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  • A. Stuart Williams 4:52 pm on January 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    AMIGA meditations is back! 

    A1000 Masthead

    Yes, the title of this blog, which for a time was changed to Stuart Williams’ Micro Musings, is reverting to its original Commodore Amiga related focus, effective immediately!

    This is because, after a long period of illness and family issues, I have recently begun work at long last on my new Amiga User International magazine tribute website, and now seems just the right time to tie this blog in with the new project.

    My non-Amiga work will still feature here, of course (and I will continue to write elsewhere on other topics such as 8 bit adventure gaming) but in a month or two the URL of this blog will revert to the original, which has always been the underlying link.

    Watch this space for more news, and more content, coming soon.

    Here’s to a busier, and hopefully happier, New Year!

    Stuart Williams

  • A. Stuart Williams 3:33 pm on March 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Atari ST   

    Stuart Williams’ scribblings and ST Update – 30 Years After 

    Would you believe it, I’ve been writing, getting published – and getting paid for it – for thirty years this year?

    The first ever commercial magazine to publish my work was ST Update, a British home computer magazine dedicated to the Atari ST and published by Sunshine Publications in London. Sadly, ST Update is long gone and little known these days, at least as far as online sources is concerned.

    But, as luck would have it, ST Update itself is also thirty years old – this month! So I decided to mark the anniversary of the magazine’s first issue by writing about it, and making a copy of the pilot issue available to download online, through the pages of Retro Computing News. I’ve even made contact with the original advertising manager of the magazine, Jon Beales, who has been very helpful with the article.

    The article now online is part one of an exclusive two-part feature with the story of ST Update magazine’s inception ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’ – plus a very special download to celebrate the 30th birthday of ST Update. Please go check it out via the link below!

    ST Update – 30 Years After

  • A. Stuart Williams 9:57 pm on February 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Atari STu rediscovered! 

    ST Update August 1987

    Most of my early freelance writing for magazines was focused on the Commodore Amiga computer. But before that, I also wrote for one or two Atari ST magazines, and I was also a co-editor of the 16/32 area for Atari ST enthusiasts on Micronet 800, a popular online system based on British Telecom’s Prestel (Viewdata) service, before the internet!

    Oddly enough, at the time I was writing about this kind of thing, there was no Atari ST software available to edit Viewdata systems like Prestel and Micronet 800, so I was forced to do 16/32 editing work (where I went by the nickname of STu) using a Sinclair ZX Spectrum with prototype microdrives and a Prism modem, and, later, a BBC Micro Model B with Weirdbeard software and a Nightingale modem. But that’s another story.

    I had pretty much forgotten what I had written about the Atari ST until very recently, when a bundle of photocopies of miscellaneous past magazine articles came to light in my loft while looking for something totally unrelated.

    Two of those articles were from ST Update, a magazine which seems to have been largely forgotten today, by the internet at least, as I’ve been unable to find any scans of it online, nor could I find any reference to it on Wikipedia. It does, however, appear in the form of four small cover images listed on the website of the Centre for Computing History, which apparently has issues for August, September, October and December 1987 in its collections.

    pdf downloads

    Since there seems to be some interest in ST Update, I have this evening taken the opportunity to scan my two articles to pdf, something which I will be doing with other future article downloads, and they are linked as downloads on a brand-new Atari ST page which is accessible from the main menu of AMIGA and other Micro Meditations. You are cordially invited to check it out!

    I will be scanning and posting the other found articles as soon as I can, and will post about them separately.

    Stuart Williams

  • A. Stuart Williams 1:17 pm on February 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply  



    Just a quick note to say that a bunch of forgotten photocopies of some of my other 1980s-90s articles, on various computing related  topics, not just the Amiga, have recently come to light, and as soon as I have time I’ll be posting them on this blog.

    Accordingly, while I don’t currently propose to change the domain name from, I have decided to amend the title of the site to reflect the wider remit. This has other advantages, as I can add my current work on other ‘retro’ topics to the site as well.

    The title of this blog is, from now on, ‘AMIGA and other Micro Meditations’. Note the new header!

    Stuart Williams


  • A. Stuart Williams 10:07 pm on February 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Three ‘lost’ Amiga articles found and uploaded! 

