It was in the late summer of 1985 when I first heard of the Amiga. I learned about the forthcoming system in an issue of Personal Computing magazine that featured the Amiga on its cover and contained an in-depth dive into the what was the most amazing computer — by an incredible margin — I had ever seen. The specifications I read and the photos I saw within made such an impact on me that I wrote a post to this blog about the magazine itself, A Look at the Sauciest Magazine I Ever Owned, about ten years ago.
The magazine’s deep dive into the Amiga (take a look for yourself) featured various examples of graphics created on the system, the most impressive of which — to my eye — was entitled “Four-Byte Burger,” a whimsical and lovely, exploded digital painting of a floppy-disk cheeseburger of sorts created by Jack Haeger, Director of Amiga’s Art and Graphics Department at the time. The 32-color image utilized the Amiga’s 4096-color palette to produce graphics the likes of which I had never seen before. (At the time, I was using an Apple II that was 6-colors only, basically.) A short time later the premier issue of AmigaWorld magazine appeared on the shelf, also featuring the image within, and finally after the launch of the system, “Four-Byte Burger” made its way to the inner covers of the Graphicraft paint program’s user manual which is the source of the high-res scan I was able to secure a few years back.
Around the time of that earlier post, I tried to track down a digital copy of the image, but to no avail. It wasn’t in the Amiga Graphics Archive, or seemingly anywhere else I looked. I came to find out that “Four-Byte Burger,” along with several other early Amiga paintings featured in these magazines, were created with a version of Graphicraft so early in development that it did not yet feature file I/O capabilities. These images were drawn, the CRT display was photographed, and then those lovely pixels were cast into the void when power was taken from system RAM with the flick of a switch.
These images, in digital form at least, were lost to time…like tears in rain.
Luckily, I wasn’t the only one that had been carrying that image around in his head for the past 40 years or so. Stuart Brown, YouTuber XboxAhoy who is renowned in gamer circles, recently posted to his video game documentary channel a video in which he laments the loss of this memorable image and sets out to recreate it based on the photographs we have available. This digital restoration was an arduous process, and it is fully documented by the benevolent restorer in his video. And, in the end, I believe he achieved his goal. The results bring an enormous smile to my face.
Once I watched this amazing video, I immediately knew that I had to get this piece of digital artistry that’s so beloved to me onto the glowing phosphor screen of my Amiga 1000. Ahoy was kind enough to provide a link to the resulting Amiga IFF image file when asked, so I loaded it onto the Parceiro device’s SD card and after waiting for the 1080 monitor to degauss post-rotation (I encountered the same obscured color due to the Earth’s magnetic field that he did in his video), I beheld an incredible sight indeed: an Amiga 1000 displaying its very best image — and on my desk — in the Byte Cellar.