Though it is was the best, marketing killed the Commodore


Other than writing, my biggest hobby is writing and recording music using my guitar and my computer.  Really, it’s the longest I’ve ever spent interested in any one thing.  I’ve liked different things and attempted a whole bunch of activities, but more or less, they’ve all fallen into the pit of disinterest for me.  I’ve written all of my life, but I consider writing my vocation; I need to write just like I need to breathe or eat or…well, anything.

But messing around with digital audio workstations (daws) has been my source of release as far back as I remember.  I can still see the exact moment when I fell in love with daws and what they could do.  It was the summer between my junior and senior years of high school.  I was riding my bike, on my way home from working my gig as a busboy when I stopped at this little computer shop.  I had been using my Commodore 64 for a few years already and this computer store displayed the Commodore logo on its window.

I walked in and there it was: A new computer called the Commodore Amiga.  There was a piano-style keyboard attached to it and a bearded and burly man banged away on its keys. As he did, data seemed to collect on the screen locked in step with the music he played.  By that time, I was already in various jazz bands as either a guitar player and as a saxophone player.  I had even already been writing software with my Commodore 64 using the BASIC computer language (I wrote about this in Journey to Aztlan).  But what this large dude was doing was beyond anything I had even dreamed about.  It was the moment that I fell in love with the daw.

By and large, the Commodore Amiga faded into history due to bad marketing.  The Macintosh and IBM PC overwhelmed the Commodore platform and, while the Amiga stayed relevant in Europe into the mid-90’s, here in the States, it became a dinosaur.  To me, it’s always sad that marketing plays such a role in the lifecycle of any given product.  For example, it took the PC platform into the late 90’s to be able to do what the Amiga was doing a decade before.  The Mac platform always seemed capable, but the Amiga was the Mac long before the Mac was. But because of weak marketing, no one ever knew how great the Commodore Amiga platform really was.

I guess it’s just the way things are: There may be a great product, but unless it’s marketed well, it’ll become a tar pit in la brea.  Sad, but marketing appears to be a necessary evil in this world.  I guess it is the sizzle not the steak.  But, I’ll take the steak and I wouldn’t be who I am without the Commodore platform.