TEARING DOWN THE
Here is a part of a newsletter from Amiga, Inc. dated April 2000. You
shouldn't obviously take it at face value, knowing how recent Amiga
projects are generally cancelled :) but I find the concept interesting.
Sorry for giving you such partial (and long!) information (propaganda?) but
I don't have knowledge nor time to write something about that...
When a builder is looking for a site to erect a new building, he must
search for solid ground. If none of the sites available have a stable
base, the builder must mold the ground to suit his needs. He may place
caissons, excavate, or compact the foundation until it's just right to
build on. Sometimes, he may even need to tear down an existing building on
the site in order to accommodate the project.
Amiga's building site is the industry of digital communications, one that
has a number of establishments in place--ones that were built years ago
but no longer suit the needs of their tenants. As a builder, it is Amiga's
responsibility to mold and shape the industry's perceptions of digital
content delivery, just as a contractor might cut and fill the ground in
order to make room for a new structure.
One of the biggest failures of the digital communications industry has
been its treatment of digital content as file-based, platform-dependant
material. In the reality of Amiga, however, there is only one universal
arena for digital content--an arena that exposes the disservice done to
the evolution of digital content technology by "platform computing". In
the world of Amiga, a bold new digital content framework eliminates the
need for terms like "cross-platform".
Another failure of the industry in the twentieth century was its
insistence that consumer electronics devices and computer software ought
to be separated by some invisible, theoretical shield. Since computer
software frameworks had to evolve to a level where a typical consumer
could find valuable functionality in them, the home electronics industry
always sat in the shadow of a "computer taboo".
But the perceptions of disconnectedness and fear of integration are being
bulldozed by Amiga to make way for an arena filled with digital content
and where integration is the norm. As Fleecy Moss, Chief Technology
Officer at Amiga said in a recent interview, "[The industry has] done a
great job in convincing people that there is a big difference between
computers and consumer electronics. In the past that may have been true,
but with the advances in microprocessor technologies over the past decade,
that is no longer true."
Where there currently sits a global communications network that suffers
from the hindrances of formats and platforms, Amiga is building a
structure that has doors and windows tall enough--and small enough, for
the intense needs of connectivity that the next generation of consumers
demands. Said Moss, "There will be, in the close future, just a dynamic
environment full of digital content, and producers and consumers of that
content. In the end it is all zeroes and ones. Whether you choose to
access that environment via a [wireless] phone or a monster workstation is
an implementation detail, not an architectural one."
Where personal computer manufacturers have been pushing down into the
consumer electronics industry, only failure has been the result
(ultra-small handheld computers with keyboards just haven't caught on).
But where consumer devices have pushed up into the computer industry
(wireless phones, pagers, and personal organizers that send and receive
digital content), there has been a degree of success unprecedented... yet
almost totally untapped.
The consumer electronics industry is old, dating back a century to the
days of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Like Amiga, Tesla, and his partner
J.P. Morgan, had to steamroll the ideas in the industry in order to break
the establishment for the benefit of all.
At the time of the first artificially illuminated homes, the favored
method of distributing energy came from Thomas Edison himself. Edison's
first direct current electricity distribution system in New York was
functional, but was a behemoth to maintain and didn't deliver a lot of
juice. It also caught on fire several times. It was Tesla who came up with
alternating current, a less fire-prone and more capable delivery system,
and Morgan who was able to change the existing political favor Edison
carried in order to bring electricity to the world cheaply and safely.
This is Amiga's mission with digital content: removing the barriers to
digital content delivery by providing Amiga developers with an integral
set of platformless development and delivery tools. A significant part of
the Amiga enviromnet comes from the Tao Group, of whom Amiga President
Bill McEwen said, "Amiga and Tao together bring a new level of
capabilities, portability and scalability that has never been available
In support of the Amiga vision, the Tao Group offers Elate, a streamlined
deterministic operating system. Elate is the cornerstone to a consistent,
connected infrastructure across many different digital appliances for home
and mobile networks.
Coupled with the world's fastest Java runtime environment, J-Engine, Amiga
provides a formidable framework for digital content authors and consumers.
Together, these Tao components are called Intent Java Technology Edition.
Tao's line of products is already being used to engineer digital content
capability into Motorola wireless phones.
