air his heart then. The ensuing discussions stifled any sensible progress and most points on the overhead sheet were skipped. Lots of people were in argument amongst themselves, disrupting the conference (there was no PA this day), until Dr. Greg Perry (of DOpus fame) spoke up and basically told them to shut up or bugger off, including the AI team in the back <BG>

The ICOA manifesto can be read here.

Shortly: interesting in places but not a giant leap for Amigakind. Don Hicks of Amazing Computing shot the conference on video. 'Dr Ash' was relaying stuff to IRC; nearing the end of the conference Carl Sassenrath appeared on the channel, but most people left as it was nearing eight and everybody was starving. At least I was :) The second night the room at the youth hostel didn't get overbooked and no Oz girls were keeping me awake, so I made the Thalys/Eurostar on time for a safe journey homeward =)

Copyright © 1997 - Thomas Tavoly - aTmosh(at) (address obscured, see above)

 Reactions to this report

After posting this report I received an E-mail from Kermit Woodall, included here. New insights and comments such as these are always welcome. For the record: I never intended to convey the impression the meeting on Saturday was a complete waste of time, on the contrary.

Date: Mon, 02 Jun 1997 22:12:30 -0400
From: Kermit Woodall 
Subject: WOA Report


Thanks for your well written report on the WOA, Press Conference,
and Developers Meeting.  I especially enjoyed the 'moment of time'
picture of Ash, Andy and myself staring at the IRC connection on 
the Amiga.  :)

I will take issue that 'nothing really interesting got actually done'
at the developer's meeting.  What was overlooked by many is that this
meeting, unlike a DevCon, isn't designed to actually conclude with
any great statements.  It's designed to provide a forum for developers
to meet and exchange thoughts that AREN'T always getting exchanged
in any other forum.  Towards that goal it still succeeded despite the
bit of chaos we had.  I'm almost more convinced that these meetings
need to become more social in the future to encourage more discussion
in a less authoritarian environment.

Thanks again for your report!!
Kermit Woodall                                            Live Faust
Nova Design, Inc.                                           Die Jung                         Leave it to Beaver

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