The Amiga could lay claim to being the most versatile personal computer on the market, even if there were no Amiga software. Amiga owners have access to MS-DOS software using the Transformer and Bridge Card; they can run Commodore 64 programs with either of two available emulators: and European Amigans can even emulate the BBC Microcomputer, the British government-approved educational computer.
Now ReadySoft (30 Wertheim Court, Unit 2, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada L4B 1B9; 416-731-4175) has added Macintosh software compatibility to the Amiga's résumé with A-Max. This $199.95 emulator includes two disks and a cartridge that can be plugged into either the disk drive port or the back of an external floppy drive.
ReadySoft avoids the legal problems that would be involved with cloning the Mac's operating system by requiring you to plug a set of genuine Macintosh ROMs chips into the A-Max cartridge. In addition to a set of 128K Mac Plus ROMs that will cost about $140, you'll need a copy of the Macintosh system software, which can be purchased complete with HyperCard for around $50 from your local Apple dealer. You probably won't have much luck buying the ROMs from your dealer—Apple sent a letter to its dealers mandating that Apple parts can only be used in genuine Apple products. However, a list of mail-order companies selling Mac ROMs is included in the A-Max package. You'll also need to purchase a Macintosh external floppy drive so you can read and write Mac disks, unless you have easy access to a real Mae for file transfer.
A-Max's software compatibility is excellent. Out of the large number of Macintosh programs I tried, the only ones that wouldn't work on my Amiga 1000 were Falcon and some copy-protected games. Because the Mac uses the same 68000 microprocessor as the Amiga, A-Max doesn't suffer the slowdown associated with software-only emulators. As a matter of fact, I found that some Macintosh programs seemed to run a bit faster on the Amiga than on a Macintosh Plus, probably because of the Amiga's display coprocessor.
A complete A-Max system with ROMs, disk drive, and operating system costs around $550. A used Mac Plus will cost you about $800. However, A-Max gives you a bigger screen and the ability to use your Amiga peripherals on your "Mac," with only a slight loss of compatibility. If you have a need to run Macintosh software, give A-Max a look.
1.4 in the Distance
As Mac users drool over the upcoming System 7.0 operating system update, of which they've seen only spec sheets, Amiga developers are already working with early Alpha test versions of AmigaDOS 1.4. The 1.4 upgrade will give the Amiga many of the same features that have been getting the Mac upgrade rave reviews, including interapplication communications.
The Workbench will get a major overhaul in 1.4. It has its own window, so you can pull it to the front even with a shell open. The upgraded Workbench will show default icons for programs and drawers with no info file, list files by name only, allow you to "lasso" icons to copy multiple files, and sport new gadgets, such as a parent gadget.
Other additions include the ARexx language for interapplication communications, support for higher screen resolutions using the Enhanced Chip Set and a multisync monitor, a standard file requester, and FastFileSystem for floppies.
But don't start bothering your dealer yet; the update is in an early stage of development and probably won't be ready until at least early 1990. But as the first major operating system upgrade for the Amiga, it should be worth the wait.
Want the secret to financial success? Simple; Mount your Amiga and joystick in a stand-up arcade-style case, add a quarter slot, and invite your friends over to play Elite's Ikari Warriors and Speed Buggy.
Those British Amiga conversions are extremely faithful to the coin-op originals. Ikari Warriors Is a Rambo-esque "shoot everybody in sight" game. If you play with a friend, you can work as a team to escape from behind enemy lines. Speed Buggy is an arcade driving game. Maneuver your Dune buggy around five obstacle-laden courses in a race against time. The game's graphics are fast and smooth.
You'll need to save up $39.95 in quarters for each game. For more information, contact Elite Systems, Eastern Avenue, Lichfield, Staffs, England WS13 6RX; (0543) 414188.