Hall of Fame http://www.stuff.tv/hall-fame/features en-GB Hall of Fame: Atari ST - the computer that kickstarted the home recording boom http://www.stuff.tv/hall-fame-atari-st-computer-kickstarted-home-recording-boom/feature <div class="field field-type-text field-field-standfirst"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Gamers had the Amiga 500, programmers had the Acorn Archimedes – but for musicians, there was only one computer worth having in the &#039;80s: the Atari ST </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_main_image" width="2807" height="1908" title="Atari ST" alt="Atari ST" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/images/news/Atari1040STf.jpg?1385118129" /> </div> </div> </div> <p>One day, a blockbuster movie about the '80s race to deliver the first 16-bit home computer will be made. The story has all the right ingredients; rivalry, betrayal, shady industrial deals and a bevy of plucky underdogs scrapping to ship their compact computer first.&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-byline"> <div class="field-label">Byline:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/users/karl-hodge" title="View user profile.">Karl Hodge</a> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-sections"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Atari Teenage Riot </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Atari had massive success with arcade games and home consoles. In the '70s and early '80s the company sold over 30 million Atari 2600 cartridge-based consoles.</p> <p>But in 1983, the games market was hit by a recession that slashed revenues by two thirds. The <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/commodore/commodore-starts-shipping-revamped-c64s/news" target="_blank">Commodore 64</a> and, in Europe, the <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/5-best-zx-spectrum-homages/news" target="_blank">Sinclair Spectrum</a> had torn a hole in the space-time continuum. It was now possible to have your own computer at home; a multi-purpose device that could do anything you programmed it to do. The shops were full of video game consoles that no one wanted.</p> <p>Atari had already attempted a direct Commodore 64 competitor - the Atari 800. Largely forgotten, it flopped in Europe and failed to gain much traction in the States. Rattled and counting their coppers, Atari split in two and sold off its consumer division, continuing the arcade business as Atari Games.</p> <p>The buyer was the fearsome Jack Tramiel, an astute businessman who had founded and then lead Commodore International to success. He left Commodore behind and was now setting up shop as its biggest rival.&nbsp;</p> <p>Darryl Still, Head of Marketing for Atari Corp. in Europe during the ST’s launch remembers the time as one driven by energy and purpose.</p> <p>“The ST was the first major launch by the new management team and everyone was totally behind the product, so there was a huge shift in enthusiasm internally,” says Still, “(It was) the first machine with a keyboard, decent resolution and low entry price that took the computer into the family environment at home.”</p> <p>The Atari ST came to market in June 1985, &nbsp;a full 18 months before the Amiga 500.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="messages warning">This video is not currently supported.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="2951" height="1215" title="Atari ST" alt="Atari ST" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/atariports.jpg?1385118129" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> First! </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In common with the original Macintosh and the Amiga, the Atari ST boasted a Motorola 68000 CPU. Though a 260ST shipped in small numbers through Europe, the 520ST was the classic entry point - a home computer with half a meg of RAM, a built in keyboard, mouse and colour output to your TV.</p> <p>The basic hardware was similar to the Amiga 500 that would come along in January 1987, but even Atari evangelists admit that corners were cut.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Technically the Amiga was maybe 15% better than the ST when it launched, but the end user never initially saw that superiority,” says Darryl Still , “We had done such a great job with the developer sector, they all developed for the ST first and ported directly to Amiga, so never used the extra features that the Commodore machine had.”</p> <p>And developers saw the ST’s hardware shortcomings as a challenge.</p> <p>“We really started working on it because the sound on the ST was so limited compared to the Amiga - 3 voice beeps plus noise,” says Kevin Cowtan, co-developer of seminal audio sequencer Quartet, “The Amiga had a real sound synth on board, which meant all the clever stuff was unnecessary. Working on the Amiga would have taken all the fun out of it.”</p> <p>One huge plus was the operating system. Dubbed TOS (an acronym for The Operating System or Tramiel Operating System). Hard coded into the machine on a ROM chip, it boasted the windowed GEM interface - a graphic UI similar to Mac OS. Developed for PCs, GEM featured many of the intuitive elements we’re familiar with now.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="messages warning">This video is not currently supported.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="600" height="375" title="Atari ST GEM" alt="Atari ST GEM" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/gem.png?1385118129" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Connected Computer </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The ST had amazing connectivity. It seemed capable of hooking up to every standard peripheral protocol going at the time - and a few that Atari invented from scratch. It, of course, supported the iconic Atari joystick. Two of ‘em. And Atari’s history in gaming meant that it launched with an enviable roster.</p> <p>“The turning point for this was when we launched the ST Power Pack with 24 really cool games,” says Darryl Still, “The pack itself was a monstrous success, selling millions, but also managed to really hack off the developer and publisher sector, because the end user had no need to buy any more games for some time after their initially hardware purchase.”