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Amiga Convention '96 Montreal and the Atlanta Amiga Portable Unveiling
By: Jason Compton
It feels like I've been all over the place in the past month, which hasn't
helped me sit down and work on Amiga Report. But here I am, with a few
hours to spare until my set deadline for the issue, and I'd like to at
least try to do SOME justice to the events I attended.
Amiga Convention '96 in Montreal was held in early August at the downtown
Howard Johnson Hotel. The weekend got off to a good start in our "all we
have left but it's pretty cheap, all things considered" hotel suite.
Friday night was filled with the usual meeting up with people, catching up
on personal business, and going out to dinner multiple times. Among
others, I was finally able to meet Commodore legend Jim Butterfield.
Particularly if the Amiga is not your first Commodore computer, you should
either be familiar with Jim's name, or be ashamed of yourself.
Saturday morning, the show kicked off. Unlike last year's AC and most
conventional trade shows, AC was not held in a huge room but instead in a
series of large meeting rooms. There was a lot of hanging out in stairways
and hallways as a result--not a bad thing, since much of the point of a
trade show is to socialize. Exhibitor turnout was substantial, but there
was a notable lack of strong presence by hardware developers. Left to
represent that aspect of Amiga business on their own was Silent Paw, makers
of the PAWS 1200 portable. Software manufacturers were reasonably well
represented by the wit and charm of Dale Larson and his IAM crew, Syzygy
and their Digital Universe-churning demo unit, Bob Fischer and his ImageFX
and Aladdin 4D promotion, and Moebius Technology, whose spreadsheet program
is in developmental stages. Rounding off the software developers was
clickBOOM, creators and publishers of the upcoming Capital Punishment for
the Amiga. Retailers on the scene included National Amiga, Valleysoft,
Wonder Computers, and The Computer and You.
Not too much in the way of new product was available. IAM launched their
new MRBackup software, and clickBOOM was showing yet another Capital
Punishment demo, this one 060 compatible.
National Amiga had a lot of last-chance items, including a stack of CDTVs
and A600s. If you shopped in another room, you would have seen dozens of
A3000s on sale for ridiculously low prices. About 40 were sold at the
The show featured a keynote by VIScorp VP of Business Development David
Rosen, as well as demonstrations and programs throughout the two-day
session. Final attendance was estimated at something under 400 people.
Not stellar, which was surprising given the amount there really was to see
and do, but not bad, either.
Of course, the real fun is the night life. Saturday night consisted of
Vietnamese food and Laser Quest, a game where you don a big plastic vest
and gun and run around a blacklit maze shooting at each other. Since I was
dressed in a white t-shirt, I was a great target and got shot an awful lot.
Sunday, there was a panel discussion with myself, David Rosen, and Dale
Larson of IAM. Lots of questions came from the audience, worried about
future Amiga direction and cooperation with other companies.
Sunday night was the really neat one. The local Virtual World franchise
helped sponsor the event and put on a demonstration. There were also free
passes for all the event staff and VIPs, so we played a few rounds of
Battletech. Within our group of 6 players (Myself, Katherine Nelson, Dale
Larson, Robert Hardy, Adam The IAM Intern, and Al Mackey), I managed to win
all three matches. :)
In Atlanta, the tone was considerably different. VIScorp had committed,
months ago, to sending a rep to Atlanta in August. When it finally came
time to really send someone, I was asked to attend. Luckily, QuikPak came
to my rescue and gave me something real to talk about. They are developing
a new motherboard to be placed in an industry-standard OEM portable
computer case, which will put a portable A4000-class machine on the market.
The new computer will have a color LCD capable of Amiga video modes. In
addition, the new motherboard will have 040 and 060 design and up to 128
megs of memory directly. There will be Zorro and video slots, allowing for
a fully portable video editing station based on Amiga technology.
Estimated retail cost is around $3000, and count on it being six months
away. The unit will be AC power only, and is not the same design Silent
Paw has been working on.
The Atlanta group turnout was decent, and I fielded questions for what
roughly seemed like forever. Thankfully, it's all on video so I can keep
straight in my head what exactly happened. :)
Coming up for the rest of the year, it looks like there may well be two
Toronto Amiga shows. Amazing Computers is planning a November show with
Comspec and Randomize, and Wonder Computers is planning a second showing of
their World of Amiga show in December. Of course, the other big upcoming
shows will be the Cologne Computer '96 and the Video Toaster Expo. I hope
to see you there!