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The ALEX VAN STARREX Website


THE AVS-AMIGA STORY


INTRODUCTION

In 1989, I "formed" AVS-Amiga - deciding to adopt the 'corporate-image' for a couple of reasons. My initial plan was to hide under the 'AVS-Amiga' banner while seeking-out (other?) talented individuals, for the purposes of establishing a semi-professional disk-production business. If I happened to branch out into commercial disk-production, I'd have to use some form of business name, for taxation purposes (though this never happened). Also, I noticed that people seem to have trouble spelling (let alone pronouncing) my name - it's really not that difficult when you look at it - so it was a good idea to simplify this aspect of my work.

Like everyone else in the computer business, I started out producing work purely for my own benefit and enjoyment - having fun as I learnt some things about the computers I was using:

- a little Tandy (with 4k of RAM!), that I bought in 1983;
- a Commodore 64 (the most useful and ugly computer of its day) in 1984;
- an Amiga 500 in 1988; and finally
- an Amiga 1200 in 1993.

It was only after realising the potential of my first Amiga - with its (then) 'state of the art' sound and graphics that I gave some thought to "producing" disks for distribution. My first compilation/showcase disk was released by the local disk-magazine 'Megadisc' in early-mid 1990, and I then started getting involved with an adults-only disk-magazine called 'Hotdisk', created by Graeme Whittle (who also used to design the Megadisc cover-graphics).

Hotdisk unfortunately folded towards the end of 1990, so I went on producing work for myself. Megadisc, in the meantime, was releasing some of my other disks through their PD-network as well as printing a couple of my articles. I stopped sending them work in late 1990 - due to differences of opinion that I won't go into here. By this time, I'd lost a great deal of respect for the whole user-base of the Amiga. I think it is fair to say that promoters of the Amiga were more concerned with pushing the latest hard- and software onto the buying public than they were in promoting real artistic, musical or literary talent. Instead of trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, then, I concentrated on producing music - helped particularly by the release of an as-then new music-program called 'MED'. 1992

My horizons then started to open up - world-wide. The January, 1991 edition of the English 'Amiga Computing' magazine featured my thoughts and music, and some time later I achieved a long-standing ambition, by having a song included on the 'Fish Disks' (in Fish Disk No.401). Appreciative fans (well, fellow Amiga-users, anyway) gathered in the wake of a trip to Japan in the same year, and collaborative assistance has followed from continued exchanges of material with programmers (such as Finland's Teijo Kinnunen - the developer of 'MED'), disk-swappers and collectors, both in Australia and overseas.

Later, I had work published in both the "Australian Commodore and Amiga Review" and the "Professional Amiga User" magazines and some of my MED-songs graced various issues of the American disk-magazine "Jumpdisk". My first major music-release, the 'Art of MED', was distributed in England by 'Crazy Joe's PD' and 'Amiganuts' (it became the 3rd top-selling PD disk of its type in England in late 1991) in America by "Jumpdisk" magazine and in Australia by 'Megadisc' and 'MAXI-Disk'. I followed it up with several other disks, mostly featuring original music plus graphics.

After that, there was nowhere to go but down. I grew tired of 'MED' (or 'OctaMED', as it later became), and gave away the music scene - until 1993, when I started getting into MIDI. Instead, a long-standing interest in artificial intelligence, or "AI", again resumed and research into that field has been growing steadily. In the meantime, I continue working at my "day-job" (as an Office Manager) and with my University studies being over (I gained a law degree in 1994), I'm once more free to pursue recreational based activities.

With practically all my PD and shareware disk-releases, I include a document called HyperAVS - though I have actually produced several more disks of work apart from these. A complete list of my disks (as well as my hardware and software, public domain and cover-disks) used to be contained in my 'Catalogue' disk, though I stopped updating this in mid-1992. Now, with my Internet connection and a newer world-wide audience, I think its time to review my work.

FORMATS & PROGRAMS

I've been a prodigous creator of original work over the last ten years, having created hundreds of disks worth of art, animation, music and writing. I've put a link through to the main disk-list in the heading to this section but, for the meantime, here's a breakdown of the main formats, programs and my most productive years:

ART

- PhotonPaint 4,096 colour: 1988-90

ANIMATION

- Fantavision: 1988-90
- DeluxePaint3: 1990-92

MUSIC - SAMPLE-BASED OctaMED

- DMCS: 1988-1990
- MED (v1.12-3.22): 1990-1992
- OctaMED (1,2,3,4): 1991-1992

MUSIC - MIDI

- TigerCub: 1993-94
- Bars&Pipes: 1993-95
- SoundStudio: 1993-5

COLLECTIONS OF PD/SHAREWARE PROGRAMS

- Various 1990-3

ABOUT THE AVS-AMIGA DISKS

First, a note to non-Amiga users. In case it isn't obvious, the AVS-Amiga disks were created on a Commodore Amiga. They will not be able to be read (at present) by other systems. However, individual files can be sent and received (or uploaded and downloaded) over BBSs and the Internet with no problems. If you are using a MS-DOS/Windows or Mac machine, you should note the following about individual file-types:

Unfortunately, from a purely artistic viewpoint, work can often 'date' very quickly. What may seem amazing and quite innovative one year can become boring the next. In compiling a list of almost all my Amiga work, I realise that - since most of it is 5-10 years old, it has more of a historical importance than an aesthetic one. A lot of it will simply be of passing interest. Besides this, there are some incompatibility problems for users of Workbench 2.0-3.x. Of the known problems on my Workbench 1.2-13 disks, I'll note the following:

- icons will (of course) look wrong, and/or out of proportion;
- disks with special startup-sequences may not load, or may crash the system;
- some demo-programs may not work properly or at all;
- many Fantavision animations can crash the computer; and
- some older MED-songs won't play properly on accelerated machines.

But I don't want to put anybody off. If non-Amiga users see something of interst here, then they can me know, and I'll do what I can to send it out.

DISTRIBUTION

My Amiga-based work had found its way around the world by 1991, thanks mainly to public-domain distributers and both print and disk-based magazines. I've also written a number of articles for various local Amiga magazines.

Nevertheless the vast majority of my work remains unreleased. I tried uploading some to local bulletin-boards in 1996-97, and there are even a few of the "old" files are floating around the internet. But there deserves to be a lot more work available to net-surfers and ftp-clients.

I'm open to requests from people seeking more of my individual files, but would ideally like to upload a large number to centralised, specialised sites. If anyone can offer or nominate a potential site for these files, then please email me.

MULTIMEDIA (file size indicated in brackets)

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URL: http://homepages.tig.com.au/~avanstar
EMAIL:
avanstar@tig.com.au
Alex Van Starrex