    Mordor bus joke

    You know how you wait ages in the rain for a bus, then three turn up at once? Including the rain, this past couple of weeks have been just like that – hardly anything of my past Amiga writing has turned up for a year, then all of a sudden, with the invaluable help of the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester, England, THREE of my ‘lost’ Amiga User International articles have been uncovered, in their magazine archives. Amazing!

    Two of my monthly Free, Gratis PD software features, for May and October 1988 (see menu above), have this evening joined my long-missing radio fax article, Pictures From Thin Air, which you’ll now find under the Ham Radio menu above.

    These features were rediscovered with the kind assistance of Andy C. Spencer of the Retro Computer Museum, and that of museum volunteer David who did the scanning, for which many thanks. If you have a chance to go there, I highly recommend it – they have an amazing collection and a great gang of volunteer staff!

    Stuart Williams


  • A. Stuart Williams 10:56 pm on January 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Another feature comes in from the cold! 



    At this dark and chilly time of the year, I often feel the need for a spot of cheering up, and it’s been a good long while since my last post here, something which I’ve been wanting to rectify. Which makes the timely arrival of one of my ‘lost children’ all the more welcome!

    Another long-forgotten public domain software feature, one of my regular series for Amiga User International, has now come to light, in this case in a newly-discovered online PDF copy of the magazine, volume 3, issue 12, published December 1989.

    I’ve now converted the relevant page files from pdf to jpeg and edited both of them for use here. You’ll find this ‘new’ feature posted in issue and date order under the Free, Gratis menu here on Amiga Meditations, or you can go straight to it via the following link:

    This particular magazine was spotted thanks to the help of someone who saw my appeal for missing issues on Facebook a few days ago, for which I am particularly grateful, as it had been posted on a website which I had already searched last year.

    eBay discovery

    What’s more, in addition to this, I’ve now also managed to track down a physical copy of the November 1988 issue on eBay, which I should have my paws on in just a few days, and I should hopefully then be able to dig out another article or two for scanning and posting here.

    Meanwhile, if anyone reading this has access to any of the issues still listed on the Missing In Action page, I’d be very grateful if you could email me – please see the Contact page.

    Watch this space!

    Stuart Williams

  • A. Stuart Williams 2:39 pm on November 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    The Mysterious Case of the Amiga 1500 

    Birthday boy: my 'new' Commodore Amiga 1500

    Birthday boy: my ‘new’ Commodore Amiga 1500

    A little over a week ago I received an exciting delivery from a very helpful eBay seller and his wife, who had driven all the way from Milton Keynes to Walsall to drop it off.

    A Commodore Amiga 1500 (aka A1500) computer, together with a Commodore 1940 bi-sync monitor and a crate of 1,000 floppy discs.  Woo-hoo!

    Not only was this the first big box Amiga computer I have owned since 1990 (my last such Amiga being a 2000) but it was all the more interesting because of the model’s somewhat controversial history. And some of the evidence of this controversy appears in the pages of Amiga User International magazine, beginning in the March 1990 issue.  You see, it was not the only ‘A1500’…

    For those who don’t know this particular tale, the Amiga 1500 (or A1500 as some designate it) was a model sold in 1990 only in the United Kingdom, as a marketing ploy to bring more Amiga owners into the ‘business’ sphere of Amiga production.  It was, of course, simply a re-badged Amiga 2000 with two 3.5″ floppy drives instead of a single floppy and a hard disk drive (HDD). It had exactly the same features as the later ‘B’ issues of the 2000 (separate keyboard, expansion slots, big box and a big power supply being the most obvious) and the last production models included the slightly more advanced ECS chipset (as mine does).  Apart from the white on black name label on the front, the only real difference between the 2000 and the 1500 was that the HDD was left out as standard but made available as an option, in order to bring the marketed price down to £999 (recommended retail price including VAT).

    As former General Manager and last Managing Director of Commodore Business Machines UK Ltd, David J. Pleasance, recently told me in a comment on a post I made about the 1500 on the Amiga User International Facebook group:

    “This was an initiative of CBM UK Ltd Business Systems division. As most of your readers are probably aware, we in the UK were always willing to take our own initiatives in regard to what we brought to market in the UK. The corporation [Commodore Business Machines] were consistently “out of touch” with what the market actually wanted/needed so we did whatever we needed to do to enable us to fulfill that demand. The key thing about A1500 was reaching the critical price point of £999 (sub £1000) It sold very well and certainly justified it’s position in our range.”

