Amiga or Atari ST?

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Matt Barton
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I was wondering which system people thought was better. Amiga or Atari ST?

I never had an ST growing up, but have explored it via emulation. It seems like a pretty solid system to me, and the MIDI support is very interesting to me. I'm sure I would been all over it as a kid, too, since I had a keen interest in making computer music at the time. I'm also impressed with Dungeon Master and have heard good things about other novel ST games.

On the other hand, I adored my Amiga. I have so many great memories of the system, and am still proud of what folks were able to accomplish with it.

SO, what about you? Atari ST or Amiga?

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Bill Loguidice
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It's not BACKWARDS compatibility, it's CURRENT compatibility

Nonsense, you're thinking linearly. Again, for all practical purposes, proper emulation on the Amiga - or even the Atari ST for that matter - was too expensive for the average person. What I said was that you needed to plant the idea in the head of the consumer of why they want to own an Amiga over those other platforms. They may hear about the IBM PC from work or know how much cache the Mac platform has, so that may automatically dissuade them from buying "What's an Amiga?" (classic line from the period). By Commodore saying, hey, we have this fire breathing computer that kicks the ass of EVERYTHING out there but can also run the software for EVERYTHING (that's worth it to) out there, you should really buy our computer INSTEAD because we've got you covered. The numbers that would actually take Commodore up on the ability to properly emulate those other platform would be minuscule, but it would give the Amiga a special place in the minds of consumers, a place that it desperately needed. It's like a country having nuclear capability. Just the threat is enough to be taken seriously.

And we're not talking about game developers here, anyway, which the Amiga got full support from for a significant number of years. They wouldn't lose game developers to PC's, because PC's were so far behind the technological curve until the rise of VGA and Soundblaster standards. As for the Mac, please, that was always a joke as a games machine. Where every computer failed again the PC and DOS and eventually Windows was in productivity. For that, why not run that in emulation? And if you had enough market penetration, you could have maintained support from the big companies outside of Microsoft anyway. After all, both the Amiga and Atari ST had WordPerfect versions - the one word processor at the time that really mattered - it's just that the company stopped issues updates and new versions after a while when sales could no longer justify the support. If there were enough Amiga's in the home, this support wouldn't have been dropped.

Regardless, all of this is speculation and the point moot; it all already happened. Compatibility - backwards or otherwise - only matters until you have enough market penetration and system sales to stand on your own. I'm sure now that the 360, PS3 and Wii are mature platforms, very, very few are making their decisions based on what old games they can run. What they care about is what native software they can run and what will be coming.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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I suppose in a way it's

I suppose in a way it's better for a company not to offer emulation or at least not backwards compatibility. I know you think otherwise, but even assuming wonderful emulation of MS-DOS on an Amiga platform, that would be a call to developers not to target the Amiga. Would make more sense just to target the DOS platform in that case. The developers would probably always go for the biggest and best supported platform regardless of audiovisual capabilities.

The more I think about it, the more I think that the key to the adoption and support any platform hinges on the company's ability to support its own platform. I think one reason Nintendo has done so well is that they are able to do that. If all else fails, consumers know that Mario, Zelda, Metroid, etc., will all be there on the hardware and will be well worth the cost of admission.

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Bill Loguidice
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Emulation
Matt Barton wrote:

I was never able to emulate the C-64 on the Amiga, but thankfully there were ports (official and unofficial) of many games. I never tried to emulate the mac. I was able to emulate DOS, but it was very, very slow and basic. Pretty much unusable.

Hardware emulation was really the best option back on the Amiga for PC DOS, Mac and C-64. Heck, for any computer back then. There were even Apple II cards for the PC and select Mac systems. Even with the 16/32-bit thing versus 8-bit, there still wasn't enough of a generational gap to properly emulate even 8-bit systems simply in software like we can do relatively trivially today.

