30 years ago

30 Years Ago AMOS Basic was published on the Amiga computer in the UK by Mandarin Software Ltd...


AMOS Basic was the Amiga adaptation of the highly succesful STOS Basic published 2 years before on the Atari ST. STOS can be considered as the very first 'game-engine' ever created on a computer.For the first time, users could create their own games within a simple and complete development environment, using a simple programming language, Basic.


STOS and AMOS Basic consisted of:


  • •A user friendly source editor, with line-numbers for STOS and procedural for AMOS
  • •A complete set of Basic instructions aimed at displaying graphics, making sounds, handling animations... all the toolbox to make games
  • •An image and animation editor to create the graphics of the games
  • •A sound and music editor
  • •A set of tools to pack images, create game maps, create animations etc.
  • •A set of extensions, adding more instructions to the language. Extensions like STOS Maestro or AMOS 3D that were published by Europress Software, and several extensions written by the user themselves


STOS range of products

  • •STOS The Game Creator (1987)
  • •STOS Compiler (1988)
  • •STOS Game Galore (1988)
  • •STOS Maestro (1988)


AMOS range of products

  • •AMOS The Game Creator (1989)
  • •AMOS Compiler (1990)
  • •AMOS 3D (1990)
  • •Easy AMOS (1991)
  • •AMOS Professional (1992)
  • •AMOS Professional Compiler (1993)


Sales figures


Both STOS and AMOS were hits on the English market first and then in Europe, as they were filling a huge gap: users wanted to create and use their computer to do more than just playing games...

Unfortunately STOS and AMOS were completely ignored in the USA.

Here is an estimation of the sales of the various products througout the years (original figure being lost).


  • •STOS The Games Creator: 50000 copies

  • •STOS Compiler: 25000 copies

  • •AMOS The Game Creator: 75000 copies

  • •AMOS Compiler: 35000 copies

  • •Easy AMOS: 25000 copies

  • •AMOS Professional: 50000 copies

  • •AMOS Professional Compiler: 25000 copies

At the end of the lives of the Atari ST and Amiga computers, STOS and AMOS were massively distributed on the cover discs of many european magazines, so it is safe to say that the total commercial distribution of AMOS and STOS has reached 10+ million.


The reasons of a success


STOS was launched at a computer show in England in the fall of 1987, after being advertised in magazines. Users were queing at the booth of the publisher to be the first to get a copy. Later that day, one could see kids sitting against the walls in the corridors of the show reading avidly the STOS user manual, anxious to get home and start making their own games.


STOS and AMOS were filling a huge gap in the market: there was no simple programming tool. As today, programming was reserved to a specific category of people, 'nerds', 'egg heads', 'anoraks' you name them. Programming was seen as difficult and unreachable to many.


By providing a complete and simple environment, STOS and AMOS allowed the users to learn to program and at the same time unleash their creativity. The dream of 'getting rich by making a video game' was possible to reach. Finally.


Thousands of games of various quality, from the worse to the best were created between 1987 and 1993. Thousands of kids learned to program by themselves, motivated by the idea of making their dream come true, and many of them chose later to continue in computers and had a succesful career in IT.


User clubs appeared in England and all accross the world (up to New Zealand!). Games were made public through a massive public-domain library, AMOSPD.


STOS and AMOS are still alive today!


The users of STOS and AMOS in the 80s are now adults, and like many of us who were fortunate enough to have lived the early years of computers, regret the simplicity of programming of those times. The fenomenon of 'retro-computing' is getting bigger and bigger each year, with the apparition of retro-computer clubs in every country, game-jams, demo making competitions, parties.


People regroup on social networks. STOS and AMOS are present on Facebook:


The two groups are very active, with people exchanging tips, creating new games or re-publishing old ones. You are very welcomed to join and participate!


Why AMOS 2?


My name is Francois Lionet, and I wrote STOS and AMOS in the 80s.

STOS and AMOS were the foundation of my career as a Software Author, and after AMOS I went onto PC to create Klik and Play with my partner Yves Lamoureux. As the years went by, I saw the Atari ST and Amiga communities persist until the celebration of the 30 years of the Amiga and its renewed interest.


...and I started to receive letters from ex-users of STOS and AMOS, that were kids at the time, thanking me for having written the products that changed their lives. All of them explained to me that they learned to program with STOS or AMOS, and if they chose to work in IT later, it was because of the knowledge that they gained by making games. And it seemed that they learned to program the proper way, by practice and experiment, as they ALL have a very succesful situation today.


