By Tony Granata
"It has taken the rest of the industry 15 years to catch up to Amiga. Now they never will." That's the battle cry in the release of Amiga's first hardware in more than six years, the AmigaOne. Born in 1984 as a subsidiary of Commodore, the Amiga, a computer with what supportes caleld "superior technology" lost out to market leaders Microsoft, Apple and IBM. The Amiga team hopes its new initiative, the AmigaOne can return the company to its once fleeting glory of the mid-late 80's.
Amiga is hoping this new attempt to get market share will succeed, as the company has developed a new breed of operating system, The Digital Environment (DE) and signed its first partners, and the possibility of a community investment opportunity.
What Amiga is calling an AmigaOne specification was completed three months ago, and dubbed "Zico." "The Zico specification is our first-generation specification aimed at the desktop and workstation markets. It is a specification and not a product because Amiga is a software company, not a hardware manufacturer," states the this press release from the Web site. "The ability of the Amiga DE to host itself on multiple hardware and operating system platforms frees the Amiga from hardware dependency and gives our partners and our customers the freedom to chose the hardware that best suits their needs and tastes."
Companies who partner with Amiga must produce products that meet that minimum specification and also must undergo a rigorous quality and certification processes. Any partner implementing the Zico the certification processes is allowed to sell its product as an AmigaOne,. The Zico specification is as follows:
One AmigaDE friendly host processor (PPC, x86, Arm, SH4, MIPS)
Next Generation Matrox graphics card
Creative EMU10K1 based audio card
10 GB+ HD
10/100 Mbps Ethernet
2 Spare PCI slots for expandibility
The Digital Environment
Amiga with its partner The Tao Group, Inc., is developing a new breed of operating system that the companies say is "so radical and revolutionary" that it requires a new name: The Digital Environment (DE). It is a scalable, easy-to-use Digital Environment that will foster the creation of content and provide convenient, intuitive features and functions. "Tao has been talking for some time now about our developments to create Digital Heaven and we see Amiga and its community as a fundamental part of the new order that can make it happen and take an industry lead. With the sheer tenacity and the many qualities of McEwen and his Amiga team, the world is going to see Amiga as a Premier Brand for connected digital appliances," said Francis Charig Chairman of the Tao-Group.
Amiga's future lies chiefly in its software, in particular its new Amiga Digital Environment software, which can run as an operating system of its own or atop other operating systems, including Linux and Windows CE. Amiga's Digital Environment is a central part of the company's future business partnerships. It will run on everything from handheld computers to multiprocessor servers, Amiga president Bill McEwen said in a meeting in Australia last month. "We can run 100 processors on a box."
Amiga's Digital Environment software will also run on other CPUs, from Intel, to Hitachi
to MIPS, according to Amiga. "The ability of the Amiga Digital Environment to host itself on multiple hardware and operating system platforms frees us from hardware dependency and gives our customers the freedom to choose the hardware that best suits their needs and tastes," McEwen said.
Features of The Digital Environment include: "Write Once - Run Everywhere"- The new Amiga is being designed to present developers with unprecedented options and flexibility. Scalability - The new Amiga DE is less than 5 megabytes and can fit on a cell phone and scale up to multi-processor servers. Content Creation Through Software Development - The new Amiga is 100% binary compatible across all platforms supported. This means that an application can truly be written one time and can operate in hosted environments (running on top of or through another OS) such as Windows, Windows NT, Linux, Windows CE, Palm, Epoc, OS/9, iTron, QNX, VXWorks, and others. Amiga developers are able to use Java, C, C++, or Amiga VP Assembler in creating their applications.
The Amiga Software Development Kit (SDK) 1.01 is the first step to creating applications that are indifferent to the underlying hardware or software platform and is available for Linux or Microsoft Windows. You can order the software at http://www.amiga.com/products/SDK.shtml.
Amiga's first, and main, partner company is The Eyetech Group Ltd, of Stokesley, U.K.The Eyetech Group Ltd. already has an excellent reputation in the Amiga community. They have done much to keep the classic Amiga alive during the last five years, and Amiga feel that in the creation
of the first new Amiga machines and the transitioning from the classic to the next wave, that experience will prove invaluable.
Alan Redhouse, Managing Director of UK-based Eyetech commented: "I am delighted that Eyetech has been chosen as Amiga's partner to help UK companies and individuals take advantage of porting and developing applications under the new Amiga Operating Environment. We will of course continue to service and support Classic Amiga users Worldwide".
Fleecy Moss, Chief Technology Officer, Amiga Inc added: "After talks with the hardware development staff of several companies I am convinced that working with Eyetech will allow us to offer an elegant solution that gives both an excellent level of backward compatibility and a powerful basis for the new Amiga Digital Environment. Top of our requirements list was to ensure that those Amigans who have spent considerable money in staying with the Amiga would not be left out in the cold. Whilst you can't please all of the people all of the time, we think we have come up with a set of products and solutions that will put a smile on as many faces as possible."
Products developed through this partnership include:
The AmigaOne PPC 1200 - a solution that allows Classic Amiga users to bring their existing classic A1200 into the future, while also giving them the benefits of the Amiga Digital Environment
The AmigaOne PPC 4000 - a solution that gives Classic Amiga users a route to the Amiga Digital Environment for the classic A4000
Further Amiga strategic partnerships and relationships can be found at the companies Press Release page. A short list of these companies include Red Hat, Infomedia, and Matrox.
Bringing it all together
With a new product, a new breed of operating system, The Digital Environment, and established partnerships with companies like Eyetech, Amiga seems to be on the right path towards success. One last caveat the company is considering, community investment.
In a recent Executive Update McEwen said he's considering selling shares in the company, potentially letting outside investors own as much as 10 percent of the company stock. "We are looking for no less than $250 per investment," McEwen said. "If you are interested, please send an email message along with the dollar amount that you would be interested in investing."
For more information on the AmigaOne, its products, partnerships, or investment opportunities, visit the company website.