Long live the Amiga, the computer you can’t kill, the one that refuses to die…
How many times have you heard these words? How many times have you wondered whether the concept behind them was real or simply delusional? How many times have you wished to be, at least once in your lifetime, part of the show but never had the chance?
All these questions, and many more, have flooded my mind for years until the time I got the chance to participate in an Amiga event. The year was 2019, the place was Neuss (Germany), and the event was the Amiga34th anniversary (read all about it HERE).
Long-time readers of this blog know how I have felt for years, due to the fact that life forced me to skip relevant events of Commodore and Amiga history. They also know that that “void” in my soul was finally filled after the 2019 reunion. Following the Amiga34, I promised myself to become a regular participant in those meetings but COVID and personal life matters (once again) decided otherwise. Having skipped the Amiga37 event I was so thrilled when the present edition was surprisingly announced; I managed to deconflict life and duty, booked my flight, bought my ticket, packed my stuff, and off I went. Here is how it turned out this time around.
Organizing such an event is no easy task (thank you, Markus!), especially on short notice, so this year the fair was held on a single day instead of the regular two, and exactly like the previous edition the chosen location was the Kunstwerk in Monchengladbach-Wickrath. Compared to the one in Neuss, the compound is much bigger and allows for a lot more visitors, with nearly 800 guests in attendance. Reaching the place is not difficult, thanks to the train and bus net which connects to the nearby cities. Coming from Italy, I personally booked a flight to Dusseldorf (via Munich) and decided to rent a car, a task which was actually fulfilled by Enrico Vidale (A-Cube Systems) instead, who came to Germany via Koln and picked us up at Dusseldorf airport. With him, he brought a new batch of the Sam460LE motherboard together with a now populated PPC laptop motherboard and its case. The project has still some road to cover before reaching its destination but still, after years of waiting, we now have something very tangible to deal with.
Even if the event was scheduled to start on Saturday 7, the party was already on in the early hours of Friday morning when Amigans from all over the world started meeting at the airport. Despite 4 years had already gone by, legends like Markus Tillmann (the event chief planner), Dave Haynie (former Commodore engineer), and Mike Battilana (Cloanto) welcomed me like a long-time friend and as we had parted only a few days prior.
After a quick lunch, we got to the Kunstwerk to set up our stands. In the following pictures, you can have a feeling of how it looked. The first day (Friday 6) was mainly focused on stand preparation and exhibitors’ get-together, even though visitors were allowed to enter for the last part of the day. The night ended with a release party and presentation of the outstanding Reshoot Proxima 3 game by Richard Lowenstein and his team, music acts with Martin Ashman and Siegfried Karcher, and Andre Kudra talks on the demoscene. It was already a blast, and it hadn’t even started yet!
Saturday arrived in all its glory, with visitors lining up outside the convention center since early morning. Only one year had passed, and exhibitors and visitors were eager to learn how many steps forward the community had taken in such (a short) time-span. The opening speech was held by Trevor Dickinson, who also provided a thorough “state of play” on A-Eon projects. In particular, he shared some details on how the making of the Tabor A1222+ motherboard had finally come to an end, thanks to an exciting collaboration of Amiga technology companies: ACube Systems, AAA Technology, and A-EON Technology itself. Amigas equipped with it were finally fully up and running at A-Eon stand.
It was then the turn for Michael Schultz (PiStorm), soon followed by Camilla Boemann. Camilla is part of the AmigaOS Dev Team and provided interesting insights on bug fixing for the current version of AmigaOS for classics (v3.2.2) and enhancement planned for v3.2.3. Also, she declared that AOS3.3 is partly in the making (early alpha stage, and only for a handful of features), and that it will arrive not sooner than 2 to 4 years from now. Therefore, for the time being, enjoy what you have: it is already a dream come true!
The afternoon was dedicated to a series of interviews: Hans Ippisch, Horst Brabdl, Richard Lowenstein, Gail Wellington, Beth Richards, and Dave Haynie took turns on the stage, and, after a presentation by the Apollo team, the event ended with the traditional raffle and the awards ceremony.
In the meantime, this time also wearing the shoes of Retro Magazine editor, I had the chance to visit almost every single stand and chat with exhibitors, Commodore/Amiga legends and/or long-time friends. They were: Dave Haynie, RJ Mical and David Pleasance (presentation not needed here, LOL!), Trevor Dickinson and Matthew Leamann (A-Eon Technologies), my friends Enrico Vidale and Philippe Ferrucci (A-Cube Systems), HunoPPC (game developer), Sebastian Eggermont (Commodore Users Europe), Oliver Graf (MEGA65 developer), Camilla Boemann (AmigaOS Dev Team), Michele “Mike” Battilana (Cloanto), Daniel Mussener (GoldenCode.de), Davide Palombo (with me, co-founder of GDG-Entertainment.it), Kymon and his crew of devs, my son Simone. I apologize to everyone else whom I didn’t have the chance to interact with. It was not intentional and I promise to do much better next time.
As usual, way too many things were noteworthy, so I will only report a couple: the third book of David and Trevor’s trilogy on the Commodore/Amiga history (From Vultures To Vampires) …
… and an open-source implementation of a Commodore 128 revision 9 motherboard by Johan Grip. This machine was my first computer and still is my platform of choice, so I’m sure you will forgive me for this mention of honor. The project website has plenty of information on the making of the board, the most noteworthy of them is, IMHO, that an RF modulator replacement has been integrated.
It fits entirely within the footprint of the original RF modulator. If the use of an original RF modulator or another replacement board is wanted, you can leave these components unpopulated, add an isolation layer of paper or plastic, and install an original one instead.
Among the other things, even this time around we couldn’t miss a fun cosplay by Ravenlordess and her friend. Cosplays usually don’t cope that much with computer fairs, but this one was special …
This time I didn’t have the chance to join the after-show party, but the ways of Amiga are endless and so we were (well, at least some of us), the day after, reunited again under the Amiga flag while waiting to board the airplanes meant to take us home.
Once again, I cannot thank Markus and his crew (Torsten Raudssus, Paul Kitching and Vitus Zeel) enough for organizing the show and making us feel at home. His love and passion are remarkable and it surely shows. Now, despite the sadness for a week-end that felt too short, I am eagerly waiting for the next big thing: the Amiga 40th anniversary! Stay tuned.
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