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                           Defining an "Amigan"
                              By: Guy Nathan
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"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one..", the Amiga's return
can be compared to this line from a famous song.  Many said the Amiga
couldn't survive Commodore's demise, but through it all Amiga users kept
believing, having faith, in something which was much more to them than the
average PC.  It has been said only the Amiga could've died and come back
again, any other platforms would have merely died off all together.  And
this feeling has been echo'd by Amiga users, corporations which support the
Amiga, and industry critics themselves.  So on this return of the Amiga I
will attempt to define an Amigan.

Those of you who have kept up with Amigas over the years, who have
read magazines, participated in Amiga Computer user support groups,
participated in mail echos such as comp.sys.amiga areas on the
internet, and Amiga related echos through Fidonet and Amiganet, will
know most likely of the sort of feeling certain Amiga users have about
their machine. In this article I will discuss some of these feelings
expressed in the things mentioned above, and other matters which I
believe help to define an Amigan.

As a bit of background, I will start off by first discussing what the Amiga
was designed to be.  The Amiga was designed to be the Ultimate Games
Machine, and was developed and built by a dedicated bunch of computer
experts in 1982-5, who wanted to make a machine which people would think of
as something they would be proud to own.  The bunch of experts were made up
of people such as RJ Mical and Jay Miner(RIP), who designed part of the
Amigas custom chipset, and who is known to many as the "father" of the
Amiga.  Due to a lack of funds originally supplied by a trio of doctors,
the development company could no longer afford to continue development
without the aid of being bought out by a larger company.  To make a
long story short as to who bought what, when, and where the company which
ended up with it in the end is as many of you know was Commodore.  When
Commodore got hold of it, they changed several aspects of the machine, and
introduced a Disk Operating System based on Tripos.  This was coded by
Bristol-based Metacomco, a company which only prior to that had developed
for mainframes.  This helped the machine to change from a purely games
machine to a proper personal computer.  Since the A1000's release there
have been subsequent releases of newer, "better", and faster Amigas.  HAM
mode found in Amiga's wasn't supposed to have existed, and Jay was going to
remove it, but at the last minute he changed his mind (due to external
influences) and kept it.

The best way to characterize an Amigan, is probably to meet one yourself
and talk about their feelings about the Amiga PC.  An Amigan, is a computer
user who has an above average knowledge about computers in general, as
opposed to your average Mac and PC user who buy a computer because it has
the label "Multimedia" on it, or "Free 5 hours user of the Information
Superhighway".  An Amigan, is generally a person who is not afraid to
explore the limits of their machine and try to take it one step further.
They are innovative, creative, well opinionated, and many things more.  The
average PC or Mac user, when they run into a problem, will generally ring a
company for support to come in and fix it, where as an Amigan will usually
solve the problem themselves in a small amount of time, and continue going
on whatever they were doing prior to it.

Those of you who have read Amiga magazines and participated in Amiga mail
areas, will be all too familiar with Amiga Vs's X Machine debates.  An
Amigan is the type of person who is not afraid to speak out in a crowd of
PC and Mac "experts", and voice their opinion in regards to the Amiga Vs's
PCS and Macs.  They are generally well equipped with facts and other
related information about the Amiga and machines on other platforms,
whether it be information on a Pentium (tm), a Mac Quadra (tm), or even a
PowerPC.  There is a real 'flame' in an Amigans heart to defend their
machine through thick and thin, and not falling for the sheep syndrome when
times are tough.  The real test for Amigans has been the demise of
Commodore.  The Amiga gameplayers (not to be mistaken at all with Amigans),
were the first to go, and went off and jumped platforms.  Other
non-dedicated Amiga users went next, attracted by the likes of Doom I and
II, Excel, and Word 6/7, even though chances are, they wouldn't use any
more features than on their Amiga counterpart software which is also far
cheaper.  Other people who were real Amigans unfortunately had to leave for
other platforms, not by choice but due to financial and job matters.  The
most recent test for Amigans has been ESCOM'S (tm) buyout of Commodore
International (tm), and the formation of ESCOM's "Amiga Technologies"
division.  Opinions on what they can provide the Amiga with, has been
heavily disputed, and left some Amigans rather heartbroken at the thought
of it.  As a result of this, in very recent times these people have jumped
platforms as well, but being Amigans, as they still are, they have kept
their Amigas for use, whenever they feel like it.  An Amigan who jumps
platform are usually the smartest of the PC and Mac users around.

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting up with an Amigan who was one of
the first Amiga owners in the world (the Amiga was purchased from the first
batch of Amiga 1000's to ever hit Australia), and was also one of the very
first Amiga Developers here in Australia.  They told me of the experiences
they had with meeting Jay Miner, and other "famous" people in the Amigas
history, with much joy and enthusiasm as if it was only yesterday, praising
these people who put the "heart" in the Amiga.  After meeting with them I
felt a link to them in a way, like a family, ethnic community, race, or
religious link because they were another Amigan.  An Amigan is not
determined by race, religion, or anything else like that, but by ones
feelings towards a machine which makes you think it really has a heart, and
your ready to defend that machine against all odds.  In magazines you read
of people who say, "I have an Amiga but my friends have bought PCs.  I tell
them the Amiga is a better machine and they say 'Ha!  That crappy thing?? 
It cant do anything but play some really old games, it doesn't even have
doom!' (No jokes about ShapeShifter running DoomII go here =) ).  But I
know, and im right when I say my Amiga will provide me with much more
enjoyment than their PC will ever".  It is this dedication which makes an
Amigan.

