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Installing Adobe Illustrator 5 on an Amiga 1200

10 min read

On a sunny and windy Sunday, January 1st, 2017, I was walking around the area of San Francisco north of the panhandle, and found this copy of Adobe Illustrator 5 for the Mac sticking out of a garbage can.  What luck!  It was complete, and had all installer disks, manuals, and a serial number.   Perfect way to spend the holiday -- installing Illustrator on my Amiga 1200!


For those wondering how Mac software would run on an Amiga, please allow me to explain.  The traditional Amiga runs using the same central processing unit as the original Macintosh line: the venerable Motorola 680x0 series, or 68k for short.   Because the Mac and Amiga used the same central processor, it takes just a layer of emulation of certain Mac hardware features to get Classic Mac OS (6.x/7.x/8.x) to run on the Amiga.   Enterprising engineers over the Amiga's lifetime made this possible, originally by combining hardware and software, and later by using software only.  Since no processor virtualization is necessary, Mac programs can often run just as fast.

(My Amiga 1200 has a 68030 inside, and it runs at roughly 50 megahertz.  My Amiga's 68030 has an MMU (memory management unit), so it can map the Mac's operating system ROMs [firmware] into memory. Earlier or weaker Amigas with 68000, 68010, or 68020 processors required add-on cards, like an Emplant, to house the Mac's ROM chips.  These add-on cards also had other niceties, like Mac-native floppy controllers and serial ports, which are difficult or impossible to duplicate using stock Amiga hardware.)

ShapeShifter on Workbench

Two Amiga programs which can emulate the Mac OS with no additional hardware are FUSION and ShapeShifter.  ShapeShifter is a direct descendent of a currently vogue Mac emulator, SheepShaver, which began its life on BeOS[1].  It was released as freeware.

disks and mouse

Software being on floppy disks might be seen by some people as an obstacle.  Even to those initiates who still have floppy-based equipment, accessing the data still is not always straightforward.  I recalled while pulling this box from the garbage can that the  Mac-formatted, 800k double-density 3.5" disks inside cannot be read natively by the Amiga, even in spite of its reputably flexible floppy controller.  This 800k Mac floppy format notoriously requires the floppy drive to change its motor's rotation speed as it accesses different portions of the surface area of the magnetic storage medium inside the disk.  (For those interested -- commonplace modern USB floppy drives can rarely even read bog-standard 720k MS-DOS-formatted double-density floppy disks, let alone these 800k Mac disks.)

Lacking an Emplant board or similarly wacky floppy-reading hardware, I broke out my PowerBook G3 Series "WallStreet" with fully Apple-stock built-in floppy[2], to use Apple's Disk Copy to grab disk images.  I'd then transfer the disk images from the G3 to the Amiga by using my PCMCIA -> CompactFlash -> SD Card adapter.  Compact Flash storage is supported natively in Mac OS 8.6 and higher (possibly earlier, too), and is supported on the Amiga 1200 via its PCMCIA slot and additional software available via Aminet. (Do note that not all SD cards or Compact Flash cards are compatible -- generally older, smaller, slower cards are the ones which will work.)

Amiga 1200 with PCMCIA Compact Flash SD card adapter

My initial go at creating disk images using Disk Copy were not compatible with Disk Copy 6.1.3 on my Amiga ShapeShifter's System 7.5.5.  I'd transfer the images over, use ResEdit to set the type and creator codes properly, and then after mounting the disk images I'd meet with disappointment:  in some cases, the images would mount, but operations to copy files off of the mounted images would fail.  I'd go back and try a different compression option, or a different Disk Copy version, and after transferring and again setting type/creator code in ResEdit, the images would not mount at all, and would fail seemingly in the checksumming phase.

At this point, crestfallen, left wondering if there was a hardware problem afoot, and unsure if there were problems with my (otherwise seemingly fine) emulation environment, I went to bed and decided to tackle this another day.  That other day happened to be the very next morning, when I remembered 'DART' -- Apple's ancient, super-secret, disk archiving and retrieval tool.

DART icon

DART had been my go-to tool for quickly, safely, and reliably archiving double-density (and even single-density, if I recall) disks from my Atari ST, various MS-DOS formats, and even my Roland MC-50 MIDI sequencer.   The images created by DART are mountable by Disk Copy versions above 6.x.

DART interface

DART not only sports a beautiful interface -- it also is clearly optimized for batch-level, powerful, scripted and/or automated floppy disk capturing, requiring only a few keystrokes and no mousing.  It also comes with a HyperCard stack for automation, if you're really a martyr power user.  And it also worked -- DART saved the day.

DART about

After capturing the disk images via DART, transferring them over, and properly setting the type/creator codes -- oh!  I am nearly missing two special details about this operation!  Let me introduce ShapeShifter's MacHandler and the Amiga's multitasking.

MacHandler is a filesystem which mounts your ShapeShifter emulated hard drive as a virtual disk on your Amiga Workbench, allowing you to read and write files there while the emulation is alive and running (!). 

