Greatness, luck and storytelling

Home » Blog » Business » Entrepreneurship » Greatness, luck and storytelling

Recently, I’ve done some reading on computer history again. If you’re interested in that sort of stuff and haven’t read it yet go and have a look at Ars Technica’s in-depth series on the history of the Amiga home computer. It’s quite a comprehensive piece on a significant part of computer history that’s largely forgotten today.

This series and other documents such Dave Haynie’s Deathbed Vigil remind me of how far ahead the Amiga was in many respects at that time. I’m not talking about ahead of IBM PCs – that’s a given anyway. From a technology point of view the Amiga in some respect also was pretty much ahead of anything Apple, Atari and less known manufacturers such as Acorn provided (in an interesting turn of events Acorn’s ARM architecture is what powers most smartphones nowadays) at that time, especially when it comes to computer graphics.

I don’t want to rekindle old flamewars but this got me thinking.

Amiga had all those great engineers and from 1985 to roughly the beginning of the nineties they had an awesome and highly competitive product. The Amiga failed because basically Commodore was a highly dysfunctional company. In the end they pretty much looked like IBM’s ugly sibling: They displayed all of Big Blue’s nasty big boy habits and presumptuousness without IBM’s ability to bring a product to the market the customers in the end actually wanted.

However, I think this is only part of the story. What Amiga mostly lacked – especially when compared to illustrious competitors such as Apple – was a story.

While Apple pretty much from the outset thanks to Steve Jobs had this intense focus on design and wanting to change the world, Amiga was like “Yeah, we got this pretty cool custom chips that do all sorts of nifty graphics tricks. Oh, and preemptive multitasking. That’s cool, too, isn’t it?”.

Amiga didn’t even start with an idea for a computer. Back when the company was still named HiToro – a name they fortunately later had to change because of a lawnmower producer of the same name – they wanted to create a gaming console. So apart from engineering prowess (personified by founder Jay Miner and people such as RJ Mical to name but a few) there wasn’t much in terms of a product vision or purpose.

Then again, Steve Jobs himself said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards.”. So perhaps, Apple’s crisp and clear story only fully emerged after they had long been successful.

If Commodore hadn’t been such a bunch of bozos in the end – who knows – things might have turned out differently and we’d be celebrating a different story today.

Leave a Comment

* Checkbox GDPR is required

*

I agree

By continuing to browse the site you agree to our use of cookies. Privacy Policy

Privacy Preference Center

Strictly necessary

These cookies are necessary for the site to function.

PHPSESSID: Preserves user session state across page requests.

__cfduid: Used by the content network, Cloudflare, to identify trusted web traffic.

PHPSESSID
__cfduid

Preferences

Remembers the user's submitted data when a comment is submitted in a blog post. The purpose is to aut o-populate form fields for subsequent comments, in order to save time for the user.

wfvt_#

Statistics

Statistic cookies help us to understand how visitors interact with our websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

_ga: Registers a unique ID that is used to generate statistical data on how the visitor uses the website.

_gat: Used by Google Analytics to throttle request rate.

_gid: Registers a unique ID that is used to generate statistical data on how the visitor uses the website.

collect: Used to send data to Google Analytics about the visitor's device and behaviour. Tracks the visitor across d evices and marketing channels.

_ga,_gat,_gid
collect

Security

We use Wordfence to secure our website against hacking attempts: https://www.wordfence.com/

wordfence_verifiedHuman

Close your account?

Your account will be closed and all data will be permanently deleted and cannot be recovered. Are you sure?