Amiga -The Multimedia Powerhouse
Amiga is a family of home and business computers manufactured by Commodore between 1985 and 1994. Based on the Motorola 68K, Amiga featured a great number of innovations, including 4,096 colors on screen, hardware graphics, PCM stereo sound, a pre-emptive multitasking OS, and a mouse-based GUI. The combination of all these features made Amiga the first affordable multimedia computer in the world. A generation of graphic designers, digital animators, video editors, musicians, and DJs started their career using an Amiga computer. Nevertheless, the “Killer App” was probably video gaming.
The Short History of Amiga Computers
One of the head engineers of Atari’s 2600 and 8-bit family, Jay Miner, left Atari, to create a new revolutionary system with the ex-Atari Larry Kaplan. A system that would combine a personal computer and a gaming console. He began creating the "Lorraine" chipset under the company Amiga Corporation. However, Amiga Corp. ran out of capital, and the "Lorraine" project was sold to Commodore. After solving some legal disputes with Atari, Commodore improved the "Lorraine" chipset and enhanced the operating system. In July 1985, Commodore announced the Amiga 1000. In 1987, they announced two additional models, the Amiga 2000 and the very successful Amiga 500.
The demise of Commodore came in April 1994 after many years of poor management, a diminishing R&D, and many mistakes regarding new-product development. However, the Amiga community remains active up to this day. Tens of new software titles and hardware upgrades are announced every single year. Even the operating system (AmigaOS) is upgraded once in a couple of years. Commodore died, nevertheless, Amiga remains very much alive.
Note, that in April 1995, the German company Escom bought Commodore International for $14 million. Escom sold A1200s and A4000s.
Amiga Models -Information & Sales
This is some basic information, and sales figures, regarding the family of 16/32-bit Amiga computers.
- The Amiga 1000 became widely available in early 1986
- A500+ was never officially sold in the U.S (it was sold for 399 GBP and that includes the CARTOON Pack)
- The CD32 was never sold in the US, due to a lawsuit against Commodore
- The Amiga 4000T was originally released in small quantities by Commodore with a 68040 CPU, and in greater numbers by Escom in 1995, along with a variant with a 68060 CPU
Table: Geographical distribution of sold Amiga units
|United Kingdom||1.5 - 1.8 million|
|Germany||1.4 - 1.7 million|
|Italy||700,000 - 840,000|
|U.S. & Canada||600,000 - 720,000|
|France||275,000 - 330,000|
|Scandinavia||90,000 - 110,000|
|Rest of Europe||80,000 - 95,000|
|Rest of World||400,000 - 480,000|
- Probably, Commodore has sold over 6 million Amigas all over the world
These are the basic features of the AmigaOS:
- Amiga boots in 3 stages: (1) loading kernel (Kickstart), (2) Kickstart loads the rest of the operating system modules, and (3) Workbench is launched
- Combines a GUI and a command-line interface
- Implementing true preemptive multitasking (one of the first systems) using as little as 256 KB of memory
- Single-user multitasking operating system (multitasking kernel, called Exec)
- Allows filenames with up 107 characters
- Doesn't have memory protection (68K doesn’t have an MMU -memory management unit)
- Memory protection was added in AmigaOS 4
- AmigaOS inspired the later MorphOS and AROS operating systems
■ Commodore Amiga
G.P. for Binaryvalue.com 2022 (c)