Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Amiga Magazines - Past and present

Would you believe me if I told you that you can buy new release dedicated Amiga magazines in your local newsagent in 2022? 

Well, you can. Amiga Addict magazines are now available in your local Australian and UK newsagents, and likely in other countries as well. Here it is in a local Adelaide newsagent this week.

Here is the same Amiga Addict issue for sale in WH Smiths in London in 2022 when I was there recently on business:


Amiga has a long history back to 1985 with some amazing Amiga magazines released every year since then, right up to 2022. I wanted to take a quick look at that history as so much was released.


Introduction

In this modern world of electronic magazines, electronic newspapers, and electronic books, the physical magazine, newspaper and books have reduced dramatically in popularity.

After all, on your modern Android tablet or iPad you can buy and store thousands of electronic magazines and books, available to read any time you want to. No need to have a room dedicated to store large and heavy magazines and books in, right?

The remaining magazines that still publish physical copies of their magazines are reducing the sizes more and more. Have a look at how tiny the current Edge magazine is in newsagents, a magazine that covers all computer and console formats since 1992 to present. 

The transition to digital is clear and inevitable, and so I imagine there is a time in the future when magazine presses stop printing, and physical magazines, books and newspapers disappear completely. That will be a very sad day indeed. 

But it is not that situation just yet, and I still enjoy having the real magazines to hold and read at home, alongside the digital versions when travelling.

Hard to believe this would happen back in 1985 when the Amiga 1000 launched, and the first Amiga World magazine was released in 1985 too - a lot has changed. 

We have had Amiga magazines released every year since then to keep us informed about all things Amiga. 

Yes - every year. Up to and including this year. 

I am sure you have likely read a number of Amiga magazines in that time, maybe all of them?

I am proud to say I have purchased and read Amiga magazines across that whole time! Sadly I don't have all my Amiga magazines anymore. I gave my collection to other Amiga fans when I moved into my first home with my wife 15 years ago, when we really didn't have space for them! 

Since moving into a bigger place a few years ago, I have slowly picked up a few of each Amiga magazine to keep! I see some Amiga magazine collectors have an interesting strategy to collect the January issue of each year, which gives them a snapshot of each year. That is a good idea, but sadly that has resulted in the prices of those magazines going much higher, as others try to copy this.

I decided instead that I wanted to have one of every english language Amiga magazine, with at least one magazine per year covering the entire period from 1985 to 2022. This worked out much cheaper too, as I didn't care which month the magazine was released (only the year). It also has given me a different kind of Amiga magazine collection to what I had before. 

It has been very interesting to try to find them all!

The Amiga computer has had a huge number of dedicated magazines since 1985. More than I think I have ever seen for any other specific computer platform, but I am sure someone will probably quickly correct me on that! I know of 44 different English language Amiga magazines released to date!

I am focusing on English language magazines only, but I know there were also a number of dedicated Amiga magazines in Italy, Poland, France, Germany, Spain, and elsewhere globally too, written in their native languages and with their own fans. 

Including magazines in other languages, the total number of different Amiga magazines released worldwide would be much higher still!


1985 to 1989

Here is a sample of magazines for the Amiga from 1985 to 1989:


In the photo above, there is Amiga World premier issue from 1985, AmiTalk, Amazing Computing (later renamed Amazing Computing/Amiga), Commodore Magazine, Ami Exchange, AmigoTimes, Amiga Transactor, Ahoy! Amiga User, The Amiga Sentry, Amiga Plus, and Compute's Amiga Resource magazines.

How many of these magazines did you read?

It was less common to have cover disks in this era, but that definitely changed later. 

That said, Ami Exchange magazine included coverdisks and an actual record with Amiga music on it!






1990 - 1993

Moving on to 1990-1993, this was the peak of mainstream Amiga popularity worldwide, and we saw many more different Amiga magazines available, as below. 

By the way, I am aware many of the magazines from 1985-1989 were still being released from 1990-1993 too and some others are shown later, as I want to show different Amiga magazines released across each era.


In the photo above, there is Your Amiga, Amiga Computing, Amiga Fun, Amiga Video Journal, Amiga CD!, Amiga Mania, Oz Amiga, Amiga Mart, The One for Amiga, Amiga Force, Amiga Shopper, and Amiga Action magazines. Whew! 

Missing from this era is 4 different Amiga magazines I don't have anymore sadly: Professional Amiga User, Amiga Survivor, Australian Amiga Gazette and Amiga Game Zone magazines. 

If anyone has these please let me now, I am keen to secure one issue of each magazine. There may be others too that I don't know of - please let me know if I missed any!

Most magazines in this era had 1 to 3 cover disks on them, with game demos, utilities, tools, full applications and some full games as well! Amiga CD32 magazines and Amiga CD! magazine had a Cover CD included.





