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A beautiful hardcover book chronicling the Commodore Amiga years. First hand interviews, inspiring stories, and lots of laughs.
A beautiful hardcover book chronicling the Commodore Amiga years. First hand interviews, inspiring stories, and lots of laughs.
A beautiful hardcover book chronicling the Commodore Amiga years. First hand interviews, inspiring stories, and lots of laughs.
1,523 backers pledged CA$ 109,827 to help bring this project to life.

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Commodore: The Amiga Years book

CA$ 109,827

1,523

 

Thanks to all the wonderful backers who supported the creation of Commodore: The Amiga Years. Because of you, the book will be better than it ever could have been. The Kickstarter campaign is over but you can continue to support it by backing a reward level through PayPal or with a credit card.

  • Michael Dailly (Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto), Simon Phipps (Rick Dangerous), and Stoo Cambridge (Cannon Fodder) join David Pleasance (Commodore GM) for the UK dinner. 
  • AUDIOBOOK is included for all levels that include The Amiga Years.
  • Poster and business cards included at all physical reward levels.
  • All backers of the dinner and relic books will now receive all THREE physical Commodore books.
  • Signing is also included at the $78, $100, $108 and $145 reward levels.
  • The Amiga Years will be delivered about a month before it is available to the public for all levels.

Introduction

Hello! I’m Brian Bagnall and I want to tell you the story of Commodore during the Amiga years. Commodore produced my favorite computers in the eighties and for years I waited for someone to write a book about those incredible times. Strangely, it seemed like publishers were only interested in talking about Apple, Microsoft and IBM. It’s time to give the Commodore Amiga some credit as the first commercially successful multimedia computer.

Take a journey from Amiga's beginnings in 1982 to when Commodore filed for bankruptcy in 1994. Dozens of brilliant and motivated engineers produced a computer with graphics, sound and multitasking capabilities years ahead of Apple and IBM. A lot happened in that decade, and this book will describe to you the most relevant parts in a definitive history of the Amiga story and Commodore’s final descent.

Prior to undertaking this project, Commodore’s trajectory as a company was a huge mystery. Writing this book will allow me to sleuth out what happened, relive those times alongside those who were there, and share the results with fellow travelers like you. That prospect alone is incredibly exciting.

This will be the second book in a two part series on Commodore. The first book, Commodore: A Company on the Edge was released in 2010 to positive reviews. That book ended in 1984 with the departure of company founder Jack Tramiel. When read together, these two books provide a complete account of the rise and fall of the Commodore computer company.

This book will tell the story from an insider’s perspective, which requires interviews with dozens of former Commodore employees totaling over a hundred hours. So far approximately two-thirds of the Amiga Years book has been written, and have received cooperation and extraordinary support from RJ Mical (Amiga GUI), Dale Luck (Amiga graphics), Bil Herd (C128), Thomas Rattigan (Commodore CEO), Bill Gardei (C65 prototype), Dave Haynie (Amiga 2000 and 3000), Brian Dougherty (GEOS) along with many more engineers, employees, managers and marketing people.

The Amiga Years Book

Physically, the hardcover book will be 6 by 9 inches and 500-600 pages of retro goodness, in keeping with the form factor of Commodore: A Company on the Edge. The hardcover will be covered by a glossy 4-color dust jacket with 3.5 inch flaps. Interior is black and white ink on 50 lb. white paper. (Who knew one sheet of paper could weigh so much?) The actual book itself will be sent to a local printer and printed on a high quality press.

The content will exceed my previous Commodore book in areas of research, prose, and presentation. To do this, I will need to hire a skilled cover artist, a layout professional, an editor, and put each chapter through multiple reviews before sending the manuscript to a quality printer. The final step is the most significant expenditure.

As the title suggests, all the Amiga derivative machines will be covered, including the original A1000, the A500 and A2000, the A3000, the A1200 and A4000, A600, A1500, A2500. There’s also the Amiga based consoles, the CDTV and the CD32.

Not forgotten are the 8-bit legacy computers. The C64 continued to sell through to the 1990’s, and was upgraded to the C64c, including the incredible GEOS operating system. The C128 was the official successor the the C64, and there was also a proposed successor called the C65 which never made it into production. Unsurprisingly, each of these models has a history full of interesting anecdotes about their creation, marketing, and reception by consumers.

