The below interview, of epic proportions, was featured as our cover story on our 1st issue, back in August 2013. Of course it was published translated in Greek but, nevertheless, the release on its original language was an act that we had promised back then to many international forums. So, let's make it a reality and let us thank one more time Mr. Trevor Dickinson, co-founder of A-EON Technology, for his time and information.
Please note that you can also find a native translation to Spanish by Víctor M. Gutiérrez, at AmigaLandia: Entrevista con Trevor Dickinson - RetroPlanet.
Η παρακάτω απκαλυπτική συνέντευξη, επικών διαστάσεων, αποτέλεσε το κυρίως θέμα του παρθενικού μας τεύχους, τον Αύγουστο του 2013. Φυσικά, εκδόθηκε μεταφρασμένο στην ελληνική, ωστόσο η ατόφια μεταφορά του στην αγγλική, είναι μία πράξη που είχαμε υποσχεθεί στα διεθνή forums εδώ καιρό. Ας την κάνουμε πραγματικότητα λοιπόν, ευχαριστώντας γι ακόμα μία φορά τον συνιδρυτή της A-EON technology, κ. Trevor Dickinson.
R.P.: Good afternoon! You are going to be the first person ever interviewed for our newly born magazine, how do you feel about that?
T.D.: Thank you. I am very honoured to have been selected as your first interviewee and wish you and your new magazine every success in the future.
R.P.: So, let’s start from the basics, to whoever doesn’t know you or any part of your history of your involvement to our platform, when did you first meet with an Amiga?
T.D.: Actually, my computing history started before the Amiga was even a twinkle in Jay Miner's eye. Way back in 1981 I was going to build my own Sinclair ZX80 kit computer with a massive 1K of RAM but, after reviewing all the computer magazines of the day, I rejected it (and the Apple II) and decided to buy a Commodore 4032. I taught myself Commodore (Microsoft) basic, learnt all the Peek & Poke codes and became reasonably proficient at PET machine code. Eventually I traded in the PET in to purchase a C64 and used it to access Compunet and Micronet along with many file sharing bulletin boards in the early 1980s. I upgraded to a C128D before purchasing an Amiga 2000 in 1988 to replace my C128D which was destroyed in an electrical storm while I was living in Texas. I had been running GEOS on my C128D but the pre-emptive multitasking of the AmigaOS combined with superb video, colour graphics and amazing sound introduced me to the world of multimedia computing. From that moment on I was hooked!
R.P.: Did you use it back then for work, fun or both? Can you list specific examples of its use if for work or fun?
T.D.: I used the Amiga for both work and play, but to be honest even work was fun on the Amiga, which was at the forefront of emerging multimedia computer technology. During the late 1980s I was using my Amiga to access the CompuServe Network and was an early adopter of the fledgling internet in the mid 1990s using AMosaic and later IBrowse and AWeb. Very exciting times! When I started my own business in early 1989 I used a series of big box Amigas and introduced A3000s and A4000s for video, graphics and desktop publishing work. All the company’s technical manuals, sales brochures and publicity material was created on the Amiga using a combination of Professional Page and Professional Draw, Art Department Professional, ImageFX and Final Writer. I was also a software junkie and purchased a lot of productivity software for my Amiga machines. By this stage I was not really into game playing although that didn't stop me getting hooked on Lemmings. ;-)
R.P.: I have seen on AmigaWorld that you have an impressive list of collectible (retro) computers. Can you tell us more about that and can you list your most beloved ones?
