Speed of development in the computer sector is such that books on the subject are often out-of-date before they appear in the shops. The same is true of magazine articles, reports Ken Clark.
The big news concerning Commodore came too late to be included in Part One. The parent company, Commodore Electronics Ltd. went into liquidation and closed its main manufacturing plant in the Philippines. The final decision regarding the future of Amiga has long been delayed due to non-payment of rent arrears, prompting the Phillipino government to seize all existing stocks and the manufacturing plant in lieu. Commodore UK together with most of the European subsidiaries continues to trade as normal, and the good news is that there are a three potential buyers hovering in the wings. The UK bid is favourite and has the added advantage of being headed by two Commodore UK directors, Donald Pleasance and Cohn Proudfoot. It is expected that they would set up the manufacturing plant here in Britain. They are strongly contested by an American Amiga distributor, Creative Equipment International (CEI). Amiga Shopper magazine reported CEI chairman Alex Amor’s declaration: “ I do not expect the Amiga to become a replacement for the PC’s, but to fulfil a specific niche in multimedia, video editing courses, arts and music.” If CEI were to be successful, manufacturing would be moved from the Philippines to the USA. The third contender is ESCOM in Germany who have had no connection whatever with Amiga. On the contrary, they are manufacturers and distributors of PC clones and peripherals.
Prime Image may soon be facing fierce competition from Newtek who are working on a fully fledged PAL version of their Toaster. Meanwhile, the Video Toaster used in conjunction with a PAL Amiga was on show at the European Computer Trade Show; this was made possible by the introduction of an enhanced version of Prime Image’s Passport 4000 Time-Base Corrector system. Together with many other leading suppliers Newtek has publicly affirmed its intention to continue to support the Amiga market.
Newtek’s Screamer software has been dropped after failing to live up to specification. However, a cheaper and more successful alternative called the Raptor has taken its place. Although the UK, price has not been set, it sells in the States for $15,000.
The complimentary software package, Lightwave 3D with PALl Amiga compatibility is now on sale in the UK, priced approximately 450 (Premier Vision: 07 1-721-7050)
It will not have escaped your notice that the space series Babylon 5 appeared on Channel 4 screens at about the same time as we posted the previous issue to our subscribers. Babylon’s Amiga computer-animated graphics are an advance on those of Seaquest DSV – a fact which has not gone unnoticed by Babylon’s biggest rival, Star Trek. The Enterprise space craft are to be computer generated in the up-coming series. A sign of the times!
We have also learned that Telemagination’s latest Animals of Farthing Wood series were made using the ANIMO system.
If you have recently visited a child in hospital, it is likely you have already met Harry. No! – Harry is not a person, nor are we referring to Quantel’s Harry, this Harry is a cartoon character from the pen of Chris Blackwell, the teenage cartoonist featured in Animator Issue 27 following our visit to HTV Studios in Bristol to interview Rolf Harris. HARRY is an acronym for Helping And Responsibly Reassuring Youngsters.
Chris started drawing when he was eight-years old, two years later he had a one-man exhibition at the Wycombe Six cinema complex. Harry was born out of a deep desire to allay children’s fears when faced with the alarming prospect of a stay in hospital. Chris believed this could be accomplished through the medium of Harry.
In the two years or so that Harry has been active, he had attracted the help and support of over thirty leading companies supplying the Amiga market, including Commodore, the maker of the Amiga computer. Chromacolour chose the Amiga on which to run their Softoons line-test program; and many of the smaller studios prefer the Amiga 2000 and/or 4000 because of their overall versatility, quality graphics and lower set-up costs, reasons enough to convince even BBC- TV of their usefulness It is also the most popular children’s computer in the U.K. and cost was a major consideration when setting-up the Harry project. Commodore obliged by ‘creating a special situation in terms of support and pricing’. Similar agreements with the other sponsorship companies has enabled Chris and his father Mike to keep the price of the kit down to around £260. A Harry pack consists of an Amiga 600 (soon to be upgraded to an A1200) with DeluxePaint 4, subscriptions to two Amiga magazines, two games and ten blank disks.