Because the focus of one single book is now on the Amiga years, I will be seeking out more interviews with major players, and making sure the crucial information for each new machine’s release is properly covered. I would also like to include more views from “the other side” who might have insight into the competition between these titan companies of Atari, Apple and Commodore. As well, there are major stories to be told from across the sea, both in Europe, the UK and Japan. It’s time to do some digging and find out what we uncover!

Additional interviews I will seek out include: 

  • Carl Sassenrath - developer of the Amiga’s multitasking operating system 
  • Bob Pariseau - Amiga software team leader and emcee of the Amiga launch 
  • Ron Nicholson and Joe Decuir, chip engineers and early hires at Amiga
  • Bryce Nesbitt - a young hacker hired by Commodore 
  • Glenn Keller - Paula sound chip designer
  • Larry Kaplan - early cofounder of Amiga
  • Greg Berlin - Amiga hardware engineer and a giant in the industry. Literally he’s 6’8”. 
  • Hedley Davis - Amiga hardware engineer
  • Bob Welland - Amiga 500 designer
  • Gail Wellington - the Amiga "Director of CATS"
  • David Pleasance - General Manager of Commodore International
  • Employees who left Commodore to develop the Atari ST 
  • Other CEO’s who came and went. Get their take on the revolving door under Irving Gould.
  • Commodore marketing managers
  • Notable software and game developers
  • and more...

There will be at least two period photographs per chapter. Already I have amassed hundreds of photographs from insiders such as Bil Herd, Dave Haynie, RJ Mical and Terry Ryan, but I will constantly be on the hunt for more photographs supplied by each new interview subject.

Lastly, the book will contain a full index at the back so you can revisit your favorite subject at a moment’s glance.

Funding Target

I plan to use the bulk of the target money towards printing costs, editing fees, layout, cover design, and mailing the books to you. There’s also the Kickstarter fees, costs for producing the different backer rewards, and taxes to contend with. If the target is exceeded, there will be improvements made to the book and other items to improve on rewards! (Stay tuned for stretch goals after launch.) Any surplus cash will be wisely spent on McDonald’s takeout meals and donuts so I can take minimal breaks while writing the book.

Reward Highlights

Commodore: A Company on the Edge was released in 2010, telling the complete story of Commodore computers from its purchase of MOS Technology in 1976 through to the release of the PET, VIC-20, C64, and Plus/4, followed by Jack Tramiel's sudden departure from the company in 1984. Numerous interviews were conducted, including Chuck Peddle (6502 and PET), Bill Mensch (6502 and 65816), Bill Seiler (PET), John Feagens (PET), Bob Russell (VIC-20), Bob Yannes (SID chip), Al Charpentier (VIC chips), Kit Spencer (marketing), Michael Tomczyk (marketing), and many more.  

It's a prequel! Discover the lost history of Commodore. Read about founder Jack Tramiel's early history, Commodore's beginnings in 1954 (with first hand interviews with co-founder Manfred Kapp), the natural evolution from typewriters, to adding machines, to calculators. It all culminates with the infamous financial scandal that expelled Commodore from Canada to California, and covers the ferocious calculator wars that drove Jack to acquire MOS Technology and produce the TIM and KIM-1 single board computers (extended chapters about each of these).

Okay, you might be asking yourself smugly, just how exactly are you going to write another book on top of the Amiga one? You are only one man Brian! Let me explain. The first draft of the Commodore book was about 850 pages. That meant many chapters were dropped to make everything fit in a reasonable number of pages. This was actually a good thing that helped to focus the story, but there was a lot of good material left over. It will be deeply fulfilling to finally have this part of the story out there in a coherent narrative for readers to enjoy. Approximately 200-300 pages, softcover and digital eBook. NOTE: Will be sent after The Amiga Years is completed.

Have you already read Commodore: A Company on the Edge, yet want to receive some of the rewards at a higher backer level? In that case, substitute the book you already read with Sophistication & Simplicity. Steven Weyhrich, the author of this lovely Apple II book, has kindly allowed his 20 year labor of love to be offered here. I've read lots of computer history books about Apple, but this is the first to cover the 8-bit Apple II history exclusively. This exciting book explores two decades of the scene, and as a Commodore junkie, it was eye opening.

Get your picture taken. Get your books signed. Want a body part signed? Get your money ready. It's arranged seating and early backers get first choice of where they sit. Be a special guest for an excellent meal that will be provided for you along with four featured guests and up to seven other Kickstarter backers.

