The Newtek 'Video Toaster' was pretty exciting

Originally published at:


Hehe. Video Toaster got me my start back in the day. It was absolutely revolutionary. So many feels.

It allowed you to (brace yourself), put titles on videos, do fancy wipes and transitions, do video recoloring in real-time, and switch between live video sources. At that time, that required 100s of thousands of dollars of high-end kit. Oh yeah, it also included Lightwave 3d, one of the earliest prosumer 3D modeling, animation and rendering systems.

It was a hell of a thing.


I learned Video Editing in University on Video Toaster. You could do lot’s of advanced things in that interface for the time, including Chroma Keying with whatever colour you chose. I think I was using the software in 1999, and it was already near the end of it’s lifespan. The toughest thing about it was that no one could use the terminal while it was rendering, which could take days depending on what you were doing with it. Still, a great product for it’s time.


The Video Toaster and the lovely Amiga computer, great machines with class and quality. I still have my Amiga 500 but no workable boot disk.

Tim Jenison, who was the guy behind Newtek, is also the guy who replicated a Vermeer painting using the optical methods that David Hockney and others speculate Vermeer and other classical painters may have used. The documentary about is is called “Tim’s Vermeer”:


And don’t forget Wil Wheaton.


It’s a great example of the leap that so many technologies made to consumers at the time. In a very short period a creative tool that was once only available to TV studio professionals was available to just about anyone.


Here is NewTek’s best demo reel:

Also the very rare Demo Reel 2 that was only shown at CES (This predates quicktime by a year):

Also here is something rare and was originally only a rumor, NewTek did work on an amiga on a PC card to try to port the toaster to the PC in a hurry back in the day:

Disclosure: I was on the dev team for the toaster back in the early 90s (We called the dev building Alcatraz).


Dana Carvey’s geeky brother was somehow involved in the Video Toaster’s creation, and apparently was the basis for Dana’s “Garth” character.


Oh my god.

So, When I was sixteen years old, I was hanging out with two awesome BBS owners here in Toronto (Akira, anyone?) who worked for an Amiga vendor / Video Toaster production company.

Two years later, my co-op placement was with this same company. This was my first job as a sysadmin - an Amiga sysadmin, and literally launched my career.

I had an Amiga4000/040 with Video toaster 4000 and a Video Toaster Flyer (really!) as my desktop machine. I screwed around loading the babylon5 lightwave models for fun (which we had because the owner was good friends with Ron Thorton). I also had an Amiga3000/UX and an A1200 running netbsd-amiga, both of which were my first introductions to Unix.

Oh, sweet, sweet memories.


Brad Carvey and he really is a nerd’s nerd and a really cool guy. I worked with him on occasion.


I can’t believe that we’re this far into an appreciation of the best computing platform and the video toaster without someone mentioning that all the effects on the first series of Babylon 5 were produced with A4000s and Video Toasters.


Man all the screens – the controller screen with the wipe functions – SO MUCH NOSTALGIA!


The toaster should have saved Amiga but bad management is a hard hill to climb. This little thing replaced entire studios.


Tim Jenison (Owner and founder of NewTek) went to the the Commodore bankruptcy hearings. I remember he got very annoyed by how Mehdi Ali (Ceo of Commodore) treated everybody around him. Tim remarked how Ali had nearly treated Tim like a bellhop. Ali’s behavior got so obnoxious that the Judge actually kicked him out of the hearing.

At the time Tim was trying to buy up assets to possibly make a few more toaster boxes. I believe he did buy out the CD32 stocks and we experimented with getting a toaster to boot on a CD32. It was one Frankenstein monster of a setup and if we squinted and held our breath the thing booted and kinda ran.

A deep regret was not *Cough* borrowing a CD32 before I left there.


I currently work for NewTek, for the LightWave division, and can say that the Video Toaster is alive and well, but in the form of a pre-built PC called the TriCaster. It has lots of users worldwide, as does LightWave 3D…



i loved amiga and video toaster. :heart:

how many amiga and video toaster graduates do we have in our small community anyway? :rofl::sunglasses:

i heard about this, did it every reach production? never saw one in real life.


And Lightwave 3D, but I suppose that goes without saying.


I was going to post this, but a NewTek employee beat me to it. :smiley: TriCaster is one of the most widely used “studio in a box” products on the market today.

Does the whole virtual set thing, etc. Pretty neat!


I guess I’m the only person that’s disappointed that this is not about an actual (bread) toaster (that maybe also does video somehow)
Fine, fine by me, you guys are total nerds.


I currently work for NewTek, for the LightWave division, and can say that the Video Toaster is alive and well

I’m aware and pay some attention to them and try to keep tabs but I’m no longer in production or video so there is only so much. Last NewTek employee I ran into was many years back at ShowStoppers at CES when I was working on the press show networking. I really lost contact with everybody as I guess I finally made escape velocity. We used to joke about how hard it was to fully get away from the place like there was some serious gravity.

I left NewTek in late 1996 when they were still in Topeka.

Also I have one of these rare items on my wall right now: