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The Questionable Years

In 1994 the Amiga was on the verge of yet another step in its evolution with faster processors, the Triple-A (AAA) chipset, a revised Operating System to take advantage of new technologies, and a very enthusiastic development team keen to deliver what the Amiga fraternity had been waiting for, when Commodore went belly-up and all the hopes of the Amiga's developers and many thousands of Amiga users faded away. Commodore's management figured they had milked the Amiga cow for all they could get and decided to take their money and run back to theBahamas.

After a wait of nearly two years, and much legal wrangling, the technology was eventually sold in 1995 to Escom, a German company that manufactured the Commodore PCs which were fairly popular in Europe, and who were busy expanding on all fronts. At one stage they bought several chains of stores throughout the UK to consolidate their presence, but all they succeeded in doing was follow Commodore into financial difficulties. As for the Amiga, there was a lot said and even more promised, but there was very little action, although a prototype machine called "The Mind Walker" was conceived for them by Frog Design. Bits and pieces were sold off including rights to sell the operating system.

On Escom's collapse it was Viscorp's turn to try and kill the Amiga, and they nearly succeeded as they procrastinated about what they could or couldn't do, and what they would or wouldn't do it. Talk about a farce. Thanks guys, it was nice of you to eventually leave the scene, even if it was only for a short time, but that's another story.

When the Amiga technology was bought by Gateway in 1997, the picture was very confused, and a lot of time was again spent with the lawyers trying to unravel the legal mess, some of which dated back to the days of Commodore. New A1200's could be manufactured, but A4000's were limited by an agreement signed between Escom and Quik Pak.

Meanwhile Phase 5 continued their development of PowerPC-based accelerators and these were released in October 1997. For the A1200 there was the Blizzard PPC, that slotted into the A1200 trapdoor, and for the A2000 & A4000 there was the Cyberstorm PPC that was attached via the CPU slot. Phase 5 also offered new graphics solutions with enhanced performance using the PerMedia 2 chipset, rather than the S3 used on earlier CyberVision cards.

In 1998, Amiga Inc based in Germany and Amiga based in America finally began to move in a new direction, led by Amiga representatives such as Petro Tyschenko, Jeff Schindler, Darrick Lisle, Bill McEwen and Fleecy Moss, but is was not until late in 1998 that Gateway really started to look like as though they were taking the Amiga seriously. Jim Collas, a Gateway executive was appointed as President of Amiga, and a number of key position announcements were made and staff recruited for new premises in San Diego and San Jose.

By mid 1999, the promises had stopped coming and key people were being fired. By the end of 1999 the Amiga looked headed for the bin - it seemed that all Gateway wanted were a few key patents that came with the Amiga and little else. Since then Gateway have experienced a downturn in their business, closing their NZ operation in the process, and going into battle with Microsoft (not recommended!).

And then in January 2000, along came Amino, in the shape of Bill McEwen, Fleecy Moss and Petro Tyschenko to buy what they could from Gateway for US$5 million and try again. To quote Craig Delahoy, another Amiga fanatic, "This time the lunatics are in charge of the asylum  - or to put it more politely, the Amigaphiles are in charge of the Amiga". They quickly came to an agreement with Tao Corporation and other agreements were promised. Amino became Amiga Inc, but information was scant, and despite the fact that progress was being made, little news was forthcoming. Every so often progress statements were made, people driving the project came and went, but not enough to stop people leaving the Amiga community.

In desperation Amiga Inc formed a club "I Am Amiga" which anyone could join for $US50, that would later entitle them to the same amount off the cost of a new Amiga or OS4.0. Finally, in November 2002, after months of postponements and media wrestling between the various participants, a new Amiga was sort of announced. Rather than new computers, they would just be motherboards, they would ship before Christmas, the new OS would ship sometime in the next few months, but new software failed to get a mention. (Incidentally, those who joined "I Am Amiga" had to wait until late 2004 to see something for their $50 - a T-Shirt.)

Finally in 2001, Amiga Inc. licensed the development of AmigaOS 4.0 to AmigaOne Partners, collectively Hyperion VOF and Eyetech Group Ltd. Amiga Inc agreed to license the name "AmigaOne" to Eyetech who had an option on a developer board from Mai that could be used to form the basis of a new Amiga computer based on the Power PC chip. As a consequence Eyetech ordered a number of motherboards which were made available to developers to convert the Amiga Operatings system and make a working computer, but in the meantime the machine could be used to run Linux. And so began the next era of the Amiga's evolution - the AmigaOne.


Copyright 2005 Amiga Auckland Inc. All rights reserved.
Revised: September 25, 2005.