These are out of print, rare, and one of a kind. Receive an autographed copy of the first edition of the Commodore story from 2005, On the Edge: The Spectacular RIse and Fall of Commodore. After completing the book I visited with many Commodore people and received autographs from Al Charpentier, Bob Yannes, Dave Haynie, Robert Russell, Chuck Peddle, Bill Mensch, Bil Herd, and even Jack Tramiel himself.

Summary

You can ensure the Commodore story is enjoyed by you and future generations by selecting any of the reward tiers on Kickstarter. Help me create the best history of Commodore and it's amazing machines. I will use your feedback in shaping the content of the book. Is there a particular story that should be covered, or a person who needs to be interviewed? Let's do it. I bring over a decade of writing experience in computers and programming, and I have an enduring passion for Commodore. Thank you for coming to my Kickstarter project to create a complete history of Commodore and the Amiga years.

Comments for Commodore: A Company on the Edge

"A thoughtful, thorough, and inspiring account " J. Cassara

"I can't put it down!!" A. Sotelo

"I found this book fascinating and entertaining." William

"I enjoyed reading this book far more than I expected." Brett

"A wonderfully detailed look at how the company was run and the people behind it." Azhreion

"I'm about 2/3 through and there have been sections of the book that I could not put it down." Chris

"Brilliant" Lars

Risks and challenges

There are always risks involved with writing a book. What I bring to the table is a proven track record of finishing books and an overwhelming desire to tell the Commodore story properly. In my heart, I know that the only thing that can stop me from completing this project is an untimely death. (That just got real there... sorry.)

Even the most well planned project can encounter unplanned for obstacles. That interview you thought you would complete in a day or two ends up being stalled for three weeks. Those last minute photographs you asked for end up taking a month to scan. The layout process you budgeted a week for ends up taking 16 days. I've seen all of this happen before, and unexpected things can strike at any time.

What I'm saying is I can't promise this project won't be late. With two thirds done, I believe I can make the schedule, but six months from now I might be scratching my head wondering why there is suddenly snow on the ground. All I can do is promise that it won't be too late and to keep you up to date as the book progresses. I can promise that when it is delivered, you will receive it one month before it is available to the general public.

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FAQ

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 5 or more About $4

    A huge THANK YOU from me! You also receive access to Kickstarter project updates.

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    Pledge CA$ 22 or more About $18

    A DIGITAL EBOOK edition of Commodore: The Amiga Years. The eBook comes in your choice of Kindle Mobi, ePub or PDF. All versions are DRM-free.

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    A HARDCOVER BOOK, the EBOOK edition, and a durable custom bookmark featuring artwork by the cover designer, Hayden Sundmark. Get ready to relive the eighties all over again!

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    Pledge CA$ 42 or more About $34

    TWO DIGITAL EBOOKS. Includes eBooks of Commodore: The Amiga Years and one of the following (your choice via a personal survey when the Kickstarter ends):
    Option #1: A bonus eBook called Commodore: The Early Years covering 1954 to 1975.
    Option #2: Commodore: A Company on the Edge
    Option #3: Sophistication & Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II
    (see Rewards Highlights section below for more information)

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    Pledge CA$ 50 or more About $41

    The HARDCOVER SIGNATURE EDITION for the collector in you, with the inside title page signed and dated by the author. Also includes the eBook edition and a durable custom bookmark featuring artwork by the cover designer, Hayden Sundmark.

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    Pledge CA$ 58 or more About $47

    Receive HARDCOVER and EBOOK editions of Commodore: The Amiga Years plus one of the following eBooks (your choice via a personal survey when the Kickstarter ends):
    Option #1: A bonus eBook called Commodore: The Early Years covering 1954 to 1975.
    Option #2: Commodore: A Company on the Edge
    Option #3: Sophistication & Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II
    (see Rewards Highlights section below)

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    Pledge CA$ 60 or more About $49

    The complete DIGITAL COLLECTION of THREE different eBooks covering Commodore history from 1954 to 1994. Includes Commodore: A Company on the Edge, Commodore: The Amiga Years, and a bonus eBook called Commodore: The Early Years. (see Rewards Highlights section below for full description)
    OPTION #2: Have you already read "Commodore: A Company on the Edge"? Substitute it with Steven Weyhrich's masterpiece, "Sophistication & Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II" (digital eBook).