T.D.: I suppose I was almost an accidental collector to start with. I sold my original PET 4032 to purchase a shiny new C64 but kept that when I upgraded to a C128D. After the
|PETs on parade!|
demise of my C128D system I purchased an Amiga 2000 with the insurance money and upgraded as new, more powerful Amiga models were released. Fortunately by this time I did not have to sell the older machines and my collection grew slowly and organically. In the late 1990’s I began using PC’s more but still used Amigas in my daily business until about 2001. Around 2004 I found I had more time to devote to my Amiga “hobby” and began buying Commodore and Amiga machines off eBay and elsewhere. Over the years I've amassed quite a collection and in all I now have over 180 Commodore and Amiga computers ranging from Commodore's first 8-bit Kim-1 through to the 64-bit AmigaOne X1000. Although I really like the AmigaOS I'm interested in all Amiga flavours, including MorphOS, AROS and Emulation. I have even grown to like PowerPC Linux distros, as long as they are running on my AmigaOne X1000. ;-) As for my favourite Amiga? Just like a first car, or first girlfriend, I still have a lot of affection for my first Amiga, the A2000. ;-) It was a big ugly heavy brute, built like a tank and very expandable. Apart from that, I think it's hard to beat the simple elegance of the A500s computer-in-a-keyboard design. I also really enjoy the power and ultimate expandability of my AmigaOne X1000 system. As for non-Amiga machines I also have an extensive collection of 8-bit Commodore machines including the Japanese Commodore Max and C64 Game System. Probably one of my rarest machines is a Commodore 900, a 16-bit Z8000 based computer which ran Coherent, a Unix like OS, which was scrapped when Commodore bought the Amiga. Of course I still have a soft spot for the PET 4032, my first ever microcomputer. I even have a several Commodore PC machines (sorry).
R.P.: How much time and money (approximately) it took you gather all these machines?
T.D.: It's probably fair to say I've been an enthusiastic collector of Commodore and Amiga computers and accessories for about the last 10 years although my addiction obviously started a lot earlier. ;-) How much has it cost me to date? I've really no idea. Systems purchased from new were obviously at the retail price of the day. For example my first Amiga 4000 cost almost US$4000, much more expensive than my AmigaOne X1000. Recently I gratefully received a donated Amiga 3000 and CD32 for free. My latest acquisition, a working Draco Cube, cost over $1,000. In the earlier days I would buy complete systems but now I tend to focus on special items, components or machines that I do not have in my collection. So if you know anyone who is selling a working A3200 please let me know! ;-)
R.P.: In the 90s which was your most advance equipped Amiga owning/operating?
T.D.: I suppose that would be my A4000 which I converted to an Ateo tower system complete with a phase5 Cyberstorm PPC 233/060 accelerator, Cybervision PPC graphics card and phase5 Zorro Ram card. It also had an Ariadne Ethernet card, a Rapid Fire SCSI I/f card with additional HDD, magneto optical, zip, Jazz and CD ROM drives. I purchased one of the first DigiView colour wheel systems complete with B&W security camera and used Vidi RT 24 video framegrabber to grab images off videos. I also used one of the first JX-100 Sharp scanners and later replaced it with a GT-6500 Epson scanner. The CyberStorm PPC card costs almost US$1200 on its own. I hate to think what that total system actually cost at the time.
R.P.: I have seen some references of yours on the net regarding your past stay in Cyprus. Is that correct? Do you plan a visit in Cyprus and/or Greece the upcoming period?
T.D.: Yes I lived in Cyprus for three years during the early1990s. I was based in Paphos on the beautiful West coast of the Island. I played football for a local village team and am godparent to the daughter of my long time friend who lives on the east coast of Cyrus in the port of Larnaca. I haven't visited Cyprus or Greece for a few years and think a visit is long overdue. Are any Amiga shows planned? ;-)
R.P.: You are the author of one the most interesting series of articles in the Amiga Future magazine, in my opinion. When did you start this occupation? How do you gather the relevant resources for each article, and how much time does it take?
T.D.: Thank you for your kind words. It is really good to know that there is at least one other person who reads and actually enjoys my articles. ;-) I originally began writing the “Amiga Retrospective” series in 2006 after a chance meeting with Robert Williams, the editor of the excellent “Total Amiga Magazine”. By that time I was already an avid Amiga collector and volunteered to write a retrospective series about the Classic Amiga computers I was collecting. When Robert closed down “Total Amiga” in early 2007 to concentrate on his career and studies, the series eventually transferred to “Amiga Future” and ran for another 3 years and 20 parts. While writing the series I came across many companies and individuals who made major contributions to the Amiga's development. My articles were limited to a maximum of 30,000 characters and every edition exceeded this total! When the Retrospective series finished I managed to convince Andreas, the Amiga Future editor to let me write more in depth articles about these companies and individuals and so the “Whatever happened to....?” Classic Reflections series was born. It takes me much more time researching the articles than actually writing them. My source material is my computer hardware and software collection and a whole host of mainstream English language Amiga magazines including Amiga World, Amiga Format, CUAmiga, Amiga Shopper, Amiga Active & Amazing Amiga. I also make good use of the internet, especially the “Wayback Machine” for historical information, and use public records and documents to look up financial details of companies and individual where applicable. But you also asked how long does it take? Too long according to my long suffering wife who is also my proof reader! ;-) By the way she was also my first girlfriend!
