Gateway breathes new life into Amiga

Since an announcement of its intended acquisition of Amiga in April 1997, Gateway has been silent about plans for the technology -- until now.

Jim Collas, president of Amiga, now a division of Gateway, has been going public with limited details of future products that will come out of the still-popular computer makers' ashes. An operating environment for information appliances is expected to emerge by the end of the year, with products based on it hitting the shelves by next year.

"We are at a fairly early stage of the development," said Collas. "But we plan to end up fulfilling the promise of the converging market in information appliances."

Collas referred to an operating environment that will integrate the various technologies now vying for the emerging market of home networks, such as Windows CE. The company will license the technology to hardware OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in both the PC and consumer electronics market, aiming to make computing in the home ubiquitous, simple, and powerful.

Though Amiga is not planning to use much of the technology originally found in the Amiga systems of the 1980s, it is considering certain features, such as the windowing technology, according to Collas. As for leveraging the Amiga brand more than the technology, which endeared itself to computer enthusiasts looking for alternatives to Windows and Mac OS, Collas said the Amiga faithful have been largely supportive.

"I would say 90 percent of the fanatics are very excited about what we are doing, which is continuing the spirit of the Amiga," said Collas, who receives hundreds of e-mail messages a day from more than 100,000 Amiga followers. "We are going to capitalise on the vision of what the Amiga stood for, which was a revolutionary innovation, changing the way the common person uses the computer. The naysayers only constitute about 5 to 10 percent."

Though the solutions will be aimed primarily at consumers, Collas said he would not be surprised if the technology found its way into corporate environments.

"I do think that the technology will be compelling enough that if enthusiasts like what they see, they will push to get them into the business environment," Collas said. "It is not the initial focal point, but our assumption is that from work you would be able to access things you have at home, and vice versa."

But Collas made it clear that the Amiga of the 21st century will not be the same thing as the original incarnation. The focus will be on the proliferation of information appliances.

"We are not trying to make a PC," Collas said.

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