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    Pledge CA$ 70 or more About $57

    Receive a HARDCOVER edition of Commodore: The Amiga Years plus a PAPERBACK edition of Commodore: The Early Years covering 1954 to 1975. Plus eBook versions of both books and two bookmarks.
    (see Rewards Highlights section below)

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    Pledge CA$ 78 or more About $63

    The EXTENDED CONTENT collection featuring THREE different books covering Commodore history from 1954 to 1994. Includes both HARDCOVER and EBOOK copies of Commodore: A Company on the Edge, Commodore: The Amiga Years, and a bonus eBook called Commodore: The Early Years. Two unique durable custom bookmarks featuring artwork by the cover designer, Hayden Sundmark. (see Rewards Highlights section below for full description)
    OPTION #2: Have you already read "Commodore: A Company on the Edge"? Substitute it with Steven Weyhrich's hardcover masterpiece, "Sophistication & Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II".

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    Pledge CA$ 100 or more About $81

    Be one of only 64 people (in honor of Commodore's best selling 8-bit) to have your name immortalized in the book! Your name will appear on a special DEDICATION page in Commodore: The Amiga Years (digital and hardcover). Plus everything at the $78 level.

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    Pledge CA$ 108 or more About $88

    Receive three books: HARDCOVER editions of Commodore: A Company on the Edge and Commodore: The Amiga Years plus a PAPERBACK edition of Commodore: The Early Years covering 1954 to 1975. Plus eBook versions of all three books and two bookmarks.
    (see Rewards Highlights section below)
    Option #2: Substitute Commodore: A Company on the Edge with Sophistication & Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II.

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    Pledge CA$ 145 or more About $118

    Receive four books: HARDCOVER editions of Commodore: A Company on the Edge, Commodore: The Amiga Years, and Sophistication & Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II plus a PAPERBACK edition of Commodore: The Early Years covering 1954 to 1975. Plus eBook versions of all four books and two bookmarks.
    (see Rewards Highlights section below)

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    Pledge CA$ 375 or more About $304

    Relic hunter? Autograph hunter? Receive an AUTOGRAPHED FIRST EDITION hardcover book "On the Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore" (out of print) signed by seven prominent Commodore employees featured in the books and the author.
    Also includes everything at the $100 level.

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    Pledge CA$ 400 or more About $325

    DINNER with Legends (West Coast). Join a soiree hosted by Amiga 1000 designer and bon vivant RJ Mical, Commodore marketing manager Caryn Mical, along with special guests Glenn Keller (Amiga hardware and chip designer) and Bill Seiler (PET hardware designer, video chip designer). RJ is well known in the valley for hosting private dinner parties and will personally prepare an incredible meal for you and his guests! Get your books signed by the real creators of your favorite Commodore computers.
    (The date of the event will be determined by feedback from backers of this reward.)
    Also includes everything at the $100 level.

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    Pledge CA$ 400 or more About $325

    DINNER with Legends (East Coast). Hang out and enjoy a once in a lifetime meal with the people who designed your favorite computers. Join C128 designer Bil Herd (who will punch you in the face on special request), Amiga 2000 and 3000 designer Dave Haynie, Amiga software manager and game developer Andy Finkel (VIC-20/C64 Omega Race), and Hedley Davis (Amiga and Xbox 360 hardware engineer). Eat, drink, hear NSFW stories, ask burning questions, take pictures and get stuff autographed. It will be an amazing meal in the New York/Pennsylvania area near where Commodore Headquarters was located!
    (The location and date of the event will be determined by feedback from backers of this reward.)
    Also includes everything at the $100 level.

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    Pledge CA$ 400 or more About $325

    DINNER with Legends (UK). Have a merry dinner with four people who made a difference during the Commodore years. David Pleasance started with Commodore UK in 1983 as Sales & Marketing Director and finished in 1994 as General Manager.The other guests will be announced on Kickstarter during this campaign.
    (The location and date of the event will be determined by feedback from backers of this reward.)
    Also includes everything at the $100 level.

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    Pledge CA$ 450 or more About $365

    The Tramiel. Receive a one of a kind AUTOGRAPHED FIRST EDITION hardcover book "On the Edge: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore" (out of print) signed by Commodore founder Jack Tramiel, seven prominent Commodore employees featured in the books and the author.
    Also includes an original Commodore business card and everything at the $100 level.

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Funding period

- (30 days)