R.P.: Given the orientation of your AF’s series of article, have you decide yet, is the Amiga Curse for real? Is there a cure?
T.D.: I don't know about the Amiga being a curse, but it is an addiction and for that there is no real cure. I am an Amigaholic. ;-)
R.P.: I have read in the past that your occupation with AF spackled your interest to the platform even more, to a point of thinking about making your own Amiga (A1X1K) – which later you did. Is this correct? What was the turning point/story that you read and inspired you in order to take “the leap of faith”?
T.D.: Yes, this is true. While researching the post Commodore history of the Amiga I was intrigued by all the twists and turns in the Amiga saga. It was more like a TV soap opera than a story of a computer system. My Retrospective series had also morphed into the story of the Amiga's rise and fall and I became totally intrigued by the personalities and companies behind the computer that just refused to die. The turning point was a chance meeting with Ben Hermans and Evert Carton of Hyperion Entertainment. I was visiting Commodore Netherlands with Michael Battialana of Cloanto. In reality, I was just tagging along with Michael for the ride. As our next stop was Brussels, we met up with Ben & Evert in the evening for a quick drink. They had just been informed that Amiga, Inc was going to sue them so you can imagine the atmosphere was not very jolly. I asked if there was anything I could do to help? The rest, as they say, is history.
R.P.: There is always a wall in companies affiliated with the Amiga market, when it comes into revealing numbers to the public (community). Do you believe this is a true statement? Why do you think this happen, if yes?
T.D.: I don't think that is restricted to the Amiga market. Most private companies keep their marketing and sales data confidential to prevent competitors gaining an advantage. The Amiga market is no different, just a lot smaller.
R.P.: Based upon your experience, do you believe there is a “fear” that someone might notice your financial failure or success on the market (if release numbers to the public) and will try to take advantage on that?
T.D.: It is possible to obtain, usually for a small payment, financial information from the public records published for private companies. However, in our small community I'm not surprised that people are reluctant to release sensitive information. There are a number of trolls and individuals with a crab-in-a-barrel attitude who are determined to create disharmony because, after all their computer/operating system/software/application/etc is better than yours (delete where not applicable).
R.P.: Why do you think our platform suffered from so many vapor projects since the demise of Commodore? Be it commercial or hobby; from the BoXeR to the Amiga MCC and from Panda (Troika NG) to Natami.
T.D.: Apart from a few notable exceptions, the Iwin Corporation being one, I don't think that the people or companies involved deliberately set out to create Amiga vapourware. I believe that most had the best of intentions, as demonstrated by the amount of time, effort and money that was spent on various failed Amiga projects. In most cases the market simply disappeared as the user base shrank, lost interest or moved on to different hardware platforms. Even Met@Box failed to deliver the “Pios One” computer and that team included such former Commodore heavyweights as Dave Haynie, Dr. Peter Kittel, Andy Finkel and John Smith. With respect to hobby projects, they always run the risk of the main developer either losing interest or running out of money, or both. We have seen this many times in the past couple of years. Personally, I would have liked to have owned a BoXeR machine and the Amiga MCC is still one of the coolest case designs I have seen from that era. I'm not sure why Troika failed but the ongoing Amiga, Inc/Hyperion legal dispute certainly could not have helped.
R.P.: Do you remember the days of the legal battle between Amiga Inc. and Hyperion? How did you feel back then about that? Do you believe that the outcome was in favor of the Amiga community when the dust settled down?
