Sunday, April 22, 2012

AmigaE for PC

Some old computers are like cult cars - they have souls. Those computers were designed with passion by the greatest visionaries of their times, like Jay Miner or Steve Wozniak. Although Apple is the only brand which has successfully resisted the Wintel domination on the personal computer market (partly by adopting x86 architecture) there are still many devoted fans of other architectures, who not only cherish the memory of their favourite computers by writing new software and organising demoparties, but also by building entirely new machines. Amiga community stands out strongly in this area: you can buy not only hardware like AmigaOne (Sam440 / Sam460) or Natami, but also a new version of AmigaOS called AmigaOS 4. PC users can download AROS, which is an operating system designed to be as compatible as possible with original AmigaOS. I used it for a while on Acer Aspire One Z95 and was very impressed - it was not only blazing fast (booting in less than 8 seconds), but also allowed me to connect to a WiFi network and browse web sites.

The most popular programming languages for Amiga (except assembly and C) were Amos and AmigaE. Amos inspired some PC game programming systems like PlayBasic, DarkBASIC or sdlBasic, but AmigaE successors were for many years available only for MC680x0 CPUs. Now you can get PortablE, which is an improved recreation of AmigaE, and use it to write AmigaE programs on Windows. The only requirement is that you need MinGW installed (I use easy to install TDM-GCC bundle) and cannot use some multimedia libraries, which have not been ported to x86 architecture. However, all shell examples compile and run smoothly, so if you are an Amiga fan (like me) and want to have some fun, you can go back for a moment to writing software in AmigaE again.

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