Cologne Computer '97 Show Report By Jeroen T. Vermeulen

From: (Jeroen T. Vermeulen)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.amiga.misc
Subject: Re: Cologne Fair Briefs
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 97

Okay, looks like not a lot of news has leaked out of the Cologne show yet, or at least not a lot of it has leaked into my news server. For those who missed out and want to know just what they missed, here's what I remember. Call it "Computer 97, a view from under the table"...

In article <> David Meiklejohn <> writes:
> It was easy to forget, in my disappointment over the lack of
> "news" from the Computer 97 show, and I feel sorry for that.

Actually, one problem I had with the devcon was that there was just too much to remember a significant fraction of it (okay, I was also numb from exhaustion). I did make some notes, like most others, but gave up halfway through the presentation--or about one page of notes. Here's some of what my sheet says. It's semantically decompressed, so don't expect it to be literal or 100% reliable.

There was more reason for this secrecy than just to avoid the Osborn Syndrome (announced vapour competing with your existing product); one of the AI people put it privately as "Microsoft is the problem. We don't want Microsoft to know". Most people were convinced that some of the mishaps that have befallen the Amiga so far were coordinated acts of sabotage; there were a lot of stories of people who fought the Amiga tooth and nail, not just within Commodore. In fact I was surprised by how easily these cases would pop up in conversations. You'd mention a name and somebody would say, "hey, here's what that guy pulled on me". Some of the stories had never been put together yet, but confirmed each other in great detail.

There was also a lot of other news on the show, some of which really deserved more attention IMHO: One machine had a PCI graphics board in it. I don't think it had a fully-functional RTG driver yet (it used CyberGraphX IIRC), but this is certainly a promising development. Phase 5 said they had temporarily taken some resources off the A\Box project to give the PowerUp boards a performance boost (the 64-bit memory interface makes the board faster than previous accelerators even on the 68060 side), and will soon make some important decisions about hardware and software development to ensure "conceptual continuity" from PowerUp towards the A\Box. There was also a certain degree of detente towards Haage & Partner w.r.t. the conflict over the alternative software solutions for these boards; Wolf Dietrich and Juergen Haage had a friendly and seemingly quite relaxed chat about this on saturday.

There was also a lot of fairly new, but not quite hot-off-the-presses stuff: During an AI dinner on saturday night, one of the Cloanto people demonstrated Amiga Forever by running Personal Paint on an IBM Thinkpad using their improved version of the UAE emulator. They added in a lot of tricks to speed up often needed tasks, eg. a filesystem that ran natively on the PC side and an Intel version of PPaint's blit library. The claim that "no really, it's a real Amiga!" (this is formally correct because Amiga Forever has been licensed to use the "Powered by Amiga" logo) caused some heated debate, which was silenced by a quick demonstration of Amiga screen dragging. You could change the colours of the mouse pointer on one screen, then drag it halfway down and position the pointer over the transition between the two screens. Just like with the real Amiga chipsets, the two halves of the pointer appeared in the two screens' different palettes with a couple of pixels left blank between them.

Haage & Partner showed a PowerPC version of Quake that ran very smoothly. Unfortunately there is no license yet for any Amiga port of Quake as far as I know, so this was no more than proof that it could be done. The author of Class-X gave me an impressive demonstration of his animation compression format, which could play complex animations smoothly even from disk. Apparently it made very effective use of the Amiga chipset for both its video-compatible output and its very effective motion compression; when the same machine played the same animation on CyberGraphX, it looked like a demented slide show.

The central AI booth sported products from lots of different Amiga companies, as well as a transparent vertical tube with a small Boing ball floating up and down in it. The A5000 was on display there (made by recently licensed Amiga cloner DCE and distributed by Power Computing Ltd.), which apparently includes MPEG 1 support but is otherwise a fairly low-end model by today's standards. High-end users may provide the more powerful A6000. The booth had HiQ's Siamese system displaying its Amiga screen on an adjacent PC. According to a sign put up between the machines, the Amiga side was not using a graphics card. Right next to this, at least on friday and sunday, was the new Boxer motherboard (from Index Information Systems IIRC), a PPC module for which has apparently been announced. Bloody shame I lost my leaflet about it.

There were Amiga mugs on sale on the booth right next to it, and lots of other paraphernalia to be had. There were free Amiga mouse mats after the show, which was very fortunate: My old mat had a Wintel PC shop logo on it, so I had to use it upside down.

Many celebrities were to be found at the Amiga booth at one time or another: Dr. Peter Kittel, Angela Schmidt, NASA's Chris Greene, Heinz Wrobel, Holger Kruse, the AI people, and naturally Petro Tyschtschenko himself. One visitor, who was also there last year IIRC, had gotten Petro (and perhaps some others as well) to autograph the back of his Boing shirt.

All in all, I thought the show was pretty good. Lots of ideas were exchanged, and lots of developers discussed product plans or possible product plans with Petro and with each other. Lots of shop talk over lots of beer (oh Heavens, the beer!). As for me personally, I bought the *entire* Aminet on 21 CD's, which means I'm ready to get into the second-hand floppy business. When I went to Cologne my trusty polyester weekend bag felt like half empty; when I returned it felt like half a ton. In fact I swear it was so full that the fabric started ripping loose of the zipper during the ride home. And it didn't end there: Even back in Amsterdam I met up with some developers returning from the show (image: Droves of Amigans spreading across Europe, leaving trails of Boing stickers and black-white-red logos) and got a free copy of their product.

;  Jeroen T. Vermeulen   \\"How are we doing?"//   Yes, we use Amigas    ;
;---    ---\\"Same as always."//--         ...          --;
; \\"That bad huh?"//  Got a problem with that? ;
So we've killed anybody who doesn't like us. How come we're still not popular?

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