A history of the Amiga, part 12: Red vs. Blue

Jeremy Reimer

The year 2000, which once seemed so impossibly futuristic, had finally arrived. Bill McEwen, president of the Amiga that is new Inc. celebrated with a press launch telling the entire world why he previously purchased the subsidiary from Gateway Computers.

“Gateway purchased Amiga because of Patents; we purchased Amiga because of the People.” it had been a statement that is bold the first of many that would come from the fledgling company. Amiga Inc. now owned the name, trademark, logos, all inventory that is existingthere have been nevertheless several Escom-era A1200s and A4000s left), the Amiga OS, and a permanent permit to any or all Amiga-related patents. That they had additionally inherited Jim Collas’ desire a revolutionary Amiga that is new device but none of the talent and resources that Gateway had been able to bring to bear.

“Gateway purchased Amiga because of Patents; we purchased Amiga because of the People.”

To chase this dream, Amiga Inc. would have to look elsewhere. McEwen thought he had found the answer in an obscure technology startup that is british. It was the Tao Group, began by Francis Charig, a UK businessman, and Chris Hinsley, a Atari that is talented and games programmer who wrote in assembler.

The Tao Group's TAOS operating system, running on Windows.
Enlarge / The Tao Group’s TAOS system that is operating operating on Windows.

The Tao Group and Amiga Anywhere

Tao had developed an item that has been therefore revolutionary that couple of individuals comprehended exactly what it really ended up being. Taos ended up being an operating system that has been coded in VP1, an assembly that is advanced that used instructions for an imaginary, idealized RISC CPU. When Taos programs were loaded into memory, the system translated the VP1 opcodes into the ones that are equivalent whatever Central Processing Unit it simply happened become operating on. Taos could run using an x86, a MIPS, a PowerPC, or a transputer, and lots of more—or also various combinations operating within time that is same. Because VP1 instructions were more compact than most CPU’s opcodes that are native Taos programs would frequently load and run quicker than indigenous people, even though you included the full time it took doing the interpretation. Taos ended up being a bit that is little magic.

As cool as it was, Taos had a time that is hard purchasers available on the market. And so the team doubled down and included features that are new make it more attractive. The people at Taos wrote a user that is graphical and help for multimedia. They had written a Java machine that is virtualJVM) so that users wouldn’t have to write applications in VP1 assembler. There was money that is little JVMs, but there was clearly market for full-fledged os’s that went on a little number of resources, could run using various CPUs, and supported Java applications. It was the world that is burgeoning of digital assistants (PDAs).

PDAs were all the rage in the‘ that is late*******************************************************************************************************************************************************)s and very early 2000s. Nearly yet smart phones, these were devices that are pocketable could keep track of your appointments, record notes, and sometimes take pictures. Palm was the player that is biggest inside area, but a great amount of others desired in regarding action.

Bill McEwen saw the chance to be in on the floor flooring of a market that is new and he licensed the full stack of Tao Group’s technology. He called it the “Amiga Digital Environment” or AmigaDE, on Windows and a whole host of incompatible PDAs with different CPU architectures although it would be later branded as “Amiga Anywhere.” McEwen even made an appearance on TechTV with Leo Laporte to demonstrate how you could take a single SD card with an Amiga Anywhere-branded 2D shooter game and run it. It absolutely was an demo that is impressive but what it had to do with the Amiga wasn’t clear exactly.

Amiga Inc. also announced a deal with Hyperion Entertainment—a company that ported older games to Linux, Macintosh, and Amiga systems—to convert its games to the AmigaDE.

Bill McEwen tries to bring the Amiga back.

The split begins

The remaining Amiga community reacted to these announcements with confusion. Amiga Inc. made a promise that is vague old pc software would run using the AmigaDE through emulation, but this didn’t offer a bridge for those who have current equipment.

To mollify town, Amiga Inc. announced a partnership with Haage & Partner to create a version that is new of that would run the AmigaDE environment. WarpOS wasn’t really an OS at all, but a PowerPC library that sped up certain Amiga programs on PPC accelerator cards. It was a replacement for PowerUP, the library that shipped with Phase5’s PPC accelerators. The divide between WarpOS and PowerUP had been contentious in the past, before both sides had agreed to an truce that is uneasy. Now, the phase ended up being set because of this rivalry that is old split the Amiga community in two.


It was a time that is heady and also the dotcom mania attracted both genuine and questionable investors. An example associated with latter ended up being Ryan Czerwinski, whom advertised become 40 years of age, a Ph.D., and also the elected president of Merlancia Industries. He arranged meetings with Amiga Inc. and even hired Commodore that is legendary engineer Haynie to the office on brand new Amiga PowerPC equipment. It proved in final end that Czerwinski was a teenager living with his mother, and Merlancia was just a bunch of ideas in his head. Haynie, who was now owed $55,000 for his consulting work, was left scarred by the experience. After the failed PIOS startup and now the Merlancia debacle, his heart was broken. He would never work on Amiga-related technologies again.


In October of 2000, Haage & Partner released the version that is final of classic Amiga os, AmigaOS 3.9. Into the month that is same Petro Tyschtschenko announced his retirement and the closing of his office in Germany. All the Escom that is old A and A4000s had been finally gone. It absolutely was the final end of an era.

Also vanishing by this point was the PowerPC accelerator company Phase 5, which had gone into bankruptcy. But some of the former employees of Phase 5 formed a company that is new bPlan and partnered with a software business called Thendic. Thendic ended up being run by Bill Buck, previously of VIScorp, who’d aided spend the salaries of Amiga Technologies workers through the Escom bankruptcy. bPlan and Thendic surely got to focus on a dream they’d been imagining since 1995—a completely PowerPC-based Amiga with a native Amiga os.

Some associated with pieces had been currently here. The PowerUP collection, for starters, but there was clearly additionally the Picasso images collection that supported display that is non-Amiga, a new file system called SFS, and other components from the open-source Amiga Replacement OS (AROS) project. All it really needed was a microkernel that is new so when Ralph Schmidt had written one called Quark, the old PowerUP system had finally morphed into the full os in unique right. Hence it became dubbed “MorphOS.”

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