</p> <p>Devs responded by pushing the limits of what the ST could do, with some awesome consequences. Dungeon Master was the ST game everyone had to own - a role playing hack and slash through an underworld of reanimated mummies and sword wielding skeletons, it cleverly offered gameplay in three dimensions while only ever showing two. If you’ve never been cornered by a manic mushroom, modern homage Legend of Grimrock recreates the experience via Steam for PC and Mac.</p> <p>Llamasoft’s Jeff Minter continues to create outrageous, experimental games for mobile platforms, but back in the ST days his game Llamatron blew our tiny minds. A psychedelic reimagining of Atari’s own Robotron, we delighted in pausing at the moment of death – our reward, a hidden sample that screamed “Oh f@#k!” through tinny TV speakers.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="video-wrapper youtube-player-wrapper"> <iframe width="640" height="385" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8_38YzSUg7M" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Dungeon Master" alt="Dungeon Master" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/dungeon-master-atari-st.jpg?1385118129" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Ray of Light </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>But ST aficionados know that gaming was only the gateway with this marvellous machine. There was one thing it had that none of its rivals could boast - that was direct MIDI support.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the late 80s and early 90s, almost every top forty album was recorded with some assistance from Atari. Famously, several were entirely cobbled together with the help of the ST, including Depeche Mode’s “Ultra” and Madonna’s “Ray of Light”. Fatboy Slim was reported to still use his Atari ST as recently as 2012...</p> <p>Incredibly, it all seemed to take Atari by surprise.</p> <p>“I do of course, like to take full credit for the massive growth into this sector, but truthfully, I’m not sure I could have stopped it even if I’d tried,” says Darryl Still, “It was a very exciting rollercoaster to be driving at that time and all because someone in engineering had the insight to put a MIDI chip in the machine.”</p> <p>Most systems that rocket to superstardom can thank key pieces of killer software. &nbsp;For the Mac, it was Photoshop. PCs rose to prominence through blanket adoption of Microsoft Office. For the Atari ST, it was Steinberg’s Cubase.</p> <p>Still going - though now more often seen on the PC platform, Cubase transformed the Atari ST into a MIDI sequencer and recording studio controller</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="messages warning">This video is not currently supported.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="640" height="400" title="Cubase" alt="Cubase" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/cubase.gif?1385118129" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-2"> <div class="field-label">Image #2:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_2" width="1200" height="900" title="Albums" alt="Albums" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/albums.jpg?1385118129" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-4"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Phat Controller </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“The Atari ST was unique,” says Wolfgang Kundrus, who was a Software Architect at Steinberg when Cubase was developed, “For one it had a MIDI interface build right in. But maybe more important for the impact it made when it appeared on the market was the high resolution display and the mouse at an affordable price.”</p> <p>“It also brought a strong sense of usability. I wanted the software to be so easy to use, that anybody could understand it and get out of the way during the process of making music.”</p> <p>The fact that Atari STs running Cubase continued as the industry standard, long past the point when Atari stopped making the machines, is testimony to how special the combination was.</p> <p>Now, Atari is little more than a name. Acquired first by a storage company, then Hasbro toys, then French software developer Infogrames, there’s nothing left of the scrappy hardware company that Jack Tramiel lead.</p> <p>But Atari STs in good condition continue to be sought after items on eBay, alongside the vintage synth modules and drum machines they used to power. And rightly so.</p> <p>We have to celebrate you, ST. We have to praise you like we should.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="video-wrapper youtube-player-wrapper"> <iframe width="640" height="385" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Ex1qzIggZnA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-carousel-item"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-carousel-item-title"> <div class="field-label">Carousel item title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hall of Fame: Atari ST </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-carousel-item-standfirst"> <div class="field-label">Carousel item standfirst:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The MIDI machine for 80s musicians </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <p><a href="http://www.stuff.tv/hall-fame-atari-st-computer-kickstarted-home-recording-boom/feature" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://www.stuff.tv/hall-fame-atari-st-computer-kickstarted-home-recording-boom/feature#comments Hall of Fame Sat, 16 Nov 2013 09:02:44 +0000 Stephen Graves 1429138 at http://www.stuff.tv Hall of Fame: Amiga 500, the computer that showed consoles how it's done http://www.stuff.tv/hall-fame-amiga-500/feature <div class="field field-type-text field-field-standfirst"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Part computer, part games console, entirely awesome. The Amiga 500 was the computer that was too cool for school work </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_main_image" width="2531" height="1965" title="Amiga 500" alt="Amiga 500" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/images/news/Amiga500.jpg?1383688194" /> </div> </div> </div> <p>20 years since I last used an Amiga 500, the thing I still think about most is balls. Bouncing balls.