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The Amiga as the Internet Terminal
By: Addison Laurent
This is an open letter to Amiga Technologies, developers, and users.
Currently, one of the hotter Topics in the internet magazines, is the
concept of the "Internet Terminal". Similar to the old dumb terminals hung
off of mainframes, but with access to the internet, and one would presume
some basic built in software. Running programs remotely, through a
While many current internauts laugh at such a supposition, in large
measure, that is where the use of the WWW is taking us. A browser
connects, downloads graphic data, and the server handles the vast majority
of the CPU needed in case of programs.
With developments such as JAVA, the load can begin to be distributed, and a
"Internet terminal" becomes more feasible. Programs can be loaded from a
remote server instead of the local drives.
The question is not if this will come, but when, and how it will look. One
need only look at the growth in CGI-BIN programming on web pages to realise
There are currently several companies scrambling to make a Internet
terminal, aiming for a artifically defined $500 limit in cost.
One that can be purchased, hooked up, and connected. No fuss, no muss.
I would like to propose that one of the greatest opportunities for the
Amiga exisits right now.
We almost have that box. Now. Not in development. Not in theory.
The Amiga 1200 is almost perfect for that description. With a very minor
amount of work, I feel that it could _be_ a defining standard for said
The current basic configuration has aged, however, to where it is not quite
It would require a minimum of 4M FAST RAM, and a 33 megahertz 68030.
Easily available from several distributors. A built in 250 megabyte hard
drive. Again, easily done.
The only complex part is the graphics. AGA isn't fast enough. We need a
display similar to that enjoyed by those of us with Zorro buses and
I have heard that there is a 1200 tower out, that converts a 1200
motherboard to a tower case with Zorro-III slots. This proves the
feasibility of passing the Zorro-III information to a set of chips. While
it would be a hack, a kludge, it would allow _fast_ development and
deployment. For the Amiga to get into the forefront, fast movement will be
Using any of the current chips used in third party graphics cards would
simplify porting CyberGraphics to said card - which would then bring the
basic Amiga to a level to be competetive with the rest of the field.
This raises the complexity considerably, but not above the level of
ingenuity already exhibited by Amiga developers.
Is this impossible? I don't think so. Improbable? Possibly. Something
on the scale of this would require Amiga Technology's resources. Package
deals with chains. Marketing. Distribution.
_Store_ sales. Mass merchandising. Remember the C-64?
Things that a single Amiga Distributor can't guarantee, without Amiga
And, if they did what I (and others) propose, what would it gain us? Why
Simply put - its a niche the Amiga can own, and defend.
Of all the "Internet Terminals" I have heard described, ALL are being
developed from the ground up. All will require new teams of developers,
new tools, new everything.
The Amiga's got it. Now. Developers. Compilers. 1200's to test on.
Internet utilities _out there now_. Not in 6 months. Now.
This turns the whole argument against the Amiga on its ear - usually you
hear "not enough developers developing quality software". Given a brand
new niche, suddenly the Amiga has loads of experienced developers with
impressive resumes. A single glance at Aminet should be enough for any
Instead of a completely new machine, which has to built support gradually,
you have a machine with Internet resources that are stunning. Places for
new users to visit and download software. peripherals on the market to
buy. Upgrade paths to newer, bigger, better machines.
A reason for dealers to stock computers, parts and have expertise.
A standard basic unit, suitable for basic use.
What would the competition be?
I cannot think of any current competition which would not require at least
8 megabytes of RAM (not counting graphics cards) to be able to perform
And lets not forget, the Amiga _can_ display on the TV, at the worst.
$250-500 monitor not needed.
Very nice machines, but no experience in the consumer market, and it would
be hard to get a machine to do UN*X (where their experience lies) well with
a $500 sale price.
Again, the $500 sale price. With a completely re-written OS, an Intel
chipset could do well. But that would require said re-written OS, losing
many of the development tools, programs, and compatibility.
Converted Game Machines?
This, I think, would be the greatest threat. Developers for games are out
there. Several of the Chipsets are much faster that the 1200s.
Distribution channels exist, and are being used. Marketing is underway,
and with effect. How many have been planned with a keyboard and more
memory, I do not know.
I do not write this to establish single-handedly the idea. I've heard
similar ones for a while. I am trying to drum up support, and particularly
get a dialog started. This opportunity will not last forever. I doubt
there is an Amiga owner who does not know about the previous missed
opportunities. The HP cable boxes. The Sears distribution. The list goes
on and on.
I, and I feel most other Amiga owners, do not want to see another
opportunity to which the Amiga is so well suited pass us by without a shot