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The Commodore AMIGA history and my participation during the late 1980s


The Amiga was an innovative 16-bit home computer, originally built and designed 1983 by a group of talented people at Amiga Corporation. This company was then acquired by Commodore in 1984, who themselves had been instrumental in the spread of home computers with the original Commodore PET, the VIC-20, and later, the incredibly successful Volkscomputer Commodore-64.

One of the people responsible for the success of the Amiga was Dr. Tim King. He brought to the Amiga an operating system that he had been working on at Cambridge University called Tripos.

This was a fully pre-emptive multi-tasking system written almost entirely in the programming language BCPL – a precursor to C. Tim King worked with the team at Amiga who had already produced a kernel, and moved Tripos on top of this. Others in the team produced device drivers and an award-winning graphics and user interface.

After having very much success with the original Amiga 1000 and the Amiga 500, the Commodore marketing failed to keep the momentum going and bringing interesting and affordable successor machines. Instead, they wasted their resources by producing PC compatible designs. Eventually, Commodore went bust, and passed the remains on to Escom – who also went bust. Despite the trademark rights still wandering around and an apparant lack of force behind companies trying to bring back the Amiga operating system, what remains is a hugely vibrant Amiga User’s community.

Demo Scene

Quadlite AMIGA Demo

Demos have been around as long as personal computers have been popular, but they didn’t become a regular occurance until about 1983. Demos started as a small program that, sadly, was used to identify who had cracked the game you were currently (illegally) playing. They were a good test of the programmer’s abilities, because they had to fit in a pretty small space — usually 256 to 1024 bytes. Obviously, they were all coded in either assembler or machine language. Around this time, they mainly started showing up on the Commodore 64, and the Apple ][ computers, being the most popular home computers at the time. Around this time, a gradual shift occured, from people cracking games to writing graphic/sound demonstrations that showed off the computer they had just learned to program. Sure, cracking games was still popular, but some people decided that learning about the machine and using it as a tool for creativity was „cooler“ than cracking one dime-store game after another. Around this time, in 1984-1985, the first demos were born, as people willing to show off their computer and programming skills learned new ways to wrestle more power and speed out of the computer. Early demos showed up on the C64, the Apple ][, and the Atari 400/800/XL computers. And then came the Amiga.

When the Amiga computer from Commodore hit the home-computer market in 1985, it was not very well received initially in the USA — but it took off like wildfire in Europe. It was manufactured and sold primarily in Europe, and made its way into many households. The Amiga was different — it was the first low-cost, home computer built for multimedia — which, back then, was a term almost unheard of. It had incredible sound and graphics capabilities, and shipped with a multitasking operating system.

Clearly, the Amiga was the machine to program anything graphical on, like games and presentations, offering the best well-rounded graphics and sound and speed. It was the clear upgrade path for many people wanting more from a computer than the aging C64 could give them. The so called „demo scene“ flourished on the Amiga, mainly due to the fact that the computer was fast and a with the custom chips a lof of cool hardware tricks, e.g. multiple video pages, multiple resolutions, four-channel digital stereo sound (for the first time, computer music actually sounded like music), and nearly complete control over the graphics hardware – down to the point of offering multiple resolutions on the same screen.

The Amiga demo scene truly created revolutionary products from 1986 - 1990. For a while, there was a surge of products from the Amiga and the Atari ST (which had its own successful demo scene) because the two sides were competing, and constantly trying to out-do the other.

My Participation

AMIGA 1000

I bought one of the first batches of Amiga 1000s which appeared 1986 in Germany. This was my second computer (the first one was the Commodore 64) and I started to program it in 68000 assembler. Eventually, I got hold of the legendary SoundTracker program, written by Karsten Obarski for his Arkanoid style game and started to create music in .mod format. During 1987 – 1990, I was part of several more or less famous groups in the Amiga scene. My nickname was “Lord Performer Artworx” (LPA) and in chronological order I was part of:

Also of some historic interest might be

Note that I never was directly involved in cracking games or distributing illegal stuff – I just programmed intros and made music. With this page, I want to remind me and you of these great days which made me greatly enjoy this part of my youth.

There are three sections, namely modules (music I composed for the AMIGA), demos, and tools.


Soundtracker Music Composer

This section contains a list of modules containing songs I composed in the period between 1986 and 1989. They’re of varying quality, bear with me, I was a teen back then (and no, I’m not Beethoven). Unfortunately, this list is not complete — after all it’s been a while and not everything has been preserved. Special thanks need to go out to my good old friend Dr. Martin ‘Equalizer’ Leissler who converted all these songs to PC – without him this archive would not exist. For some of the modules, I could even remember parts of stories or moods which were involved when I wrote the songs. I have to write these stories down – now! – before I forget even more of those things.

All of these modules are (C) Michael ‘Mickey’ Lauer – feel free to download and distribute further to your liking, but please retain my credits and backlink to this site.





















If you have something that sounds like it’s mine, please notify me!

LPA AMIGA Demos (Excerpt)

First Intro [TGM-Crew] – Download here.

This is my first AMIGA production after I joined TGM-Crew. It’s actually pretty bare, but so was my AMIGA knowledge back then (and is again now – 30 years after). Programmed completely in 68000-assembler (like all my other AMIGA releases), we have an animated star field, some colored copper bars, and a scroll text. Last but not least, one of my first AMIGA modules (Funky Up) is included as well.