</p> <p>Your mate would turn up at your house after tea with a blue diskette in his blazer pocket. The label would be torn off and the legend “DEMO” scrawled across it. You’d slot the disk in and boot up. Moments (OK, several minutes) later, a cacophony of crunchy, 16-bit rave would be blasting from your speakers and, on screen, a chrome ball would be floating over a checkered board.&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-byline"> <div class="field-label">Byline:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/users/karl-hodge" title="View user profile.">Karl Hodge</a> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-sections"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Back to the Future </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In 1982, three Florida dentists had $7 million to invest. Video games were scorching hot at the time; the future of entertainment.&nbsp;</p> <p>They would provide the seed capital for David Morse, a former Marketing VP from Tonka Toys, and Atari alumni Jay Miner to start a new company to build a killer games console. It was a radical idea, but Miner’s ambitions went above and beyond.</p> <p>“I had wanted for years to build a super personal computer based around the Motorola 68000,” Miner told Amiga User International in 1988. “Atari had turned me down and here was my big chance.”</p> <p>Conveniently, Miner’s team neglected to tell their investors about this part of the plan.</p> <p>Two years later, with the $7 million spent and debts mounting, Amiga had a prototype codenamed “Lorraine” to show off at CES. Typical of engineering lead design, the Amiga architecture was all there, but the machine didn’t yet have a case. It was still a bunch a components laid out on plugboards.</p> <p>But it worked. Miner’s team wrote a multi-tasking demo at the show, dubbed “Boing”. It displayed a 3D ball with real-time physics, bouncing on a grid. In 1984, it was the most advanced demonstration of graphics and processing capability on a system of its size. The show’s collective gobs were smacked.</p> <p>The buzz created by “Boing” was too late for the dentists, though. In an extraction as brutal as any wisdom tooth removal, they pulled their funding.&nbsp;</p> <p>It was the best thing that could have happened for the Amiga 500.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="video-wrapper youtube-player-wrapper"> <iframe width="640" height="385" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/qwFbWkr71wA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1000" height="277" title="Amiga Logo" alt="Amiga Logo" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/amigalogo.png?1383688194" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Commodore sails to the Rescue </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>“Commodore came along and bought Amiga and saved us,” Jay Miner told Amiga User International in 1988. “Commodore was very good in the beginning.”</p> <p>Canadian company Commodore had a strong track record in home computing. According to RJ Mical, a lead software engineer at Amiga, the new owners invested $27 million into R&amp;D. Feeling flush, the team’s first step was to quickly polish up the Lorraine prototype, put it in a box and bring it to market as the Amiga 1000. That was done and dusted within 12 months.</p> <p>The second step was to strip back and optimise the Amiga 1000, creating the compact home computer system Jay Miner had envisaged right from the beginning. Five years in the making, the first Amiga 500 shipped in 1987.</p> <p>The Amiga 500 boasted a wedge-shaped design with an integrated keyboard. It was a popular form factor at the time, shared with contemporaries the <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/stuff-hall-fame-acorn-archimedes-and-arm-processor/feature">Acorn Archimedes</a> and the Atari ST.&nbsp;</p> <p>With an RF adaptor that enabled you to plug the machine into any telly, joystick ports at the back and an integrated floppy disk drive, the Amiga 500 was compact and lightweight enough to chuck in your school bag. Armed with a stack of contraband disks, cracked by pirate crews like RZR or Paradox, it was all you needed for a Saturday afternoon of black market gaming round your mate’s crib (actually, his bedroom).&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="messages warning">This video is not currently supported.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Amiga" alt="Amiga" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/amiga.jpg?1383688194" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Blistering Blitter </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Out of the box, the Amiga’s greatest strength was in graphics. Workbench was one of a cluster of windowed user interfaces to debut in the mid-'80s, but the Amiga’s 3D and colour handling were unprecedented.</p> <p>A media chipset with three dedicated processors worked all the magic. Dubbed Agnus and Denise respectively, the memory controller and video chips enabled the Amiga to process true 3D and render screens in up to 32 colours in game.&nbsp;</p> <p>Developers were able to push that restriction further. Core Design’s 1994 title Universe, for example, hacked the Amiga’s colour addressing capability to display 256 colours on screen. The Amiga’s famed Hold and Modify (HAM) mode could chuck up to 4096 colours on screen - but only with static imagery.</p> <p>It would have seemed ludicrous to have all that high end hardware at home just to play games. Especially when the Amiga 500, debuting at £499, had a price point to match its specifications. Allowing for inflation, that’s equivalent to £1,190; about the price of a high-end PC now.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="video-wrapper youtube-player-wrapper"> <iframe width="640" height="385" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/-VpK9QKLRQI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sensible Software </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Though the Amiga 500 was aimed at the home market, some serious apps trickled down from the Amiga 1000 to its diminutive cousin.