Back from the Dead

Earlier this week, I read with great excitement Ars Technica’s review of the upcoming Amiga OS 4.0. It looks like OS 4.0 may, at long last, have a remote chance of actually becoming something other than vaporware.
This is exciting to me because I spent quite a few of my computing years using an Amiga. When the family C64 died, my wonderful parents upgraded to an Amiga 500, which was replaced some years later by an Amiga 1200 which I used all throughout my college years. I loved both of those machines, and there was a sad end-of-an-era feel to my eventual acquisition of a Windows machine after college.
The Amiga officially “died” (and entered a decade-long limbo during which about 4 million different companies tried [sometimes not very hard] and failed to resurrect it) just a year or two after I got the 1200, but that didn’t really affect my use of the machine. The Amiga user community was quite something to behold–you would be amazed at the performance and versatility people were getting out of a 14-Mhz 68020 board in an era of 120-Mhz Wintel boxes. There is something uniquely satisfying about sticking stubbornly to an underdog–or even more, with a “dead”–computer. Programs and tasks that everybody else takes for granted require an inordinate amount of hacking and tweaking, but you sure do feel good when you finally get your Amiga to do something cool (like connect to the Web). And you learn a few things about computers along the way–the Amiga introduced me to the coolness of the Unix-style shell, among other things.
Even after adopting a Windows machine as my main computer, I continued to follow Amiga news (and flamewars) on Usenet and web forums. I finally stopped doing so about two or three years ago, when the vital spark in the community seemed (to me) to finally be flickering out (and often replaced by asinine flamewars about whether or not using a “dead” machine was a worthwhile endeavor). I sometimes think that Linux picked up and carried on the soul of the Amiga underdog attitude, although Linux is now sufficiently mainstream that it’s lost much of its cool rebellious flair.
Which is all to say: I am thrilled to see Amiga OS 4.0 near completion. The creation of such a beast is so incredibly impractical that I just have to stand in awe of the people behind it. It’s a labor of love if ever there was one. And so, while I refuse to entirely believe it until I actually see it, I’m a happy former Amigan today. I didn’t quite have the guts to stick it out this long, and caved to Wintel long ago. To the Amigans of the world: Well done.
P.S. As pleased as I am to see OS 4.0 nearing release, this is one computing revolution I’m going to miss–OS 4.0, to my knowledge, can’t be installed on non-Amiga-specific hardware, and I can’t afford to pay $1300+ to indulge in some Amiga nostalgia. This particular decision on the developers’ part makes me want to beat my head against a wall, even though I’ve heard the reason for the choice (stop into an Amiga newsgroup sometime and start a flamewar about it!).

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