Going Against the Grain


An Amiga User's Story

by Adam Trionfo

(Summer 2009)

This article was written for the Summer 1999 issue of MAUS Dropping, the newsletter of the New Mexico Amiga Users' Society (NewMAUS).

Amiga users tend to be very dedicated to the machines they own. I have met more than a few folks who get by, even these days, using floppy-based Amiga 500 computers. Amiga users, though seemingly more independent than users of other platforms, are actually more prone to stick together. This is because there are so few of us around, and because we like to get the most use out of our machines. Imagine, though, for a moment, that there were no other Amiga users around to help when you screwed up your hard drive, lost your Amiga 500's only boot floppy, or needed some help installing new hardware. How would you cope? Would you still be willing to stick with your trusted Amiga? I say "Yes" for myself, but the word comes out with hesitation.

I have been exchanging e-mails with an Amiga user named Malcolm Brenner. Malcolm lives about two hours west of Albuquerque, in Gallup, NM. When he passes through Albuquerque, he tries to stop by University Computers (Albuquerque's only Amiga-friendly store) and attend Amiga meetings. According to Malcolm, he is the only Amiga user in Gallup (I find that far too easy to believe). I wondered why he had not folded to the PC market. I finally asked him this question: "I'm curious -- if you are the only Amiga user in Gallup, why go against the grain? I imagine it is rather difficult." His reply follows.

"Adam, you raise a very interesting question. There are historical, practical and personal reasons. Historically, my first computer was an Amiga 500, in 1992. I have gone up from there. Practically, used Amigas are cheap. I have two: one for me and one for my kids. It not only keeps them from messing up my computer, but it gives us some redundancy. You don't know how scared I was yesterday [when my Amiga 2000 didn't boot]! I have just finished writing a 750-page book manuscript, which I had backed up onto a single pair of floppies. I quickly took them to the other machine and backed them up onto another pair, and that machine's HD.

"My personal reasons are rather philosophical. I am a true iconoclast. The fact that everbody is doing something in one way is no reason for me to do it that way. I hate Windows, from a technical and aesthetic point of view; and it appears to me to be nothing but a series of software kluges on top of kluges. It is a clunky, inept, failure-prone operating system, and I don't give a damn what the rest of the world thinks or does. The Amiga's "failure" has more to do with Commodore's stupidity than any inherent flaws in the machine; in fact, Amigas are superior in every way to comparable PCs. I might own a Mac, but at this point, why change? I learn a lot more trying to get my Amiga to do what I want, and besides, I can't afford two new computers. It is more entertaining to see how far I can push this one, and when the new Amiga hardware comes out, I'll be the first in line!"

Is there any Amiga user that doesn't feel strongly about his machine? How many of you read Malcolm's statement and thought to yourself, "Yeah, I feel the same way"? It isn't a secret that the Amiga is more than just the sum of its parts; it is more than just a computer. It is a philosophy for some; for others, it is a way of life. Will the new Amiga computers that Malcolm hints at follow the same path? We hope so. But if they do not live up to our expectations, the classic Amiga is still here. And so is the Amiga users' group.