T.D.: I think the legal battle did no one any favours. It just soaked up huge amounts time and money in legal fees with only the lawyers benefiting. Funds which would have been better spent on much needed Amiga hardware AND software development. I'm just pleased the matter was finally resolved. A-EON is working hard for new success to benefit all Amigans. History will judge whether we achieve that goal, but it won't be from lack of effort on our part.
R.P.: Why did you approach Varisys specifically for the completion of the A1X1K? Did someone introduce you to them? Which were Varisys credentials that persuade you to collaborate with them?
T.D.: That is a much easier question to answer. P.A. Semi recommended several developers/manufacturers who had the necessary background and technical skills to assist with the Nemo development project. Varisys was one of the approved companies and, after several technical exchanges was chosen by the AmigaOS 4 developers as our preferred hardware partner. When dealing with them it soon became apparent that they had a long and proven track record in cutting edge PowerPC and FPGA based products for industrial and military clients.
R.P.: How Varisys reacted when you explained them for the first time that you are wishing to contract them in order to develop the next generation Amiga? Were they fond of our little system? At the present day, do they use their creation along with an AOS installation at their offices?
T.D.: The Varisys co-founders, Paul Gentle and Adam Barnes, while not originally die-hard Amigans, were very familiar with the Amiga's heritage and were excited to become a part of the Amiga's history. While they not directly involved previously with the Amiga, there was a curious historical connection dating back to their work with the HeliOS transputing platform from Perihelion Software. According to Paul, “We had a close relationship at one time, but Transtech bought into a systems company that had its own OS and Perihelion started to develop their own hardware products. At this point we were competitors, “Paul recalls. “Dr King (founder of Perihelion software and formerly the architect of AmigaDOS at MetaComCo) had worked on the AmigaOS. Varisys were, however surprised to discover just how lively and enthusiastic the Amiga community still was. On signing the original Nemo development contract Gentle commented, “We are very proud to be involved in the project and I hope that when the hardware reaches the users, that they feel it justifies its place in the Amiga history books.” We have not yet convinced them of the full benefits of the AmigaOS, but we are ever hopeful as they are currently developing our next generation AmigaONE models.
R.P.: I have repeatedly read in your blog, you stating that PPC isn’t dead. Do you seriously believe this or is it more of a marketing trick / method to justify our/yours (Amiga) stuck on the Power architecture?
T.D.: Marketing trick? Who me? ;-) Seriously though, the decision was made many years ago to develop the AmigaOS (and MorphOS for that matter) for PowerPC hardware. At this moment in time we are married to PowerPC hardware and I don't see this changing in the very near future. However, one of the problems we all have is we tend to focus on the hardware, but in reality most of the cost revolves around software development - which is always greatly underestimated and undervalued.
R.P.: If you believe PPC has a future, then it what sector this might be (embedded, console, servers or desktop)?
T.D.: At the time of writing there are at least a dozen companies manufacturing PowerPC CPUs. Most of course are for the embedded and server market with IBM leading the pack with its Power7 server technology. That is not going away any time soon. But there are other companies such as Servergy, Inc who are basing there whole business on delivering a revolutionary PowerPC based server. Freescale also continue to push the boundaries of the Power Architecture with their 32-bit and 64-bit multi-core CPUs. In addition to their P-series their new T-series promises a 64-bit CPU with 8-12 physical cores and 16-24 virtual cores. Who said PowerPC was dead? ;-)
R.P.: Would you prefer to see AOS running on x86 instead of PPC?
T.D.: Interesting question. To be perfectly honest, as I've already said, it not really about the hardware platform. It would cost the same to develop a custom designed x86 motherboard as it would a PPC board.
R.P.: At the beginning of the project (A1X1K), you were partners with Mr. Hermans. Now you are not. What happened in the meantime? How would you describe Mr. Hermans as a person? Does he eat children alive as many have claimed?