</p> <p>Early desktop publisher PageStream and leading office application Wordperfect were among those tools - but the program that made the Amiga 500 sing was Deluxe Paint. Taking full advantage of the computer’s famed HAM mode, it was the first, functional colour image processing tool for personal computers, years before Photoshop.</p> <p>Despite the cost of the box and Jay Miner’s ambition, the majority of Amiga 500 owners were still gamers. The proof is in the number of titles released on the Amiga first during that period. Games that invented the mechanics of modern video gaming.</p> <p>The definitive version of The Secret of Monkey Island was the Amiga’s; a title that continues to influence point and click adventuring to this day. Another World sequel Flashback and the largely forgotten 3D explorer Corporation boasted many elements later found in first person shooters, a long time before Wolfenstein.&nbsp;</p> <p>Then there was Cannon Fodder, a military strategy game that highlighted the pointlessness of war with snarky, dark humour - long before Portal or GTA dared to take gameplay to that level of sophistication. And Lemmings, the Angry Birds of the early '90s.</p> <p>We can’t talk about Amiga gaming without mentioning Sensible Soccer. Or Syndicate. Or Speedball 2 or Defender of the Crown or Zool. All pushed the envelope until it was a flat piece of paper.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="640" height="400" title="Deluxe Paint" alt="Deluxe Paint" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/deluxepaint.jpg?1383688194" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-2"> <div class="field-label">Image #2:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_2" width="640" height="400" title="Cannon Fodder" alt="Cannon Fodder" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/cannonfodder.png?1383688194" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-4"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The Legacy </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Amiga 500’s hardware expansion capabilities gave it a longevity that modern devices couldn’t touch. Though it was officially discontinued in 1991, mainstream developers continued to ship software that ran on the Amiga 500 well into the '90s.&nbsp;</p> <p>Commodore upgraded the basic template with the short-lived 500+ in 1991. But the final model based on the 68000 CPU, the Amiga 600 was widely considered a screw-up. Initially designed as a budget version of the 500+, it shipped in 1992 as its replacement. Enthusiasts stuck with the 500 and 500+.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Amiga was the last – and, for many, the best – of the home computers. A machine designed for playing games that was powerful enough to do serious graphics work. An all-in-one computer that encouraged users to explore and expand their knowledge; that invited hardware hackers and demo programmers to prove its worth.&nbsp;</p> <p>It was the last time a mainstream computer would be as good as its community of users pushed it to be.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="700" height="481" title="hammode" alt="hammode" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/hammode.png?1383688194" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-carousel-item"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-carousel-item-title"> <div class="field-label">Carousel item title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hall of Fame: Amiga 500 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-carousel-item-standfirst"> <div class="field-label">Carousel item standfirst:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The first console killer </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <p><a href="http://www.stuff.tv/hall-fame-amiga-500/feature" target="_blank">read more</a></p> http://www.stuff.tv/hall-fame-amiga-500/feature#comments Hall of Fame Mon, 28 Oct 2013 17:53:03 +0000 Stephen Graves 1428493 at http://www.stuff.tv Hall of Fame: Sony PlayStation, the games console that changed everything http://www.stuff.tv/playstation/hall-fame-sony-playstation/feature <div class="field field-type-text field-field-standfirst"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> As the PS4 draws ever closer, let’s take a look at the console that kickstarted a gaming revolution: the first Sony PlayStation </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_main_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Sony PlayStation" alt="Sony PlayStation" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/images/news/original-psx.jpg?1380015893" /> </div> </div> </div> <p>No one can pretend that the original PlayStation was pretty. It was an ugly grey slab, like a paving stone with a pan lid on top. But opening that pan lid was the gateway to worlds we’d never seen before.</p> <p>You could immerse yourself in the waterways of Venice and the catacombs below. The hidden race tracks of Mars. The ancient castles of, um, Southeastern Australia. All in three glorious dimensions thanks to Ken Kutaragri’s 32-bit chip, boasting technology first used in Silicon Graphics workstations.</p> <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-byline"> <div class="field-label">Byline:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/users/karl-hodge" title="View user profile.">Karl Hodge</a> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-sections"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Finishing Move </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Launched first in Japan, Sony PlayStations continued to roll off the production line for a staggering 10 years - from 1994 to 2004. The design changed along the way - significantly when it was rebooted as the PSOne in 2000 - but the hardware was basically the same. Only one other console beats it for longevity: the PlayStation 2.</p> <p>It took almost a year for the PlayStation to reach the USA and Europe after its Japanese debut. Hitting European shops in September 1995, 600,000 consoles were sold before New Year’s Eve. A further 800,000 PlayStations found their way into American homes.</p> <p>The entrenched market leaders were Sega and Nintendo. They’d invested heavily in fifth generation products – the Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64 – and both were left in the dust with the letters “KO” floating over their battered corpses.