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1993 World of Commodore
Greg Scott firstname.lastname@example.org
[Greg and I thought it would be interesting to get some historical
perception on this year's WOA Toronto, compared to the last one Commodore
put on in 1993. -Jason]
Here's a review I did of the last WORLD OF COMMODORE in Toronto 1993.
I was working for a dealer in my city (London) called MusicMart at the
time and I did the review for our local user group. I was walking around
with the new (at the time) Sharp ViewCAM's (the ones with the 4" LCD
screen colour screen as your viewfinder) and everyone though it was neat.
I hit the World Of Commodore Amiga show on the last day (the Sunday) armed
with my Sharp ViewCAM VL-E40 (on sale for $1779 at MusicMart!) and came up
with some pseudo interviews with the demonstrators there. Here is my
The almighty British Magazine Distributors were there showing off all their
latest imports. One side of their display was games, and they other side
was productivity. Many new and interesting titles are coming this way for
AGA Amigas and look very promising in game play. I interviewed a
representative from the UK division of MindScape and asked him how things
are looking in the gamers market. Read this at the end. Oh yes, Mortal
Monday shall arrive soon on the Amiga platform.
Brilliance, A-Max 4, Vidi Digitzers and a few other things were highlighted
on the productivity side. I did not spend much time there as it was kind
of busy, and I wanted to hit some of the more interesting people. (besides
I was negotiating getting an Alien Breed II poster)
The colour output I saw coming off the new Fargo Primera Colour Printer
looked almost as good as the girls showing it off. It uses a wax-thermal
transfer to make up colour on the page, AND it's upgradable to a
dye-sublimation process that uses clay-impregnated paper to give an even
better output. It only does 203 dots per inch, but the pictures I saw
looked like photographs. Cost per copy is about $0.45 for wax and $2.79
for dye-sublimation. They were unable to comment on what this would
translate into Canadian funds, but the printer itself would sell for about
$1500 with the dye-sublimation kit. Quite a bargain for the colour
quality. Another nice feature is the fact that it comes with drivers for
the Amiga. It got the cover of January's issue of Amazing Computing.
Lotsa people from London there.
I talked to this weeks editor of Amiga World, Tim Walsh, and first thing I
asked was why the change to the terrible binding. He faintly replied with
"Not my department". A nicer and more helpful lady, Lisa Jaillet, who does
Desktop Video World explained that since Amiga World dipped down to under
85 pages during the summer, that they had to go with the different binding.
Well, I reminded her that this was no longer summer and she just smiled and
asked to play with the camera. After about a 5 minute sales pitch on the
camera I also told Lisa about the British invasion of Amiga magazines.
Surprisingly she knew nothing about them. I explained the possibility of
bad reviews whether or not they advertised in the magazine, and got another
smile and received a large shopping bag with 2 complentary issues of Amiga
World and the current Desktop Video World. Tim was still sitting there,
patentiently reading a magazine and waiting for the show to end.
I saw Emplant. That was about it. I wanted to talk to Jim Drew and see if
he's the same sort of asshole he is on the nets, but he was too busy
entertaining people with System 7. I did look for the chick that
accompanies the ads, she was no where to be found. Oh well.
Next door to Emplant was a dealer selling CD32... $485 show price. Wow.
Expect it to be regularly sold for just over $500.
The Video Toaster 4000 was shown off at a big booth with lots of room for
an audience. It was demonstrated by some frenchies with a Jean Cretien
accent. Kinda funny to listen to. There were some great scenes from
upcoming Babylon 5 and SeaQuest DSV shows.
ASIMWare Innovations was showing off both AsimVTR and ASIM-CDFS. AsimVTR
was playing back an animation with scenes from a movie. DCTV was used to
give a nice colour output along with a fast Maxtor hard-drive and a 4000
and 4091 SCSI-II interface. No other hardware was used to play back the 50
frames per second animation. Very impressive to watch. Paul Reeves the
programmer says it will do 30 frames per second on an unaccelerated Amiga
2000. And ASIM-CDFS is a CD-ROM filing system for your Amiga and CD-ROM
drive. It's needed to properly read CD-ROM discs on your Amiga. It also
comes with an audio CD playing program and if your drive is capable, a
Know where the name ASIM came from? Took a bit to get it out of him, but
Paul is a student at McMaster University in Hamilton. ASIM is the last
name of his favourite professor.
Touring around Commodore's booth I saw many A1200's, some 4000's, some
3000's, even a CDTV. Most prevelant was a Video Toaster editing suite. I
even saw some Commodore employees!
CD32 was everywhere. It was playing games, playing audio CD's, and playing
movies. Yes, movies. Movies are now coming on regular 5 inch CD discs.
They are MPEG compressed on the disc and played back through a compatable
Full Motion Video player. CD32 just happens to be one of these with the
FMV option. There is great potential for this as all the game playing kids
can also watch movies. It's also on CD, so it'll last longer, be cheaper
to produce, randomly accessable, and you will not have to rewind it when
you return it to the rental store. It was playing Star Trek 9 (?) The
Undiscovered Country, and it looked incredible. There were a few pixelized
chunks here and there, but only if you looked hard.
When I was looking at CD32 I talked with Carolyn Scheppner, Technical
Director for Amiga Technical Support. I asked her odd questions such as
'Just how big is the West Chester building, and is it really big enough to
drive your car around in the halls ?' and 'What kind of guy really is Dave
Haynie?' and finally, 'How do you say Lew's last name?' I got in reply,
'Yes it's very large down there.', 'Oh he's a fun guy.' and 'Eggebrecht' (a
lot of help in print eh?)
A small compact unit with a reset button, a headphone jack, and two
indicator lights on the front. The controller has a four position
directional pad, 4 individual fire buttons and a play button for CD's.