T.D.: A-EON Technology cvba was a Belgian company originally formed in 2009 to develop modern hardware for the AmigaOS. Initially I had several business partners but eventually I ended up managing the company and funding most of the development and manufacturing costs. With the AmigaOne X1000 project successfully completed there was no need for a company based in Belgium. As for Ben Hermans, I've never seen him eat children but I do know without his financial support AmigaOS 4 would have folded several years ago. Having successfully completed the AmigaOne X1000 development, I decided I would like to continue funding new hardware and software for the benefit of the whole Amiga community. As a result, I backed a new UK company, A-EON Technology Ltd, in partnership with Matthew Leaman, who is also the M.D. of AmigaKit, a successful international Amiga retailer servicing both the Classic and next generation community. With Matthew's assistance, we hope that all the new hardware and software projects will be undertaken on a sustainable and commercially viable basis. As a result, we have pre-funded a number of software projects which should benefit AmigaOS 4.1 users. These include Warp3D drivers for RadeonHD graphics cards, Catweasel MK2 drivers for the AmigaOne X1000 and other AmigaOne computers and the “Libre Office” suite. We are also looking to pre-fund a number of hardware and software developments for Classic Amiga users. Watch this space.
R.P.: Have you ever approached MorphOS Team for a possible port of MorphOS to the A1X1K?
T.D.: No, I have not personally approached the Morph Team with regards to the AmigaOne X1000. However, as a long-term MorphOS user, I have about 5 or 6 MorphOS licences and am looking forward to installing the latest 3.2 version on my G5 Powermac and iMac when I get some time in the near future. I would be delighted if the MorphOS Team decided to port MorphOS to our current and future hardware. It would also be good to see an AROS port as well.
R.P.: Do you believe that we are likely to experience MorphOS running on the A1X1K in the next 12 months?
T.D.: See my answer above.
R.P.: Was/Is there a special term between You (AEON) and Hyperion forbidding from running any other Amigoid OS onto A1X1K?
T.D.: We have no OS restrictions on our hardware. We already have AmigaOS 4 and 10 PowerPC Linux distributions running on the AmigaOne X1000. As mentioned above we would be delighted to see both MorphOS and AROS ports in the future along with many more Linux PowerPC distributions.
R.P.: At the beginning you had stated that (I am paraphrasing) “I would more than happy if we break even”. In retrospect, do you find this statement enough to justify your involvement to the project? Did you achieve your goal?
T.D.: No, I did not achieve that goal. I will not recover the original development costs. However, success can be measured in many ways. When I started the project I set myself a number of goals with the ultimate objective of creating the most powerful custom built "Next Generation" AmigaOS computer released to date and from a technical viewpoint the AmigaOne X1000 project has been very successful. It has also established the foundation for future projects and the experience has shown me that there is still a strong demand among Amiga enthusiasts for a custom built “Next Generation” machine. As long as that demand remains I will continue to help fund new hardware and software developments.
|The AmigaOne X1000 running AmigaOS4.1|
R.P.: Based upon speculation and experience, what is the annual turnover of the Amiga market (software and hardware wise)? What is the percentage out of it corresponding to the NG sector?
T.D.: That is a very difficult question to answer. The active Amiga market is a mere fraction of its former glory. I would estimate that the active Amiga user base including Classic, AmigaOS 4 and all “Next Generation” flavours and is probably around 25,000 to 30,000. If you add Amiga emulation you could probably double or triple that number. The number of people who have fond memories of Commodore and Amiga computers is orders of magnitude greater. Answering the question in another way; despite the high costs of the AmigaOne X1000, and Sam460 based systems for that matter, there is no shortage of customers willing to pay the retail price. How this translates to annual turnover of the whole “Amiga” market is anyone’s guess. Talking with one leading Amiga retailer, 65% of his turnover still comes from sales to Classic Amiga owners who are also multiple repeat customers, whereas “Next Generation Amiga” owners tend to make the initial hardware purchase but very little thereafter.
R.P.: How high was your initial budget regarding the A1X1K project? I have read rumors placing it, circa 200k USD. Is this correct? About how many machines produced the aforementioned figure correspond?
