Raspberry Pi - the new Amiga community?

It was 1993 and my birthday, my 18th to be precise. I opened up a rather large rectangular box to find inside one of my favourite computers ever (no... EVER), the Commodore Amiga 1200. This giant of a machine had 2 (count ‘em: TWO) whole megabytes of RAM and a 20MHz 68020 Motorola CPU. It was the next generation: what Picard was to Kirk. And it was popular - boy was it popular. In it’s big sister guise as the A4000 it was used to generate the CGI for incredible Sci Fi shows like Babylon 5 and Seaquest DSV. But what really made the Amiga stand out was the community of friends, self-called Amigans who would, could, and did help one to really get to know the insides of this new machine.

Many Amigans came from Amiga 500 backgrounds (and many still used that excellent predecessor), but for me the A1200 was the future (seriously: I have never been so excited by a computer... NEVER).

I spent every minute of my spare time in front of the A1200 learning exactly how it worked - not just the software (including the quirky but loveable (to me) AmigaDOS shell environment), learning how it could be customised (PCMCIA modem, GVP 68030 accelerator with FPU, another 20MB Fast RAM, etc). I even purchased a hardware flicker fixed that worked by being seated upside down on top of one of the motherboard chips so as to take over display output. I loved this computer, I adored this computer, I... ok I think you get the picture. This was computing nirvana to me.

Roll forward a decade and my Amiga’s (I had three by this time: two A1200s and an A500+) were looking very long in the tooth. AGA graphics was now sluggish compared to Windows and Mac, and I decided to upgrade (sidegrade?) to an all in one iMac G4 (the one that kinda looks like a desk lamp). I was interested in my new computer, having a great time, but some spark somewhere was missing.

Roll forward another decade (really? It’s been 20 years since I got my first Amiga?) and I am onto my second iMac and have several Linux and Sun boxes as well. Each is great (and equally annoying) in their own way, and each serves one or more purposes. But the spark just isn’t quite there compared to the Amiga.

And then the Raspberry Pi was released. I got one within a few weeks of it being released. Yes, I was one of the lucky initial few. I installed the default Debian distro, then I tried OpenElec. Then I read The MagPi. And WHOOMPH I showered in sparks (not literally...) - those crazy, fantastic, wonderful sparks are back and I’m over the moon: COMPUTING IS FUN AGAIN!

Why? Put simply because not only is the hardware really (...REALLY) interesting, but the people, the community of Raspberry Pi users are fantastic. Right from the start all have made me feel welcome, have had lots of helpful suggestions (“hey try this”) and really seem to care about and have energy when it comes to this new computer. And this is evidenced by one look at raspberrypi.org: the list of blog articles is diverse, interesting, from and about people of all ages (one entry even mentioned a 2 year old using a Raspberry Pi!) The commitment to the RPi by all who have (or want) one is another reason that the community that is rapidly springing up around this credit card sized wonder is so Amigan.

So there you have it: in my eyes I see all that was (and still is) excellent about the Amiga community reflected in the Raspberry Pi community of users, programmers, hardware hackers, case designers (I am amazed at the love people are putting into creating cases!), bloggers, magazine writers and editors, and anyone else I have failed to mention.

And that is awesome.
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