</p> <p>By 2007, Sony had sold 102 million PlayStations and made gaming thoroughly mainstream. What went so right? Funnily enough, Nintendo had a hand in that too.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="messages warning">This video is not currently supported.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The Super Nintendo Sony Play Station </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A games console called the Sony PlayStation (or Play Station, to nitpick) debuted at CES in 1991, a full three years and change before its eventual launch in Japan. But the console that Sony exec and hardware engineer Ken Kutaragi demonstrated at the show was pretty familiar looking. That’s because it was a SNES, with a CD Rom player built in.</p> <p>Kutaragi lead the PlayStation project from day one, building links with Nintendo and creating new technology for the game giant alongside his day job at Sony. But the day after the CES demo, Nintendo announced that they were partnering with Philips instead.</p> <p>That may seem like lunacy through the magic rear view mirror of hindsight, but in 1991 Philips was a global leader in multimedia technology rather than just a lightbulb and toothbrush maker. Undeterred, the PlayStation team regrouped under Sony Music’s protective wing, kissed their teef in Nintendo’s direction and set out to build a standalone console, codenamed the PS-X.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="messages warning">This video is not currently supported.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Super Nintendo Sony Play Station" alt="Super Nintendo Sony Play Station" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/nintendo-playstation.jpg?1380015893" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Gaming: The Next Generation </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A successful console launch depends on a number of tasty ingredients. If the piquancy of hardware power was all that mattered, the Atari Jaguar would have kick-started the video game revolution instead. If sweet, sticky branding was all anyone cared about, the Sega Saturn would have trounced all comers.</p> <p>“The Sega Saturn was the only serious competitor to the PSX,” says <a href="http://www.megadrive.me">Jake Smith</a>, a digital designer who began his career testing PlayStation titles at Sony owned Psygnosis. “The games showed promise, but the high price tag proved a sticking point early on.”</p> <p>Timing is important too, which is one reason why the Nintendo 64 failed to tickle many taste-buds when it finally shipped in 1996.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="video-wrapper youtube-player-wrapper"> <iframe width="640" height="385" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/zOZr6HXSYKQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Polygon Baby, Gone </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The PlayStation’s success is a story of elements in balance, of luck and foresight coming together at the right time. And it began with the hardware.</p> <p>“A) it was CD based. And B) it did PROPER 3D via hardware,”&nbsp; says Stewart Gilray, a veteran game developer and producer who now heads up <a href="http://www.jawltd.com">Just Add Water Ltd</a>. “I don’t think anyone actually believed it was going to take off as much as it did, but then it did and the rest is history…”</p> <p>The SNES had pseudo 3D with pre-rendered sprites and real, polygonal 3D in Super FX powered games like Star Fox, but the PlayStation’s SGI inspired 32-bit CPU could fling 180,000 texture-mapped polygons on screen per second.</p> <p>Though 3D was an essential component, the successful switch from cartridge to CD based gaming can’t be emphasised enough.</p> <p>“The storage format, CD, meant that immersive games were longer and offered more depth in a larger universe, something gamers had never experienced before,” says Jake Smith. “I'll never forget the visit [to Psygnosis] and my first play on a PSX. One of the lads let me sit down and put headphones on for a go on Wipeout. Suffice to say it blew my mind, and I can remember thinking ‘this changes everything!’”</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="video-wrapper youtube-player-wrapper"> <iframe width="640" height="385" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/fWul0Fge1DA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-4"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Oh My. It’s full of Games </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>When X comes to O, game consoles are only as good as their games. And the roster of PlayStation classics, from Tekken and Need for Speed III to FIFA 2005 and FF IX, is long and illustrious.</p> <p>“The games that Sony launched the system with were spectacular, particularly in comparison to what else there was at the time,” says Matt Spall who was a producer and development manager at Virgin Interactive, Psygnosis and Take 2 during the PlayStation’s lifetime. He cites a first look at Ridge Racer as a moment of epiphany.</p> <p>Industry insiders confirm that the sterling quality of the PlayStation library wasn’t just down to the plastic and metal in the box.</p> <p>“We had fantastic SDK Libraries from Sony, so it was fun,” says Stewart Gilray. “When we started seeing stuff we were working on coming to life on the hardware it was great, a sense of achievement.”</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="video-wrapper youtube-player-wrapper"> <iframe width="640" height="385" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Ny7J1zCgQJo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-5"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Golden Oldie </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>That level of support and a concentration on creativity accounts in part for the PlayStation’s longevity.</p> <p>“The games got progressively better and better during the console’s life,” says Jake Smith. “That was a by-product of good developer tools. A host of franchises had multiple releases during the PSX's lifespan. High quality, high production series like Resident Evil, Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy.”