From the team that brought you “From Bedrooms to Billions”, comes the Amiga Years by Nicola and Anthony Caulfield. When their Kickstarter campaign was announced I was instantly attracted to the idea of viewing a documentary focusing on my beloved childhood machine, the Commodore Amiga. Whilst I only owned an Amiga 500 back in its hey day, this documentary explores how the Amiga was conceived! Who would have thought that the story of the Amiga would be a fully fledged dramatic production? Well let me tell you, there are more twists and turns in this story than a ‘good’ episode of Bold and the Beautiful.
Without giving too much away, the documentary details the Amiga’s early plans. The machine was released as the Amiga 1000 back in 1985 for an introductory price of $1295 and boasted a whopping 256 kilobytes of memory, which could be expanded. It prided itself on a custom chipset, although it was based on the Motorola 68000 family of microprocessors. The Amiga 1000 wasn’t an instant success however it laid the framework for the revolutionary Amiga 500 in 1987. The documentary explores the trials and tribulations of personal computers back in the early 80s, whilst it touches upon the Macintosh, their main competitor was the Atari and ironically Jay Miner, who joined Atari in 1970 and worked on and developed a custom integrated circuit, which led to the development of the Atari 2600 was one of the Amiga’s co creators.
As you would come to expect from Nicola and Anthony, they leave no stone uncovered, ensuring they cover all the the key areas and milestones of the Amiga, from the successful and important demo scene, right through to the people that brought the iconic “Paula” sound and music to the most legendary and beloved games you all know and love.
Interviews with key industry people, such as Peter Molyneux, (Populous) known for the Fable Series, Jon Hare & Stoo Cambridge from Sensible Software, SWOS, Cannon Fodder and Wizball, James Sachs, Lead artist on Defender of the Crown, Chris Huelsbeck, composer for the Giana Sisters, Turrican 2 & 3, Eric Chahi, Another World and Ron Gilbert, Maniac Mansion, The Secret of Monkey Island as well as the fore fathers of the Amiga and many more lend credibility to this vastly interesting documentary.
One particular area I would personally like to highlight was that Deluxe Paint had a profound effect on the most iconic games in vintage computing.
The demo scene is covered extremely well, we all remember having these copied blue or black 3.5” discs, inserting them into the Amiga disc port and being overjoyed by fluid animation, beautifully presented sound and humours short stories. This leads straight into piracy and the effect it had on these world class bedroom designers and developers.
I would sincerely recommend this film to anyone that grew up during the 80s and 90s with a personal computer and loved it, you didn’t have to own an Amiga to really appreciate the journey its been on. However, the story will deeply resonate with you if you did!
You can purchase or rent the Amiga Years through Vimeo on the following