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The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga (Platform Studies) Hardcover – April 13, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The Future Was Here is proof of just how exhilarating Platform Studies can be. Jimmy Maher has the rare talent of writing technical descriptions that are both challenging and accessible so that, at the conclusion of each chapter, one experiences the rewarding pleasure of having learned and understood something new and difficult.

(Doug Reside, Digital Curator for the Performing Arts, New York Public Library)

The Future was Here is by far the best document on the history, technology, and significance of the Commodore Amiga. An emotional read for those of us who were there, while explaining to everyone else just what made the Amiga such a seminal machine.

(Jesper Juul, New York University Game Center; author of Half-Real)

Jimmy Maher shows us how 'the Amiga' was a phenomenon not just of hardware and software, but of community and creativity. He digs past easy nostalgia and into the telling specifics, revealing what enabled the Amiga to define so much of the playful, media-rich personal computing world in which we live today.

(Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Computer Science Department, University of California, Santa Cruz; author of Expressive Processing)

At once challenging, rewarding, emotional, and insightful...a compelling read for those interested in the Amiga platform, as well as those interested to learn more about the culture of computing.

(John F. Barber Leonardo Reviews)

About the Author

Jimmy Maher is an independent scholar and writer living in Norway.

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Product Details

  • Series: Platform Studies
  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (April 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262017202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262017206
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #826,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Medearis on September 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book... and dislike it, too. let me explain. In this book, I was looking forward to reading about the development and progression of the custom chipset and OS that made the Amiga a joy to use and envy of all my nerdy friends. I expected to read about how developers/users pushed the machine to its limits to astounding results. Unfortunately, there is very little of that in this book. In fact, the author dedicates chapters to describe limitations and shortcomings of the machine.

I would have loved to have seen a chronology of the Amiga as a platform, from OCS to ECS and AGA and plans for future chipsets (and what related Amiga products are available today, even if only loosely though companies such as Commodore USA). Instead, most of the book focuses on the original Amiga 1000 design and limitations (a machine that was quickly replaced by its successors, so the author's choice puzzles me). There was no serious credence given to the expandability of any of the machines, implying that most owners had little more than the stock amount of RAM and no hard drive.

There is also a strange selection of programs analyzed. An odd amount of text in this book is dedicated to the functions of the Deluxe Paint series. Although mildly interesting, it is not what I had expected to be reading about in this book.

I doubt you'd know by this book that 90% of the Amiga's games even in 1994 looked far superior than most PC games. From 1985-1995, who owned a PC set up that could compete? PC's/sound cards/graphics cards were still expensive. And PC joysticks were crap unless you were playing a flight sim! Playing a game on a PC was an exercise in configuring your machine for hours to execute directX appropriately while hoping that everything you owned was compatible.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Future was here (2012) by Jimmy Maher is an excellent book about the wonderful Amiga computer. If you are an Amiga enthusiast or someone who remembers the Amiga fondly you can stop reading now and simply go and order the book for yourself. You won’t regret it. The book isn’t perfect but it offers a very welcome in depth study of an amazing computing platforms.

The Amiga was designed in the early 1980s by a team lead by Jay Miner . The Amiga was based around the Motorola 68000 chip that was also the CPU for the technologically less advanced and considerably more expensive Apple Macintosh. What was special about the Amiga is that it had a chipset that enabled much of the graphics and sound processing to be handled by something other than the CPU. Agnes, Denise and Paula that formed the original chipset. Sprites, blitting and sound were vastly superior on the Amiga to other contemporary systems. The Amiga wouldn’t really be outclassed as a computer for 6-7 years after its release. Today, such a leap forward is unthinkable.

The book covers the Amiga’s creation, the chipsets and the operating system the Amiga used., Next the release of the machine and the ‘Boing’ demo are described. The details of why the Boing demo was impressive and some of the tricks that were used is well described. Then there is a chapter on ‘Deluxe Paint’ which was one of the most famous Amiga painting programs that could create color art that was not possible on other systems of the time. The Amiga’s contribution to 3D modelling - SSG and Sculpt-Animate are then described. There is then a chapter on NewtTek and the HAM system for using all of the Amiga’s 4096 colors.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Amiga was the second computer that I ever knew after the programmable John Sands Sega SC3000H. I fell in love with my Amiga 500 as a child so it holds a special place in my heart. In all honesty no computer has ever left such a profound lasting effect on me.

Jimmy Maher, thank you for explaining away the mystery. I have always known that the Amiga was a beautifully designed and built machine, but I never knew the technicalities of what made it so superior to the Macs, Ataris and IBMs of its time. I have always wished that the Amiga never died, thanks for nothing Commodore.
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Great read, I really enjoy the level of detail & research Maher had put into writing the book. Well worth the efforts. If I had to give one criticism I would say he used the pronoun 'she' in place of virtually every pronoun. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, it felt a bit overused in the text. Even in places where he was talking about the overwhelmingly male audience in the demoscene he'd still use 'she' for the examples. I know many will/may disagree but this is just my opinion. But in total a very well researched piece, worthy of anyone with an interest in the platform that revolutionized and brought many new possibilities to the computing options of the 80's.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If I had unlimited time and resources in my life, I would have written this book. It is exquisitely detailed, but not overly so. There are working examples from the author if you care to take a deeper dive. The facts are accurate, and the "positioning" and analysis is thought out and well reasoned. In short, there's a lot to like about this book if you were an Amiga enthusiast. But the more important reason that this book should have been written (and now is) is for when future historians want to take a reasoned approach to understanding why things unfolded the way they were. IN 50 years, this book will hold up with the technical accuracy, attention to detail, cited references, and "just enough" detail to tell the story in an accurate and easy to read way. Thanks Jimmy for the book, and more importantly, future historians of the technology will thank you too.
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