Using The Amiga Workbench

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Workbench is the native graphical desktop environment for the Amiga computer. Workbench is not the operating system, it's just a desktop environment running on top of AmigaOS. The Workbench environment does not have to be loaded for software to run. In fact, to take over the Amiga hardware and keep all memory and resources to themselves, many games boot directly from Kickstart (using a custom bootblock on the floppy disk).

As the name suggests, the metaphor of a workbench is used, rather than a desktop; directories are depicted as drawers, executable files are tools, data files are projects and GUI widgets are gadgets. In many other aspects the interface resembles Mac OS, with the main desktop showing icons of inserted disks and hard drive partitions, and a single menu bar at the top of every screen. Unlike the Macintosh mouse available at the time, the standard Amiga mouse has two buttons – the right mouse button operates the pull-down menus, with a "release to select" mechanism.

A unique feature of AmigaOS is multiple screens. AmigaOS screens do not require the Workbench desktop environment. These screens are conceptually similar to X Window System virtual desktops or workspaces, but are generated dynamically by application programs as necessary. Each screen can have a different resolution and colour depth. A gadget in the top-right corner of the screen allows screens to be cycled — as the OS stores all screens in memory simultaneously, redrawing is instantaneous. Screens can also be dragged up and down by their title bars. On older Amigas this functionality was provided by the custom chipsets specially designed for the platform, but since AmigaOS4 a new technique is adopted and the screens are draggable in any direction. Drag and drop between different screens is possible too.

This manual was kindly donated by Jeane Liddiard

Reference Number : 368244-01

Date Published : 1991

Manufacturer : Commodore

Platform : Amiga

Format : Paperback






This exhibit has a reference ID of CH27070. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Using The Amiga Workbench

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