Ghosts of Christmas Presents – 1993

There’s not a lot I can say about this that I haven’t already said. This was the year my life changed for the better. I got my Amiga 1200! I think I’ve rambled on about this now so much that all I can do is repeat myself, but… I think it’s worth going through again in case I missed something out. Plus, I’m sure my old readers have got bored of these and buggered off by now. This will be the last one, so months of silence will once again prevail, I’m sure.

So, 1993 was the year I’d made friends with a lad called Ste. He had an Amiga 600. At this point, I was either still beavering my way through the stack of C64 disks I had, or fumbling by way through my ageing ZX Spectrum tape collection. I was still stuck in the 8-bit era.

Ste had introduced me to the Amiga, and the greatness that lay within. There was, of course… ahem… “Dulux Paint 2” and its picture of Tutankhamun. It was more the games I was interested in, however. I was blown away with ‘Indianapolis 500’, and the fact the cars actually smashed when you hit them. Little polygon bits would fly about the screen. Also, the floppy disk load times were immeasureably quicker than the Commodore 64 that had a well-documented bug that slowed the loading times from disk.

Ste had the A600. Imagine my surprise and delight when Iripped open the wrapping paper on December 25th 1993 and found the model up, the A1200 staring back at me! This was everything I’d dreamed of, and more. More colours, mome memory. More keyboard! It looked, and felt like a proper computer.

The included games were…. naff. Two of them, namely ‘Oscar‘, and ‘Dennis‘. Those links open longplays of both games if you’re *really* bored.

If you can’t be arsed clicking, Oscar was a character with a weird shaped head, where you had to go around collecting film cannisters in a platformy universe. It was okay, I suppose. My favourite of the two. Dennis, however, was just a waste of two disks. It was based on the American version of “Dennis the Menace”. Some blond haired kid always getting up to mischief, trampling his neighbours flowers and inane stuff like that. It was not entertaining, and I’m pretty sure I formatted the disks shortly after, and used them for something else.

For me though, it wasn’t about the games, it was more about the utilities. The machine game with Dulux Paint 3 (yes, I know it’s Deluxe Paint, but that misnomer still makes me laugh to this day) which was a a step up from the previous version. My ‘expanded’ Amiga meant I had 256 colours to choose from. In fact, I’m pretty sure this was the first thing I loaded up on the machine. There was also Wordworth. A word procrssor. Not exactly exciting back in the day, but coupled with a printer I got much later, this became an essential application.

At the first opportunity, Daddykins and I went and got the ‘essentials’. My Christmas money went on 40 blanks disks from Argos, a copy of Amiga Format, issue 55, an Amiga guidebook, and a copy of “Now That’s What I Call Music! 1986” on cassette. I’d hazard a guess that this particular issue of Amiga Format was their biggest ever seller. For those of you who follow the blog on a regular basis, I buy batches of disks off ebay occasionally, and there’s always a copy of that coverdisk amongst them, namely Diskmaster II. A pretty basic file manager, used for copying files and stuff like that. Not the most exciting piece of software. The guidebook was also pretty useless. I don’t think it told me anything that I didn’t already know within 15 minutes of operating the machine on my own.

Another friend, also called Ste Ilet’s call him Ste 2), introduced me to the world of games a few days later. I remember being around his house when he slipped in some disks named “Cannon Fodder”. The disk drive clicked enthusiastically. He turned the speakers up… “WAR! Never been so much fun!”. If my mind was blown away by Flimbo’s Quest a couple of years prior, I think I’d just gone even more bong-eyed than I already was. Essentially, a full song played digitally from a floppy disk.

Ste 2 has, of course, moved on, but he lived on the main road through Hartlepool at the time. I still pass his old house on a daily basis, and think of that very moment.

Personally, I’d go so far as to say this was the best Xmas gift I ever received. It was unexpected, it got years worth of use. It certainly guided to where I am with computers today. As the years went on, I got a hard drive for it, and as you know, I’ve created an image of that hard drive which still exists to this day.

