I still have a big soft spot in my heart for my old Amigas. I’ve not used them in ages, but I still own my Amiga 1000, 3000, and 1200 (though I can’t locate the 1200 at the moment) and I have my buddy Karl’s old A500. My hope is to get my hands on a network card for the A3000 and get it running on the Internet someday.
Commodore has been dead for quite some time now and the Amiga assets have been sold and resold numerous times since then. That’s why hearing that a new version of the AmigaOS has just been released is so amazing. The folks over at ArsTechnica got their hands on it and have written up a review that makes me long for breaking out my old Amigas. Oddly enough the new OS wouldn’t run on any of the current hardware that I own as it’s aimed at the PowerPC based machines that were developed by Amiga Inc. and some partner companies long after Commodore went belly up and even that hardware isn’t being produced any longer. This poses an obvious question: Why is a company out there still producing this OS when the hardware for it isn’t even available anymore? Ars attempts to answer that question:
One might ask, and many people do, why anyone would bother putting so much effort into continuing AmigaOS when Windows, OS X, and Linux are already available and well-entrenched? Such a question betrays a lack of imagination about the computer industry and assumes that nobody will ever be interested in alternative platforms. The continued existence of OS X and Linux shows this to be an incorrect assumption.
[…] At the moment AmigaOS is still tied to the PowerPC, but that is not necessarily a bad thing: there is still a market (albeit a small one) of geeks who would be interested in a non-Intel platform, and the PPC continues to be developed in the embedded market. Embedded hardware is designed to be inexpensive to manufacture, and this allows products such as Genesi’s $99 Efika, a tiny motherboard and CPU combination that currently runs the work-alike AmigaOS clone MorphOS, but could easily be made to run OS 4.1. The PlayStation 3, PowerPC Macintoshes, and mobile devices are also viable OS 4.1 targets. A Hyperion developer told me that not only has the OS been run on a PS3, but they have even tested support for the seven SPU units in the Cell processor.
The thought of having an AmigaOS running on a PS3 provokes a Pavlovian reaction in me. I would have to save up enough money to purchase a second PS3 just to run AmigaOS on. As it stands there’s the potential for more hardware to be produced coming down the pike and the Amiga fan base, while not as large as it once was, is still very devoted. The new features in AmigaOS 4.1 is definitely impressive considering the small market it has. Who knows? Maybe it’ll make a comeback some day.