T.D.: It is difficult to provide a short answer to this question. The biggest cost in small volume manufacturing is the “None recurring Engineering” development charge (NRE). This is the labour and material costs associated with developing the product and manufacturing the first prototypes. Inevitably you will also need to make several revision designs along with new prototypes. If you are building hundreds of thousands or millions of units the NRE cost is “almost” negligible when spread over the large number of units sold. It is a very different matter with small volume manufacturing for any market. Anyway, to answer your question, we took a phased approach to developing the Nemo motherboard for the A1-X1000. The first step was a proof-of-concept and we pre-funded US$115K for initial development and prototyping. Five prototypes were manufactured for stress testing and porting AmigaOS 4. After review we took the decision to make a number of minor design improvements and create a revision 2 motherboard. Revisions cost more time and money and delay. Prototypes are also very expensive because the are made in very small volumes and can cost up to US$5000 per board. Another five Revision 2 prototype motherboards were produced for testing and driver work. Why so few boards you might ask? Because you want to make sure there are no major hardware surprises before moving to production manufacturing. As it was we ended up creating a revision 2.1 board with the associated additional cost. Also, due to supply issues, we a pre-funded a batch of P.A. Semi CPU's for the beta test program and first batch of “First Contact” AamigaOne X1000 systems. That was before we started taking deposits for the beta test programme. All-in-all the NRE costs to produce the original prototypes, revision 2 modifications and new prototypes for hardware testing burnt almost $200K in pre-funding. That is the reality of the situation. If we could sell 200,000 units that would only add one dollar to the sales price. However, if we only sold 200 that that would add US$1000 to the sales price. As they say in the USA, “you do the math!”
R.P.: Given your experience, how high should the budget be raised if we were about to mass produce an affordable PPC+AOS/MorphOS, with semi - modern technical specification (similar to the A1X1K)?
T.D.: Since we embarked on the original AmigaOne X1000 development, I have now spoken with several industry specialists who are amazed what we achieved with so little money! So to answer your question, if you want to build custom hardware for the Amiga market, whether it be PPC, x86 or even Arm based, you need a volume market in order to recover the inevitable NRE costs. US$200K for NRE is considered to be low. Again, I'll let you do the maths on how many units need to be sold to produce affordable hardware. ;-)At the end of the day it all comes down to the size of the market and number of units sold.
R.P.: How much time would a similar project take (both covering software and hardware alpha/beta stages)? How much time did it took you to get A1X1K and AOS into a usable state?
T.D.: That is another difficult question. Each development project is different. I think I've already been quoted as saying whatever time estimates the hardware engineers give, double it. Whatever estimated provided by the software guys, treble it! ;-) Time delays also have a similar knock-on effect on the growing costs. The Revision 1 Nemo motherboard was delivered to the AmigaOS 4 developers at the end of 2009. The first public display of a working AmigaOne X1000 system was at the UK Vintage Computer Festival in June 2010. Although AmigaOS 4 was very unstable it was at least up and running. The second public viewing was at the Essen Amiga show in Germany a month later and by the time AmiWest 2010 came around in October, AmigaOS 4 was running much more smoothly. Circumstances outside our control conspired to delay the development but at the end of 2010 we decided to produce a revision 2 design which added another 6 months to the development and testing cycle. We eventually began shipping the first Revision 2.1 Nemo boards to beta testers in the summer of 2011. By this time AmigaOS 4 was very stable although work continued on various hardware drivers. At this time we also contracted with Hans de Ruiter to produce advanced drivers for the 4xxx, 5xxx, 6xxx and 7xxx series RadeonHD graphics cards, building on the preliminary driver he created for the Sam460. The RadeonHD graphics driver work was another large financial commitment which we again pre-funded and hope to recover the costs over the next 3-4 years. However, without it AmigaOS 4 would be limited to older graphic card technology.
R.P.: In later stages, how much money would it cost to market it properly? Which channels of communication would you choose and why?
T.D.: Believe it or not the Amiga hardware almost markets itself and the mainstream computer media is also interested in real Amiga news.
R.P.: Do you classify the A1X1K as a successful project, financially speaking (meaning making money out of it)?
T.D.: Was the AmigaOne X1000 a technically successful project? Yes, most definitely. Was it a financial success? No, for all the reasons I listed in above.
R.P.: In the beginning of the project (A1X1K), the existence of XMOS was considered as a marketing/selling point. All these years afterwards and we still haven’t seen any application developed to take advantage of it. Why do you think this has happened?
