Discuss your latest vintage Amiga finds!
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intric8
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Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:49 am
Location: Seattle, WA

The obsession of collecting; remembering John

by intric8 Wed May 03, 2017 7:55 pm

When I first decided to go all-in on collecting for the Amiga - and living and breathing it nearly every day since - I was mostly ignorant of the scene and much of the complicated history. Many of the top games on the platform - those considered classics - I missed out on back in the day (BITD). I was in high-school then and was either pounding keys on my C64 at home or a black-and-white Macintosh for the high-school newspaper. Or, I was working on restoring my 1963 VW racing Beetle and going steady with my girlfriend at the time. You know, high-school teen-aged drama. I had no idea of the high level of quality of games available so many others were enjoying back then. Plus, all my limited funds were being poured into my car.

So, when I got bitten by the Amiga bug much later in life, I really had no idea what was what.

One of the first things I did was buy a box of random disks from some anonymous dude on Ebay. From what I could tell when I got them in the mail, most were simply junk. I pretty much felt like I’d been taken to the cleaners. All the disks were loose, and some didn’t even work on my A1200. They just created that lovely grinding-buzz sound we’ve all grown to dread.

There was a very small stack of original game disks that never worked - they generated Guru Meditations or just wouldn't boot - but I didn’t have the heart to throw any of them away. One of them was Dungeon Master from 1987.

After getting my Amiga 2000 collection in late 2016, however, I determined that those disks did indeed work! In fact, it took a long time to realize this but almost all games work on the original 1.3 KS/OS if they don't suffer from disk rot.

In any case, I realize I’m a bit eccentric when it comes to this hobby. I prefer original hardware and software. And on the software side, I really like games - especially games I invest a ton of time to complete, like CRPGs - to have all of their original paperwork and even the box. I like to try and transport myself back to 1987 and play these games like I might have BITD as if I’d had this expensive hardware sitting in my room (which I didn’t). It’s weird, but that’s what I like to do. In a way it makes me feel like I'm "livin' large" and I go completely all-in on the experience.

Last month I won an auction on Ebay that came with the Dungeon Master disk (my second disk at that point), the box (severely crushed, much worse than it appeared in the auction), a pristine manual, a computer keypad cheatsheet, an original receipt (love that), and two special order offer cards. One was for the soundtrack (!) and one was for a clue book. All in all, as complete as it can get, except for the box being virtually destroyed.

Oh, and it smelled like the world’s largest, nastiest ashtray. Not awesome.

So the search continued -but just for a box. I knew it was a long shot, but I sometimes see just disks or boxes for sale.

Recently I came across a new auction for the Dungeon Master box - it didn’t have all of the paperwork, but it had the disk, manual and the box, and it was all in mint condition. The box still had its original shrink wrap on the outside, with only a slit cut out of the top so the disk could be removed. Perfect!
pristine-DM.jpg
Perfect, pristine boxed copy of Dungeon Master for Amiga

I won that auction, and it didn’t cost me hardly anything. Now I've got enough DM swag to create one perfect boxed set, have one original disk as a backup, and release the remainder back into the wild. I'll be keeping the non-stinky manual.
complete-dm-collection.jpg
My complete Dungeon Master collection, shown in the 3 stages it was obtained. All 3 disks work.

In fact, the man who set up the auction (goes by the name of Skip) goofed and said it was for local pickup only. I think this is why no one else bid on it. I got lucky! But before bidding I asked if he’d ship to Seattle: “Sure, of course!” After it was over, Skip asked me if I was going to bid on any of his other items, and if so, he could bundle DM with it since he had messed up on the shipping. He did have two other things I was interested in - both near-mint. I got F/A-18 Interceptor (complete, never used) for $6. The other item was some screen-capture software called Grabbit that I wanted but didn't win.
fa_18.jpg
Near-mint condition F/A-18 Interceptor for Amiga, by Electronic Arts

I inquired about the source, as the boxes had stickers on them from a public television station in Illinois.

It turns out Skip bought a lot of the software many years ago from the TV station during a garage sale of sorts. Most, if not all, had never been used. He kept a few things and gave the rest to his good friend, John.

Skip's friend John was a very talented sound engineer in the 80s: “He was known.” Skip introduced John to the Amiga then and John never looked back - he even got into video professionally.

Apparently, John never gave up on the Amiga entirely long after Commodore had shuttered its doors and even many years after Skip had moved to PCs.

In any case, John used an accounting package called Pha$ar for decades to manage his finances, and it was being auctioned off, too. If you can tell by the way I’m writing this, John passed away recently and Skip was liquidating his entire Amiga inventory.
phasar-complete.jpg
Pha$ar Professional Home Accounting System & Register for Amiga

I didn’t originally want to actually buy Pha$ar, to be honest, but I after my conversation with Skip on Ebay across a couple of days I was willing to pay for the shipping because the story and the history affected me. I was curious.

Skip ultimately put it and the whole box's contents in the same shipping box he used for my auctions - free of charge. He could presumably tell I would appreciate it and treat it with respect and care. A total, complete class act on his part. I was stunned when I discovered he did that and was very grateful. I plan on installing it soon and checking it out - I’ll report back my experiences, of course. If it was good enough for John to use all of these years, it must be pretty good stuff. I look forward to finding out!
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