Sadly, the Amiga itself is not a well puppy.It’s got some type of graphics fault. I took these photos back in 2007, the last time I switched it on.

This is supposed to be the boot-intro to Spindizzy Worlds. My Amiga, during storage, has developed a fault in the video side of things, so all you see is this mix of colours, with an unstable screen
Everything else works, as the sound continues to play.
I’m yet to find out whether it’s a terminal fault which can’t be replaced. I hope not

And that’s that. If you’re reading this on the day it was published, many thanks for taking the time away from your family to sift through my inane ramblings. I wish you and yours all the best for the rest of the festive season, and of course, 2024, where I’m sure I’ll bore you senseless with more inane crap!

Amiganuts…

Cor, (almost) three posts in three days. I must be spoiling you! OK, so the last two weren’t of particular interest to anyone other than those that has a failed NAS drive, but they still count.

I’m happy to report that this one won’t be of interest to anyone either. Sorry about that.

I’ve spent the last few hours on this dreary Sunday morning, by listening to music. Nothing special there, I admit. This is, however, Amiga music. I’ve spent the last few hours going through some of my old favourite Amiga MODs. Now, for those of you who don’t know what a MOD is, or think it’s something you put on an in-game weapon, it’s short for music module, and it was an extremely popular way of making music via computer, using something called a tracker. My writer’s block is creeping up on me already, and I currently can’t describe what a tracker is (except for a delicious cereal bar), but if you ever played a game on an Amiga, Atari ST, and certainly some of the consoles, you can bet it was composed on a tracker. I’ll let Wikipedia tell you if you want to know any more.

I must admit, I’m not much of a musician. I couldn’t carry a note in a bucket, yet still, I spent most of my last school years playing about with OctaMED, ProTracker and various others, knocking out daft little tunes. This was before the days of the internet, and certainly before mass storage was available, therefore, most of my MODs were only heard by a few people. I’d often give Amiga formatted disks to friends with them on, and then think no more of them. Surely, I’d *always* have a copy, and will *always* be able to listen to them. No. Pretty much all of my Amiga data disks have been destroyed. I have a couple of game disks hanging around, but almost any work I’d done on the Amiga is long gone.

A few weeks ago, I discovered I’d actually lost all contact with Wayne, the old school friend who I mentioned a few times on here a few years ago. My only contact with him was through email, and even then, I’d not heard from him for a couple of years. Thanks to the Virgin/NTL email fuckup, I dropped him an email to see if he’d been affected. Turns out he had, and his email address is no longer valid. I know I’d sent him a LOAD of my stuff back in the day. Gutted, I turned to Facebook, to see if any of my other school mates may have had a copy. It drew a blank

Sadly, yet amazingly, the only one I can think of that survives, is one of the very first I ever did, and one of the ones I’m most ashamed of. I never gave it a proper name, but it is heavily based on “mod.fairlight” – if you were lucky enough to get the Amiga Format version of OctaMED on the coverdisk, you’ll recognise this as the demo track that came with it. Before the internet, I had to bastardize what little music I had, in order to learn the program. I was lucky enough to have borrowed a sampler from the afore-mentioned Wayne, which allowed me to record samples and fit them to the music. For this particular MOD, the vocal samples were mainly from a radio talk show, hosted by a person with the initials “TD”, and this is all it was ever known to me…. td.mod

Computers have moved on, I have went through dozens of hard drives, yet still, this td.mod, like a bad penny just simply won’t go away. Chris came round, and I played it to him again after at least 16 years of not hearing it. He couldn’t believe I still had it. It created an instant ear-worm, to the point he was quoting “Salted-salted-salted peanuts?” to me, some 7 days later.

It is, with the least bit of pleasure, I bring you, one of the most painful things to hit human ears.. here it is… TD.MOD!

And that wasn’t even my original point of the post. It would appear my brain got sidetracked about the fact that everything I have ever done is complete shite…