1994 - 2002

Moving on to 1994-2002 era now, we saw the decline of the Amiga market with Commodore bankruptcy in 1994, and a succession of sales of the assets and brief restart of Amiga production in 1995-1997.


Magazines shown above in this era include Amiga Down Under, Amiga Power, Commodore & Amiga Review, Amiga CD32 Gamer, Amiga User International, Amiga Format, Amiga Pro, CU Amiga, AmigActive, Amiga Pulse, and Total Amiga.

We saw the transition during this era from floppy cover disks to CD cover mounts on magazines like Amiga Format and CU Amiga (although they still released floppy disk versions of the magazines too) and AmigaActive.

Many of the remaining Amiga community by this time (including me) had upgraded their Amiga systems to Workbench 3.1, AmigaOS 3.5 or AmigaOS 3.9 with 030 accelerated Amigas (or higher up to 060 and PPC accelerators) with SCSI or IDE connected CDROM solutions to play games, applications, Aminet cd's, and of course these magazine Cover CD's.

We got so much more content on the Magazine Cover CD's to play with, full applications, games, latest useful tools and utilities from Aminet, demoscene productions, music made on Amiga, tutorials and example code, and much more. 


The use of CD opened up magazines to have more tutorials on using this included software, while still covering everything happening in the Amiga world too!

The continued uncertainty around Amiga ownership and future plans during this era meant new software and hardware was still released (albeit much less than before). 

However, less magazines were needed to support the remaining community, with most companies moving onto more profitable and available PC and Mac platforms. 

So that meant that many long-time Amiga magazines sadly closed in this era. CU Amiga, Amiga Shopper, Amiga User International, Amiga Power and Amiga Computing kept going for a lot of this era until 1998 by which time they had all closed.

After long time Amazing Computing/Amiga and Amiga Format magazines closed in 2000, we still had newly created Amiga Survivor, AmigActive, Amiga Pulse and Total Amiga magazine releasing magazines in this era.  

Amiga Survivor, AmigActive and Amiga Pulse magazines closed in 2001, leaving Total Amiga as the sole remaining English language Amiga magazine in 2002.


2003 - 2022

Moving on to 2003 to present, we saw the emergence of next generation Amiga magazines covering both Classic Amiga and next generation AmigaOS 4 based PPC Amiga systems like AmigaOne X1000, Sam 440/460, and MorphOS/AROS based systems too:


Magazines shown above in this era include Amiga Future, Amiga NG, Amiga Addict, CD32 Scene, K&A Plus, and Zzap! Amiga magazines. 

Total Amiga magazine was also still released in this era, but sadly closed in 2006 at the same time as the english version of Amiga Future magazine was launched.

For quite a long time, Amiga Future was the sole remaining English language Amiga magazine publication - from 2006 to 2015. 

Amiga Future is published in German and English magazine versions since 2006. The German Amiga Future magazine was published from 1998. The English and German versions of Amiga Future still continue to be published in 2022. In 2023 they will celebrate 25 years publishing magazines for Amiga, which makes them by a long way the longest running Amiga magazine!

I bought every Amiga Future issue since 2006 and was grateful during this period we still had an Amiga focused magazine to read regularly. Amiga Future released cover cd's on the magazines too:


Amiga Future also published CD's with the PDF versions of their magazines to be able to read on the go as we all were starting to use using iPads and Android tablets by then.

Amiga trademark and licensing legal disputes rumbled on throughout this period, and indeed still do today sadly.

Focus (at least for me!) during the 2006-2015 period was very much on the newly released Amiga OS 4, running on next generation AmigaOne hardware, as well as competing MorphOS and AROS based Amiga systems. 

This was alongside significant improvements in Classic Amiga emulation for modern systems, and FPGA based Amiga systems based on the MiniMig core, which were actively developed through this period (and still are today).

In recent years (I think for Amiga it was since 2015 when the 30th Anniversary of Amiga happened, and the C64 a few years earlier for it's 30th anniversary), the popularity of retro computing has spawned a new wave of new computer magazines, now focused to us, the fans of older computers like the Amiga. 

Retro gaming magazines like Retro Gamer and Edge "Retro Magazines" helped push this nostalgia wave along, although they are not 100% Commodore and Amiga focused so I didn't count these. Retro Gamer did produce a Amiga focused magazine called the "The Amiga Book" a few years ago which I picked up, and also some other Amiga focused books have been released in recent years too, as below:


New Hardware, games and application software has been created and released more regularly since 2015 for classic Amiga systems (and also at a slower rate for Next Gen Amiga systems). 

