The title originally said “Hello world”. Really for our purposes, it would be more correct as “Hello again, world”. You see, this is not our first rodeo… Let’s take you on a trip through time.
The year is 1994, and the Amiga is fairly healthy still. It’s also the dawn of the home internet age, where the move from “specialist research tool” to “cat memes” began. A few friends hatched the idea to collide those two areas of interest together and produce a web magazine – and Pure Amiga was born. The original team were me (Chris) and Phil who were already friends “IRL” (as the cool kids said back then), plus Philip and Russ who were drafted in from IRC channels to help.
Originally written in bare HTML on Amigas, the graphics were crafted in DPaint and the whole thing was a labour of love; the emphasis being on labour, there were no content management systems back then so each page started out as a blank file. The aim was simple, to be able to do what magazines such as Amiga Format and CU Amiga did, but for free. We had news and reviews, we showcased software and hardware, and we had the luxury of being first with everything without those pesky printing turnaround times.
And it grew. And grew. Admittedly we were reviewing pretty much anything we could lay our hands on to bulk the site out, including accelerator cards that were several years old, but steadily we got a fanbase. It helped that we were popping up in many “yellow page” listings, after all this was an era that a paper magazine could get some easy content reviewing websites, the very medium that would ultimately cause their demise. CU Amiga called us “Very Professional” – a great compliment since three quarters of the team were in their mid-teens. And then the mailing list started, and exploded with over 500 messages some days in the late 90s. We visited World of Amiga shows in our hastily-printed merch, we handed out copies of our entire site on floppy disk (hey, not everyone had the internet remember!), and we made friends
It was a rollercoaster. We rebranded – twice. We found our “free” hosting was only “free” as Russ knew someone who knew someone, and when they left their job with the hosts we got a huge bill and had to move the entire site overnight. We had legal action threatened from a software publisher who we wrote were “about to go bust” – thankfully they went bust that week so it never came to anything. But we were doing what we loved, and we were in the right place at the right time – possibly more so than paper magazines who by the turn of the century were little more than advertising pamphlets. We were having things sent to us to review, and we were finally having conversations with businesses where they said “Oh yes, Pure Amiga – we’ve heard of you”
All this happened exactly at the wrong time for Amiga, and after several failed buyouts and new owners the writing was on the wall. Mailing list traffic dropped 90% in a year, there was nothing to review and anyone who had been using their Amiga in anger found new, lower cost IBM PCs too tempting. A scan back over our mailing list posts of 1999/2000 shows mostly people offloading hardware at rock bottom prices. Anyone want an A1200 with an 040 for £150? Thought so! Amiga was in the limbo area between being a useful daily driver, and an interesting retro computer and Pure Amiga was left to disappear, with the hosting expiring and mailing list traffic down to a handful of posts a month. Philip and Russ had drifted away, Phil had a family to spend time with, and I had left uni and needed a job. By 2001 the mailing list ticked away on Yahoo but everything else vanished – without even a backup of the site.
Let’s come back to the present day. Retro has always been cool with a massive following, but now our beloved Amigas are retro so it’s their time to shine once more. It was a chance spotting of an email from Yahoo telling me that the mailing list, which had been dormant for nearly 20 years, was about to be permenantly deleted which got me thinking… could this work again? I’d shamefully sold all my computers years ago at the bottom of their value curve, but another chance encounter led me to rehoming a literal loft full of Amigas and kick-starting the collection again. Getting in touch with Phil, he was interested in revisiting old ground and here we are.
So what is going to happen now? Honestly, who knows…. but I’m now a qualified electronic engineer, and Phil has been running his own business for many years so we’re going to start with a store to help more people enjoy these magnificent machines, and to keep them running. Add in a few blog posts and reviews like the old days, and it should be good fun. Why not join us for the ride?