Those who have noticed the number of programs on the Amiga which are freely
distributable, will know that a lot of Amiga authors do it for the love of
their machine, gaining no profit what so ever, but maybe some fame.  It is
this sort of dedication, willingness to provide something for nothing, that
makes an Amigan.  The programs which are Shareware, are usually products
which are of commercial standard, but at a non-commercial price.  On the
PC, I have found many applications which are freely distributable on the
Amiga, come at a great expense on the PC (eg.  Screenblankers, general
purpose utilities :^)).

Amigans know that although initial costs of hardware for their machine far
out weighs that of the existing competition, when it comes down to buying
applications after purchasing their machine, the Amiga user usually comes
out fairly to well infront.  For example, the price of Final Writer 4 or
WordWorth 4, if they were PC only applications would cost the user many
times more than what is currently charged, and although some Amiga users
complain that software is too expensive, they would find if they were after
the equivalent on a competing platform the costs would be higher.  The
Amiga is STILL the cheapest low-cost, true-multimedia, true-multitasking
machine with an OS which isn't system resource heavy.

Before I go on though, it must be said that words alone can't describe the
feelings involved here.  Is it Magic?  Who knows?  Amiga Tech's new "Amiga
Magic" pack may be a good way to describe the Amiga, Magic.

The announcement of a PPC (PowerPC) Amiga has left some un-sure whether
this will be just another jazzed up "Multimedia" (note quotes) PowerPC (a
bebox?  =) ), or a real Amiga, with a big step-up in the processing power
department and probably in the graphics department too.  I don't believe I
can judge whether an Amigan can be determined by which one of the above two
they choose to believe.  But with Vapourware, something founded by
Commodore ;), Amiga users have over time become more sceptical about
'promises' made, and things to be released 'real soon' which change into
being released days, months, years later, or maybe in the end, never.  What
ever happens, the release of upgrades for our Amigas are more than welcome,
as people's patience wades more and more for the Amiga to be able to come
once again up to scratch against the competition, or to once again be
innovative and do for the Computer industry again what it did back in '85.
I believe all Amigans would support this idea.

Some of us Amigans are stupid, actually we almost all are!  Why?  Because
we defy Economics, defy Business logic, defy Industry standards, defy
common sense (??  :)), and more.  But especially the fact we spend more on
our machines to turn them into powerful beasts, than Mr/Ms/etc average PC
owner would.  We spend amounts on accelerators which would buy us much
faster PC CPUS, we spend amounts on Graphics cards which are a fraction of
the price on PCs, we spend more for hardware especially made for the Amiga
when cheap clones exist which can do more for less cost on the PC.  PC owners
can buy their P5's for less than we spend on getting a 060 Upgrade CPU for
our Amigas.

But all costs aside, all dollars/pounds/etc spent, PCs still don't
come up to scratch in many areas. Their multitasking is still far
from perfect, although their "pseudo" multitasking in Win95 is
noticeably improved.  Above all PCs are still limited by their
XT-originated architecture, some thing that with all the marvels of modern
PC technologies, they still have not totally overcome.  An Amigan
recognizes this, and as a result sticks with a machine which still truly
does most of what they want, and can run Shapeshifter to do things it
doesn't ;).

It is without argument though, the PC has way more 'flashier' games
now-a-days (not necessarily better), with their 'c00l' interactive movies
(ie.  spot the section where you actually get to make a decision what to do
next and watch the pretty sequences), and the like, and obviously a lot
more games are released for this 'Business' platform =) than on our humble
Amigas.  But despite this Amigans still keep their machines, and some have
gone out and bought a Next Gen console for the purposes of playing those
'c00l' games found on the PC, and the rest of us have generally been happy
with our Colonizations, Pinball Illusions, Fears, our Gloom, our Alien
Breed 3D's, our Lemmings, and so on.

Amigans live in a world dominated by PCs, Macs, UNIX Boxes, and so on.  We
don't have as many magazines as other platforms do, we don't have as much
support by companies as other platforms do, so what do we have?  We have
Amigas, we have magazines dedicated to our machines, we have a general
ignorance about our machine in the general public, okay, so we don't have
it all, but what counts is that we've stuck by this wonder of a machine,
and still care about it just as much.  Ignoring what the competition has is
just ignorance, once you have learnt about the competition, you can then go
and say how bad it is =).

But when it comes down to defining an Amigan, in reality I can't, neither
can any other article attempt to, what I have given you here though is a
bit of an insight into what I believe might constitute an Amigan Vs's
anyone else.  Feel free to discuss this on c.s.a.* if you wish, debate over
it, whatever.  Hopefully we'll see some responses to this in the letters to
the Ed section in future issues of AR (or any other place this article may
be copied/duplicated to/in). 

Down with the Be/Pc/Mac - Long Live the Amiga!

Additional Note: I give full permission for this article to be
                 re-printed in any magazine (electronic or
                 print), but it must be an Amiga-related one,
                 and have someone preferably email me first to
                 tell me please.