It's interesting to note that there were software emulators, though, even in 1982 on the C-64, where Commodore released a simple PET emulator. Essentially it translated the few incompatible BASIC commands and a few other things to allow the C-64 to run a lot of PET software (at least the stuff in BASIC). It was a throwaway program really included in cassette bonus packs, but it still qualifies as an emulator and was even called such by Commodore.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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I was never able to emulate

I was never able to emulate the C-64 on the Amiga, but thankfully there were ports (official and unofficial) of many games. I never tried to emulate the mac. I was able to emulate DOS, but it was very, very slow and basic. Pretty much unusable.

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Mark Vergeer
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Remember the C64 emulator that was out for Amiga?

Back in the day, there was a 'slow' software emulator for the c64 out for Amiga. Anyone remember the name? Was it something like Frodo?

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Rowdy Rob
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A-Max on the Amiga
Bill Loguidice wrote:
Catatonic wrote:

Was Macintosh emulation ever done legally? The ROM would have to be reverse engineered, at least (like the ROM chip of the IBM PC was).

Many of those solutions required the use of a real Mac ROM chip, so at least some were legal (assuming a real ROM chip was used and not a copy).

An Amiga-owning acquaintance of mine owned the "A-Max" card that required the Mac Roms. He had easy access to Mac Roms, since he had his own Macintosh support business (which he still operates to this day!). The funny thing was that the Amiga, running Macintosh software via A-Max (or was it "Shapeshifter??), was faster than a real Mac!!!

Yes, it was legal if you owned the Mac Roms.

On a side note, there was briefly a big deal that the Atari ST could emulate the Atari 8-bit in software. I saw the Atari 8-bit emulator on a friend's ST, and it was way too slow to be usable for anything. The Amiga "Transformer" software was more usable for non-graphics-based PC software, and I occasionally used it to emulate text-based software and games.

Software-based emulation has come a long way, and we can enjoy a wealth of great emulators for classic platforms today! :-)

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Bill Loguidice
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Mac emulation through use of real Mac chip
Catatonic wrote:

Was Macintosh emulation ever done legally? The ROM would have to be reverse engineered, at least (like the ROM chip of the IBM PC was).

Many of those solutions required the use of a real Mac ROM chip, so at least some were legal (assuming a real ROM chip was used and not a copy).

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Catatonic
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Was Macintosh emulation ever

Was Macintosh emulation ever done legally? The ROM would have to be reverse engineered, at least (like the ROM chip of the IBM PC was).

Bill Loguidice
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Emulation options

The Amiga could emulate the PC DOS, Mac and C-64. The Atari ST I believe only could do PC DOS and Mac. In both cases, the emulation was quite good, though I feel that with the slot-friendly Amiga 2000, hardware emulation was more elegant on the Amiga side.

I've said it a million times before and I'll no doubt say it again. Why Commodore never pushed the Amiga as the ultimate computer that could run 100% of the software that mattered out there is beyond me. Who cares if the cost to enable all of that would have been somewhat prohibitive, just marketing the Amiga as the ultimate computer - which it was until PC VGA/Soundblaster became standards - would have been enough to plant the necessary mental seeds. A fully loaded Amiga 2000 with full PC DOS and Macintosh emulation enabled would have been a site to behold back in the day.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Mark Vergeer
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In the day I had access to both machines

No real War was fought over these systems as they both had their distinctive uses. The midi-port on the ST made it the ultimate musician's midi recording studio/tracker. Weird huh, as at first glance the Amiga had superior sound capabilities within the machine itself.
The ST had a huge programmer-base in Germany, as did the Amiga. There is probably be very much untranslated German software out there for both systems that English users have no idea of.

Another thing that the ST was used for is that it could be a poor man's Apple - quite a few of my friends and family members using the ST had software on it that turned it into a Macintosh. I don't believe something like that existed on the Amiga.

As for games, the Amiga has better blitting and better smooth scrolling and sprite capabilities and superior sound chips so it is destined to have superior games. The Atari ST ports were often quite good but sometimes also quite horrible.

Overall in my circle the ST proved to be more popular, in neighboring European countries this seemed to be the case as well. But there was a hardcore c64 userbase that made the switch to Amiga when it came out and continued to program demos and crack games for it.

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Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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