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Commodore Amiga Multimedia Computer

Updated 3 June 2023

Back in a time when the "norm" was playing with interrupt jumpers and admiring grey scale images, the Commodore AMIGA was revolutionizing the world with full multimedia capabilities; Before multimedia was even a word. This notebook collates some of the many awesome artefacts lying around the internet.

Introducing the Commodore Amiga

Commodore buys Amiga in 1984
Figure: Commodore buys Amiga in 1984 and changes the course of computer history

The Commodore Amiga was a revolutionary computer system at the time of release and represented a low-cost entry into the world of computers. At the heart of the Commodore Amiga lies the custom chipset to handle high performance memory management, sound and graphics. The Agnus, Denise and Paula chips collectively formed the OCS and ECS chipsets.

Don't let the techno-babble fool you. The Commodore Amiga is easy to use. The user interface to the Amiga is a full-fledged GUI, graphical user interface. The Amiga is so committed to the GUI cause that it is the only computer without a native text-only screen. The leap from the Commodore C64 text interface to a mouse-driven graphical interface feels incredible. Amiga Workbench was my intruction to the future. This is before Microsoft Windows raised its ugly head. Imagine opening files, printing, variable font sizes, stereo music on a machine older than some grandmas. It's the professional machine of the future. Remember, only Amiga makes it possible.

Only the Amiga makes it possible

In 1987, Commodore Business Machines created a VHS video advertising the Commodore Amiga 500 capabilities. The idea was to borrow the video from your local dealer and show it to your parents to get them excited. The stuff that is shown in the commercial like music creation, video production are still fantastic looking to this day. Once you have watched the video and have seen what it can do then buyers would not look at an Intel 286 powered MSDOS machine again. Take a look at the video for yourself. It will have you singing away like a 1980's synthwave fanatic.

In around early 1989, The Australian Commodore and Amiga Review (April 1989, page 8) reported that there were new commercials for the Commodore Amiga produced entirely on the Amiga itself. We are on the look out to see if these commercials have ever been uploaded to the Internet Archive.

Everything about the Commodore Amiga

Amiga Model Range

Amiga model range spanned several configurations over the years, each with its own unique features and capabilities. The first model in the Amiga line was the Amiga 1000, which was launched in 1985. It featured a 7.16 MHz Motorola 68000 processor, 256 KB of RAM, and a unique custom chipset that provided advanced graphics and sound capabilities. The Amiga 1000 was followed by the Amiga 500 and Amiga 2000 models, which were more affordable and popular among home computer users. Later Amiga models included the Amiga 3000, which was popular among professional users and featured a faster processor, more memory, and more advanced graphics capabilities. The Amiga 4000, which was released in 1992, was the last model in the line and featured an even faster processor and more advanced graphics capabilities.

I take a look at the Amiga model range and consider what is best for the retrocomputing enthusiast. Each model has their benefits and limitations and it is best to pick the Amiga model that best suits your needs.

Commodore Amiga Model range

Amiga Computers
Model Range

Amiga Replicas

Amiga replicas come in two main forms: hardware replicas and software emulations. Hardware replicas faithfully recreate the original Amiga hardware, while software emulations allow the Amiga operating system and software to run on contemporary computers. These replicas offer numerous advantages, such as accessibility, preservation of Amiga software, and enhanced features. However, they also have limitations, such as potential lack of authenticity and software compatibility challenges. I take a look at which on is right for the beginner and which replica gives you the best retro-computing exprience to enjoy.

Commodore Amiga replicas


Commodore Amiga Emulation

A500 Mini keyboard closeup

The following options are commonly used to emulate the Commodore Amiga:

Amiga Music

The Commodore Amiga set the standard for home computer sound sysnthesis and there is still much being produced today by both musicians and the demoscene. Much of this music was written and can be played on what is known as tracker software, think music tracks. These are digital sequencers that play samples and are save to .mod  files. We provide a few links to music software that is still being used today.

To be honest, by current favourte application for Amiga tracker music is OpenMPT. This program makes it easy to play music and the sound quality is excellent. It is also orientated towards helping new people getting into the tracker music scene. I love it.

Amiga Applications

Amiga applications were an important part of the platform's success, as they demonstrated the capabilities of the hardware and allowed users to perform a wide range of tasks, from word processing and graphic design to music composition and video editing. These applications were often developed by third-party software companies, as well as by individual programmers and hobbyists, and were sold through various channels, including software stores and mail order catalogs.

