October 24, 2013 | In: Technology

The Curse of the Amiga Computer

I remember when I was a little kid – my only dream was to have an Amiga computer. I used to dream about it everyday – every single day! I had a Commodore 64 that I really loved but what I really wanted was an Amiga. I wanted it because it had, by far, the most advanced graphics and sound in that era, and it had the best games. It was also considerably faster than other personal computers. Back then, Intel barely existed, and each company used either house-made processors or exclusive processors for its line of products (mostly Motorola). Now, almost all of us are using Intel products (including those on a Mac) or Intel clones (such as AMD processors).

Amiga was a dream for any boy at my age then, and, it was also the dream of many other computer companies: It was profitable (in the beginning), its technology was the best, and people liked the brand. Even the US government was using Amiga computer in its mission critical agencies (such as the NASA). The problem is, each company that bought Amiga ended up filing bankruptcy or shrunk significantly:

  • In 1984, Commodore, the then computer giant, bought Amiga, which was a small startup at the time. It started selling Amigas en masse as of 1985 and that was the start of Amiga’s golden era. In the early 90’s, Commodore started facing competition from IBM and the likes. In 1994, it declared bankruptcy and was sold to a German company called Escom.
  • Escom tried to revive the Amiga line with new machines such as the Amiga 4000 (which was used by NASA until around 2003) and the Amiga 1200, which was a decent replacement to the super successful Amiga 500. But alas, Escom spent a lot on expansion and marketing to the point where it had no more money. Escom declared bankruptcy in 1997 after its shareholders refused to bail it out. The Amiga name was purchased by Gateway 2000 (later Gateway) – the Dell like direct computer retailer that used the cow design to brand its products.

  • At that time, Gateway 2000 was a great company – its products sold like hot cakes because they were well-built (I have 2 Gateways myself – the P5-133 Gateway 2000 which my parents bought for me when I was 18 and another one). Gateway 2000 thought the Amiga brand had a great value and that’s why they bought it, but they never, ever, released a single Amiga product. A few years later, in 2000, Gateway 2000 sold the Amiga brand to Amiga, Inc. Gateway 2000 shrunk dramatically in size ever since they bought the Amiga so it re-branded under the name Gateway and tried to revive itself. The company eventually got sold to to Acer for a mere $170 million.

  • Amiga, Inc. looks and feels like a fan company whose main objective is to revive the Amiga one day by telling people how great it was, decades ago. I personally don’t think there’s any more future for the Amiga.

The history of the Amiga prompted a computer journalist (in the Computer Shopper print magazine, if I’m not mistaken) to ask a Gateway 2000 representative (prior to Gateway 2000’s purchase of the Amiga) whether they were afraid of the curse of the Amiga considering each company that had the Amiga line went bust. I remember that the representative’s answer was something along the lines of “the predecessors just did not keep up to date”. I wish they can ask the same question to the same person now – I’m sure we’ll get a different answer (unless, of course, that person quit Gateway and has no problem laying the blame on them).

This article (as well as all other articles on this website) is an intellectual property and copyright of Fadi El-Eter and can only appear on fadi.el-eter.com.

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