Soft Logik Publishing was there with PageStream 3.0. 95% of Soft Logic is
Amiga. NO PC products have been annouced, planned or even thought of by
them. Good to hear that. They are a 13 person company based in St.
Louis. Nice people there and very informative. I even got their marketing
director on tape with her tounge sticking out at me. Oh, the other 5% of
their product line? The Atari version of PageStream, they are supporting
it, but not developing for it anymore... so sell your ST now!
Warm and Fuzzy Logic was showing off their one and only product.
LightRAVE. It allows you to use LightWAVE 3d without a Video Toaster.
They say theyhave heard nothing from Newtek. Oh yes, they have 4 other
products in development, should be interesting to see. The name of the
company was developed from a deep involved thought process to come up with
something that people would not forget, and no they were not drunk. Warm
and Fuzzy Logic is a small 4 manned (no womened) company with 600 square
feet of office space in an office building in Richmond Vigina. Very nice
(and tolerating) guys and I am eager to see what they come out with next.
Oh yes, the 'hardware module' of LightRAVE is made from silicon and not
cast iron as he tried to have me believe.
Amazing Computing were great to talk to. The Editor, Don Hicks, helped me
joke along about their competitor Amiga World and how many editors they
have had in the last year. He told me how they are going to put the Guide
To The Amiga on a CD32 disc with demos of software. They would be great
for dealers to get ahold of. This way they could have the computer search
through the database for products for customers and in some cases load up
demos of that software. Excellent idea and I know I will be one of the
first to purchase it. Oh, and he loved my ViewCAM.
Legendary Software, based right up here in Brantford have taken over
DataTAX. DataTAX was the only income tax return software for Canada. The
author unfortunately dropped the product last year and left Canadian Amiga
owners hgh and dry without any computerized income tax software. Legendary
is redeveloping the product and also allowing previous owners to upgrade at
the regular cost. In addition Legendary has other products, Address-It and
Invoice-It. Two programs that can help automate your home office.
Address-It is a more comercialized (and more reliable) version of
Addresser. It allows you to export your databse to Invoice-It which is an
on-the-fly invoicing program that will allow you to keep track of any
incoming cash and accounts. No it does not handle stock, but they are
working on Account-It which is a complete accounting package for the Amiga.
And lastly, Link-It, based on ParNET will allow you to connect an Amiga and
an IBM-PC and share files quickly and easily between the two machines. It
will even convert picture and sound files into a compatable format for the
TPUG was there. With 64's. Oh ah. Hot damn. Sell your Amiga's quick!
Amiga On-Line Reference Manual is a complete AmigaGuide document with offer
600 pages of catagorized text. It covers, most major Amiga programs,
references on all Amiga models, some A-Rexx, a list of people who use the
Amiga, and other helpful hints and tips on your machine. Also in the works
is a Video Toaster On-Line referenc manual.
Axiom Software was showing off Anim Workshop and Wavelink. Anim Workshop
is a program that allows you to edit and combine animations in ANIM5
through 8 format. It also interfaces with Art Department or ImageF/X.
Wavelink is a version of ParNET that allows you to network two Toaster
machines together and use them both to render the same scene. It comes
with a 10 foot ParNET cable and software to get you up and going.
Tammy W. Gray, a former Newtek girl (she can be seen in the later DigiView
ads and on the back of the original toaster box, as well as many of the
original Video Toaster demonstrations and trade shows) now works for Axiom
software as of last May. She quit Newtek saying they are now too big, too
pig headed, and were not paying enough. This just confirms the earlier
information I had about disgruntled Newtek employees. I did get her on
camera a little, but she shyed away because she was wearing a retainer.
She did grab the camera and point it at me though... Good-bye Amber, hello
I ran out of battery power and had to resort to plugging into the game
display at BMD for my last interview. I talked with Mark, a representative
from MindScape in the United Kingdom.
Mark told me about the new titles that are coming out for the Amiga and
highlighted Captive II: Liberation all along the way. He mentioned how it
was 2 years in development and how the CD32 version has 640 megabytes
packed on to a disc. There are 8 cities all with different people, and
over 4000 missions. Biggest game I have heard of yet.
They are re-releasing some titles, such as Chaos Engine with better
graphics and sound for AGA and CD32 machines.
MindScape goes by reviews. If one of their products do not receive a good
review, they do the best they can to make it up in the next game. This is
good, it shows MindScape listens to their users and tries to provide an
I was also told about the gaming platform statistics in the UK.
Approximate figures include 20-25% for the Amiga, 25% for Sega Genesis,
16-18% for Nintendo, 8% for IBM-PC and 2-3% for the Sega CD. Seems the
Amiga has Sega to compete with over there. Mark also mentioned how cruddy
the Sega-CD system is and favours the Nintendo equivalent.
Right now MindScape develops for Amiga, Amiga AGA, CD32, IBM-PC,
IBM-PC-CDROM. They are considering 3D0 and CD-I. CD-I has been looked at
heavily but may be ruled out due to high development costs. MindScape
perfers Amiga platforms because it is easy to develop for. Just buy a
machine and away you go.
Piracy is aparently policed quite well over there. Mark has found that it
is more widely known about in the UK than it is in North America. Now
software publishers are looking towards CD-ROM format. It's cheaper to
produce, and incredibly hard to copy. If it is copied, you would have to
have either enough hard-drive space to store it, or a CD-ROM mastering
system. Both fashions requiring a lot of money.
That's all the battery power I had in the camera. If you want to see the
tape, it should be at the December meeting for people to view. I took a
rather off-key approach to the people at the boothes. Most of them plan on
attending the New York show, and well, so do I. I hate the city, but it'd
be nice to see Tammy again.. ;)