Back in February of 2016 the Amiga community lost one of its original founding fathers: Dave Needle. A key designer of the Amiga, he also co-created the Atari Lynx and 3DO; he was a giant in the computer engineering world.
I remember when he passed that I read everything I could get my hands on to soak up in his life and accomplishments.
Posts were made across the Web by friends and colleagues far and wide. With them many photos were shared of Needle and his legendary Amiga, which I studied closely.
According to Needle in a short video made in 2015 celebrating the Amiga’s 30th birthday, his Amiga was “Serial Number One.”
Needle said of his machine:
Note that his machine didn't appear to be expanded in any way and even still used kickstart disks.“I love it, I just love it. It’s 30 years old! It still works just fine.”
Knowing his Amiga was the first to roll off the the production line of the Sanyo factory in Japan was enough to catch anyone’s breath. Having it sport an Amiga 1070 monitor - the type peered upon by Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry when the Amiga was unveiled to the world for the first time - only heightened the aesthetic appeal.
Looking more closely it seemed like his little A1010 floppy drive was a pre-retail release, too. It didn’t have a checkmark badge, but an embossed C= logo into glossy plastic, just like the original Development Machines.
And the groovy wooden stand Needle made to allow his A1K to go vertical like a tower always makes me smile, too. I never fully understood the need to go that route but loved his perpetual ingenuity. Hey - if Dave wanted his Amiga to go vertical, who was going to tell him he’s wrong, hm? Anyone? I didn’t think so.
But what always caught my eye was the Boing Ball badge on his Amiga where the typical rainbow checkmark was supposed to be.
I recently contacted Commodore legend Dave Haynie to learn the history of the boing ball badges and why they were created in the first place.
According to Haynie they were made for the Amiga 1000, floppy drives (like the A1010), monitors (like the 1080) and A1000 keyboard.
In other words, there were tons of badges ready and waiting for the first Amigas to roll off the factory line, but Commodore Marketing determined that all computers in the 80s HAD to have rainbow colored logos. Especially a computer with as much graphical firepower as an Amiga, right?
With the original Boing Ball case badges already having gone through a production run, though, some of the original Amiga and Commodore folk scooped up what was then deemed obsolete and ready for the dumpster.
And, naturally, Dave Needles’s machine sported one right smack on the front. I’ve always felt it was a kind of Rebel Yell of pride. It was an emblem of when Amiga was its greatest and its potential the most limitless. A time when the Amiga could make people gasp with shock and delight.
Soon after Needle’s passing I started to look around for those badges and eventually tripped over one of the them on Ebay purely out of luck. My recollection is the seller had met Dave Haynie at an event many years ago and walked away with some in the exchange. He sold me one for $25 shipped, and to my utter astonishment sent me 3. Those days seem long gone, especially for something this hard to come by nowadays, but I’ve never forgotten that incredible act of kindness and generosity.
And yet even then, I told myself I wouldn’t try to swap badges on my daily A1K unless I found a badge for its paired 1080 monitor, too. I didn’t have a 1070 like Dave Needle, but waiting for a “complete set” felt right to me as an excuse. Procrastination is real, ya’ll.
Suddenly this year, a friend of mine came to possess such a monitor badge and let me buy it off of him.
I started by using various plastic tools - the type normally used for mobile phones - and metal tools, as well as light heat, to remove the old badges.
I took special care to not harm any of my original checkmark badges in case I ever decided to go back to stock. And after very careful deliberation I managed to swap out my Amiga 1000 case badge, keyboard badge, and ultimately the 1080 monitor badge.
Until this project, I didn’t realize that the A1010 floppy disk drive badge was actually smaller than all of the others! And of course I didn’t recognize this fact until after I’d removed the original checkmark. Oops! Well, no harm no foul. I just put it back where I found it. Maybe I’ll find one of those smaller floppy badges some day - you never know!
In the end I got it all together in one nice glorious package.
Cheers to the original Amiga crew, Dale Luck and RJ Mical’s ingenious Boing Ball demo and the Amiga computer in all of its incarnations. You’ve left a mark on so many of us.
And now, time to stop staring at the machine and actually put it to good use, you know what I mean? That’s honestly the best part about it. Only the Amiga makes it possible.