    Promotional image for the Amiga 2000

    Pomotional image for the Amiga 2000

    In practice, most dealers had, it seems, already been selling the Amiga 2000 with the HDD as optional. I well remember that mine, which oddly enough I purchased in early 1990, included a 20mb HDD and the PC-compatible ‘XT Bridge Board’ with matching 5.25″ floppy disk drive which filled the bay occupied by a CD-ROM drive on my ‘new’ 1500. I can’t recall the exact price of this combination (which I purchased from Mr Disk of Bearwood, Birmingham), but it was being sold for £1399 including VAT at the time by Delta Pi Software Ltd, so around that figure or less.

    The marketing situation on the ‘professional’ Amiga front can’t have been helped much by discounting and grey importing of what was then known as the B2000 (also with the later ECS chipset). In the pages of Amiga User International for January 1990, Third Coast technologies of Standish, Wigan was advertising the bare B2000 at £685 (or £999 with keyboard and Tenstar games).  Meanwhile, dealers Portfolio, who had several stores in England and southern Ireland, were busily flogging an “imported” B2000 for £599 + VAT.

    The A1500 controversy

    So, introducing a cheaper, introductory 2000 – the 1500 – as a ‘sprat to catch the mackerel’, was all fine and good marketing sense you might well admit. But where does the controversy come from?

    Well, it becomes obvious when you realise that the ‘other A1500’ was not in fact a Commodore product, but a cheekily named expansion system for the much cheaper Amiga 500, manufactured and marketed by a small but enterprising British company, Checkmate Digital Limited of London, and that the Commodore Amiga 1500 was, allegedly, introduced not only to aid the marketing of Commodore’s professional Amiga line, but to knock this cheeky competitor on the head…

    A little of this story has already leaked out, or at least conjecture about it has, but both this blog and my Amiga User International Facebook group can now play a small part in setting the record straight, as far as it can be (after all, this all happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away), about the origins of the two A1500s.

    Checkmate A1500 system (click to see source)

    Checkmate A1500 system (click to see source)

    According to Wikipedia:

    “In 1990, Commodore UK sold a variant of the A2000, the A1500, for £999. The model designation was not officially sanctioned by Commodore International. The A1500 shipped with dual floppy drives, and 1 MB of ChipRAM as standard. Initial units came with Kickstart 1.3 (and thus AmigaOS 1.3), though the Original Chipset onboard included a later Agnus revision allowing the 1MB of ChipRAM. Early machines were bundled with a Commodore 1084SD1 monitor. Later machines came with the ECS chipset and AmigaOS 2.04. The second floppy drive replaced the hard disk drive. The A1500 had no hard disk drive as standard.

    A1500s were easily convertible into A2000/HDs by addition of a hard disk controller (and associated drive), and then simply peeling off the A1500 label revealing the A2000 label beneath.[clarification needed]

    The reason for the UK-only release may have been the existence of a desktop upgrade kit for the Amiga 500 made by Checkmate Digital and also called A1500,[10] and Commodore trying to keep the name for themselves.[speculation?]”.

    In the pages of Amiga User International

    Antony Jacobson, the respected editor of Amiga User International, was very supportive of companies creating third-party kit and software which pushed the Amiga beyond its ‘games machine’ image.

    So it was that the Checkmate ‘A1500’ came to be publicised – and advertised by the company – in the magazine in March 1990, as these two cuttings show.

    News about the Checkmate A1500 in AUI March 1990

    News about the Checkmate A1500 in AUI March 1990


    Advert for the Checkmate A1500 in AUI March 1990

    Advert for the Checkmate A1500 in AUI March 1990

    But what is the real story behind this controversy surrounding both the A1500 and Commodore’s own Amiga 1500, and the supposed ‘David v Goliath’ clash between Checkmate Digital Limited and CBM UK Ltd?

    ‘Check Mate’ – from the horse’s mouth

    Following my posting of the item about the Amiga 1500 on the AUI Facebook group, I was delighted to see comments on the matter both by David J. Pleasance and, amazingly, from Stephen Jones, whose company Checkmate Digital was.