</p> <p>Sony knew how to protect their brand too. <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/last-us/review">The Last of Us</a> on the PS3 was this year’s big exclusive - and the original PlayStation had its share of exclusive titles, from Syphon Filter through to Crash Bandicoot, the PSX’s equivalent of Sonic or Mario.</p> <p>“Sony always seemed to be very proactive in ensuring high profile exclusives, or exclusivity periods,” says Matt Spall. “If you wanted to play the most interesting and innovative products, you had a PlayStation.”</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Sony PSOne" alt="Sony PSOne" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/ps-one.jpg?1380015893" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-6"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-carousel-item"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-carousel-item-title"> <div class="field-label">Carousel item title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hall of Fame: Sony PlayStation </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-carousel-item-standfirst"> <div class="field-label">Carousel item standfirst:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The console that kickstarted a gaming revolution </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <p><a href="http://www.stuff.tv/playstation/hall-fame-sony-playstation/feature" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Games consoles Hall of Fame PlayStation Sony Thu, 19 Sep 2013 17:05:18 +0000 Sam Kieldsen 1426860 at http://www.stuff.tv Stuff Hall of Fame: Acorn Archimedes, the original ARM computer http://www.stuff.tv/stuff-hall-fame-acorn-archimedes-and-arm-processor/feature <div class="field field-type-text field-field-standfirst"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> This Acorn RISC Machine began a revolution in low power, high performance chip design that gave rise to the smartphone revolution. And boy, was it fun </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_main_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Stuff Hall of Fame: The Acorn Archimedes and ARM Processor" alt="Stuff Hall of Fame: The Acorn Archimedes and ARM Processor" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/images/news/acorn-a300.jpg?1376814732" /> </div> </div> </div> <p>It was lunchtime at end of the 1980s. Outside the science classroom there was the usual cacophony of dinner money embezzlement, girls perfecting Madonna’s moves and lads giving each other Chinese burns.</p> <p>But inside the lab there was focused silence. The boys of the computer club tapped a simple program into the school’s brand new Acorn Archimedes 305.</p> <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-byline"> <div class="field-label">Byline:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/users/karl-hodge" title="View user profile.">Karl Hodge</a> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-sections"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Eureka! </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Billeted in Cambridge, Acorn Computers Ltd enjoyed an early marketing coup when they won a contract to produce the BBC Micro, a compact home computer with the backing of the nation’s biggest broadcaster. The 8-bit machines were ubiquitous in schools throughout the '80s. It went through several iterations, each retaining the distinctive black and red keyboard colour scheme.</p> <p>Released in 1987, the Acorn Archimedes built on the success of the BBC Micro and was ahead of its time in two keys ways; it had an operating system with a graphical user interface and, even more importantly, it had a new 32-bit CPU; the ARM2.</p> <p>Though the Archimedes was the first computer to boast a full ARM-based architecture, the seeds for its development went further back - almost as far as the original BBC Micro - to 1983.</p> <p>As the story goes, Acorn looked at every other chip in the market for its next generation of machines, including Intel's 80286 processor and the Motorola 68000 that powered early Macs. None of them met Acorn's stringent criteria, so they made their own.</p> <p>Before the Archimedes, Acorn equipped existing machines with prototype ARM1 chips as second processors, simulating the Archimedes instruction set in a program written in BBC BASIC. The in-house machines were used for CAD operations and the intensive process of designing a next generation computer from the floor up.</p> <p>In true Terminator fashion, the ARM processor was actually used to develop itself...</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="messages warning">This video is not currently supported.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="BBC Micro" alt="BBC Micro" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/bbc-micro.jpg?1376814732" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Wired for Sound and Video </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Archimedes was an impressive machine, the sum of many parts and a leap forward from its innovative predecessor.</p> <p>“It had a quality sound system integrated into standard hardware – 8-channel stereo when almost everyone else had a beep,”says Kevin Coleman, who was the Head of Group Marketing at Acorn during the Archimedes's life cycle, “There was a ROM-based operating system, so it was pretty much instant on rather than having to boot from disk.”</p> <p>Another notable feature at launch was RAM capacity; 4MB for the top of the range Archimedes 440 at a time when 512k to 1MB was standard in home machines.&nbsp; It also came with a hard drive controller, with accompanying HD depending on the model. A separate video chip gave the machine 256 colour capability at lower resolutions (640 x 256), leaving contemporary competitors like the Commodore Amiga in the dust.</p> <p>Though lauded for the thousands of colours it could display in static HAM ('Hold and Modify') mode, the contemporary Amiga 500 could only manage 32 colours in normal operation. 'Pwned' is the word… or would be if had existed in the '80s.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="messages warning">This video is not currently supported.