The stunning Amiga demo(s) that left me speechless and awestruck BITD.
Ever been gobsmacked by a demo before? I have.
The first time I ever saw Amiga computers in person one of them had the now ubiquitous Juggler demo (1986) by Eric Graham running on it.
I had wandered into a computer store by chance, virtually in the middle of nowhere, as I’d noticed a C= logo on the storefront glass. I had been riding my bike to the mall one cold afternoon to check out the latest C64 games for sale as I didn’t have a magazine subscription to stay in the loop. I just happened to notice this small new store in a business district I’d never seen before and decided to check it out.
I remember walking into the store and feeling instantly out of my league and awkward (an easy emotion for most teenagers to experience). This store was nice, and the target customer was obviously for folks with money and lots of it, certainly not some dorky kid on a ten-speed with only a few dollars in his pocket.
Three Amiga computers were placed in the center of the room, each facing outward in a sort of 3-leaf clover design. Each was set on its own little white round pedestal, and they were displayed like works of art. They even had small clear plexiglass card holders next to each one sporting their manufacturer logos, computer names, features (e.g. RAM) and, depressingly, their prices. I was completely shocked to see the Commodore logos on those little white cards. I felt like I’d accidentally walked into an alternate reality. I was a Commodore guy! What was I looking at? What was going on here?
The first monitor I walked up to had The Juggler on loop. I couldn’t believe I was looking at a computer offered for the home market, and was even more shocked by the Commodore logo on the case. I had no idea these machines were even a thing.
Back then the salesmen in the computer stores wore suits. I remember one coming up to me after a few moments and asking me if I needed any help or had any questions. My gasping and totally stupefied look of confusion must have inspired him to act. I said, “No, thanks. I just want to watch this if that’s OK.” He nodded and walked back to chat with someone else in a suit at the store. I made sure I kept my hands in my pockets and didn’t touch anything while I watched The Juggler a little longer.
Another computer was showing some sort of looping animation of a red sports car. I don’t remember what it was, except for being blown away by the impossible graphics. Back then I was still running my Commodore 64, and the stuff I was seeing in front of me made my mouth hang literally open. I just couldn’t believe it.
About a year later I was at the house of one of my brother’s friends. We were there to play D&D that night (my brother was, and still is, always the DM because he’s the best). His friend had one of the machines I’d seen back at that store I couldn’t afford. And before our game started he fired up something that once again nearly broke my brain.
He played a 30-second animation called Walker Demo, and we all watched it multiple times.
I’ll never forget how I wondered if I was watching a VHS video somehow hooked up to his monitor, not an animation running on his Amiga 500. My brain was utterly confused by an Amiga once again. I mean, between my C64 and the Macintoshes I used at school, I thought I knew what was what. I knew nothing, Jon Snow. Nothing.
We went on to play D&D while he stayed by his Amiga (to my brother’s rising annoyance) and played what I learned later was Dungeon Master while pretending to participate in the game.
I was there for some D&D, but my eyes did continue to wander towards his monitor all night. I didn’t want to piss off my brother but I was dying inside to go over to the computer again.
The creator of the Walker demo was Brian M. Williams (BMW) of Imaginetics out of - I think - Illinois. I can’t find very much information about him or Imaginetics. It would be so interesting to discover what may have become of him and his career. He obviously had skills and talent.
In any case, here’s what I think is going on. I believe these are a combination of stop motion animations - i.e. digitized photos captured in sequential frames. Some video rotoscoping and cell animation effects look to be applied here as well. One mention I found claims the demos were created using Digiview, Dpaint, Futuresound, Audiomaster and animated with Director.
Absolutely gorgeous. And for the times? We’re talking 1988 in the first one, holy crap. Simply stunning.
Brian Williams went on to produce a second Walker demo the following year in 1989.
These went floating around on many public domain disks back in the day. Today they can be downloaded from Aminet if you'd like to watch them on your classic hardware.
Download Walker 1 Demo (1988)
Download Walker 2 Demo (1989) Download