It seems like the technology world is fertile ground for fanboy battles. AMD versus Intel, Nvidia versus ATI, perhaps you’ve heard of a few? For me though, the one battle, the one long-standing argument that always got a rise out of me as a youngster was one of decidedly vintage origin.
Atari versus Amiga.
Oh yes, all you retro lovers out there have just drawn a quick, harsh breath right? Razor memories coming back, furious rhetoric and shaking fists. Atari versus Amiga (and in a broader sense, Amiga versus “The Rest”) was one of the most passionate arguments laid down like a gauntlet at the feet of computer nerds and gamers who grew up in the 80s. If you can’t tell from the clues scattered around this blog, I was firmly in the Amiga camp.
I sincerely doubt I was equipped with all the technical details at the age of 12 to make a completely reasoned argument about why the Amiga was vastly superior to the Atari, but I gave it my best shot. To me it appeared that the Amiga graphics and sound abilities were better and as a result the gaming experience was better. To a 12 year old, this is about all the argument required. Actually, that’s a small lie to make myself sound more like an ordinary child and less like a nerdy one – even at 12 I was keenly aware that the Amiga could do several things the Atari ST couldn’t, like HAM mode, half-brite – all tricks of the architecture but impressive nonetheless. I try to reflect on the possibility that if I’d gotten an Atari instead of an Amiga would I be on the other side of the fence, but I doubt it. For all the technical specifications on either platform, the Amiga just seemed to have more, more soul.
Crazy to use that term, I know – but there was something infinitely more artistic, more passionate about the Amiga platform, the companies and ‘scene’ groups that supported it. It remains one of the last platforms with a sense of personality that so many modern plug-and-play component based systems are bereft of. Atari as you might be aware went on from the ST to develop the equally doomed to failure Jaguar, while Commodore hung their hat on the CD32. Both pretty sad endings to pioneering computer greats.
So here I am, 19 years later – still able to deliver a somewhat fervent argument in favor of the Amiga. I’m still deciding if that’s a good thing or not…