Amiga 500.. Alien Technology near your neighbor

Submitted by binaryvalue on Fri, 06/03/2022 - 17:00
A500

Released in April 1987, the Amiga 500 is a legendary multimedia home computer manufactured by Commodore until 1992. The A500 offered the same CPU and chipset as the original Amiga 1000, however, it had a considerably lower price tag.

  • Initially sold for $699 ($1,780 in today’s money)
  • A500 is the most successful Amiga model ever sold by Commodore (did amazingly well in Europe)

glanceAT A GLANCE

  • AmigaOS version 1.2/1.3
  • Mouse-driven graphical user interface (GUI)
  • Preemptive multitasking
  • 68000 CPU running at 7.16 MHz (NTSC) or 7.09 MHz (PAL)
  • 512 KB of RAM, easily upgradable to 1 MB
  • OCS graphics / 12-bit color palette (4,096 colors)
  • Built-in blitter
  • Hardware graphics (sprites & scrolling)
  • PCM stereo sound (4 channels)
  • 880K 3+1⁄2-inch floppy disk drive
  • Compatible with the Amiga 1000

graphics Graphics & Modes

Amiga 500 + HD
Amiga 500 & Hard Disk (Advertisement)

Amiga 500 offers OCS graphics with up to 4,096 (HAM) colors on-screen. The Amiga has the unique ability to display multiple resolution modes at the same time, by splitting the screen vertically.

  • Up to 32 colors on screen (without tricks)
  • Blitter, hardware sprites, and hardware scrolling
  • Planar graphics, with up to 5 bitplanes
  • A500 graphics can be upgraded to ECS (Amiga Enhanced Chip Set)

Pal Modes

  • 320×256, 640×256, 640×512 (interlaced), and up to 704×576 (overscan)

NTSC modes

  • 320×200, 640×200, 640×400 (interlaced), and up to 704×484 (overscan)

Special Modes

  • Extra HalfBrite (EHB) mode
  • Hold-And-Modify (HAM) mode, which allows all 4,096 colors on the screen

sound Sound Capabilities

Amiga 500 Advert
Amiga 500 Magazine Advertisement

The sound capabilities of the Amiga were far ahead of its time. There are four hardware-mixed audio channels (2 to the left and 2 to the right).

  • 2 stereo channels (4 × 8-bit PCM)
  • 28 kHz DMA sampling rate, and up to 57 kHz
  • The hardware channels have independent volumes (65 levels)
  • Software controllable low-pass audio filter

ports I/O Ports

  • 2 DE-9 ports for mouse and joystick
  • RGB video out (DB-23M)
  • Mono video out (RCA)
  • Audio out (2 × RCA)
  • RS-232C compatible serial port
  • Centronics style parallel port (DB-25F)
  • 2nd disk drive (DB23F), and up to 3 extra floppy disk drives
  • Trapdoor expansion slot (inside the machine)
  • Side expansion port (Zorro)

monitors  Monitors

The Amiga 500 can be connected to TVs, RGB monitors, 15-kHz VGA monitors, or even modern HDMI monitors with the right video upscaling hardware.

  • Commodore monitors (1084, etc.) and other RGB monitors (Philips CM 8833, etc.)
  • 15 kHz VGA monitors with RGB to VGA adapter (monitors such as BenQ) 
  • TVs via modulator or a SCART cable (RGB to SCART)
  • Modern VGA/HDMI monitors via video upscaling hardware

upgrades A500 Upgrades

There is a Zorro expansion on the left of the Amiga 500 (86 pins) that can accommodate peripherals such as a hard disk or a CD-ROM drive. An inside expansion slot is also commonly used for a memory upgrade.

Memory Upgrades

  • 0.5 MB of extra RAM +RTC via the trapdoor expansion slot (easy upgrade)
  • All A500 can be upgraded to 2.5 MB of RAM (by fitting the 8372B Agnus chip)
  • The A500s can have up to 138 MB of RAM by using expansion techniques {2 MB of Chip RAM + 8 MB of 16-bit Fast RAM + 128 MB of 32-bit Fast RAM}

CPU upgrades

  • The CPU can directly be upgraded to a 68010
  • The CPU can also be upgraded to 68020, 68030, or 68040 via a CPU socket adapter or the side expansion slot
  • Vampire 500 v2+ (powerful but expensive accelerator)
  • Powerful and cheap accelerators based on the Raspberry Pi

Storage Upgrades

  • Shadow-of-the-beast
    The amazing "Shadow of the Beast" trilogy from Psygnosis (Images: Amiga 500)
    A hard disk can be accommodated on the left Zorro slot (for example, the old GVP hard disks)
  • The A570 CD-ROM was available by Commodore
  • Up to 3 extra floppy disk drives (external DD)
  • Modern upgrades include CF/SD hard disks
  • A Gotek USB drive can replace the internal A500 floppy disk drive

Upgrading the Graphics

  • The A500 can be upgraded to the Enhanced Chip Set (ECS)
  • HDMI output upgrade

variants Related Models: A500+ (Amiga 500 Plus)

Released in November 1991, A500+ is an enhanced version of the classic Amiga 500, A500+ offered a new operating system (2.04) and improved ECS graphics in the same case.

  • Sold for £399 (Cartoon Classics pack)
  • Amiga 500+ was discontinued in mid-1992, and replaced by the Amiga 600.
  • 1 MB of RAM
  • Operating system 2.04
  • ECS (enhanced) graphics, including a new version of Agnus and Denise chips
  • Built-in Real Time Clock (the battery leaks)

A500+ Incompatibilities

Due to the new Kickstart, A500+ users face many incompatibilities with classic Amiga software. This issue can be addressed by:

  • A Kickstart switching board, that includes both 1.3 and 2.04 ROMS
  • Relokick is a software that loads the Kickstart 1.3 ROM image into memory and directly boots to 1.3 (offers decent compatibility)

 

The A500/A500+

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