    Stephen had the following to say about the clash between his A1500 and Commodore’s marketing of their 1500, though he admits the memory is a little hazy from all those years ago:

    “Checkmate digital was my company and yes the commodore management proved their complete lack of common sense by inviting me to maidenhead to tell me they were going to wipe my company out instead of talking. All we were trying to do was promote Amiga as a professional tool while they were selling batman packs.”

    He went on to expand on this, and I have included selected quotes here. Bear in mind that this is the first time Stephen has spoken about the matter in print or online:

    “…whilst I have always smiled about this story few people know the actual truth, Anthony Jacobson [editor of Amiga User International] did and he thought it was hilarious.  Myself and James Campbell set up Checkmate Digital in London to market a great product called, yes cheekily, the Checkmate Digital 1500 as a machine that could out perform PC’s and emulate Mac’s better than Apple, but also nearly half the price of the equivalent Amiga 2000 which was very expensive at the time. I managed to get a lot of PR from the magazines of the time and we went to business trade shows where Commodore were missing and impressed huge numbers of architects and designers by demonstrating XCad and Caligari running on a flicker fixed, 33mhz 030 with maxed out ram and SCSI drive based Amiga machine using an A500 in one of our CDL1500 chassis. When the demo ends, I tell them the price, they then want to buy the product. Unfortunately as soon as I mention the computer the comment was always the same, I cannot get my financial director to by an Amiga, thats a games machine, and not the “It’s not an IBM” comment people used to say.

    “Any way, I get a call from Kelly Sumner (although it may be Keiron as I always got them two confused) to visit Commodore at Maidenhead. James and I think this could be good, a chat and maybe to talk about our problems selling to the city of London professionals. Any way, James and I agreed to try and make an impression, so off to Austin Reed for a new suit, we insured his Porcshe Turbo for me for the day and so I drove to Maidenhead. When I get there full of enthusiasm I get invited into the office, sat down, and told in no uncertain words that could be confused that Commodore will shut us down and that they were launching the Commodore A1500 to kill us off, (stickers were ordered and ready to go onto the A2000’s that were not selling too well, added as humour but still fact). Apart from the Alan Sugar wannabe way Kelly told me this, not one word was discussed about business promotion of the Amiga which to be honest would have been at least an interesting discussion. Amusingly after his chest beating and some choice words of, “F—–G how many”, when he asked how many we had sold of the CDL1500, he thought we were selling thousands, but in reality it was in the mid hundreds. You see we made money on the upgrades we sold to animators and creators along with the case, we never sold game pack Amigas. However, we used to buy your Batman packs nice and cheaply, throw the games , the plastic case and silly packaging away and re build them into a proper machine. After all, nobody took the Amiga seriously for professional work unless into Video where it was easier to sell to small to mid range video and media businesses but not architects and design studios that the Mac and PC’s did so well but less powerfully.”

    David J. Pleasance responded (again, a selected extract):

    “Though you do not say exactly when this meeting took place, I am certain it was with Kieron, as he was with the Business Systems Division, and I know the A1500 was one of his initiatives. Kelly worked for me in the Consumer division, until I went to Commodore International in Switzerland in 1990. Without discussing it with Kieron I am not sufficiently informed to be able to make any meaningful comment. It does sound (from what you have said) to be a very different conversation than CBM UK have a very good reputation for having. We used to actively encourage any new development and we have an excellent reputation for out relationship with developers. Of course until I returned to CBM UK as MD (after 2 years as General Manager CIL in Switzerland, and 1 year as Vice President Commodore Inc in Westchester USA, I personally had little to do with the Business Systems Division. This is in no way passing the buck, it just happens to be true. However I completely disagree with your viewpoint about how we marketed the Amiga only as a games machine. My responsibilty was to generate as much revenue for the Corporation as possible. The products I had to deal with were the entry level machines of the Amiga Range, and we promoted it as the “Must have” computer for all ages, which is why we always included good productivity software such as Word Processing and Art, There is no doubt whatsoever that by getting so many Amiga 500 and A1200 machines into homes, we spawned a generation of would be programmers, many of whom have gone on to build immense careers in IT. When it is released, take a look at the new Documentary from Anthony and Nicola Caulfield (From Bedrooms to Billions fame) “The Amiga Years” which is due for release prior to Xmas. This supports my opinion. At the end of the day everybody will undoubtedly have their own opinion about what was done and what was not done correctly. I maintain and always have, that Commodore’s Corporate demise was down to never having any kind of plan. We used to have to stumble from one crisis to the next always putting out fires, from the most stupid of decisions made by people who never had the faintest idea of what they were doing. Through all of that I had 12 years with Commodore and for the main I loved every second of it”.

