"Classics" - Yesteryear's Reviews and Tutorials (1992 - 1994)-- by Thomas Theuerkorn
R.I.P. - Commodore Amiga 3000
I joined the German computer magazine "AmigaSpecial" as a freelance writer in 1991. This hobbyist level monthly circulation covered Commodore's Amiga system -- a niche computer that started out as a phenomenal graphics workstation in 1985 and pretty much ended 1995 with a tarnished image and a bankrupt Commodore. The reasons may be many, but the main fault lays in the company's neglect of major innovation and restrictive licensing. Consequentially, the initially progressive technology more and more stagnated and watched others passing by. The support by important software houses dropped (or never was) and eventually eliminated the Amiga computer system from the market. The Amiga offered innovative features like custom processors (sound & video), a 32bit CPU, true pre-emptive multitasking, graphical user interface (GUI) and autoconfig (plug&play). The PC offered at the same time a mere 16bit, 256 colors and an embarrassing beeper. It took many more years to introduce those features to the DOS world (where Windows 1.x was a terribly bad attempt to copy the GUI of the more advanced Macintosh or even Amiga). Initially a graphics workstation, the Amiga was home to many CG icons like Caligari, Imagine, Maxon's Cinema4D and Newtek's Lightwave3D. EA's DeluxePaint IV dazzled early on with the Amiga's unique ability to display 4096 different colors -- an amazing feature for any computer in the early nineties. Newtek's Video Toaster found widespread use in video studios.
The samples below show only a few articles I provided to AmigaSpecial (a publisher that shares Commodore's fate). Please note that I not only wrote the articles, but also created the graphics (all CG design as well as illustrations). The layout was done by the magazine editors. Not only did it help to get some cash during my studies, it also helped a great deal to further my hobby -- the computer. There is no other like the "girl friend" -- a.k.a. "Amiga" -- though my current system sports over 400x the processor speed and memory, with 3D graphics that I wouldn't have dreamed of when I got my A3000 in 1991. (At this point in time, this passion is only documented in German, despite the Spanish name and the American heritage.)
All samples can be downloaded as PDF files (click on picture), but please observe general copyright laws.
[Feb.-Apr. 1994] In conjunction with my book "Final Writer - Das Paxisbuch fuer Einsteiger und Fortgeschrittene", a tutorial was published to show the DTP qualities of the Amiga's favorite word processing software FinalWriter. Some instructions were cumbersome workarounds to cope with the lack of a formula editor and a table module. The layout functions, on the other hand, allowed designs that would have been a daunting task even with the PC champions MS Word or WordPerfect at the time.
The book (Buch) is not available anymore and unfortunately my copy somehow disappeared too. From today's perspective it also may not hold up to the standards anymore that I am setting for myself.
[Jun.-Sep. 1993] Probably my most extensive tutorial from 1993, I showed the possibility to use the Amiga for projects that were at the time left to workstations and often IBM PC. This course showed over three chapters the existing software the Amiga had to offer and then used a mid-range program to design the pcb for a midi interface (the Amiga was lacking).
Part two and three are more hands-on and describe the routing and transfer to an actual pcb material and eventually create the printed circuit board with easily available methods and tools. I discuss possible problems in the making of the fully populated board like proper soldering and routing problems caused by improper etching.
[Oct. 1993] This report was written to highlight another traditional problem area of the Amiga. CAD applications were mostly hindered by the interlaced hires display modes of the Amiga, which caused dramatic eye strain unless one invested in an expensive graphics card. Those became available in the mid 90s but too little support and overall too late compared to PCs. Nevertheless, the Amiga still had a few good programs to offer and was quite capable to support my 2D work during my studies (mechanical engineering). In 1994, I professionally switched to 3D design using PTC Pro/Engineer (v12) on a Unix station, but for many uses the Amiga 3000 still kept me company until 1995 for creating drawings.
[Jun. 1992] The release of DynaCADD 2.04 sparked new hopes of a professional future for the Amiga ("Eine neue Dynastie"). The highly anticipated DynaCADD/3 never showed.
[Cover Art] As time progressed, my computer graphics made it more often to the cover. Keep in mind that this was done more than a decade ago, with hardware (Amiga 3000) that wouldn't even run today's bloated operating systems anymore (provided they were compatible). It was also common to sent material via 3.5" floppy disk to the publisher.
Rendering times frequently reached up to 5 hours when using the ray tracing algorithm for a picture that was "only" 700 by 500 pixels on average. (Preferred software: Imagine 2.0) Of course at the same time a 25 MHz CPU was a lot and so were four or even eight MegaByte of RAM. (My first hard drive measured a whopping 40 MByte, and used a SCSI interface!)
Note: Most files require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher. Hover over thumbnail for file size (1 - 2.2 MByte / ea.).