Commodore Amiga

 

Select from the Commodore sub-categories of the side menu bar or the links above to access the different Commodore sections, or read a little about the history of the company and their machines below...

A Quick History...

The "creator" of the Amiga was probably Jay Miner who actually worked for Atari in the late 1970's developing the Atari 400, 800 and 2600 console.

He wanted to create a new gaming based true computer based on the powerful Motorola 68000 processor, but Atari weren't interested, so Miner left the company in 1980 to work for a company manufacturing pacemakers.

An ex colleague of Miners', Larry Kaplin set up a company called Hi-Toro to produce video games, and Miner began moonlighting for them.
Kaplin became frustrated with the company and resigned from his post as Vice President and Miner immediately left the pacemaker company to take over the VP role at Hi-Toro, making an immediate positive impression.
Hi-Toro changed their name to "Amiga", thinking it warmer and more friendly (and it came before Atari and Aple in the alphabet!) and started work on the new computer (code named "Lorraine").


In 1983 the bottom fell out of the US video games market and Amiga's peripherals division began losing money.
In early 1984, Amiga ran into severe financial difficulty and so decided to show the incomplete Lorraine at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago.  It proved very impressive to those who saw it, who couldn't believe its power.

There was much interest from Apple, Atari, Silicon Graphics and Sony and Atari made a serious offer.


However, it wasn't interested in Lorraine, but in the custom chips which it wanted to develop further to put into a 16-Bit machine of its own it was currently designing.  Atari offered US$ 3 per share and injected $500,000 of cash towards the development costs whilst the deal was finalised.
knowing Amiga were in difficulty, Atari dropped the price offered to buy the company to only US$0.98 per share.  Amiga were not impressed and approached Commodore who bought the company from under Atari's nose and repaid the $500,000.

Atari were incensed and stepped up their work on their own 16-Bit machine, also based on the 68000 CPU with other bespoke chips curiously similar to the Lorraine chips.  Jack Tramiel (former boss of Commodore) threw all the resources he had available (including poached Commodore staff) to beet Commodore to market and his "Atari ST" did just that.

Commodore invested some $27M in the Amiga development and added many improvements to the Lorraine design.  The completed Commodore Amiga 1000 launched in July 1985...

 

Amiga 1000
The Amiga 1000 looked like a desktop PC - it had base unit on which a monitor could be placed and a separate keyboard and mouse.
It had a Motorola 68000 processor running at 7 MHz, 256K of chip RAM (upgradable to 512K of chip RAM) and launched at an incredible $1,300 - four times the price of the 8-Bit C64 and twice as much as the Atari ST!
It still sold reasonably well, but mainly to eccentric designers and the rich as an object of desire.

Amiga 2000
In 1997 the Amiga 2000 was launched - again a desktop-style machine designed to be more expandable than the 1000.
It had 512K of chip RAM on early machines (this was quickly replaced with 1MB of chip RAM ), plus 512K of fast RAM and a SCSI hard drive.  There were also various memory upgrade options including further chip RAM, fast RAM and even 8Mb options on Zorro II expansion cards and a massive 128Mb on fast RAM processor cards.
many of the custom chips were upgraded and further ones added.

 

Amiga 500
The Amiga 500 launched in 1987 and rapidly rose to huge success.The A500 was essentially a cut down A2000.  The keyboard was integrated into the new case and it shipped with 512K of chip RAM which could be upgraded with the addition of another 512K, plus 8Mb of fast RAM.
Although much reduced in price, it was still slightly more expensive than the Atari ST, but it did have better graphics and far superior sound.  Games software writers started taking advantage of the machine's capabilities and it soon became the machine that people wanted.  Such was the success of the A500, Commodore didn't release another new machine for three years!

Commodore Amiga 3000
Another desktop-style machine - the Amiga 3000 - was launched in 1990.
The A3000 was the first 32-Bit Amiga using the Motorola 68030 processor running at 16MHz (later models ran at 25MHz).  It used the Enhanced Chip Set (ECS) which included further improved versions of the custom chips.  A new display-enhancing chip and a RAM controller were also added.
The A300 also used version 2.0 of the Workbench user interface.

 

Commodore Amiga 500+
The A500+, released in 1991 was a revamped, identical in appearance version of the A500 which used the ECS and Workbench 2.0 and included 1MB of chip RAM (upgradable to 2MB).  It also had extra screen modes called "Productivity" and "Super72".

Commodore Amiga 600
The A600 replaced the A500+ in 1992.  This machine was much smaller than the machine it replaced due partly to smaller internal circuits, but mainly because the numeric keypad was removed.
It also had 1Mb of chip RAM which could be upgraded to 2Mb.  There was also an internal IDE socket and space for a 2.5" hard drive.  Otherwise, it was a cut down version of the A500+ but with the addition of an internal IDE socket.

 


Commodore Amiga 4000
The A4000 launched in September 1992.
It was again, a desktop style machine and was the first major hardware upgrade for seven years.  It was built around the Motorola 68040 processor running at 25MHz and included the new "Advanced Graphics Arcjitecture (AGA).  AGA used new custom chips and made it possible to use up to 256 colours on screen at once from a palette of 16 million at a resolution of 800 X 600 pixels.  Using the HAM-8 mode it was possible to display an unbelievable 256,000 colours - but this mode was slow.
The A4000 introduced Workbench 3.0, but despite all these major changes, the machine was backwardly compatible with earlier models and could run the majority of existing software.

Commodore Amiga 1200
The A4000 was an expensive desktop -style model, so for the mainstream market, Commodore released the A1200 in December 1992.
It was based on the same AGA chipset, it was a 32-Bit machine running a Motorola 68020 processor at 14.28MHz.  It had 2MB chip RAM on board, and you could add a further 8Mb fast RAM on a PCMCIA card or up to 256Mb fast RAM on a processor upgrade card.
It had the same two new custom chips as the A4000, but also had two brand new ones which which functioned as a combined system address decoder and an IDE controller.  Like the A600, the A1200 had an internal IDE connector and space for a 2.5" hard drive.
The A1200 sold very well and became the second most successful Amiga after the A500.  It proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the Atari ST.

It is believed that almost 5 million Amigas were sold in its life time, but in April 1994, Commodore International filed for liquidation.  To make things even worse, Jay Miner died from heart failure in June that year - the father of the Amiga was gone...