Robert J. Mical

Boing Ball Demo (Screenshot), an Amiga Animation by Robert J. Mical

Install the Java Plug-in to see the animation!

Boing Ball Demo (Screenshot)

The Amiga Boing Ball is a mythical object in the computer industry. It was created for a computer show to demonstrate the capabilities of the prototype Amiga (codename 'Lorraine'). The demo showed a red-and-white spinning ball, bouncing up and down and casting a shadow on a wall behind it while multitasking in the background. The echoing deep 'boing' sound and left-right motion was added soon after the show was over.

According to the legend, the Boing Ball demo was written late one night at the Winter CES show in January 1984 by RJ Mical and Dale Luck. At the time it was an amazing achievement that surpassed all current systems of the time. Because the bouncing ball animation was so fast and smooth, attendees did not believe the Amiga prototype was really doing the rendering. Suspecting a trick, they began looking around the booth for a hidden computer or VCR.

The 1984 Boing Ball demo was one of the very first demos shown on the Amiga. It was specifically designed to take advantage of the Amiga's custom graphics, achieving a level of speed and smoothness not previously seen on an affordable computer. The demo was operating in it's own screen, allowing the higher resolution Amiga Workbench screen to be dragged down to make the Boing Ball visible from behind, bouncing up above the Workbench while the Workbench remained fully active. Since the Boing Ball used almost no CPU time (only to calculate the bounce angles – animation was handled by playfield vertical and horizontal scrolling tricks, the rotation animation was done with color cycling in the graphics chip, and of course the sound chip handled the sound), this made a particularly impressive demonstration of multitasking at the time.

The original Amiga team preferred the Boing Ball design, adopting as the unofficial trademark. Dozens of Boing Ball logos were made for the A1000 launch, until Commodore decided to use the rainbow-colored double checkmark.

Fortunately, the old design was not forgotten and the design became an unofficial representation of what the machine was really capable of. After Commodore went into liquidation the Boing Ball became a symbol of the Amiga philosophy and power before it was tainted by Commodore.

The original demo features motion and sound effects.

© Walter Randelshofer. All rights reserved. Animations used under permission.