    So, there you have it – or as least so far as can be remembered by two key players on the British Amiga scene back in the day.

    Now, there’s a lot more to this conversation [and there may even be someone else out there from the Commodore side who knows more specifically about their 1500] but what has been said by David and Stephen has wider implications than just the Amiga 1500, so may I encourage you, dear reader, to check out the post and comments about this in the Amiga User International Facebook group, I am sure you will find them as enlightening as I did – including what Stephen has to say about the remarkable Siamese system which Checkmate Digital went on to produce later.

    What happened to the Commodore Amiga 1500?


    Amiga 3000 as advertised by Diamond Computer Systems in AUI August 1990

    Amiga 3000 as advertised by Diamond Computer Systems in AUI August 1990

    What happened to the Commodore Amiga 1500 after this, then?  It’s generally held that it was only sold as such in 1990, and that makes a good deal of sense, because competition for both the 1500 and 2000 was coming from the new kind on the block, the Amiga 3000.  Released in June 1990, the 3000 featured improved processing speed, improved rendering of graphics, and a new revision of the operating system. The 3000 is mentioned in adverts in the Amiga User International issue for August 1990, but there is no indication of price so perhaps it was a while coming.

    By August 1990, perhaps all the kerfuffle about re-branding the 2000 as the 1500 had become a bit moot anyway. The Amiga 1500 was still on sale but not being heavily promoted. In Amiga User International that month is an ad by Hobbyte of St. Albans, where it is being sold with a 1084SD monitor and a pack of software for £949. Still not bad value for the standards of the time, if you really needed all that expansion potential. Not quite so competitive was the offer from Firstchoice of Leeds, of a similar packages for ‘only £1089’.

    Despite the arrival of its newer, high-tech relative, the Amiga 2000 continued to be marketed (at a lower price, naturally) for a while, but both it, its short-lived variation the 2500 and the 1500 were phased out soon enough as Commodore aimed higher. The 3000 itself, which didn’t have quite as many expansion options as the 1500 and 2000, was expanded upon by a tower version, the 3000T, in 1991. Both 3000 models were phased out in the autumn of 1992, when the 4000 arrived, but that is another story.

    Hobbyte ad for the A1500, August 1990

    Hobbyte ad for the A1500, August 1990

    And what of the ‘other’ A1500?

    Interestingly, the very cheeky but nonetheless very good Checkmate ‘A1500’ expansion system for the A500 was still being advertised in a full-page ad by its manufacturer, Checkmate Digital, and in a smaller ad by Bytes & Pieces of Lytham, Lancashire, in the August 1990 AUI – along with a range of compatible expansions. So maybe it outlived Commodore’s own 1500 after all…

    Checkmate Digital Limited full page ad in AUI August 1990 - click to enlarge

    Checkmate Digital Limited full page ad in AUI August 1990 – click to enlarge

    25 years of the Commodore Amiga 1500

    Anyway, although this intriguing tale of those long-lost days of the home computer revolution is all water under the bridge now, I thought it would be both fun and timely to celebrate the 25th birthday of the Amiga 1500 with a story of marketing, mischief, machinations and mystery inspired not only by the arrival of my own 1500 but also by the pages of Amiga User International, the magazine for which I was privileged to write way back when. I hope you’ve found it as fascinating as I have!

    My personal opinion on the matter is that both the Checkmate A1500 and the Amiga 1500 were great ideas and made good marketing sense. Whether you agree with the alleged tactics of at least one part of Commodore Business Machines UK in regard to the ‘clash’ between the two is a matter for you, dear reader.  Personally, if I had been an Amiga 500 user at the time, I would have found the A1500 expansion system very tempting. As it was, I was a user of the original Amiga 1000 and subsequently the 2000, so would probably not have gone either way ‘back in the day’.

    A last question

    One final question worth asking is, how many Commodore Amiga 1500’s are still in existence today? Perhaps not that many, as I’ve only seen a couple of them on eBay in the past year – and one of those is now mine. Also, an interesting question is how many of Checkmate Digital’s A1500 systems are still out there? There must be a few, as they can be found here and there, pictures of them at least, via Google.