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Acorn A3010" alt="Acorn A3010" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/acorn-a3010.jpg?1376814732" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Strong Arm </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Acorn Archimedes was steadily updated from 1987 to 1992, with its most powerful iteration boasting an ARM3 CPU, 8MB of RAM and an internal hard disk&nbsp; with a whopping 160MB capacity. More than comparable in power to the i486 Intel PCs becoming popular as business computers at the time.</p> <p>Huge users of the original BBC Micro - in part due to the BBC’s Computer Literacy scheme and the simplicity of BBC Basic - British schools were a key market for the Archimedes. But they weren’t weren’t the only customers.</p> <p>Our early Archimedes memories are filled with graphic fragments of BASIC programming and word processing, multimedia encyclopedias, desktop publishing and spread sheets. It was a jolting change from the green screen world of the early PC.</p> <p>But when the parents weren't looking the Archimedes came into its own. It was one of the first serious computers to do serious games, including the best version of space trader and galaxy explorer Elite.</p> <p>The Archimedes video processor enabled smooth 3D graphics, while 8-channel audio meant that a MIDI version of The Blue Danube had never sounded as good. “It was favoured as a fast games machine for a while. In house we had a networked version of Quake which was pretty impressive,” says Coleman. “The graphics and multimedia were valuable for simulation or testing. Westlands used them for helicopter maintenance training, for example.”</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="video-wrapper youtube-player-wrapper"> <iframe width="640" height="385" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/653Ger80ros" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> ARM went everywhere </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>And driving these powerful applications, was the ARM (Acorn RISC Machine) processor; the chip designed to be cheap to manufacture, cheap to run and easy to program. RISC means 'reduced instruction set'. With fewer instructions, the chip was easier to manufacture and fit onto a smaller, cheaper, wafer of silicon.</p> <p>Acorn devs did the job so well that 25 years later we’re still using them. Not the exact same chip, of course, but CPUs built with the same philosophy, with the same design attributes and the same name.</p> <p>“Archimedes gave us the Oracle network computer, the first digital interactive TV set-top box...” says Coleman. “And remember - the Apple Newton.”</p> <p>Recognising the importance of the chip, the development of ARM was spun off into a separate company, part owned by Apple. These days the acronym stands for Advanced RISC Machine - but it’s still the low consumption, streamlined chip that Acorn devs designed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="ARM 5000" alt="ARM 5000" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/a5000-chipset.jpg?1376814732" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-4"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> ...and now ARM rules the world </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>ARM chips are now in set-top boxes, netbooks, game consoles and tablet PCs. And smart TVs, sat-navs, smartwatches and fridges. And servers, hard disks, chip-and-PIN cards, washing machines, music streamers... even brake pads.</p> <p>They power most smartphones, including almost all Androids. <a href="http://www.stuff.tv/raspberry-pi/news">Raspberry Pi</a>, the closest thing we have to a modern-day BBC Micro, has an ARM at its core. The A-series CPUs powering iPads and iPhones are built around ARM processors. The next ones will be too.</p> <p>As ARM co-founder John Biggs once quipped to Stuff, "You know how people say you're never more than 3m away from a rat? You're probably never more than 3m away from an ARM chip."</p> <p>All this is possible because a British company and a team of ten Cambridge engineers were cocky enough to think they could make a chip that was better than the existing American designs, the hot-running, expensive Motorola 6502 architecture that had been dominant since the '70s.</p> <p>With BBC Micro designers Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber at the lead, the team took just 18 months to assemble their prototype. A couple of years later, they'd built an entirely new kind of computer around it.</p> <p>“It was described at the time as ‘typical Acorn arrogance’” says Coleman. “This wouldn’t have happened if Acorn hadn’t wanted ARM for the Archimedes. Makes you think, doesn’t it?”</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="ARM based devices" alt="ARM based devices" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/arm-based-devices.jpg?1376814732" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <p><a href="http://www.stuff.tv/stuff-hall-fame-acorn-archimedes-and-arm-processor/feature" target="_blank">read more</a></p> Hall of Fame Fri, 16 Aug 2013 17:47:52 +0000 Sam Kieldsen 1425615 at http://www.stuff.tv Stuff Hall of Fame: Psion Series 5 http://www.stuff.tv/stuff-hall-fame-psion-series-5/feature <div class="field field-type-text field-field-standfirst"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Before smartphones organised our whole lives, there were PDAs – and the mighty Psion Series 5 was king among them </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-main-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_main_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Stuff Hall of Fame: Psion Series 5" alt="Stuff Hall of Fame: Psion Series 5" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/images/news/series5.jpg?1375872402" /> </div> </div> </div> <p>It was the beginning of the space year 1999 and, as a travelling hack, I was in need of an ultra mobile computer. Already delivering work by email and keeping in touch with editors online, I required a device that was portable enough to slip into a bag or a pocket.</p> <p>The gadget I chose changed the way I worked forever. Cue swelling violins as I turn to the camera and say: it was a Psion Series 5.</p> <div class="field field-type-userreference field-field-byline"> <div class="field-label">Byline:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/users/karl-hodge" title="View user profile.">Karl Hodge</a> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-sections"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> What was the Psion Series 5? