The Commodore Amiga family of computer systems once helped push the boundaries of what personal desktop machines could do, yet because they never achieved the success that systems from rival computer makers such as I.B.M. and Apple did, instead relegated to the dustbin of curious historical computer oddities, the Amiga computers are now most likely as unknown as they have ever been.
I bought my first Amiga, the original Commodore Amiga 1000, in 1985 shortly after they first became available, switching from the Commodore 64 computer I’d used since 1984. In the late 1980s until the early 1990s I worked for a company in Denver, Colorado that sold, build and supported Amiga computer systems, hardware and software.
Progressive Peripherals and Software, or PP&S, along with its retail and mail-order outlet Computer Discount, was at one time a leading player in the Amiga computer market, with ties to developers in Europe and millions in annual sales. The company eventually fizzled out along with the Amiga, but during its heyday I got to be a part of an important period of time in the development of the personal computer.
In the intervening two-plus decades I’ve managed to hold on to a few nostalgic mementos from my years at PP&S, including a handful of old 5.25” floppy disks of software such as the modem terminal program “Bob’s Term Pro,” “Superbase 64,” the database program made by Precision Software but supported in the United States by PP&S, and several others including some rare Beta test versions.
At the height of the Commodore 64's popularity some of the software PP&S sold used the odd “dongle” copy-protection scheme that required anyone running the software to plug a small hard plastic square about the size of a single key on a keyboard into one of the computer’s joystick ports, and I managed to safe a few of these “dongles” from the trash and have them to this day. They are a reminder of a time long past, and never caught on, as computer hackers easier cracked the program code, doing away with any need to plug in the little custom devices.
Computer Discount was owned by the same group as PP&S, and chiefly ran a mail-order Amiga equipment business by mailing out paper catalogs printed on thin news stock, each about 70 pages filled with a variety of hardware and software from PP&S and other companies that made products for the Amiga.
While cleaning out one of my sheds last year, amidst piles of old -- or perhaps I should say retro or even vintage – computers and related equipment, I came across an old Computer Discount catalog, a rarity I had purposely saved. It was in poor shape and wet due to a leaky roof on the shed, however I was able to dry it off and have scanned the first 15 pages of it, which I present here for all Commodore Amiga old-timers and those curious about a computing era that saw its zenith more than 20 years ago. You can view the vintage album here.
Wikipedia’s “History of the Amiga” (As loath as I am to link to Wikipedia content, the information gathered here currently presents a fairly accurate history.)
Gareth Knight’s “Amiga history guide” Web site
Ars Technica article