    Do YOU own a Commodore Amiga 1500 or a Checkmate A1500? I’d be interested to know, so please feel free to comment below!

    I would like to thank David J. Pleasance and Stephen Jones for their kind permission to quote them ‘from the horse’s mouth’ in this AMIGA meditation, as without their help this small insight into the history of the Amiga would not have been possible.

    Happy Birthday, Amiga 1500!

    Stuart Williams

    • Andrew Jarman 7:59 pm on June 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I currently own an Amiga 1500 purchased new on 21st September 1991, has 50mb and 40mb HDD, 1 mb Graphics and 8mn Ram, Romsharer and tons of software. Still runs after 20 years in the loft tonight. Am about to list everything on EBay to clear some space and hopefully get some cash


    • alan hard 1:02 pm on June 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I have a 1500 stored in London, and is standard apart from having an expansion so various kickstarts can load (I think 1.2 and 1.3). I`ve been up in Scotland for the last ten years so seriously need to collect and bring up as im reading about battery leakage in the big box amiga`s.


    • Paul Moore 7:37 pm on September 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Very interesting read. Ive got both of them. An A1500 with 030 card, Picasso 2, indivision ecs and a buddha ide card. My Checkmate 1500 is using an A500+ board with indivision ecs and a ide interface board which as got 8mb on board and a compact flash card with WB3.1 installed. I would never get rid of either.


    • Old School Game Blog 10:39 am on November 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Many thanks for the interesting read. Lot’s of interesting information concerning the A1500. Never seen one in real life, but remember seeing it in ads in various British magazines back then.


    • Paul Dexter 9:28 pm on May 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I too own a 1500, it is still boxed, it currently resides in the loft inside its original multicoloured box with tutankhamun’s eyes peering at you through the gloom!
      I purchased for my two boys, who were then at high school, as I was keen for them to get the best for games but more importantly, use of a computer as this was the future!
      Purchased in 1990 at the Commodore business store in Charles street in Leicester, I bought as much as I could afford, so it came with a Phillips (Not Commodore) colour monitor and a Star 200 dot matrix colour printer (All still boxed) It hasn’t moved for a while and I understand they have a tendency for their battery to leak over time? It came with an early version of Microsoft “Works” WP manual and SW.
      And as for the boys? Well, the youngest is a lecturer teaching apprentices for Volvo and the eldest has completed his Phd in design after a Ba1:1 and distinction in his MA each in Design so thank you DELUXE PAINT III !


    • Basil 7:51 pm on February 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I have one of these Checkpoint Digital 1500’s bought when first released, have recently moved and rediscovered this beauty. It’s built like a tank, no wonder it’s survived all these years 😀


      • A. Stuart Williams 5:58 pm on February 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        And Stephen Jones is now looking to bring the case back as a modern version that looks like the Amiga 3000 – the Checkmate A1500 plus! Interesting times. 🙂


        • RetroManCave 5:17 pm on June 20, 2018 Permalink

          Hi Stuart, I’m currently making a video with Stephen’s involvement on the history of the A1500. Would you kindly allow me to use some of the quotes from this blog page if I provide a credit and link back to it? Many thanks.

          Liked by 1 person

        • A. Stuart Williams 8:02 pm on June 20, 2018 Permalink

          Sure, no problem. Please let me know when the video is available to view. 👍

          Liked by 1 person

  • A. Stuart Williams 12:35 am on November 4, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: PD Software   

    Amiga User International articles rediscovered 

    AUI Feb 1990 Vo 4 No 2 p53

    AUI Feb 1990 Vo 4 No 2 p60

    AMIGA meditations has been on hiatus for a while, partly because I have been ill and busy with other matters, and partly because I have been continuing the search for more ‘Missing In Action’ issues from the years when I wrote for Amiga User International magazine.


    The good news is, not only am I feeling much better now, but I have managed to track down three more of the missing issues of AUI containing articles written by me!

    The three in question date from February-April 1990. Out of these, only the April issue does not contain one of my articles, though I am still listed as a contributor. I am not listed as a contributor in the August 1990 issue, so I must have finished writing for them some time between the May and August issues.

    My ‘latest’ two articles – on public domain software – from the February and March 1990 issues have now been given their own pages on this blog, and you will find them under the Free, Gratis menu. I hope you find them interesting.