Amiga OS, in all of its multitasking glory, just runs Mac OS as another task in a window or on its own screen.  This lets you continue to use Amiga programs in the background or foreground while you wait for single-tasking Mac OS to single-taskingly complete some single task

In additional engineering beauty, ShapeShifter's MacHandler also allows you to:  (1) toggle between accessing the data and the resource forks of files, and (2) change the type/creator codes on your Mac volume simply by changing file notes, which are an AmigaDOS capability similar to file comments or metadata on other platforms.

DirectoryOpus on my Mac volume

Changing the file note in Directory Opus is as simple as hitting the "Comment" button and changing TEXT/text to DMd3/DART, the type/creator for DART.  (The screenshot above is for the same files shown below.) 

Disk images in ShapeShifter

After changing all type/creator codes, the disks are double-clickingly mountable by Disk Copy in Mac OS.  But will they work?

Darn tootin', they sure do!  I was super-pleased to find that the disk images mounted fine, and worked where the previous images had failed.  One new point I'd noticed was that the system slowed down and made mouse pointer motion jerky while disk access was happening -- a point I attribute to having chosen 'high' compression instead of 'fast' compression in DART.  If I had to do it over again, I believe the space savings were pointless, and I would have chosen 'fast'.

With all disk images mounted, I ran the installer, chose a custom install with all options enabled (living large, with 16 megabytes of RAM and 159.9 MB available), and prepared breakfast and coffee as the installer commenced. 


Upon first launch, I serialized/notorized/personalized my new installation with my valid, legal, educational serial number. 


(Side note: my friends, who saw the box the day I found it, made it a conversation piece.  They asked: "this is an educational discount package -- are you going to need to show your school ID?"  "To whom?" I asked. "The internet?  This program is from 1993."  I already knew the serial number was inside.  Before internet validation, I would have had to show my ID to the retailer where I was buying the software package.  If the retailer was mail-order, I'd probably have needed to fax them a copy.)

Illustrator launched

Upon first launch, ATM (Adobe Type Manager) also gets in your face for personalization.  I tended to that by opening the ~ATM Control Panel, and deliriously discovered I was lacking a serial number for ATM in my Illustrator box.  Had I left some additional paperwork back in the garbage can?  Maybe.  Someone had clearly been scrounging before I came along.  But luckily, I had stashed these ancient copies of HackUser from 1999 in some of my personal archives.  Once I got one of those HackUsers up-and-running (they require classic Mac OS), i was able to find a listing for "adobe type manager super edition 3.6" or similar, and register my ATM control panel as well!

ATM registration

Watching the sample graphics from Illustrator 5 load on my Amiga 1200 is like watching an  animation progress before me.  Each graphic object from the document gets rendered and dithered individually.  This is due to one drawback to Mac emulation on a "breadbox" unexpanded Amiga:  the graphics systems between the two platforms are very different.  The Amiga stores pixels in its graphics memory using a game-friendly arrangement called "planar," but the Mac stores pixels in a less clever, less complex format nicknamed "chunky."  This has the unfortunate side effect that every update to the emulated Mac display must convert between these formats, costing CPU time. 

(The more colors I make my display [monochrome, or 4 colors, or 8, or 16, or {god forbid} 256 colors], the longer I will have to wait to see every screen update.  Expanded Amigas with add-on graphics cards can handle chunky pixels natively.  Expanded Amigas also can have 68060 processors installed, which were faster than the last 68040 processors Apple included in their 68k-based Macs.  The 68060 processors were benchmarked as being faster than the original series of PowerPC processors in early Power Macs -- so, for running 68k-based software, you actually are living very large with an 68060-based Amiga with a graphics card.  Software just flies -- more zippy than early Power Macs, just as some later Power Macs seem zippier in Mac OS 9 than recent Intel macs running the Mac OS X or macOS of today.  And faster than the fastest Quadra, too, my friends.)

Font dialog for Garamond

Where will i go from here?  I intend to follow the tutorials and read the manuals for this edition of Adobe Illustrator, and see if i can finally come to terms with this program which has always kind of frustrated and vexed me.  It seemed the flow to get things done with Illustrator was less intuitive and more roadblocky than with Creature House's Expression, with Macromedia FreeHand, with Lighthouse Design's Diagram!, or with ClarisDraw.  I intend to learn Adobe Illustrator the way Adobe wanted me to, using the official materials -- and if my initial toe dips into the documentation are any early warning, my assessments seem nearly true.  It seems Adobe Illustrator, even at version 5.0, was heavily recipe-based, with great results being accomplished by using tools and filters in specific, engineered fashions.  But these are the very recipes followed by the digital designers of yore, who cooked up the garish and delightful graphics of the brochures and glossies which heralded to us the internet's mass-market arrival in the mid 1990s.  These were the tools in their hands...

[1] BeOS was an alternative operating system which gained some popularity as a safe haven for Amiga expatriate programmers and refugees following Commodore's bankruptcy and the decline of the Amiga platform.  It too lives on in various forms, such as Haiku and Zeta.

[2] "If you have PowerBook G3 with a floppy drive, why are you transferring these floppies over to run this software on a significantly slower, hobbled, semi-emulated computer system?"