It has been a few years since a large scale Amiga community European show due to the pandemic lock down across the continent.
When Amiga 37 was announced, there was an eager anticipation, understandably more so than in previous events. The experience of vacating your computer desk and attending a show for a few days is both exciting and refreshing. So that is what I exactly did: Thursday last week my computer was powered down, a small flight case packed and I jumped on the train with the morning commuters on route to London City airport.
The intermediate destination was Dusseldorf with a plan of getting a train to Monchengladbach where the show organisers recommended an “official” hotel.
After a brief one hour flight, I touched down in Germany and waited half hour to be reunited with Trevor who had flew in from Dubai.
Together we tried to fathom out how to use the train ticket machine and had to ask a sympathetic lady who showed us how to retrieve our ticket. Two hours later we arrived and had checked in at the Leonardo Hotel in Monchengladbach.
Despite us arriving a day early, there were others with the same idea. So that evening we met up another Amigan, Dr Adam Spring who had flew in all the way from the US to attend the show and also extend the stay for tourism.
Most international visitors arrived on the Friday for the first part of the weekends festivities. That evening no classic computers were warmed up. Instead the opening even was hosted in the town centre at a rock music bar.
Pizza and drinks at the bar were complementary until 10pm, including some good German beer. Some individuals kindly offered chances to sample shots from drinks originating from their home country.
Around 1am we proceeded back on foot to the hotel with Dave Haynie and Costel Mincea. The promise was to sample Shackleton Blended Malt Whiksy kindly supplied by Trevor. The bottle was finally exhausted at 4am.
It’s Show Time!
The main show was spread over the two days of the weekend.
Saturday morning, 7am: Trevor woke me up after I failed to hear the alarm clock. It turned out that only three hours sleep was my permitted quota in preparation for the first show day. It felt like someone had woken me in the early hours of the morning.
After a strong coffee at breakfast we grabbed a taxi. We were driven the twenty minutes journey from the hotel to Kunstwerk, the sizeable venue of the event. Upon entering the hall, it was already bustling with exhibitors setting up their stands and tables.
At 10am the public were let into the exhibition space. Tickets were sold out for the event. I was told there were unconfirmed reports of attendance being in excess of a thousand people.
The backbone of Amiga has always been the community; ideas and innovations to keep the flame burning bright. This event did not disappoint in that tradition. The show hall contained a mele of creative hardware and software demonstrating how to enhance a thirty year old computer platform.
The Amiga Kit stand was consistently busy with visitors asking questions about hardware upgrades for their Classic Amiga systems. Franck was diligently taking their orders throughout the weekend. I talked to so many familar returning customers and new customers that my throat went hoarse. Bottles of cold water and cola helped.
The A-EON tables displayed flagship X5000/40 computers running different system software and some 3D game titles. MorphOS was running on one and even a development version of the Enhancer Software V54 on another. Christian Zigotsky ably demonstrated to any curious bystanders the features of the computer. Unfortunately at one point there was a problem with the hard drive of the X5000 running MorphOS preventing it to boot. Thankfully, the Frank and other MorphOS team members quickly helped fix the issue and MorphOS was up and running once again.
The MorphOS stand contained a Commodore Amiga 4000 desktop with a very unexpected surprise: MorphOS version 3.18 running in all of it’s glory! I was told that Mark Olsen had worked on it in the short time before the show to get it ready. Prior to this development, the last version of MorphOS (1.4.5) for this machine was released all the way back in 2005. A public release date of this latest version is unknown at the time of writing.
Dimitris (a.k.a Midway) maybe familiar to many of you as the author of the excellent Amiberry Amiga emulator. He was demonstrating the latest version running on ARM based hardware.
Close by, Enrico Vidale from ACube had an array of new hardware on display. The PCB of the PowerPC laptop along with an A1222+ motherboard and the new SAM 460LE were all present on their table.
Jens Schoenfeld of Individual Computer was showing his latest development, the ACA 1240. This high end Amiga 1200 accelerator was a striking purple in colour. He explained to me that it had been in development for many years and was likely to be priced for retail in excess of 500 Euros due to scarcity of high quality 68040 CPU chips. However for this price point the user will get 30 MIPs of power as reported in SysInfo. I asked him to show me some tests in AIBB benchmarking software. The Beachball test was rendered rapidly- as if it was running on a emulation system. He also had the same Amiga 1200 outputting through his Indivision AGA 1200 MK3. This latest version of the popular flicker fixer produced a crisp looking display.
There was some history on show too. The Commodore-Amiga 4000 desktop that was used for production in James Cameron’s 1997 Titantic movie was on display.
Amiga Developer Team
One great by-product of the show was that members of Amiga Developer Team could get together. Not everyone could make it, but at least some of our team did. After three years of lock down, it was good to finally meet in person some new team members such as Constantinos. His contributions to the team have been numerous in recent years but no one had met him outside of cyberspace before.
Above the main exhibition hall was a double staircase leading to another level. This large seated area was used for talks and speeches through out the weekend. Trevor, Dave Haynie, Ron Nicholson, Jim Collas, Mev Dinc, Jon Hare and Dave Pleasance all had allocated time slots to speak to the crowds gathered in the space.
All good things sadly come to an end. Before long it was 5pm on Sunday and time to wish people good bye. I was kindly driven by Laurent and Franck to Dusseldorf airport to get my evening plane back to Heathrow.
On reflection, an exhausting but highly enjoyable four days.
Sincerest thanks go to the group of people that helped setup and run the A-EON and Amiga Kit stands over the two days. Merci ! Danke !