    Still searching

    I am still looking for a number of issues of Amiga User International, preferably as scans or pdfs, but would also be interested in physical magazines, if they are cheap!

    The list of issues which remain ‘missing in action’ as of today are as follows:

    • Volume 2, Issue 5, May 1988.
    • Volume 2, Issues 10 to 11, October-November 1988.
    • Volume 3, Issue 10, October 1989.
    • Volume 3, Issue 12, December 1989.
    • Volume 4, Issues 5 to 7, May-July 1990.

    It may be that I do not have articles in all of these issues, but I really need to know, if for no other reason than to eliminate them from my research.  If you can help, please email me:

    Other magazines

    If you also come across any of my work in copies of Amiga Computing, Atari ST User or Micro Computer Mart magazines especially, probably between 1987-1990, I would also be glad to hear of it.

    Thanks for your interest – and hopefully, thanks in advance for your help!

    Stuart Williams

  • A. Stuart Williams 12:05 am on May 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Something wonderful happened… 


    Amiga A1000

    It’s International Amiga Day. And nearly thirty years have gone by. I never saw that coming.

    I was aged twenty-five when the Commodore Amiga A1000 was launched.  No-one knew at the time, at least in public, what a struggle that glorious machine had to be born. But whatever difficulties it had, it was written in the stars that it would have a mighty destiny. And so it came to pass.

    From my personal point of view at the time, working for the local Council and not getting paid very much at all, there was no prospect of me ever owning that remarkable machine.

    Just like the Macintosh Plus it was far out of my reach.  Being a computer-mad twenty-something, having owned a succession of 8-bit computers since 1982, and not being all that interested in the rather boring and overpriced ‘IBM-compatibles’ as they were known, when the time came to move up a level to 16-bit computing, and wanting something that was both useful and fun, the Atari 520STFM was the obvious choice, and I had immense pleasure from using that machine until, one day, in 1987…

    I live in Walsall, England, a town in an area which is known as ‘The Black Country’ (it inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s dark land of Mordor in The Lord of The Rings…) and not far from another, similar town known as Wolverhampton, which I occasionally visited.  One dark, rainy Saturday I happened to be in Wolverhampton when the heavens opened, rain fell like a hammer blow and I was forced to seek shelter in a nearby shop, which just happened to be a business computer store.

    I can’t recall the name of the shop, but it was in a stately Victorian or Edwardian building, on a corner on the main road leading into the town from Bloxwich.  I’d been past there many times.  I’d even been in once, to lustfully ogle the Apple Macintosh Plus that had been coupled with a twenty inch paper white monitor to show off the possibilities of that then-new miracle of the age, ‘Desk Top Publishing’. One look at the price, however, had sent me scurrying, but not on this day. No, not on this day…

    I tried to look businesslike as I sidled into the showroom, but the salesman chatting up the boss’s secretary in the back office glanced at me with a supercilious smirk and turned back to more pleasant matters as I dripped gently on the worn carpet and mooched about looking for something, anything, interesting to occupy a few minutes until the clouds might have hurried over and I could get on about my business.

    A pile of leaflets on Wang, ICL and IBM business computers were deathly dull, so I put them back in their dispensers and noted that the Mac was switched off so there was no chance of a furtive play.  As I rounded a display cabinet, however, I beheld, lurking almost shamefully in a dark corner of the showroom, something that I could hardly believe at first sight.

    An Amiga A1000. With a second floppy drive. And a Philips colour monitor showing the now-legendary boing-ball demonstration…

    Much as I’d loved my Atari gear for the past couple of years, I knew that one day I must have an Amiga.  I could see it was the future, at least in spirit.  Even if it went the way of all digital flesh in due course, as technology comes and goes in generations shorter than dog years.

    The Amiga A500 had been launched earlier in the year, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to lash out all that money on something that didn’t look all that much different from my ST.  I know, I know, but there it was. Subjective, certainly, not objective.  I’d fallen in love with the A1000, although it had seemed doomed to be unrequited.

    Maybe not.  You see, this shop (I really do wish I could remember the name) had been trying to sell their one and only A1000 for six months as a business computer and, well, you can guess the rest. “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” they used to say.  They also used to say “Garbage In, Garbage Out”, and as the son of a binman and a lifelong geek, back when it wasn’t fashionable, I knew all about that.