T.D.: There are people actually working on Xorro and Xena applications, but to answer your question, again it all comes down to volume. We had hoped that some hardware developers might design special Xorro applications for the AmigaOne X1000 and we are still hopeful that this will happen. In the meantime, AmigaOne X1000 beta testers can and have purchased Xorro development boards to create their own projects and it is our intention to commercialise one or two of these projects in the future. In addition, we are including Xena/Xorro capability on our future hardware.
R.P.: Are there any specific steps planned in order to guarantee XMOS’ community active involvement at the upcoming period or is it just wishful thinking?
T.D.: The AmigaOS 4 developer who created the AmigaOS 4 native XENA drivers has already made made good contacts with the XMOS community.
R.P.: Were there any sales outside our platform worth of mentioning, both in terms of numbers and/or status (Industry clients, computer enthusiasts)?
T.D.: Apart from a few sales to PowerPC Linux users, the vast majority of sales have been to the Amiga community. However, this is something we hope to change with our new hardware developments.
R.P.: You have partnered with AmigaKit regarding the distribution of A1X1K. Did you see the project benefited from this move? If yes how?
T.D.: Good question. Yes, our partnership with AmigaKit is very beneficial. They were already operating as a leading worldwide Amiga retailer with an established supply network and a well earned reputation for customer support and quality. Without their help and assistance the AmigaOne X1000 roll out would not have occurred. They took a leading role in helping to design the complete Amiga X1000 system including the officially licensed, custom designed case together with the official “Boing Ball” keyboard and mouse. They have been crucial to the success of the AmigaOne X1000 and will continue to act as A-EON's lead distributor.
R.P.: What do you consider as the strongest and weakest selling points of A1X1K?
T.D.: Strongest: The AmigaOne X1000 is most powerful next generation Amiga ever developed to run the Amiga OS - period. Weakest: The high NRE and CPU cost which which has a major effect on the retail price.
R.P.: In retrospect, do you believe it was a wise decision to set so high price tag for the A1X1K?
T.D.: I think you can see from the answers to the questions above that the price should be much higher than the current retail price. However, even at the current retail price, AmigaKit are still oversubscribed by would-be purchasers by almost 200%. So the question should be, why are you selling the AmigaOne X1000 at such a low price? ;-)
R.P.: You have explained in the past that the CPU is the most expensive part of the A1X1K. Is this true? If yes why? Can you please tell us its range (min – max price) that you purchased it?
T.D.: Yes the P.A. Semi CPU is the most expensive component on the board. The original price was based on commercial industry standards for a component used by the military and industry for embedded applications. We had negotiated a standard supply agreement with P.A. Semi at a unit price of $500 each. However, after Apple took control they cancelled our credit terms and eventually shut down manufacturing of the CPU. Since then the maximum price we have paid to date is $1000 each with shipping and insurance. However, I along with AmigaKit jointly subsidised the increased CPU cost and did not pass it on to our customers.
R.P.: Are you planning a cut down version of the A1X1K (or a new computer), with the advantage of being cheaper? Is it going to be portable (laptop, netbook etc)? Can you hint any hardware specs? Which OS is going to use? What the approximate ETA?
T.D.: For all the reasons given above, simply redesigning the AmigaOne X1000 motherboard will not produce a substantially lower end-user price due to NRE and CPU costs. Also redesigning the board would add more NRE and the P.A. Semi CPU remains very scarce and expensive. Having said that, the Freescale PowerPC Qoriq P series CPUs offer the best short term approach for future successors to the AmigaOne X1000. Again this is trailblazing work in PowerPC terms, not just in the “Amiga next-generation” market, because these CPUs have never been made into consumer desktop computer devices before. We have been working on the Qoriq P Series project, codenamed Cyrus, for almost a year. A lot of testing and development has already been undertaken we are now producing revision 2.0 prototype boards. It's a long and slow process and we cannot specify a definite release date at this time. We do not want to create even more Amiga-vapourware. ;-)
R.P.: Was this an interview from a different angle or point of view from the ones you have already done? Any last comments?
T.D.: Yes! ;-) It was the first time I've been asked more detailed questions about developments and costs. Thank you for the opportunity of sharing my Amiga passion (obsession) with your readers. I hope your magazine is a great success.
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