Hello, Amiga!

Some of you will recognise the familiar look of Workbench in this photo (for the benefit of youngsters, that’s the operating system from the now obsolete Commodore Amiga computer, which was the machine to own in the early nineties). So, what are we looking at here? An Amiga emulator running on a PC, displayed through a TFT monitor? Au contraire, this is an actual Amiga running on a TFT monitor!

Those who have fond memories of this computer may remember how difficult it was to get it to work on a monitor. Most of us used them through our television sets. It was possible to buy a monitor adapter for the computer, but unfortunately many PC monitors didn’t feature the necessary hertz to show a picture. However, success could be obtained by attaching a device called a ScanDoubler to your Amiga’s monitor socket (bottom right of photo). Mind you, I’m talking about old CRT monitors here; try to hook up a modern TFT monitor, and you’re completely sunk. Nevertheless, with a little careful online research, I managed to find one (and only one) model of TFT that has the right range of hertz: the Eizo FlexScan.

So, what’s all this about, anyway? Well, when I move house shortly, I’m planning to have a Creativity Room – a place where I go to make things, whether it’s writing fiction or composing music, or whatever. This room needs to be free from distractions. That means no TV and especially no internet. The Amiga is the perfect computer for this purpose. I’m planning to have very little software on it. Just a word processor and a few music apps.

I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a few vintage synths from eBay, as an alternative to all these virtual synths you can buy for your PC – real knobs instead of virtual knobs; real analogue sounds instead of virtual analogue sounds. One of the most frustrating things about modern music-making on a PC or Mac is that you have to wade through hundreds of poorly made virtual instruments in order to find good ones for your songs. I think it would be a different experience using genuine vintage music hardware; memory was at a premium back then, and every instrument had to count. Anyway, this is still at the “thinking about it” stage. I need to get my new novel edited and published before I start diverting my attention to other things.

4 thoughts on “Hello, Amiga!

  1. PRAEst76

    What a bland looking workbench. I guess I got used to running UAE stuff with emulated Picasso card stuff.

    I remember the need for a multi-sync monitor. I had one that someone gave me but I never got it working and ended up using it for a PC. Then it made a funny smell one day and needed a trip to the woodshed.

    I think the idea of a “creativity room” is a great one. It’s something I’ve though of myself. I’m so horrifically easily distracted. Can be useful as looking upon it as going to work. during the time in there you aren’t available for other things. Sometimes the discipline is very useful.

  2. Darryl Sloan

    That’s exactly it. I could buy a second hand Picasso card, and other stuff, from eBay, but all I’d be doing is inviting distraction. At the moment the computer doesn’t even have a CD-ROM drive, and I don’t think I need one.

    No matter what I do to the Amiga, I’m never going to be able to do video or graphic design on it, but as a basic word processor and music sequencer, I think it’ll be perfect. The duller the better.

  3. Anonymous

    I never parted company with my Amiga, so handy for retro gaming & synth editing with a nifty program call apache. Still prefer using the Sequncer One Plus software to the complex all in one PC Studio’s.

    Long live Amiga Uses

  4. Darryl Sloan

    Bars&Pipes was my sequencer of choice on the Amiga, mostly because I could figure out how to use it. But I always found it a bit inadequate, especially for drums. I might hunt down a copy of Sequencer One on eBay.

    I know what you mean about the modern sequencers. Having too many knobs and sliders to fiddle with somehow diminishes my creativity. You spend more time tweaking parameters than you do composing.

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