Amiga 1200 Liberated From Loft

I decided to have a dig around in the loft as I couldn’t remember exactly what was up there computer wise, I knew there was an Amiga 1200 and a CD32 but I was also surprised to find an Amiga 500 and a barely used Sony Playstation.  I retrieved the A1200 and the A500, the first is in great shape, in fact it looks like new and it works, the hard drive even booting into Workbench on initial power up.  The A500 is pretty grubby, very yellow and not working, giving only a flashing power LED and green screen.  There was also an A590 external hard disk unit with it, I’d forgotten I had that.

The A1200 cost me a small fortune back in 1993, I ordered it with an 80mb drive and a Microbotics MX1230A accelerator board featuring a 68030 CPU, 68882 FPU and 4 Mb of additional RAM.  It was and still is a gorgeous system, probably my second favourite retro system, pipped to the post only by the C64.

Thinking back to how much I used to dream about upgrading the RAM which was devilishly expensive in those days, it was odd to find a 128 Mbyte SIM in one of my piles of junk and simply plug it in.  For some reason, in my mind, the A1200 still seems really powerful.

There were a couple of games on the drive, Sim City 2000 and Frontier, Elite II.  Many, many hours were spent playing the latter which is one of my all time favourite games, despite the bugs.  On researching the game I noticed you can download an OpenGL version here and play the game in high resolution under Windows or Linux which is pretty cool.

I also discovered there’s still a thriving community surrounding the A1200 with much ‘pimping’ of the original machines still going on.  The most common upgrade seems to be a compact flash internal drive which I’m hoping to attempt.  Others have added USB ports and even internal CD ROM drives.

During my Amiga years I still had delusions of becoming a digital graphic artist, I used to dream of ending up at somewhere like Pixar.  With the 1200 I found a box of disks including Sculpt 3D and 4D and Deluxe Paint III and IV.  I managed to recover some saved files from DPaint but no luck so far with the Sculpt files.

Dpaint produced .lbm bitmap files and after hunting around I found this site that allowed me to convert them to GIF’s.  The second image was copied from a 1985 Tolkien calendar and the first from a book lent to me by Urbancamo called Space Wars, Worlds and Weapons.  Very odd to see these again after all those years.

Guybrush Threepwood in CGA

No progress on the Silent Running adventure for a couple of days.  I got bogged down in trying to resolve a particular issue, realised it was time to walk away and come back fresh which hopefully I’ll do today or tomorrow.

Instead I’ve been messing around with the Equity, trying to understand what it’s capable of.  My first experience with a PC as opposed to machines such as the Amiga and Commodore 64 was a Pentium 90 based machine with Windows 3.1, so the pre Pentium days passed me by.

I’ve been trying to compile the code I have written so far with the Equity with no luck as yet.  As a point of interest the code compiles on a Core 2 Quad essentially instantaneously.  On a Pentium 166 it takes a few seconds.  On the Equity it’s taking around 4 minutes before failing on a specific library issue.  I need to try the Minform library I mentioned in an earlier post next.

I also wanted to see what games would run on the Equity and found an early version of a Secret of Monkey Island demo which loads and runs.  I was never really aware of the limited graphics abilities of the early PC’s having been spoilt by the abilities of the Amiga and its custom chips, it’s pretty basic stuff as I’m discovering.

The Equity has two option slots, one is currently occupied by the hard drive controller card and I believe the only other card produced specifically for the option slots by Epson was a modem card.  Somewhat bizarrely one just came up on Ebay, unused, and new in the box so I snapped that up (only bidder) and it’s on its way.

Monkey Island Demo

Demon Internet ‘tenner a month’

It occurred to me today that I couldn’t remember the last time I had received a bill from, nor indeed how I was paying for my original dial up Demon Internet service.

Back in 1993 I signed up for their then pretty revolutionary ‘tenner a month’ dial up IP service.  The legendary events surrounding the birth of Demon Internet are told in detail here.

In those days I was using an Amiga 1200, a US Robotics Modem and browsing the then limited Internet with NCSA Mosaic.

Demon was very successful and quickly established itself as the UK’s largest ISP.  In 1998 it’s founder Cliff Stanford sold the company to Scottish Telecom, a subsidiary of Scottish Power.  Scottish Telecom was subsequently rebranded as Thus and floated on the stock exchange.  More recently (2008) Thus was bought by Cable and Wireless and is now branded as Thus, A Cable and Wireless Business.

During all these changes over the past 17 years I have also moved house twice, had numerous different computers, and of course no longer use the dial up service although I’ve never cancelled the account due to the amount of services where I use the associated e-mail for log in and partly through absent mindedness.

A quick scan of my bank accounts and there of course was the direct debit, now £19.99/month the reason I hadn’t noticed it, apart from being a dufus was I also have a Demon Broadband account for work and simply hadn’t noticed there were two debits going out each month.  So I headed over to to see if I could log into my account and see what details were lurking there.

However I was unable to find anywhere to log in so I called the customer services number.  Armed with, well nothing really apart from my user name I spoke to a very helpful chap.  It transpired that the address they had on record for me was the original address I had given in 1993 and hadn’t lived at for 12 years and the phone number was similarly out of date.

After updating my records the chap advised me to call another department as he believed as a long standing customer I should be paying less for my service and he was right.  I’m now paying £4.99/month as a loyal customer as opposed to the £19.99 I was paying, quite a saving.  I was also able to retrieve my account number and set up my ebilling account and view some invoices, unfortunately they only go back around 12 months.

I now wanted to discover when the price increased to £19.99/month.  I noticed on the bills that I could now access that the description of the product supplied was SDU/Premier Connect PLUS (UPGRADE.)  So I entered this into Google and found the following page.

Which contained the following information:-

If you are an existing SDU customer, you will need to register in order to take advantage of Demon Premier Connect Plus. In future you will be billed £19.99 instead of the £11.75 that you currently pay for your SDU account.

I do not remember asking to be upgraded to this service so I feel another call to customer services is due.

And then there’s my Pipex Dial account…