The Amiga is a family of 16-bit and 32-bit personal computers produced by Commodore from 1985 to 1994. Based on the Motorola 68000 family of microprocessors, the machine has a custom chipset with graphics and sound capabilities that were unprecedented for the price, and a pre-emptive multitasking operating system called AmigaOS. The Amiga provided a significant upgrade from earlier 8-bit home computers, including Commodore's own Commodore 64.
Why It Rocks
- The best selling model, the Amiga 500, was introduced in 1987 and became one of the leading home computers of the late 1980s and early 1990s with four to six million sold.
- Over 1,500 titles.
- The platform became particularly popular for gaming and programming demos.
- It also found a prominent role in the desktop video, video production, and show control business, leading to affordable video editing systems such as the Video Toaster.
- The Amiga's native ability to simultaneously play back multiple digital sound samples made it a popular platform for early "tracker" music software.
- The relatively powerful processor and ability to access several megabytes of memory led to the development of several 3D rendering packages, including LightWave 3D, Imagine, Aladdin4D, and TurboSilver.
- Although early Commodore advertisements attempt to cast the computer as an all-purpose business machine, especially when outfitted with the Amiga Sidecar PC compatibility add-on, the Amiga was most commercially successful as a home computer, with a wide range of games and creative software.
- The $1500 (sans monitor) Amiga came with the same Motorola 68000 CPU used in the Apple Macintosh. But the most innovative thing about its architecture was its three co-processors--they helped provide the Amiga's graphics and sound, which were stunning for the time. Its main video processor (dubbed Denise) helped Amiga computers accomplish feats like 3D animation, full-motion video, and fancy TV processing years before other computers. And the four-voice stereo sound chip (Paula) provided speech synthesis, produced more realistic audio than the Commodore 64's famous SID chip, and helped inspire Soundtracker, the first "tracker-style" music sequencing program.
- Modern iterations of NewTek's Video Toaster and LightWave 3D software continue to be used for major TV and movie productions to this day.
- It's an easy system to mod, since a lot of aftermarket expansion boards and cards were released by fans of the system.
- The hardware copy protection methods used by the system could cause floppy drives to break relatively quickly.
- Like the Commodore 64, it was more popular in Europe, thus most of the games are optimized for PAL machines.
- Some of the later models weren't very good. In particular, the Amiga 600 was heavily criticized for its poor build quality and actually having features cut compared to the older Amiga 500+.
- Some of the removed features can be reverted with aftermarket expansions.
- Commodore deliberately butchered the Amiga not once, but twice: first they shoved the Amiga 500 into a multimedia player, the Amiga CDTV, then they shoved the Amiga 1200 into a game console, the Amiga CD32. These machines sold very badly, and this led Commodore to declare bankruptcy in 1994.
- The system is not backwards compatible with the Commodore 64; unlike Apple's machines like the Apple IIgs and later the Macintosh LC, both of which offer backwards compatibility with the Apple II, with the former having an integrated MEGA II chip that contains the whole Apple II motherboard, and the latter using an Apple IIe card.
List of Models