Amiga Inc.'s Darreck Lisle Addresses Amiga User Group

The following was excerpted with permission from an article titled "AUoH Meeting Highlights - September 16, 1997" from the Amiga Users of the Heartland web site. In it Amiga Inc.'s Darreck Lisle talks about the Amiga future, present and past and sheds some very new and exciting light on what Gateway is up to. Article written by Bohdan Lechnowsky.

AUoH Meeting Highlights - September 16, 1997

Mr. Lisle started off by telling the club how he got his job at Amiga, Inc. Basically, he got the job by continually offering his services until Gateway 2000 finally gave in.

He stated he has an Amiga 1200 on his desk for work purposes, and an Amiga 4000T for home use. The A4000T at home has an 060 card, a Catweasel controller with two HD floppies, and additional expansion equipment.

He also talked about why we haven't heard any press releases from Amiga, Inc. License disputes and liquidator disputes need to be resolved before a press release can be approved. The Vice President hiring process is nearing completion, so barring any further delays, we should be hearing a press release soon.

Darreck then went on to talk about Amiga, Inc.'s approach to marketing. Open licensing will be utilized to speed up development while Amiga, Inc. completes its start-up cycle. One application for this open licensing could be in the area of Consumer Electronics where a small, highly-stable OS is critical. Some applications he speculated on include a palmtop Amiga, an Amiga-based security system, Amiga-based smart homes and Amiga-based cable TV boxes. A comment was made how it would be bad for the system running your house to crash because you would have to reboot your house.

Companies are coming to Amiga, Inc. with requests to receive licenses so they may pursue development on Amiga-based consumer electronics applications. It is Darreck's opinion that Amiga has a bright future because Amiga International and Amiga, Inc. are starting a cycle of slowly gaining momentum which will build in the upcoming months.

Another possible use of the Amiga technology may be into the existing Gateway Destination market. This technology incorporates a TV into the computer so regular TV viewing is done on a 31" screen, but as a task on the computer. The current use of PCs for this task has led to many families having to reboot their TV often due to crashes.

Cooperation with third-party developers is also a priority as they are the driving force behind research and development at the present time.

Darreck also said that he thinks the time frame for the release of AmigaOS 3.5 will be sometime within the next six months. AmigaOS 4.0 should be available before this time next year. AmigaOS 3.5 will use the existing 3.1 ROMs.

Amiga, Inc. is currently trying to collect all pertinent Amiga archives and technology. They are also attempting to assemble a comprehensive Amiga library of Amiga books, service manuals, technical manuals, and any other writings pertinent to the Amiga's technology.

Amiga International is the marketing arm of Amiga and is based in Germany. Amiga, Inc. is the R&D arm of Amiga and is based in North Sioux City, South Dakota.

Interaction with user groups is moving along. A user group network is in the works. (Editor's note: Just today I received an email from an Amiga user group coordination effort. They plan on compiling information on all Amiga user group meetings and asking Amiga resellers to include a flyer with each package shipped.)

The purpose of the Developer Network is to assemble and motivate developers. The Amiga, Inc. sponsored Developer Network should be getting underway sometime around March or April of 1998. Backward compatibility to 3.0, 2.0 and 1.3 (if possible) is a priority for new software, as is standardization on a set of issues. Autoconfiguration and plug-and-play software is also a priority.

Question and Answer Session

The Q's and A's are not word-for-word, but are taken from my notes.

One of the people who had just purchased AmigaOS 3.1 (it was being installed during the club meeting) asked the following:
Q: Should we buy AmigaOS 3.1?
A: Yes--you will need the ROMs for the updated AmigaOS anyway.

Q: Is Amiga, Inc. interested in the educational software market?
A: Yes--we feel the Amiga is ideally suited to educational uses.

Q: Is graphics card compatibility going to be built into the next OS release?
A: Yes--some type of RTG standard should be included as well as an AHI-type of standard.

Q: How long should we expect to wait before we see new systems?
A: Probably around a year.

Q: How many old Commodore employees are working for Amiga, Inc.?
A: A rough estimate would be around 15 to 20. However, no former Commodore employee has turned us down and has said they will contract out to Amiga, Inc. if necessary to keep their present positions.

Q: Are there any other enhancements to the Amiga you foresee?
A: Possibly support for the Universal Serial Bus (USB).

Q: Do you know how much Gateway 2000 bought the Amiga for?
A: I wish I did, but I have no clue.

Q: What is Amiga, Inc.'s position on UAE, the Amiga emulator available for Microsoft and UNIX?
A: The current practice of pirating Amiga ROMs will be cracked down on shortly.

Q: Will Amiga, Inc. use UAE to sway Microsoft and UNIX users to the Amiga?
A: Probably not--the speed of the emulation on even the fastest Pentiums is only roughly equivalent to an unexpanded Amiga 500.

Q: What does Amiga, Inc. think about Java?
A: We would like to see Java in the next OS, but there is still a lot to be done in this area.

Q: Is Amiga, Inc. considering a "Power Up" style program like they had when the A3000 was released?
A: That will most likely fall into the hands of the licensed Amiga-compatible makers to decide, but there are many uses for older Amiga systems. For instance, many technical schools modify Amiga systems for test equipment. Also, many cable channels use Amigas for the Prevue Guide and also Public Service stations.

Q: Are we going to see any of the current operating system hacks, such as MUI, built into a future AmigaOS?
A: Possibly--however, MUI is too large and bulky to consider making it an integral part of the OS. A TCP stack is a definite possibility, though. Using Shareware and Public Domain OS software which is currently available is probably not an option, because programmers of competing software may claim Amiga, Inc. is showing favoritism by their choices. For instance, Amiga, Inc. currently buys most of its test equipment from many different Amiga mail-order houses for this very reason.

Q: Will the prices of existing systems be dropped, like say $1000 off the existing A4000T prices?
A: Yes--Amiga motherboards are quite simple in design so cost should reduce, especially after improvements are made to the current design, such as optimization of the existing custom chip set. Today's technology allows chip makers to reduce the size of the Amiga's custom chips.

Q: Is Amiga, Inc. investigating the possibility of giving the Amiga the ability to run software written for other OSes?
A: Yes--I believe there is some work involving making the Amiga a multi-platform machine. There is also the possibility of an Amiga-on-a-card which would effectively take over the processing of an industry-standard system making it essentially an Amiga.

Q: Has Amiga, Inc. discovered a lot of reverse engineering of the Amiga technology?
A: Yes--especially overseas.

Q: Will Amiga, Inc. be coordinating with third parties?
A: Yes--that is one of the main goals of Amiga, Inc.

Darreck said his goodbyes around 9:00 as he had to be up for a 7:00am appointment, and he had two hours of driving ahead of him.

Here is information on how to contact Mr. Lisle:

Darreck Lisle
Public Relations and Events Coordinator
Amiga Inc.

1-888-252-6442 Voice
1-605-232-6442 Voice
1-605-235-1002 Fax

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