As an old-time Amiga user and a long-time Amiga fan, it is with considerable displeasure that I must report today that Gateway Computer has suddenly and inexplicably turned on the Amiga community and decided not to release the next-generation Amiga systems it had promised this summer. The tale of Amiga has turned into a Greek tragedy over the years, from the bungling and mismanagement at Commodore through the recent period of wasted time at Gateway. Owner after owner, unsure of what to do with what was once overwhelmingly superior hardware and software, watching it all slip through their fingers.
Gateway, which had announced new Amiga machines and a new operating system based on Linux in mid-July, has apparently decided that the possible market for these devices is just too small to pursue. My take on this debacle is simple: Gateway shouldn't have bought the Amiga name and technologies if they weren't going to run with it. That's like buying something just so someone else can't have it. In other words, it's wrong.
The sudden departure of former Amiga president Jim Collas was the first indication that all was not well at Gateway, Amiga's parent company. Collas was free-willed and eager to talk with the Amiga community and his words of progress on the Amiga Web site were obviously as disdained by the executives at Gateway as they were loved by Amiga's fans. But this week, Amiga president and CEO Thomas J. Schmidt destroyed whatever hope and dreams Amiga users and developers had that their platform would continue into the new Millennium.
Let's hear it in his words (the full letter can be found on the Amiga Web site):
"First, I hope you'd agree that Amiga was never about a box. It was never about an operating system either. Sure those things were part of what made the original Amiga great, but at its heart, Amiga was simply about a better way," wrote Schmidt, clearing misunderstanding what the Amiga is, in fact, all about. "Amiga was ahead of its time. Amiga promised to change the world. It ran against conventional wisdom and was better than anything out there at the time. In fact, we could all argue that it's still better than anything out there."
No, we can't. And he's wrong: The Amiga was about the box. It was about the operating system. It was all about the unbelievable synthesis between hardware and software. That's what the Amiga was all about. And right now, the man in charge of this unbelievable franchise has absolutely no idea what he's talking about. Amiga fans, be worried.
"The original Amiga was all about multi-media (sic), so why not have Amiga running on every type of device imaginable, on top of every other OS out there?" he asks, seemingly to an empty room. "Limiting Amiga to just one box and one OS at this point would be like offering the world a better horse and carriage at the dawn of the automotive age. Amiga and its revolutionary spirit deserve better than that. Amiga is going to produce software technology that will enable Internet services on an emerging category of products commonly referred to as 'Information Appliances.' It is an exciting new mega trend in the industry and we are excited about being at the forefront of this next great wave in computing history. In addition, we have decided to work with business partners who will deliver our software technology on their systems, rather than enter the hardware business directly."
In other words, it's over. The promises Gateway made about new Amiga machines have amounted to nothing. The years of waiting have amounted to nothing. And Gateway has effectively killed the most underrated and unappreciated set of technologies that's ever been created.
Bravo, Gateway, bravo.