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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Thu May 27, 2021 9:25 am

Forty five years ago a computer magazine hit US bookstores and newsstands called BYTE. What made it so tantalizing was it didn't focus on a single platform. The editorial staff tried to cover all microcomputer news and advancements across a stunning span of time, and they did it at a level not matched by many at the time, or since.

BYTE ran from 1975 all the way up to 1998. Granted this meant PCs got a significant share of the coverage. But all flavors were considered across multiple technical angles and disciplines.

And folks, while these are indeed magazines they are huge. Many are over 300 pages thick and some are even well over 500 pages. By being so gigantic, tons of advertising on its pages helped to subsidize the cost of printing and shipping. As a result, a 400-paged issue in 1985 would have cost you only $3.50!

They're practically tomes of home computer history and came out every single month. In other words, if you subscribed to BYTE you really had a good idea of what the heck was going on in the personal computer industry.

Cover stories were very in-depth and could be quite technical in scope. This mag was not aimed at kids. It was entirely directed at adults with spending power.

While Commodore machines can be found in many BYTE magazines, the Amiga only graced 2 covers over its many years of publication as far as I know. I have those two magazines. I wanted to show off one of them today (I'll share the other one at another time).

The first time an Amiga appeared on the cover of BYTE was the August issue from 1985. Topics in this issue range from the Amiga (obvs) to several in-depth articles on programming, book and computer reviews, coverage of multiple computer events across the country - even detailed diagrams of various chip pinouts!

Just the cover of the August 1985 issue is amazing on so many levels and worth a closer look.
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The August 1985 issue was the first time an Amiga would grace the cover of BYTE. It would get there again once more.

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This issue is 432 pages long. Note how the A1K in the photo doesn't have the L-shaped mouse plug. They slapped in a regular tank! (Or, possibly even a C64/128 mouse, for looks!)


The Amiga in the photo would be one of the very earliest retail models available. If this was published in 1985, that means the content for it was very likely set into what's known as an "Editorial Calendar" two to three months before shipping. The Amiga officially launched in the U.S. on July 23, 1985, so it's quite likely this photoshoot was done prior to the retail release making this machine a very early S/N indeed.

Note the unique monitor and unusual monitor badge" "AMIGA HR" with the bright white background. This is the same setup found on the premiere issue of AmigaWorld Magazine. "HR" presumably stood for high resolution but that's just a guess. I do believe the monitor was provided with some developer systems in the early days of the A1000. Named the Amiga HR, it might very well be a re-badged Commodore 1902, which was a C128 monitor at the time.

It's certainly not the 1070, which is what I call the "Andy Warhol Monitor" which kinda looks too big for an A1K in the first place.

This monitor - even with the janky badge - looks glorious when matched with an A1K.

Back to the cover, I find it curious that for the launch of this computer to BYTE's readership they decided to photograph it in a museum. I don't think they were saying it was history, I think they were literally comparing it to a work of art, which brings its own baggage. Something to be admired from a distance; not touched but gazed upon.

The image dominating the cover is the 1935 painting by Pablo Picasso Interior with a Girl Drawing. It is part of the MoMA's permanent collection in New York. On the screen of the Amiga in the foreground is a pretty nice representation of the painting. It does not appear to be a digitized photo but a hand-drawn version, which I believe was actually drawn by the photographer of the cover shot!

I gleaned this after carefully inspecting the image as well as finding curious note below the table of contents inside the magazine:
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I find it so apt the photographer, Aaron Rezny, demonstrated - if quietly and nearly to himself - the artistic power of the Amiga right out of the box. On top of that I love how his subject is mainly of a woman - an Amiga - drawing. And on the screen of an Amiga we see a drawing of another "amiga" also drawing.

Honestly if that's what happened here I'm pretty impressed with what the photographer did at the time. It's like one of those shots of someone echoing through endless mirror reflections. Aaron Rezny really took the whole piece to a meta-level. I'm willing to bet 99% of folks who picked up the magazine in 1985 had this wash entirely over them. Well hey, Aaron, we got it! ;)

In any case, I wanted to show you all the breadth and depth of BYTE's coverage of the original Amiga. It's not just a bunch of hyperbolic fanboy copy. They really took things seriously.

The article is spread across 11 incredible pages. Note how it even has a detailed breakdown of the motherboard and its various components.
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I mean come on you guys, look at that!

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If you want to actually read this article, you can find the issue on Archive.org here.

We'll look at another BYTE later. Enjoy!

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Wavemaker
Poland
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Posted Thu May 27, 2021 9:51 am

It's fascinating to read these stories about the early days of the Amiga, here and in that youtube channel "The Amiga Show". I recall buying a couple of US Amiga magazines in the late eighties. Compared to their UK counterparts, they were very serious and business like, and I quickly got bored of them. Guess they´d make a much more interesting read to my present self.

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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Thu May 27, 2021 10:10 am

Talking to my friend Christian about that "HR" monitor more, it appears to be a re-badged C128 monitor: the 1902.

Take a close look at this advertisement for the C128, which launched earlier that year in 1985.
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It's not the really early 1070 "Andy Warhol Monitor." This one does, though, look *better* IMO and tailor made for the A1K, being all squared off. The lines simply look great together.

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BloodyCactus
Lexington VA
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Posted Thu May 27, 2021 3:14 pm

very cool. I was going to post something on Tripos but realised I had already several years ago lol.

Some of those old mags are great for some real content not just shallow reviews.

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blakespot

Posted Fri May 28, 2021 8:25 am

Very nice! I have this magazine. It's on the shelf to my right.

The first magazine I encountered that featured the Amiga (and the first place I ever heard of the Amiga) was the August 1985 Personal Computing magazine. I was blown away, and then purchased the first Amiga sold in Virginia in October of that year.

I always wondered about the Amiga HR monitor. I wonder, though, about the notion of it being a rebranded 1902; the 1902 has CGA-style RGBi, not analog RGB that the Amiga uses, at least the standard 1902 does. Hmmm. I know Commodore mentioned a forthcoming slow-phosphor RGB screen that would reduce interlace flicker, but I don't believe that ever was released. I've never seen it, if so.


bp

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McTrinsic

Posted Fri May 28, 2021 2:38 pm

blakespot wrote:
Fri May 28, 2021 8:25 am
I know Commodore mentioned a forthcoming slow-phosphor RGB screen that would reduce interlace flicker, but I don't believe that ever was released. I've never seen it, if so.
bp
That was the Amiga 2024. nice
Monitor. Had one a few years ago. Great picture if only for static pages, though impressive for e.g. word processing.

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blakespot

Posted Sun May 30, 2021 8:00 pm

McTrinsic wrote:
Fri May 28, 2021 2:38 pm
blakespot wrote:
Fri May 28, 2021 8:25 am
I know Commodore mentioned a forthcoming slow-phosphor RGB screen that would reduce interlace flicker, but I don't believe that ever was released. I've never seen it, if so.
bp
That was the Amiga 2024. nice
Monitor. Had one a few years ago. Great picture if only for static pages, though impressive for e.g. word processing.
No, I am aware of that, but there was talk of a color, RGB monitor to be released about the same time as the Amiga 1000 that had slow phosphor for the standard 640x400 hi-res interlaced mode. I don't think it was ever released.


bp

User avatar
intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Thu Jun 03, 2021 8:03 pm

I posted about the 2nd Byte issue that featured the Amiga on the cover today. It's only 4 pages long (vs. 11) but a very interesting and thoughtful review of the A3K and WB 2.0, as well as Commodore's future in trying to become the leader in multimedia at that time.





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