    Anyway, to cut a long story short, they’d had no luck shifting the A1000, and not long before I arrived they’d cut the price back, to just above that of the new A500.  I had a grin a foot wide, as you might expect. It had been payday that Thursday, and I didn’t need any persuading when the manager leapt out from behind his desk.

    “Can I help you, sir? Lovely machine.  A quick dust off and you’ll never know she’s been on demonstration.”

    He looked wistful for a moment, as if half-expecting me to ask which version of MSDOS it used, but his slightly lop-sided smile turned to a grin nearly as wide as mine (and mine would have embarrassed the Cheshire Cat) as I pulled out my cheque book.

    Twenty minutes later, my Amiga was boxed up and we were away in a taxi, heading for an unknown future. All I knew was that something wonderful had happened, and my life would never be the same.  For one thing it launched my writing career with Amiga User International and other magazines, though that eventually took a few strange turns.  However, that’s another story.

    Jay Miner and his dog Mitch

    It’s almost thirty years now since that remarkable computer was born, thanks to the genius of engineer Jay Miner and others, and though Commodore is long gone and technology has moved on by leaps and bounds, the Amiga still has the power to make me, and thousands of today’s retro enthusiasts, grin.

    It did point the way to the future, and what was so amazing about that all-singing, multi-tasking, windowing, colourful, multimedia computer, born into a world of dreary DOS and black-and-white Macs, is commonplace now, though somehow, it doesn’t seem quite as much fun.

    Which is one reason why I’ve set up this blog, ‘AMIGA meditations’, in tribute to happy days gone by and yet to come, and to a work of genius loved by many and not forgotten despite the way of the world.

    Thank you, Jay Miner, and happy birthday. International Amiga Day would have made you proud.  Even though you’re no longer with us, the work of you and your colleagues still has the power to inspire us, and to raise a smile fit to embarrass a Cheshire Cat.  My recently-acquired A1200 still does so, even though my dear old A1000 is now lost in time, like tears in rain…

    Stuart Williams

    • steve ulrich 10:55 am on May 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great article. The A1000 was a dream machine, I sold all my commodore gear and the money i had made meant i could fork out for one of these beautiful machines. So much forward thinking in the design, you can see engineers ran the company when it was built. Shame what happened afterwards… Anyway, a machine way ahead of its time, I got a sidecar with it….upgraded to a A2000 with a A2286 board (but the A1000 was always special). Probably the most amazing time for home computers for me, anyway.


      • A. Stuart Williams 11:46 am on May 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Steve, and I couldn’t agree more, the whole system was way ahead of its time, but bad management can kill the best of products. Still, the legend lives on.


    • Johan Andersson 2:54 pm on May 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Nice article, I started out on the Z80 myself, SpectraVideo 728 MSX actually, but when I found the Amiga 500 with it’s sleek design ac custom graphical chips, I was sold… I cant remember, but I am sure to have read some of those articles you wrote, since that Magazine was one of the many I read at the time.
      It was amazing to see how much more mature the Amiga’s OS was compared to others of that time, sadly Commodore went under for all the wrong reasons, but that is how it works…


      • A. Stuart Williams 12:27 am on June 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Johan, glad to hear you were a reader back in the day as well. My first computer was a Texas TI 99/4A, I bought it after the Sinclair Spectrum I ordered from the first batch turned up d.o.a.!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Arnt Rune 4:12 pm on June 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I still to this day remember the biggest computer-shop that did not mainly aim for compony clients in the biggest city near where i grew up. The name, the building and where i stood the day me and my brother had finaly saved up to replace the C64 with an A500 back in 1988.

      I also remember all the verbal fights with my mom about going outside or doing something else than sit on the computer. Trading floppies with everyone at school, looking at boxes of software and games and having no clue if they were any good.

      I concider myself lucky to have grown up in such a time when it comes to technology and the huge leaps that came about in that time.


      • A. Stuart Williams 10:48 pm on June 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Arnt, I loved the diversity of those days as fars as computers were concerned. I know we all had our own favourites at different times and the friendly rivalry that created was fun too. But there was always something new coming out that did things differently. Sadly, today there are really only two computer systems out there and they basically do the same thing. More practical, maybe – but not so much fun!


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