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jackphlash
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Thu Oct 01, 2020 5:43 pm

(Sorry for the length, but I figured I’d just edit down something I had already written for my blog.)

As a kid my dad brought us home a Commodore VIC-20. While not nearly as nice of a machine as my friend’s C64, that didn’t keep my brother and I from sinking countless hours into playing cartridge games, exploring all of the demos and games we had on tape, and attempting to type in some of the BASIC programs included with the VIC-20’s rather nice user manual. Unfortunately my VIC-20 stopped working after a few years, but that only served to help my fascination with computers grow into an obsession.

Despite being an American, I spent many of my more formative years living in the United Kingdom, and as most people here will know, in the late 80s and early 90s, Amiga, specifically the Amiga 500, was seemingly ubiquitous over there. I used to see shots of 16-bit games on TV shows and in magazines and my mind was absolutely blown by the awesome graphics of the machines. Aesthetics aside, the games themselves were mostly nothing like what I’d seen in the pages of Nintendo Power or GamePro. That was pretty much when I determined that my next computer had to be an Amiga.

Sadly, we moved back to the United States before I ever secured one. While my obsession with computers continued undaunted, the Amiga, not anywhere in any of the local computer shops or department stores, quickly faded as a contender, and eventually, even a realistic option. Not long after, my parents finally succumbed to my years long campaign of harassment and bought me a reasonably close to top of the line IBM-compatible. I only got deeper into all things personal computer from then on, though Amiga wouldn’t be much of a part of any of that.

Even still, pretty much as soon as I acquired a modem I got heavily involved in the PC underground BBS scene which was very much adjacent to and influenced by the Amiga underground BBS, demo, and piracy scenes, and “old school” ASCII art (which is largely Amiga ASCII based) became one of my personal specialties. I also dabbled with tracking via PC programs like Impulse Tracker and, especially after I started learning how to code myself, enjoyed viewing the occasional PC demo, trying to wrap my head around how some of those effects might have been achieved. So, my appreciation for the Amiga never totally died even if it did take on a new and different light over the years.

I’m still heavily into retro PC stuff, including gaming, and I had been thinking more and more about finally getting an Amiga of my own to play with after all these years, when a friend offered to send me an Amiga 500 free of charge. Of course, I couldn’t say no, despite the obvious “first one’s free” drug dealer undertones. Since then I’ve been working on getting into the world of all things Amiga. I just recently acquired a second A500 (the sought after “chicken lips” which I owe this site in part for educating me on) and who knows how much more ridiculous I’ll get with all of this, but for now I’d definitely consider it a passion of mine. I hope to play a lot of games and plan on doing some (perhaps game?) coding as well.

I totally love how devoted people still are to the Amiga, and all of the amazing upgrades and addons that continue to come out (somehow, 35 years later!) It’s an awesome hobby. Oh, and I’m in Seattle too, so perhaps I’ll join up with the SEA-CCC once things get back to normal and the monthly meetings resume!

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grshaw

Posted Sat Oct 03, 2020 3:21 am

Congratulations on aquiring a Chicken Lips A500. They are indeed beautiful looking machines. Welcome on board. :D

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fxgogo
Website

Posted Mon Oct 05, 2020 2:44 am

Welcome to this wonderful world. The thing I love most about the Amiga scene is how active and present it is. It is not just a piece of nostalgia, but a machine you can use actively in the present day.

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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Mon Oct 05, 2020 11:06 am

@jackphlash
Thanks for sharing your fantastic history with us. I for one would love to see some of your ASCII art even if just screenshots or even photos of a monitor, if that's possible for you to do.

As for SEA-CCC, we've been 100% virtual for 6 months straight. We still meet once a month (next meet will probably be October 13). Since we're virtual, we've had folks from as far away as Arizona, New York and Pennsylvania! Don't wait until we can get back together in person if you don't want to. It's a lot more fun when we can meet at my office, but until things loosen up Zoom hasn't been that bad. If anything it allows folks from far away to attend when in the past they never could. So that's nice.

In any case - congrats on the Amiga 500 pickup! If you need any help, don't hesitate to ask. The 500 (imo) is probably the best place to start since 95% of all games and software was aimed at that machine due to its overwhelming popularity worldwide in the late 80s. So you should have a really fun ride as you get up to speed.

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jackphlash
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Tue Oct 06, 2020 9:24 am

intric8 wrote:
Mon Oct 05, 2020 11:06 am
Thanks for sharing your fantastic history with us. I for one would love to see some of your ASCII art even if just screenshots or even photos of a monitor, if that's possible for you to do.
Sure! Check out my tag on the 16colo.rs - it's got a lot of my art, and it's in (reverse) chronological order, so definitely start at the top and avoid the bottom. ;) It also has some ANSI art, though I don't make any claims to be much of an ANSI artist. Some of the older stuff was drawn for one Amiga font or another, but isn't rendered in it unlike some of the newer stuff, but it should still look close enough in most cases.
As for SEA-CCC, we've been 100% virtual for 6 months straight. We still meet once a month (next meet will probably be October 13). Since we're virtual, we've had folks from as far away as Arizona, New York and Pennsylvania! Don't wait until we can get back together in person if you don't want to. It's a lot more fun when we can meet at my office, but until things loosen up Zoom hasn't been that bad. If anything it allows folks from far away to attend when in the past they never could. So that's nice.
I saw that, and I'll definitely consider joining before then, but it's hard to think about at the moment as work has had me covered up for a while. I'm hoping the load with lighten by next month though. I admit, part of that self-imposed delay might be just wanting to get outside in the wider world and get together with people in "real life" again - I haven't been to Fremont since all of this COVID-19 stuff started despite the fact that I can see it across the lake out of my window right now. That, and I think I'm overdosing on video calls these days. Regardless, glad meeting remotely seems to be working well!
In any case - congrats on the Amiga 500 pickup! If you need any help, don't hesitate to ask. The 500 (imo) is probably the best place to start since 95% of all games and software was aimed at that machine due to its overwhelming popularity worldwide in the late 80s. So you should have a really fun ride as you get up to speed.
Thanks! The entries on my blog about this (if you happened to look at it) are actually pretty lagged just due to the aforementioned lack of free time lately - I'm a lot further and deeper into this then is implied by those updates alone. I've had my original A500 for more than a year at this point, actually. Loving it so far, but of course, I've still barely scratched the surface!





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