Adios, Amiga

As it was foreseen, so it has come to pass. I’ve done my best to avoid it, not wanting to see with my eyes what my heart knew to be true.
The day that I hauled my Amiga 1200 out of storage, turned it on (how familiar and satisfying the soft click of the power switch!)… and nothing. The hard disk spins up with its comfortable whir, humming along like the quiet banter of an old friend, and everything seems to be going OK… but no more. It’s not booting up. It’s not booting up.
My Amiga is dead.
To paraphrase a certain starfighter pilot, that little machine and I have been through quite a lot together. How many unreadably dull college term papers did it patiently store away for me? How many turgid, mediocre short stories found a home within its metal-and-plastic brain? How many times did it faithfully fire up Shadow of the Beast and Wing Commander at my command?
The Amiga–I believe I even gave it a name once, but never really called it anything other than “the Amiga”–was a great machine, and I have a lot of fun memories of it:

  • There was the aforementioned Shadow of the Beast and its sequels. And Awesome. And everything else Psygnosis ever published. I used to hook up the big family speakers to the Amiga, fire up Awesome, and just enjoy the music.
  • There was the time during college when Brian and Arie played so many frantic games of MegaBall on the Amiga that they actually broke the mouse. By that time, the Amiga was officially “dead,” and acquiring replacement mice was no mean feat.
  • There was the heated ongoing argument between myself and my friend Jason about whether the damaged building graphics looked cooler in the Amiga or IBM PC version of Crescent Hawk’s Inception.
  • There were the text-adventure games I wrote, or at least tried to write, using the wonderful Aegis Visionary programming language. For many years after my defection to Windows-based machines, I dreamed of the day I’d go back and port them over to Inform… but alas, that dream is now dead.
  • There was the sanity-blasting, but somehow fun, challenge of getting the Amiga to connect to the internet through my 14.4 modem, back when teh intarweb was something you really only used if you were trying to hack into the Pentagon or something. I remember something about AmiTCP, something about PPP, and all too much about Alynx, the Amiga port of Lynx.
  • I remember the zeal of loyal Amigans willing to die before they saw their precious machine whored out to the Intel-chipset-using masses. As an eventual defector to the world of Windows and Linux, I lived for years in fear that Amigan predictions of inevitable victory over Micro$oft would come true, because I knew traitors like myself would be first up against the wall when that particular revolution came.
  • I remember playing Bard’s Tale a lot. A lot. And Angband. I remember frantically racing to beat Alien Breed 3d before my college roommates Jay and Arie did. (Jay ended up winning first, but that’s only because the Final Boss Monster got stuck behind a pillar and couldn’t move. Cheater.)
  • I remember that my dot-matrix printer (donated by our family’s venerable Mac Classic) in college was so horribly loud–I mean really, really loud–and took so long to print things that I had to schedule print jobs days in advance, because printing out a typical term paper made it impossible for anyone within 50 feet of the printer to focus on anything at all for the two hours it took the print job to complete. I remember attempting, with the assistance of roommate Brian, to strap a stack of pillows to the printer in a desperate, and doomed, effort to somehow muffle the hellish screaching of the printer. (I later upgraded to Inkjet technology, but by that time Brian was no longer my roommate.)

I remember a lot more. But that’s enough for now. The tears just aren’t coming; I think it hasn’t sunk in yet. There are Amiga emulators out there with which I might get my fix, but that just wouldn’t feel right. There’s a community of diehards whose Amigas will have to be pried from cold, dead fingers sometime down the road. And there’s even an effort to bring the Amiga OS to the open-source world, although that particular project violates Andy’s Rule of Basic Decency #42: Don’t Use Seductive Furries In Your Logo.
So the spirit lives on. But my Amiga is dead, and my heart is broken.

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