VIScorp's Toulouse Gathering

By David Rosen, 25-May-96

In anticipation of VIScorp's likely acquisition of Amiga, we convened a gathering of Amiga developers, vendors and users in Toulouse, Fr., on Sunday, May 19th. It was a successful event, drawing over 250 people! This event was far more comprehensive than an initial press conference held after the Amiga World show in London in April, and serves as a model for a planned series of additional gatherings to be held the future.

The purpose of this gathering was two-fold: first, to provide an opportunity for VIScorp to introduce its senior management and corporate vision to the Amiga community and, second, to secure valuable feedback from the community as to their concerns and suggestions about the future of the Amiga. The conference was organized by Eric Laffont, without whose commitment it would neither have happened nor been as successful as it was. Our deepest thanks go out to Eric!

The day-long gathering was divided into four major parts: (1) a morning session of presentations and Q&A; (2) an informal lunch during which participants could meet and discuss the morning session; (3) an afternoon session of two parallel workshops, one with developers and the other with vendors/distributors (users and the press circulated between workshops); and (4) a concluding summary session followed by a reception. The morning session was carried in realtime on the Internet's chat services, the IRC, and many people throughout the world participated. The following presents an overview of the presentations made during the morning session; the afternoon sessions consisted of less formal presentation by VIScorp personnel and provided participants with an opportunity to raise specific questions and/or put forward their own ideas and concerns.

The morning session was the linchpin for the day's events. Bill Buck (CEO) provided the opening introduction and laid out VIScorp's corporate mission of a twin set-top and desk-top business -- this mission is anchored in a fundamental commitment to the Amiga OS and its long-term maturation. Bill made clear that VIScorp's commitment to the Amiga computer was based on a strong belief that it could be a profitable business once again. Bill reiterated the fact that VIScorp had not as yet secured ownership of the Amiga and, therefore, could not layout specific plans. Nevertheless, in anticipation of the acquisition, VIScorp had initiated preliminary discussions with a number of companies (e.g., Motorola) as to further platform development. Bill concluded his presentation with a demonstration of the "ED" set-top appliance and a discussion of the company's belief in the long-term opportunities of the Internet/Web.

Don Gilbreath (VP, Engineering) and Carl Sassenrath (Director of Software) provided indepth technical discussions of the "ED" system as well as some likely developments of the Amiga OS. Don showed off the new "ED" motherboard, recently received from Solectron, and discussed the performance capabilities of some of the key components. In addition, he showed a new 060-based motherboard which could be made available immediately and would increase Amiga performance by four-fold.

Carl, a member of the original group that wrote the Amiga OS, provided a detailed discussion of some of the additions currently being implemented for the ED/Amiga OS. He outlined twenty-four (24) specific additions to the OS that were being developed for the set-top environment and which will enhance the overall performance of the Amiga (they will be provided to developers separately). Both Don and Carl discussed some of the possible future steps that VIScorp might take if it secured Amiga, including a review of a possible relationship with Motorola for an Amiga PowerPC; they also identified other possible migration path options, but stress that all these ideas were purely speculative.

David Rosen (VP, Marketing) further elaborated on Bill Buck's presentation, clarifying VIScorp's overall objectives of the twin set-top and desk-top strategy. He made clear that the company had originally secured a license from Amiga Technologies because it assess the Amiga OS as uniquely appropriate technology to facilitate the convergence of (analog) TV, telecommunications (especially networked-based interactivity and the Internet/Web) and computing. He stressed that the dominate approaches to networked-based interactivity in the U.S. -- i.e., the cable/telco ITV approach and PC/modem (or Network Computer) approach -- had stalled, providing a unique opportunity for VIScorp's Amiga-based solution.

David stated that given the clear break of home computing into two spheres -- home/office productivity (with a "Wintel" monopoly) and gameplay (with Sega, Sony, Nintendo dominance) -- could provide an opportunity for Amiga because of the consumer's desire for choice, price advantage and unique performance (true multitasking and multimedia). He added that conditions were different in Europe (with an historically strong low-end consumer business) and in the U.S. (with a stronger acceptance among vertical business, especially media-production market), these differences represented an opportunity for a well-targeted niche approach.

Eric Laffont (Manager International Technical Development Amiga) and Raquel Velasco (Director, European Sales/Marketing) reviewed the findings of a specially conducted Internet survey of Amiga users/developers. The survey has more than 2,100 respondents from over 30 countries, including Peru, Lithuania, Croatia, Uruguay as well as Europe and North America. 90 percent offered positive words of support for the Amiga and to VIScorp. The survey focused on two areas of inquiry: (i) the status of Amiga equipment owned/used (model, peripherals, etc.) and (ii) what they needed/wanted for the Amiga in the future. The survey represented the first time to our knowledge that the Amiga community had been polled and provided us with valuable insight into its concerns. (The survey and its findings will be posted shortly on our Web site.)

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