I must have received several dozens of such letters, and each time they make me immensly happy. I programmed AMOS during my military service in France, in a closet in the back of a barrack, and at the time, I could never imagine that 30 years later I would receive such letters.


Then slowly, the idea of creating a new and modern version of the tool imposed itself to me. Just like in the 80s, learning to program is today not for everyone. The Basic language has disappeared, as professional programmers prefered to use faster languages like C. The closest equivalent to Basic today is Python, yet the syntax of Python is far from being simple and as an interpretor, it is very slow.


Javascript could be seen as 'simple', but in order to learn Javascript you have first to learn HTML, understand how the Internet works etc... A lot to learn when you just 'want to program'...


...and the syntax of today programming langages all contains repulsive and scary structure elements like accolades {}, dots, semi-columns you name it. Making a 'Hello word' program, the very first program that everyone writes takes pages of code just to initialize the windowing system and create a place where to print the two words.


In Basic, it is just one line of code:

Print "Hello word"


The same gap exists today as it existed in the 80s. Computers have become an essential part of our lives, yet the majority do not really understand how to use them, really use them to create and make. If you do not understand a tool, then the tool and its makers become your master.


It was time to act.


A modern version


AMOS 2 is designed to be:

  • •Universal, it should work on every platform, including phones and tablets

  • •Fast, it should use the incredible power of today's machines

  • •Simple, it should be as simple to use as the original versions

  • •Compatible, it should understand and play ALL of the original programs written in the 80s


AMOS 2 is a compiler. It takes as entry any AMOS program ( * ) and converts it into HTML 5 / Javascript code. The code produced works in any browser, can be uploaded to any web-server, and in the future versions of the tool, will be exportable as native executable for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and iOS.


AMOS 2 is much faster than the original STOS or AMOS. For example, one of the demos you will find in the ditribution displays up to 7000 bobs at the same time while keeping a display rate of 50 FPS... compare this to the Amiga, were this demo would have slowed down after 40 or 50 bobs.


AMOS 2 is as simple as the original. It supports the same instruction set as the original, nothing has changed. A screen is created automatically for you, and you can immediately print text to it. The 'Hello-word-in-one-line' is possible again.


AMOS 2 is as compatible as possible. The display of the Amiga is emulated as best as possible, including color animation and copper list effects like rainbows ( ** ). The file system of the Amiga is also emulated. AMOS 2 can be considered as a kind of Amiga emulator (like WinUAE), yet rather a Amiga-under-AMOS emulator, as I do not emulate the Workbench and the whole Amiga system.


As soon as the instruction set of AMOS is complete, I will program the instruction set of STOS. It will be a quick job...

Beside the compiler, I will program a plugin for Visual Studio Code that will provide a comfortable, quick and simple programming environment, and will include a debugger.


Free forever


All the work I do on AMOS 2 is destined to be free, and this forever for any individuals. To be more precise, is free:

  • •AMOS 2 supporting the (enhanced) instruction set up of STOS and AMOS Professional

  • •Any extension with their original instruction set converted to AMOS 2 will be free (like AMOS3D and any popular extension)


'Free' means you can do whatever with it, as long as you indicate that the applications were made with the tool, distribute, copy and make money.


AMOS 2 is NOT free for:

  • •Institutions, schools

  • •Companies

... The product not being finished today, I have no idea of the future price range, but it will be very reasonable.


The future


AMOS 2 should be complete and finished by the summer of 2019. But that does not mean the end of AMOS, as I want to start a more ambitious project, GAMOS.


GAMOS will be what AMOS would have been if I had programmed it today. You learn many things during 30 years! GAMOS will be a new professional game-engine, based on a modern version of the Basic language:


  • •Object oriented

  • •Full support of modern accelerated 3D, with shaders and all the cool stuff

  • •Integrated 2D and 3D physics engine

  • •Expandable with the support of node.js libraries and Javascript libraries

  • •With a complete and integrated IDE, with the necessary tools (source editor, paint editor, 3D world editor, debugger etc. all written in GAMOS of course)

  • •A revamped instruction set, as close as possible from the original yet much more logical and simple to learn, less instructions that do more things

GAMOS is a big project that I intend to carry during the next two years. I aim for publication in February 2021.

( * ) For the moment, the compiler does not understand .AMOS files, only 'AMOS folders' (see later in this documentation)...

( ** ) Soon to come! :)