Intent Java Technology Edition (JTE) has been called a best in class,
according to Tao Group co-founder Francis Charig. Intent JTE uses a
superior Just-in-time compiler that allows media applications to run
literal circles around other Java virtual machines. Said Charig, "We have
patents for just-in-time compilation technology that give Intent a small
memory footprint without sacrificing performance." This milestone is due
mainly to Tao Group's focus on consumer devices--a focus that is aligned
with the Amiga, and coincidentally, is a step away from the computer
industry's established ideas about just-in-time technology.
The environment Amiga is building wouldn't be prepared for the new world
of digital content without complete scalability and portability. That's
why the Amiga solution also uses Tao Group's Virtual Processor, an
assembly spec that allows developers on many hardware platforms, using
many development environments, to write truly binary-portable
applications. Now, the "write-once, run-anywhere" intention of Java is a
reality for media applications.
In addition, Amiga architects have reinforced the beams of portability
with universal hosting capability by allowing Amiga to run natively on
specific hardware, or hosted by operating systems like Linux. There are
several advantages to the hosted environment, says Francis Charig. "You
may have device drivers on the host platform that are suitable, or you may
have a significant investment in the host platform." One appeal of the
hosted scenario is the addition of a protected kernel--something most host
operating systems can provide.
Since no municipal development goes up without the approval of, and
assistance from, the community, Amiga will put the proverbial shovel in
the dirt by shipping the Amiga Developer Reference Platform, a
Linux-hosted system equipped with a GNU C/C++ development toolset (GCC).
GCC, when equipped with Tao Group's portability toolset, gives Amiga
developers the ability to generate Virtual Processor code. Native
assembler can also be derived from Virtual Processor code. Many consumer
devices will soon have mature, hosted Amiga compatibility and
never-before-seen media robustness.
Indeed, the Amiga partnership with Tao Group is changing the way the
industry views the viability of thin or embedded applications that utilize
digital media. This is fresh territory for the industry, and Amiga is at
the forefront--shaping the ground upon which the industry is being
recreated. Some aspects of the Amiga/Tao partnership have been peculiarly
unfolding, as if the Amiga vision was born for the Tao Group's engineering
support and ideology.
Take Chris Hinsley, who co-founded the Tao Group in 1992 with Mr. Charig.
Hinsley was an Amiga developer responsible for notable video games like
Automania and Verminator. While searching for a way to develop games once
for many hardware platforms, Chris began developing the theories that
became the modern-day Tao toolset. These developments, born on the classic
Amiga frontier, will aide Amiga in giving developers and consumers the
capability to expand the digital content universe.
The magnanimous role that developers are playing in construction of the
new world of digital content is unique: Amiga developers considering the
new offering from Amiga will be integral to the molding and shaping of the
new digital content generation. Content creators and application
developers who use Amiga will have the distinct advantage of connected,
Amiga doesn't believe there should be boundaries to the way people
communicate. Since existing incarnations of digital media have only hinted
at the revolution to come, it is Amiga's vision to enable that revolution,
by steamrolling the common perceptions of the consumer and computer
markets, and by giving content authors and consumers the toolset that will
make it all happen.
The Amiga vision sees the walls of perception being torn down in order to
build new portals that will globalize quality digital content. As Moss
said early this year, "The Amiga reality says that if a device in the
digital world can produce or consume digital content, then it can be
connected to other devices, whatever they are, and they can work
Amiga has addressed the demands of the unfurling digital universe by doing
something the mainstream computer industry hasn't: thinking about quality
digital media on small devices. This has been Amiga's mission since Jay
Miner ran the first Amiga color graphics demo in 1984. Nobody has ever
approached issues of quality in multimedia the way Amiga always has. Only
now, the arena is globalized, connected, and driven by social structures
that are beyond the control of any single platform. It is Amiga's job to
read these social structures, cut and fill the ground of the new digital
industry, and form the core of a new digital world.
That new digital world is called the Amiverse. As Moss points out, "The
Amiga team is busy not just creating an operating system or an interface.
Such things are old hat. They are engaged in something much more exciting
and revolutionary: the creation of a dynamic digital environment in which
people can live, work, and play--all while the technology is made
invisible to them. The name of this place is the Amiverse, and soon, it
will be a part of everyone's lives."