Generation Amiga: Hello Fabio Reibaldi can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Fabio Reibaldi: Hello generation Amiga, thanks for giving me this opportunity. I recently turned 44 years and I’m actually employed as a salesman for a Cisco partner, but I started my career as an electronic technician. I starting repairing CB transceivers at the end of the ‘80s and Sega consoles and Casio databanks in the early ’90s. Later on I started working on Personal computers and servers as a system engineer until the end of the century. Then i became more active in the business world.
Generation Amiga: How did you discover the Amiga platform?
Fabio Reibaldi: My first computers were the ZX81, Commodore 64, Commodore 128 for a short period and then I bought an Amiga 500 in ’87 when I was fifteen. I used Amiga until 1990 but when I returned from the army I dedicated more time to intel PCs. However Amiga had a particular place in my heart because it was the computer of my adolescence and, as most of you, I’ve a lot of good memories related to it, some ex-girlfriends that played with my Amiga and with my good friend Marco Modugno, we often played Giana sisters and Zoom our most favorite games; unfortunately, Marco is no more between us and died in 1995 but I’m sure that he would appreciate that the Amiga platform is still alive and that he would love to be mentioned in this interview.
Generation Amiga: When did you started your Facebook group Retro emulation Pi – FPGA & co. and what motivated you?
Fabio Reibaldi: I created my group in August 2015, but it became more active in march 2016 when I launched two pure emulator images (C64 and Amiga). Before I started my own group I was a member of many other groups related to original retro hardware and a collector. But I was always thinking that someone should be more interested to find new ways to help survive these systems in the future instead of recovery and cleaning the old hardware.
Generation Amiga: Are you doing this adventure alone?
Fabio Reibaldi: No, when I started this adventure one of the first members was Thomas (Crazy Danes), he really gave me a lot of support to make the group grow, so I decided to have him in the board of the admins from the start and he really put a lot energy believing in my project, and gave me ideas, moral support, new skilled users; we were in contact all the day for several months, to develop the group really in every direction available. The second but not less important person was Gunnar Kristjansson, he was also one of the early members and after he downloaded my pure image he was really enthusiast about the idea and he contacted me privately and had a lot of questions, and I was not always able to reply promptly… I felt that he was not completely satisfied and that he wanted to start to find new ways to improve some functionalities, starting with WIFI, and a few months later he created the Amibian distro as we know it today. Thomas, Gunnar and I were always connected with messenger and improved a lot of functionalities of Amibian such as the “3 seconds boot thing” an idea of Thomas. We must say that without Gunnar this would not be possible because he puts a lot of energy is this project; like a real Viking. He always listened with big humility to our suggestions when we hoped for new functions in Amibian. After Gunnar we added Eric Gustafson, from the US, mostly because he is really a MIST FPGA expert. The latest group admin in our group is the Australian Ivan Wheelwright, he is passionate about classic Amiga but he also loves Pi and his actual dream is to play with Stunt car racer with 2 Pi emulators connected through a serial connection (we are still searching a way to do it, it’s not so simple).
Generation Amiga: There are also other people that helps you in your group?
Fabio Reibaldi: Yes, there are a lot of people that are supporting us with their threads and I will never stop thanking them for their active participation. One of them is Carmelo Maiolino that created two distros with some specific emulators. And we have Dimitris Panokostas with his distro Amiberry a really important project regarding a new branch of Uae4arm. Another VIP member is Jon Aasenden and has a lot of experience with programming and Amiga. He always publishes a lot of high quality reviews that are like gems for our group. Then I can mention David Simons that has a great experience with Chameleon FPGA.… And so many other people deserving my deepest respect.
Generation Amiga: Why there is also FPGA in the name of your group ?
Fabio Reibaldi: As you as you pointed out we included also FPGA & co. in the name of the group, because FPGA is actually the most perfect way to recreate retro machine beyond the emulation, through hardware synthesis, as Eric Gustafson always likes to say. I had no FPGA when i started my group but I’ve read all the possible and imaginable documents about it for several years, because I always seen a lot of potential in it. Now, thanks to Mike Jonson, creator of the FPGA Arcade, I’m a Replay beta tester and I’m also interested to share his project everywhere, because I always appreciated his board for some technical specifications still not present in other similar projects, from DVI port offering sharp images, never seen before on Amiga, to the high quality of the cores actually available, that are still constantly updated.
Generation Amiga: Reading your group I’ve seen that there is always a pinned post, what is it ?
Fabio Reibaldi: The pinned post is the place where you can find the jobs of our members. All the emulators images are placed there with a short description and the link for the download. We are always searching for users that wants to share their jobs and not only for the Amiga but for all the possible retro platforms. So there is still a lot of work to do…
Generation Amiga: What is your favorite programming language and why?
Fabio Reibaldi: I’m not a programmer, my background is mostly in electronics, despite this I have recently made some complex projects with Arduino and Wiring language. I should say that programming is not my job, although it is a really fascinating world for me.
Generation Amiga: Can you tell us more about future Amiga projects?
Fabio Reibaldi: My future Amiga projects will always be related to find new ways for Amiga emulation. For this moment I’m testing FPGA Arcade Replay and I will make some review about it, then I will continue to help Gunnar with the analysis of Amibian functionalities but I’m also in contact with Dimitris Panokostas regarding the improvements on his branch of Uae4arm, based on SDL2, and hope to release a light edition very soon.
Generation Amiga: What are your Amiga configurations?
Fabio Reibaldi: I own some C64 a ZX Spectrum, 2x Amiga 500 with memory expansion and a A600 but for this moment i use 1 Raspberry Pi3 and 1 FPGA Arcade Replay connected to a Benq BL912 LCD, I don’t need nothing more because I will dedicate myself only to new ways to do old things.
Generation Amiga: What is your opinion about upcoming Amiga systems ? (X5000, A1222)
Fabio Reibaldi: I’ve read a lot of things about them and know about the diatribe between classic and next generation Amiga users. Until now I’ve still not considered to buy one of these because of the price but who knows! As I said I’m open minded , so it could be possible. However I don’t believe too much in PowerPC architecture, I would prefer a new AmigaOS 5 compiled for x86 architecture, and I’m sure that more people agree with my opinion.
Generation Amiga: Thanks for the interview Fabio Reibaldi and good luck with future Amiga projects
Fabio Reibaldi: Thank you Generation Amiga, please don’t forget to post your reviews in our group.