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                           Australian Amiga Show
  John Pospisil                                   pospisil@ozemail.com.au
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Amiga show in Sydney

SYDNEY SHOWGROUNDS, AUSTRALIA, JUNE 28, 1997: The first Australian Amiga
show in three years was held at the Sydney showground on the weekend of
June 28 and 29.

Organised by Australian Amiga Gazette, the event attracted 15 exhibitors --
including a school and two user groups -- and about 1000 visitors.

According to one of the show's organisors, Michael Gruber, the show was a
great success:

"Actually the show was a big hit with all the dealers, Power Computing all
the way from the UK was pleased with sales and expressed interest in coming
to the next show," says Gruber.

Gruber also hinted that a similar show may be held in Melbourne in the near
future.

<END>

Well that's my five paragraph summary of AAG '97, but here's what I
actually thought of the show:

Amiga users are decadent and depraved
 
The Amiga is dead in Australia -- well as far as 99.9% of the country is
concerned.  With no real presence in the consumer market -- except for a
few dedicated dealers -- it's hardly surprising that the Amiga is seen as
something of an antique.

But there are true believers left (wild eyed and crazy they may be), as the
Australian Amiga Gathering '97 (AAG '97) proved.

I wasn't sure whether I really wanted to go.  I had planned for my Amiga
CD-ROM company, J P Media, to be there to sell Euro CD2, but in one of
those quirks of fate, the CD-ROMs got lost on their way from the
Netherlands.  As a result, I really had nothing to sell that wouldn't
already be there.  There really was no point in J P Media appearing. 

But I was still curious -- though I work with PCs and Macs, I only have one
computer at home, an Amiga 3000.  I am an Amigan at heart, and wild eyed
and crazy at that.

I parked my van on the street outside the Sydney Showground, just opposite
the front gate.  There were huge signs for a carpet sale, but nothing about
the Amiga.  I asked the female security guard if there was a computer show
on.  She gave me directions to the Kensington Centre.

I followed the directions and found a building with an Amiga banner on the
outside.  Inside were what seemed to be a series of partitioned offices
with people walking around.  This didn't look like any computer show I'd
seen.

The woman at the door just waved me in -- I had expected to pay $10.  I
don't know whether this was because I had arrived so late or what.

I did a quick pass through of the show; it took about five minutes.  There
were over a dozen exhibitors.  Most of them were computer shops selling
bits and pieces.

I decided to do another pass through, and maybe chat to whoever seemed
interesting.

Unicorn Solutions: I'd met a couple of the blokes at Unicorn Solutions --
sort of computer consultants -- a few weeks earlier at a demo party in
Sydney (I'm not really into that scene, but I was interested enough to go
just to see what happened).

Anyway, the guys at Unicorn Solutions were fiddling with their network
while I was speaking to them.  They mentioned that they thought there might
have been around 600 hundred visitors there on Saturday.  They also
expressed disappointment that Megatron (the only Australian distributor of
Amiga) was not there, and also that Phase 5 had not turned up to
demonstrate the PowerPC Power Up cards.  They mentioned that they had quite
a few enquiries about their networking, graphics and video services.

Tech Media: Right next to Unicorn Solutions was Tech Media with a
mean-looking sonnaofbitch Amiga, which I later found out was the Draco.
The guy at the stand was happy to answer all questions and revealed that
Tech Media was the NSW distributor of the $18,000 Draco video editing
system.  Apparently about 35 Draco systems have been sold in Australia,
which according to the Tech Media rep is a large chunk of the market share.

Power Computing: Power Computing came all the way from the UK to be at the
show.  Two guys in suits had a table with a few Amiga peripherals like
Apollo and Blizzard accelerators, and a pile of Big Red Adventure CD-ROMs.

Two user groups were represented: Victorian-based North West Amiga Group
and NSW-based Commodore Hornsby User Group.  Both stands were set up with a
couple of computers that club members were using -- the CHUG computers had
some sort of simple puzzle games running.  It would have been more
interesting to see some real action happening on the Amigas, but it was
nice to see that there were some user groups still operating, and that they
could be bothered to turn up.

St John's Park High School: One quite bizarre stand was St Johns Park High
School, where a number of school kids were mucking around on DPaint and
other programs.  Wow -- Amigas still being used in Australian schools, what
a thought!  Could this be a future generation of Amigans?

Shareware Booth: Before leaving I stopped in at the Shareware booth, where
you could register some well-known shareware on the spot.  A very good
idea, and a great way of avoiding the hassles of overseas bank cheques etc.
I registered Shape Shifter for AUS$50, a fantastic bargain as far as I'm
concerned.  I was told I was the 11th person to register Shape Shifter by
about 4.30 pm -- not a huge number, but at least a bit of extra money for
the author.  Australian Amiga Gazette was also available from this stand
for $3.

Amadeus Computers: This well-known Amiga dealer had a range products for
sale -- including the Digita and Cloanto products it distributes,

Amiga Genius: Showed the Graffiti card and the Siamese System.

Computa Magic: Up from Melbourne, these guys are distributors for DKB,
Golden Image and ProDAD to name a few.

GPSoftware: Surprise, surprise, the makers of Directory Opus, were there
selling Directory Opus, plus their funky T-shirt.

GSoft: Got to see the often-mentioned Micronik Infinity Tower, with A1200
motherboard and Zorro slots.  Software Buyers Service were also represented
on this stand.

Resource Management Force: Fast and big ethernet networks for the Amiga.

Overall impressions: Australian Amiga Gathering '97 was a valiant attempt
to stage an Amiga event in Australia.  While it did not compare in size to
PC shows held in Sydney (not very surprising given the nonexistence of a
consumer market for Amiga computers in Australia) it was great that Amiga
fans finally had some sort of event to attend to celebrate the Amiga.

It should also be mentioned that on the Tuesday before the show, the Sydney
Morning Herald and the Age, two of Australia's most-respected newspapers,
ran sympathetic features about the Amiga that mentioned AAG '97.
Congratulations to the organisers if they were responsible for this

Most of all, it was great to see that there are still Amiga believers out
there. 

Yes the Amiga is down in Australia, but it's not out quite yet. 

John Pospisil