Amiga applications were designed for productivity and creativity, and were often used by professionals and hobbyists in fields such as graphic design, music composition, and video production. While some applications, such as Deluxe Paint and Lightwave 3D, were also used in game development, they were primarily designed for creating artwork and animations.

Commodore Amiga Applications Page

Amiga Applications

Amiga Journal

Scorpion Game Enginer for the Commodore Amiga

Scorpion Amiga
Game Engine

Commodore Amiga 500 tshirt

Commodore Amiga 500
t-shirt review

Commodore Amiga Manuals and Books

Commodore Amiga
Manuals & Books

BBC Database TV Show 2

Why did Commodore
hide the Amiga?

Commodore Amiga 500 Teardown

Amiga 500

Mad Dog Mccree arcade game

Mad Dog Mccree
Arcade Game

Commodore Amiga Unix system, Amix

Running Linux/Unix
Workstations on Amiga

Amiga Inc. development Amiga machine.

Commodore Amiga pre-A1000
developer machine

Relevant Wikipedia entries, Articles and websites

Amiga Emulating other Systems

By the end of the 90s, the Commodore Amiga had a strong range of system emulators that could support your multiple computer needs. The three obvious systems that spring to mind were emulating the Apple Macintosh, MSDOS system, and Unix systems.

Possibly the most obvious choice was Readysoft's Macintosh Emulator shown at the World of Commodore Exhibition in 1988. It is an obvious emulation because both systems ran the Motorola 68000 CPU. It was a device that used official Apple Macintosh ROMs in a hardware/software package connected to the Amiga external drive. Apparently, graphic intensive applications ran faster on the Amiga than the native Macintosh because of the custom Angus blitter chip.

Commodore did make a real effort to break into the desktop office machine environment by releasing the Commodore A2286 Bridgeboard co-processor card for the Amiga 2000 series computers. The Bridgeboard contained an 8MHz Intel 80286 CPU chip, 1MB RAM and an option for the Intel 80287 maths co-processor. The Amiga was a real multitasking computer and users could run native Amiga applications in one window and be running another MS-DOS application in another window. This was better than having an MS-DOS machine as users could only run one program at a time. Brrr, the thought of using the MS-DOS command prompt gives me nightmares.

This brings me to the grandest of endeavours, the Commodore Amiga UNIX. This was a full UNIX System V Release 4 implementation that ran as a high-end desktop UNIX system with unparalleled graphics capabilities. This version of UNIX was affectionately called AMIX. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find software that was developed specifically to bring the full multimedia capabilities to heal. I have given a full writeup on this system on my AMIX journal. The AMIX system is best described as a low-cost desktop publishing, advanced video production system.

ICAROS—Amiga-like Desktop operating system

ICAROS screenshot

ICAROS is an Amiga-like operation system. It runs classic Amiga applications and games, as well as recently developed applications. I have been an on-and-off user of ICAROS for many years now. It is the best implementation of AROS on any system that I have used. At one time, I even had it running on a dedicated laptop. If you are looking for a modern Amiga experience, then I recommend giving ICAROS a try. The system installation is extremely easy and can be done using a virtual box, run from a USB drive or from a dedicated hard drive partition. The system is very configurable and intuitive to use. I mostly use the classic Workbench interface although the much improved Magellan workbench interface is available by default. Both the classic and Magellan workbench interfaces are different enough from Windows to make them interesting to learn. Learning to use system is easy too. The ICAROS desktop comes with an excellent 151 page user manual that answers most of your questions.

The latest version of ICAROS was released in June 2022. Download from the official ICAROS release website.

Magazines covering the Amiga

K&A Plus No. 9

Commodore & Amiga Plus
Magazine 9 (2018)

K&A Plus No. 7

Commodore & Amiga Plus
Magazine 7 (2017)

Amiga Format 18 January 1991

Amiga Format magazine
January 1991

880 Gamer Issue 8 Commodore Amiga Games Magazine

880 Gamer
Issue 8


The Ultimate Guide to the Top 5 Microsoft Basic Versions of All Time

Microsoft BASIC
Top 5 versions

Everything Amiga digital archive

Everything Amiga
90GB+ Collection

Link to external site - The MOD archive

Amiga Music
The MOD Archive

Amiga Fred Fish Public Domain Collection

PD Collection
Fred Fish

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