User avatar
Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Mon May 01, 2023 4:39 pm

I've long had a side-hobby of collecting old user group, disk magazine and professionally packaged public domain disks. I do this, I think, because I'm totally fascinated by these pre-internet snapshots in computer history. While the PD disks are generally all about useful software, the disk magazine and user group disks can be quite rich and varied in content.

Disk magazines can generally fall into two categories: addendums of professionally published magazines offering code, art, music, software and examples used in or based on articles in the paper versions of the magazines.

User group disks generally may include:
  • News, often written by the "Editor" of a given group
  • Art (digital paintings, 3D renderings, photographic scans, image conversions from other computer platforms)
  • Animations (2D, 3D)
  • Notable software shareware tools and utilities
  • Music and sound f/x
It's worth noting that some disk mags were actually run by a single person under a brand name, but ultimately looked and felt like a user group disk. A user group of one, with a national reach instead of a local one. So there was some content crossover for sure.

And, a lot of the disks were often focused on a single topic (e.g. one of the bullet points above) but sometimes were a "grab bag" of miscellaneous things.

In any case, last night I was going through another pile of disks and came across several from the NCA User Group of Washington D.C. I'd gone through these back in 2018 but I never really kept track of what I was doing.

It goes without saying that as far as I can tell, a vast majority of these disks have never been preserved or made available during the internet age in any shape or form. The only exception seemingly is the Memphis Amiga Group [update: sadly the site is now offline as of 2024], which has done an excellent job preserving their disks and newsletters. Whatever some of us have stacked in cardboard boxes is the only proof they ever existed at all.

I've had some ideas around a way this could change, but that's a topic for another day.

In any case, I'm spelunking these disks primarily looking for cool art images, and occasionally useful OS 1.3 applications I've not seen or heard of before.

I grabbed a disk labeled "Hold & Modify" and popped it in my A1000. I see several file names and after a quick scan of the included README file, I fire up WShell and navigate to DF0. In the root of the disk is a program called "showham". I also see a file named, "Spock.ham".

Thus, I type

Code: Select all

showham spock.ham
and press Return. The screen goes through a few layered passes colorizing pixels and in about 3-4 seconds I see this:
This impressive scan of a piece of artwork, presumably from some magazine from the 1980s, with Spock in glorious 4096 color HAM mode.

Impressed, I scan the other file names and go down the list. With slight hesitance, I see:
and so on...

I went for the "candy ham"
Needless to say, Candy is quite impressive when not cropped by my Amiga's impressive multi-tasking capabilities and dragging down the screen. Also, note the date on the screen: August 1986. This file was created and shared when Amiga was only 1 year old! To have seen this image back in 1986 when I was completely absorbed by my Commodore 64 would have broken my brain.

So, yeah. I basically have a couple of user group-created photos of topless models made on and for Amiga computers. Now before everyone starts giggling, I think it is worth remembering that this technology was made available to the public in 1985! Meanwhile most PCs were 16 colors at best, and the majority were sporting monochrome screens.

Out of my fairly large collection of disks I've been pulling notable "winners" like this one to the side to ponder next steps. Surely I'm not the only one who thinks they're worth saving and remembering.


Do you have any North American-based User Group disks you'd like to share? My collection currently includes disks from the following (none of which are close to complete):

User Groups
Sacramento Amiga Computer Club
NCA User Group, Washington D.C.
Memphis Amiga Group
Amiga Users of Calgary
AMAZ - Amiga Arizona
dbace - Daytona Beach Amiga Computer Enthusiasts

Disk Mags - via Paper Magazine
AmigaWorld Tool Chest (stacks)
Amazing Computing "Amicus"
Compute's Amiga Resource Disk
Amiga Animation

Disk Mags - via Individuals/Companies
Best of Amiga

Public Domain Collections
Fred Fish
CP Productions
Amuse (seems to be mainly games/entertainment)

^ this list is a work in progress...

User avatar
Zippy Zapp

Posted Fri May 05, 2023 11:51 am

Here is what I have (Originals). I will fill in the details if you want. I think I have imaged most of these already in case they are needed someplace.

Disk Mags
Compute's Amiga Resource Disks. (Several)
AMnews - Several issues
Amiga Animation disks
Tool Chest

PD Collections:
Fred Fish CDs
Various PD disks (not FF)

User avatar
Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Fri May 05, 2023 1:42 pm

@Zippy Zapp I have all the same disk mags but we should compare notes on which issues/numbers we have.

User avatar
Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Fri May 05, 2023 10:57 pm

@Zippy Zapp do you have:
Amiga Animation, Vol 4 Issue 3 (1991)?

My disk#1 went bad.

User avatar
Zippy Zapp

Posted Sat May 06, 2023 5:36 pm

intric8 wrote:
Fri May 05, 2023 10:57 pm
@Zippy Zapp do you have:
Amiga Animation, Vol 4 Issue 3 (1991)?

My disk#1 went bad.
So far I have found Issue 5.2 but I haven't located my others yet. I'll keep looking because I bought these pretty regularly back in the day and I know I have several issues.

User avatar
Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Thu Feb 29, 2024 10:58 am

Very sad to discover today that the previously mentioned Memphis Amiga User Group (MAG) is no longer online. They had such an exceptional disk collection available for download.

In 2018, I pulled down every disk they had published online. I created a ZIP file of over 50 MB of compressed images.

I wonder...

Screenshot 2024-02-29 at 10.09.36 AM.jpg
In the voice of Tattoo from Fantasy Island, "The files! The files!"

User avatar
Zippy Zapp

Posted Wed Mar 06, 2024 12:08 pm


How many disk images is there in total for that collection? I seem to have 58.

User avatar
Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Wed Mar 06, 2024 12:33 pm

@zippyzapp I discovered the entire collection was captured by the wayback machine and was able to grab ALL of the disk-mags for Memphis. All of the newsletters appear to be in the WBM as well, but lord have mercy that site is so slow they might as well be lost to the sands of time as far as I'm concerned.

I reached out to the owner/creator of the original MAG site, but never heard back. I have hopes - depending on if I can get my Polish developer to help out - to put the disk mags online along with several other disk collections nowhere to be found online today.

Fingers crossed he gets back to me...

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