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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

Dave Haynie: in front of and behind the camera

by intric8 Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:08 pm

There is a fascinating lecture worth a view or two captured by The Guru Meditation in April 2014 of former Commodore Engineer Dave Haynie. Over the course of an hour-long video he packs in a ton of really interesting history about the Amiga projects he worked on and led, and describes the shockingly rag-tag teams Commodore devoted to development from the late 80s to early 90s. And, of course, the roller coaster ride he experienced along the way until the beloved company shut down.
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Dave Haynie speaking at the Vintage Computer Festival East 9.1 on April 6, 2014 in Wall, NJ

Starting at Commodore in 1983, at first he worked under Bill Herd (who introduces Dave at the beginning of the video) on several 8-bit projects including the C128. But the video is really all about his recollections and opinions of the Amiga line, which was what he focused on after Herd left Commodore.

Upon Herd's departure, Haynie became the primary engineer of the Amiga 2000 computer - at the age of 24! He is also credited in creating the 32-bit Zorro III architecture, and was a co-creator of the Amiga 3000. It’s kind of amazing how much behind-the-scenes information and technical detail he packs into the short speech. If you've got an hour to spare, it's time well spent.

Classic quote by Haynie:
"I didn’t like the Bridge Card because it was kinda stupid to run IBM stuff when you had an Amiga.”

He went into a couple of the same topics on Quora in 2015, too.

Extra bits

If you watch the video mentioned above, or look at his picture in this post, you probably can't help from noticing the t-shirt he is wearing which says “Deathbed Vigil” across the top. The Deathbed Vigil (… and other tales of digital angst) is a movie Haynie created in 1994 about the demise of Commodore right when it was happening. Haynie shot it with mid-90s S-VHS home video equipment and edited it on an Amiga 3000+ at the time.
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Jason Compton, Amiga Report, 1995:
[The Deathbed Vigil] consists of a 20 minute tour of the nearly bare West Chester, PA plant and the people that remained in it days before the liquidation began (oh so long ago). It progresses to the "Last Layoff Party" at a nearby bar, where scores of Commodorians had hung out for years. It progresses to the Deathbed Vigil Party at Randell Jesup's house, where loads of stories pour out about the good and bad old days. It culminates in the ultimate act of condemnation: the spray painting upon the Commodore speed bumps of the people they blamed for the collapse of the once-mighty computer company.

The video was partially restored digitally to DVD at some point, although not at high-def level. Then in 2015 Haynie uploaded the 2-hour long movie in its entirety to YouTube. 
Even though the movie can be found on YouTube, he does still sell the DVD (I got one so I could watch offline on my TV.)

It's pretty cool to get this historic and influential technical wizard’s experiences captured during the very final days of Commodore’s demise. It’s one vitally important point of view of “what went wrong” that is worth listening to by all Amiga and Commodore fans.

Having experienced being laid off myself (twice), Deathbed Vigil is definitely pretty raw. Following Haynie's journey through the bowels of the barren Commodore warehouse is both eerie and sad. To get the details of what went down in a logical and concise manner, Guru's video does the story justice. Deathbed Vigil adds the emotion and human reality to the story. Put the two together, and you get a pretty good picture of Haynie's experience and point of view.

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