BTW I know Classic Amiga software and hardware was released throughout this era, but it definitely got much more regular around 2015 from what I have observed. 

Partly I think this shift (beyond the retro nostalgia wave thing) was due to the ongoing legal disputes affecting ongoing development of the AmigaOS4 system, and huge delays in the release of upgrades and associated NextGen hardware. I know turned off many people, who sold their X1000/X5000/Sam systems and went back to the Classic Amiga platform. 

There is still active development for Next Gen Amiga systems today in 2022 (which is great of course), but I think it is much less than in the 2005-2015 period when I feel AmigaOS 4 development and popularity was at it's peak, before the legal disputes ground ongoing development to a crawl. 

AmigaOS 4/MorphOS/AROS supports so much more modern hardware and functionality, and of course does it all much faster than Classic Amiga systems too. One should not lose sight of what has been achieved with Next Gen Amiga, even though it popularity in 2022 is not what it was.

Since 2015 on Classic Amiga, we saw the release of Vampire 68080 accelerators, ZZ9000 RTG graphics cards, AmigaOS 3.2, modern Gotek floppy drive emulators, Pistorm, USB 2 controllers, Ethernet cards, and so many more things. The popularity of the platform has definitely increased over the last few years especially.

This increased activity and interest led to the creation of new magazines, and the revival of famous magazines like Zzap!, which used to cover Commodore 64 and in its later years Amiga too. The makers decided to produce a dedicated Zzap! Amiga magazine from 2021 onwards. 

I have ordered my Zzap! Amiga 2023 Annual magazine already - can't wait to get it.

K&A Plus is another magazine available in 2022, focused on Amiga and C64, and produces a regular magazine in Polish and English (since 2015 in English). The quality of writing in this magazine is excellent, with a nice fair balance between Amiga and C64 coverage. I have bought quite a few Amiga and C64 games I didn't know about because of reading this magazine!

Amiga Addict is yet another new Amiga magazine released since 2021, styled on Amiga Format's layout and design, with a mix of other Amiga magazines style inside too.

I am particularly impressed with the quality of the magazine production and content, and the focus on wider distribution in newsagents worldwide rather than having to order from overseas. 

Amiga Addict also produce a virtual cover disk with the magazine, which you can download and write to a real floppy drive, and if you are a subscriber you get the cover disk label included also.


The current Amiga magazines like Amiga Future, Amiga Addict, K&A Plus, and Zzap! Amiga are all available in electronic versions also. 

So I can enjoy them when travelling, and read the physical magazines when at home. Best of both worlds!



Final Words about Amiga magazines

People's nostalgia for the Amiga magazines of old is still quite powerful today. 

I remember reading through the 300+ page monthly magazine Amiga Format was producing at one point, with a huge distribution network, high sales and worldwide popularity. 

I followed the tutorials in programming in 68000 Assembler in Oz Amiga, and many other tutorials on AMOS in Amiga Format. I learnt how to tinker with Workbench 1.3 hard disk builds with utilities I got from many Amiga Computing cover disks which were so well designed in the early days. 

So much to learn and so much great software to buy and try out! 

The Amiga community may be smaller today in comparison, but I think it is just as passionate and creative, as evidenced by so much still happening in the Amiga scene in 2022!

Music Producer Pete Cannon is also a big fan of Amiga still today, using Amiga 1200 systems to produce a lot of his music. 

Pete was obviously also impressed by the Amiga magazines in the 1990's era, as he has produced several records in the last two years that feature covers paying homage to Amiga Format, CU Amiga and Amiga power magazine covers - fantastic effort:


Having a Amiga magazine tribute as a jungle record, with the music produced on Amiga 1200, and Amiga coverdisk included (with the samples used for the record) was too much for me to resist!


If you are interested to learn more about the history of old Amiga magazines (especially the UK ones), You can read more about the Amiga magazine history at this excellent site. 

You can also see some of the magazine scans online at Amiga Magazine rack, and a quick google search will turn up download locations for all the old magazines in electronic scanned format if you want to relive some of that history, but don't have the magazines anymore.

I have really enjoyed reliving my memories of buying and enjoying so many amazing Amiga magazines (over 44 different magazines!), and very happy to know that in 2022 we still have multiple Amiga magazines to buy and enjoy. 


I hope this inspires you to support some of these Amiga magazines still being produced in 2022! 

There is a lot of work that goes into creating all this quality magazine content, and it deserves our support so it can continue for many years to come, continuing to cover the wonderful story of Amiga. 


2 comments:

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  2. Excellent review of some great publications. I couldn't see INFO magazine with its juicy content and reviews nor Commodore Amiga User International or Commodore Microcomputers which were also a good read in the day. In Australia we also had the Australian Commodore Review Amiga Annual, a b/w publication.

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