—an indie website by joe crawford since the nineties

Amiga computing memories

The second home computer my family had was an Amiga 1000. It was an extraordinary machine.

DPaint II, from Electronic Arts was a terrific first GUI graphics program to learn with. Every session started with a decision about what resolution the image you would be working on would be. There was some flexibility about changing it, but as with now, it’s best to start in a resolution close to what your goal is.

From the manual for Deluxe Paint II:

DeluxePaint gives you a total of four different screen resolutions, with the ability to switch from one to another even during a single work session. Be aware, however, that changing screen formats in the middle of a job can result in loss of information (such as your current brush, the spare page, the last requester used, etc.), so it is important to save your work before changing screen formats. You should develop the habit of saving your work every 15 or 20 minutes ni any case, but it becomes especially important to do so fi you are about to change formats.

Today, converting between a png and a jpg involves tradeoffs. In size, quality, color, memory. And I first learned that on the Amiga.

Screen Format Requester from the DPaint Manual

I did professional consulting work as a kid with the Amiga. I worked on several versions of my uncle’s and mom’s resume. I got good at word processing and in the skill of copywriting and copyediting. I helped produce images to be scanned photographically to slides for presentation in carousel slideshows.

The lessons I learned about file formats and computer graphics back then affect decisions I make now. Image conversion in bulk is something I have enjoyed working with for a long time. On usenet, the group had a FAQ which was filled with what seemed esoteric knowledge about programming computer graphics. And yet it wasn’t quite totally alien.

I loved learning Photoshop at UCLA extension, and working in Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Freehand. Later, I used DeBabelizer and other tools to convert TIFF or postscript files into images to be used in Macromedia Director or Flash, or to be combined later to make animated GIFs. I’m grateful to my early experiences with computer graphics for training my mind to think in data formats.

In Flickr, I have a gallery of images I made as a teenager in DPaint. Some still strike me as lovely, some are silly, some I regret. But they’re all interesting. They put my head back into the 1980s, before the internet changed everything.

Amiga Pictures 1986-1991

Thanks for reading.

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