Constructing a Virtual Amiga

Constructing a Virtual Amiga
Photo by Lorenzo Herrera / Unsplash

Too much work and not enough play makes Jack a dull boy – or at least, that’s what the pages from the typewriter in The Shining had written on them. It tends to be true of me too. Let’s hope I don’t go insane while writing a novel in a deserted hotel.

I suppose you could argue I’ve been constructing a deserted hotel in more ways than one though – firstly through this re-imagining of my blog, and secondly through a project I’ve been tinkering with for the last several nights.

I’ve had this small computer called a “Raspberry Pi” knocking around the house for the last several years. It’s as powerful as a PC was a decade ago, but costs a hundred times less. Here’s the thing – the Raspberry Pi can run Linux – and if you can run Linux, you can pretty much run anything. And anything includes an Amiga emulator.

Here’s where we depart on a thirty second history lesson.

In the mid 1980s a computer was invented called the “Amiga”. It was horrendously expensive, and was filled with custom chips that allowed it to do things that were unheard of at the time. If you’ve ever seen “The Chart Show” or “Max Headroom”, you’ve seen the Amiga in action. It was decades ahead of the curve, and perhaps failed for that very reason. Oh, it might have had something to do with being acquired by Commodore too – perhaps one of the most dysfunctional organisations in modern history.

Anyway.

Over the last couple of evenings I have re-constructed a virtual Amiga in the study at home – or rather, configured the Raspberry Pi to pretend to be an Amiga. Suddenly I benefit from a world of long forgotten software, curated by a somewhat underground community filled with nostalgia, expertise, and endless know-how.

Why, you might ask? Why bother?

Distractions.

I have essentially constructed a pre-internet computer with a word processor that proves invaluable for distraction free writing. I’m writing this on it. The clever bit is that the “other” computer can see it – so writing can be transferred to and from it.

Of course none of this improves my writing, or the subjects I might write about – you might even argue it’s detrimental in some ways, given that I’ve been tinkering rather than writing for the last several days. Let’s see how the coming days unfold.

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