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The story of the Amiga is not just one of a forward-thinking computer design. One which set the standard for the systems we enjoy even today. It’s also a story about the clash of industry titans, a series of seized, as well as missed, opportunities. And, lastly, a dramatic, last-minute, rescue. But, most importantly, it’s about an unsung hero of the industry, a dentist Jay Miner. While the video game market collapsed, sales of home computer systems increased and Hi-Toro’s investors agreed to continue funding the company to build a full computer system.  The company decided to take on a new name ‘Amiga’, the reason behind this was it came in the phonebook before Apple and Atari. The new Amiga, Inc., split into two teams, one lead by Jay Miner worked to finalizing the hardware design. The other, headed by Bob Pariseau, for building the Amiga’s operating system. And hoped to demonstrate Lorraine(Amiga) at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago January 1984, and get more investors. Lorraine’s hardware design was largely completed. A revolutionary system, powered not only by the 68000 CPU, but through a series of customized chips, to take certain tasks on themselves, freeing up the CPU. The Agnus chip was in charge of direct memory access, and also contained the Copper and Blitter silicon, which allowed for some amazing graphics tricks. Managing the display and graphics would be the Denise chip. While the “Paula” chip handled 4-channel stereo sound, as well as controlled the system’s floppy disk drives. Offering a palate of 4,096 colors and screen resolutions up to 640×400, the Lorraine’s technical specifications were unlike anything in the industry. In the PC-world, nothing like these capabilities would be available until the popularity of dedicated video and sound cards in the late 80’s/early 90’s. All that Lorraine needed was an operating system. Bob Pariseau needed to get an operating system done, and fast. Coming from a background in mainframe computers, and recognizing all the specialized hardware to offload tasks from the CPU, Bob began building a team to create the first multitasking operating system for a home computer. Critical to this team were Carl Sassenrath, formerly with HP’s server multitasking OS division, and RJ Mical. Carl, for his work in developing the small and lightning fast micro-kernel, and RJ for building “Intuition“, the API used for the OS’s user interface, AmigaOS was born! The Amiga concept was a fast and powerful multimedia computer, driven by co-processors for graphics, sounds, input/output, etc, and paired with an equally powerful operating system was game changing. This design lived on, directly, throughout the Amiga line of computers until Commodore’s eventual demise in 1994. By that time, however, Jay’s vision and design had also been adopted by every computer manufacturer in the industry. Without a doubt, Jay Miner is as important as a Bill Gates, or a Steve Jobs, a true game changer and the platform despite being commercial dead since 1994 lives on by many enthusiasts all over the globe.

More news: Generation Amiga magazine