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Before smartphones and ultrabooks, the compact Psion Series 5 was the canine’s cojones in portable computing.</p> <p>Clearly, we already had laptops at the end of the 90s, but few that weighed under 3.5 kilos (about 8 lbs) and they slurped up battery power. As for mobile phones, that’s all they were; phones.</p> <p>That left the Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or “electronic organiser”. Released in 1998, the Psion Series 5 was a PDA with bells and whistles as well as all the nuts and bolts. Pop in a couple of AAs and you were good to go for up to 25 hours of awesome computing.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-hcmvideofield-video field-field-brightcove-video"> <div class="field-label">Video ID/URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="messages warning">This video is not currently supported.</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A Computer in your Palm </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Series 5 and its more powerful progeny the Series 5mx (launched in 1999) was compact, streamlined and ultra-portable. Measuring 170 by 90 millimetres, it weighed just a third of a kilo.</p> <p>With its 640 x 240 LCD touchscreen in 16 glorious shades of grey, the 32bit Series 5 shipped with a stylus for selecting items on-screen.</p> <p>The real marvel of the Series 5 was its clamshell design, which revealed a generously proportioned keyboard when opened. A little jiggery pokery enabled the device to retain keys close to the full size and depth of a traditional notebook keyboard, in a fraction of the space.</p> <p>There is always competition and in 1998 the Series 5 did battle against the Palm III and its offspring. Handheld PDAs with similar battery life, the Palm III series boasted better connectivity with Windows and Mac. But the Series 5 had a faster CPU, packed in more RAM, had a much larger screen - and there was that keyboard. The Palm was a personal organiser; the Series 5 was a proper personal computer.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Series 5mx" alt="Series 5mx" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/series5mx.jpg?1375872402" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Things could only get better... </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Series 5 was already totes amazeballs, but it’s the 5mx that Psion fanatics still enthuse about.</p> <p>“When we launched the Series 5mx, all of the little niggles had been addressed,” says Anthony Garvey, Head of PR for Psion from 1999 to 2003, “It was twice as fast with twice the memory and consumers upgraded in their thousands.”</p> <p>Any PDA of the era was only as good as its software. Fortunately, alongside the standard address book and calendar functionality you’d expect, Series 5 devices came equipped with every application you needed to set up office away from home. They were genuine 32 bit apps running on EPOC, later renamed Symbian OS.</p> <p>“The Series 5 word processor, spreadsheet and agenda applications were all minor miracles, in terms of rich functionality,” says David Wood, who was Software Architect at Psion when the Series 5 was launched.</p> <p>In my case, I was able to hook my Series 5mx to an external Palmtop GPS receiver with Route Planner Millennium software. Made specially for the Series 5 by a company that would later rename itself TomTom, it was an early, enthusiast’s route to in-car navigation - at a fraction of the price.</p> <p>And though there was no built-in Internet connectivity, the Series 5’s IrDA, infrared port enabled it to connect wirelessly to peripherals. With a DI28 infrared modem and Sony Ericsson T28 mobile phone, I was able to file copy and browse the web anywhere - direct from my Series 5 device. It was like living in the future. Assuming the future is a man tapping away at a tiny computer in a '90s Premier Inn.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image"> <div class="field-label">Image #1:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image" width="1200" height="900" title="Series 5mx2" alt="Series 5mx2" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/series5mx2.jpg?1375872402" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-2"> <div class="field-label">Image #2:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_2" width="1200" height="900" title="Symbian" alt="Symbian" src="http://images.cdn.stuff.tv/sites/stuff.tv/files/symbian.jpg?1375872402" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-section-paginate"> <div class="field-label">Paginate on this section:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Don't paginate </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-title"> <div class="field-label">Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Series 5 is Alive </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-body"> <div class="field-label">Body:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the noughties, Psion would continue to innovate, spinning off Symbian to develop OS software for other devices. But the hardware side never repeated the rockstar success of the Series 5 and was eventually swallowed up by Motorola, while Symbian was absorbed into Nokia.</p> <p>But the Series 5 lives on. David Wood uses his every day. “I have more than 20 years of data in my Series 5mx&nbsp; My fingers still know their way around the apps.&nbsp; I find it incredibly convenient.” You can pick up an mx on eBay for less than £50.</p> <p>“We were at the peak of our powers,” Anthony Garvey says of the Series 5’s heyday. “Time magazine ran its lead story on us.&nbsp; There was a photo of David Potter our Chairman and a headline reading ‘the man who keeps Bill Gates awake at night.’</p> <p>“We felt on top of the world,” says Garvey.</p> <p>And for a while, they were.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-number-integer field-field-make-full-width"> <div class="field-label">Make full width:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Do not make full width </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Hall of Fame Fri, 26 Jul 2013 18:23:21 +0000 Sam Kieldsen 1425134 at http://www.stuff.tv