Synth Sample [TGM-Crew] – Download here.

This is without any doubt the most impressive TGM-Crew production, not necessarily technical-wise (although it had a bootblock loader, star field, copper field, scroll text), but concerning the idea.

For the synth sample intro, we wanted to have a dancing comic character based on 3d lines, however none of us had the necessary math knowledge yet, so we had to fake it. Our graphics artist Dennis did lots of stills, which we then played back one after another. Other groups were pretty impressed, until they managed to analyze the demo 😉

Originally this was a complete demo disk with many tunes, but unfortunately it has been lost in the tunnel of time. The only remaining thing is an excerpt binary from a compilation disk – without the dancing character.

LPA Intro [TGM-Crew] – Download here.

I remember that this one stirring up quite a lot of discussions. For some reasons I no longer remember, I was a bit angry with TGM-Crew and put an insanely huge „Lord Performer Artworx“ and a tiny „of TGM-Crew“ into it. It featured animated sound bars for the four sample sound channels and some Blitter objects (BOBs) following sinus paths – I think it was one of my first demos using the Blitter for anything but a scroll text.

Hypnotic Circles [Thrust] – Download here. See on video.

I like this one a lot, it features a lot of triangles moving in sinus-derived curves. In contrast to other intros, the triangles are not BOBs but rather sprites (with sprite reusing thanks to a clever spread-and-collect sort routine) – hence we had a lot of spare processing power per raster screen. This production featured a nice reflection effect that was only visible on PAL AMIGAs (which had a bunch of extra raster lines compared to NTSC). To put credit where credit is due: This demo was inspired by another demo done by our good friend Zeronine (Team Quadlite).

First Intro [Supreme] –  Download here.

This is a coproduction I did with my good old friend Dr. Martin ‚Equalizer‘ Leissler. We merged bobs, a sinus scroller, sound meters, and a 3D vector routine.

There are many more productions of mine that – thanks to the amazing people organized in various retro communities – have been saved.


It was only after migrating from the C64 to the AMIGA that I realized how much of a difference good tools make. On the C64, tools were severely limited – as was the platform. On the AMIGA there were a lot more opportunities and during the time I was active, I remember three projects, I want to mention:

SafetyNet TrapHandler [Debugging Tool]

Most AMIGA demos created in those days pushed the operating system aside to gain full access to the hardware. To exit a demo (or recover from a crash), you usually had to reboot. While this was acceptable practice, it made the development of a demo quite hard, since every reboot took some time and you had to reload your whole environment.

To improve this, I created a system called „SafetyNet TrapHandler“. The idea was to launch the actual demos with preconfigured „trap handlers“ – so that a software interrupt or exception would bring you back into the development environment – without any necessary reboots.

This was only possible due to the AMIGA’s distinction of ChipMem and FastMem. ChipMem was accessible to both the CPU and all the coprocessors, while FastMem was only accessible from the CPU. Thus, all demos had to run in ChipMem (this is a simplified explanation, but it has to do for the limited scope here) – which means FastMem was left untouched by the demos and I could use it to carry the development environment.

Apart from a certain – rare – kind of full system crash (which we called ‚freak-out‘, since it created strange sounds and bitmap patterns on the monitor), all other crashes (e.g., guru meditations) were recoverable with my trap handler.

This was a great efficiency booster for development. Unfortunately both the source and the binary code of this project has been lost.

Cornucopia Sound System [Composer Toolkit and Play Routine]

After several years composing with various derivates of the original SoundTracker program, I became somewhat bored of sample-playback. I also wanted to optimize my code by writing a play routine that took even less raster lines than the SoundTracker.

So I wrote an own sound system named „Cornucopia Sound System“ that was based on wave shaping rather than static samples. It sounded fresh and new and many people were impressed by early releases – however before I could finish it, the floppy disk that contained the code, broke – and I had no backup. 🙁 In an hopeless attempt to vent, I furiously threw the broken disk onto the wall and it damaged the wallpaper – the mark is still visible in my old room at my mother’s apartment.

I was so frustrated that I never resumed work on this project. With regards to backups, I guess I really learned something though.

The Final Toolkit [Monitor/Ripper/Assembler/Deassembler]

Next to the aforementioned trap handler, directly inspecting and manipulating memory was an important part of the debugging experience back then.

To optimize this, I created a toolkit (which I later released publicly) which allowed you to step through the memory very quickly. Since it was often used right after a crash or a reboot, it had to have a very tiny memory footprint in order not to overwrite too much of the memory that was to be inspected. Next to the usual hexadecimal bytes view, it featured a deassembler, a graphical view, and also an audio(!) view. That way it could be (ab)used to rip graphics and samples from other productions – and yes, I’m guilty for having done that once or twice.

Toolkit became so ubiquitous to our daily development routine that I allowed my team mate and good friend Martin Leissler to pester me so long until I also added a full-fledged assembler.

This software was my first commercial release. It was distributed by the german AMIGA magazine „KickStart“ – and while I didn’t earn a lot with it, it felt great to have finally produced something that was worth „real money“ to other people.

You can download the commercial release of this tool here. Trivia: I also created a private offspring of the toolkit called „Black Edition“ which – in order to save even more space – decompressed itself into part of the workbench screen memory 🙂