The Amiga Portal

The 1987 Amiga 500 was the best-selling model.

Amiga is a family of personal computers introduced by Commodore in 1985. The original model is one of a number of mid-1980s computers with 16- or 16/32-bit processors, 256 KB or more of RAM, mouse-based GUIs, and significantly improved graphics and audio compared to previous 8-bit systems. These systems include the Atari ST—released earlier the same year—as well as the Macintosh and Acorn Archimedes. Based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor, the Amiga differs from its contemporaries through the inclusion of custom hardware to accelerate graphics and sound, including sprites and a blitter, and a pre-emptive multitasking operating system called AmigaOS.

The Amiga 1000 was released in July 1985, but production problems kept it from becoming widely available until early 1986. The best-selling model, the Amiga 500, was introduced in 1987 along with the more expandable Amiga 2000. The Amiga 3000 was introduced in 1990, followed by the Amiga 500 Plus, and Amiga 600 in March 1992. Finally, the Amiga 1200 and Amiga 4000 were released in late 1992. The Amiga line sold an estimated 4.85 million units.

Although early advertisements cast the computer as an all-purpose business machine, especially when outfitted with the Sidecar IBM PC compatibility add-on, the Amiga was most commercially successful as a home computer, with a wide range of games and creative software. The Video Toaster hardware and software suite helped Amiga find a prominent role in desktop video and video production. The Amiga's audio hardware made it a popular platform for music tracker software. The processor and memory capacity enabled 3D rendering packages, including LightWave 3D, Imagine, and Traces, a predecessor to Blender.

Poor marketing and the failure of later models to repeat the technological advances of the first systems resulted in Commodore quickly losing market share to the rapidly dropping prices of IBM PC compatibles, which gained 256 color graphics in 1987, as well as the fourth generation of video game consoles.

Commodore ultimately went bankrupt in April 1994 after a version of the Amiga packaged as a game console, the Amiga CD32, failed in the marketplace. Since the demise of Commodore, various groups have marketed successors to the original Amiga line, including Genesi, Eyetech, ACube Systems Srl and A-EON Technology. AmigaOS has influenced replacements, clones, and compatible systems such as MorphOS and AROS. Currently Belgian company Hyperion Entertainment maintains and develops AmigaOS 4, which is an official and direct descendant of AmigaOS 3.1 – the last system made by Commodore for the original Amiga Computers. (Full article...)

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NewIcons is a third-party extension to the icon handling system for AmigaOS 2 and newer. NewIcons was first invented and developed by the Italian programmer Nicola Salmoria. Subsequent development was done by Eric Sauvageau. The need for NewIcons arose from the poor overall quality of icons in AmigaOS versions prior to 3.0.

While the AmigaOS GUI had been revolutionary when it was first launched in the early 1980s, other operating systems such as Mac OS and Microsoft Windows quickly caught on and started to become more professional-looking. Standard AmigaOS Workbench icons were plain and uninteresting: limited to four colours, having no standard size, and viewed from a straight-on perspective that left them looking two-dimensional. (Full article...)

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Dave Haynie
Dave Haynie
Dave Haynie is the former Commodore International chief engineer on high end and advanced projects. He is still quite vocal in the Amiga community.

He started work at Commodore in 1983 as an engineer under Bil Herd. His first project was to help complete the TED systems comprising Plus/4, C16 and more. After completing the Commodore 128 Bil Herd left the company and Dave Haynie was promoted to chief engineer in the low-end group. After Commodore acquired Amiga, Dave Haynie ended up primary engineer on the expandable A2000 computer. Later, he joined Bob Welland on the A2620 CPU module, and launched the follow-up A2630 the year thereafter. These were delivered in the A2500/20 (1989) and A2500/30 (1989). In 1989 he started designing the Zorro III expansion bus architecture, and in 1990, with Greg Berlin, Hedley Davis, Jeff Boyer, and Scott Hood, created the Amiga 3000. (Full article...)


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AmigaOne X1000.
AmigaOne X1000.
Credit: Blake Patterson
AmigaOne X1000 running AmigaOS 4.1.

Did you know...

... that in December 2015 the AmigaOS 3.1 source code was leaked to the web?

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