Contents | < Browse | Browse >
THE UNOFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE AMIGA
Konstantiniadis Manos firstname.lastname@example.org
A small development team, named Hi-Toro, chose the codename "Amiga"
for a games console that will beat the Atari. The team responsible for the
development of the "Amiga" had 4 members: Jay Miner , RJ Mical, Dave Morse
and Carl Sassenrath.
In the beginning they sold other products to win the repsect of their
customers and to earn them some money while devloping the Amiga. One of
their first productions was "JoyBoard" a controller that you used by
sitting on it! There were many games for that, but the best was "Zen
Meditation" in which you have to stay absolutely still. (Does the word
"Meditation" means something to you? Guru Meditation? ... YES! They
used to say that if anything goes wrong the only way to relax was by
playing Zen Meditation!)
The codename "Amiga" was not choosen by luck. (Jay Miner didnt like
that name at the beginning) A story tells us that the team didnt want to
have a computerized name, such as SCOA16/II, because they didn't want to be
easily identified as a computer development team.
The codename "Amiga" was the spanish name for girlfriend. They
continued this tactic and to the custom chips that they made (Agnus,
Portia, and Daphne). For the main CPU they used a Motorola 68000 (16bit),
the best CPU available in 1982. Slowly their games machine was getting
Rumours about a super-computer, with the codename Lorraine (the first
Amiga, named for the HiToro president's wife) were travelling across the
USA. 1983 was the year that all the custom chips were built. RJ Mical
(the coder of the intution) wanted a cheap games machine, but the others
wanted the best computer.
Jay Miner was dreaming about a machine like the Amiga 2000, one with
lot of expansion slots. Jay Miner cooperated with Ron Nicholson who gave
the idea of the blitter. HAM was Jay Miner's idea after a visit to some
flight simulators (there was a chance to leave HAM option outside of the
first Amiga). $7,000,000 had already been spent on the Amiga project.
--- January 1984
C.E.S. (Consumer Electronics Show) took place at Chicago, USA. The
team introduced an Amiga (well... a huge pile of chips and wires...) with
the hope that they would find someone to invest in their project. On
January the 4th Dale and RJ Mical made the first Amiga Demo ever, the
famous "Boing" demo, a sphere with red and white rectangles on it, bouncing
on the screen. The "Amiga" was only shown to selected "customers" and all
the processing was continued secretly.
--- June 1984
The Amiga Inc. team was trying to find a company to buy their
technology and to employ them, since they had run out of money. Many
companies were interested in the custom chips of the Amiga, such as Sony,
Apple, Philips, HP, etc.
Atari's president, Jack Tramiel, who had just left C=, because he
purchased Atari secretly, was trying to get his revenge by buying Amiga
inc. He lent Amiga Inc. $1,000,000, to be payed back one month later.
When the month was almost up, it became apparent that Amiga Inc. would not
be able to pay him back, so he offered 98 cents per share for the company.
0Amiga Inc. thought that this was unacceptable, so they looked for someone
else to buy them. Just 2 days before the deadline, C= came in and began to
talk to Amiga Inc.
They managed to get C= to raise its bid to $4.25 a share, and just
before the deadline ended C= gave them $1,000,00 to pay back Atari, on the
condition that they would get to buy Amiga Inc.
--- July 23
The year that the "dream machine" came out when Amiga 1000 introduced
in Lincoln Center at New York. Many people say that this was the date that
changed the future of computers. (Multimedia ... back in 1985!)
The Amiga 1000 shipped to its first customers.
-===- Amiga 1000 -===-
Processor : Motorola 68000
7.14mhz (less than 1 mips)
Custom Chips : (3): Portia, Agnus, Daphne
RAM : 256k Ram(*) / 512k Maximum (*2)
HD : Optional ($1000 = 20mb (!))
FD : 1 3'1/2" - 880kb
[(*): The Very First Amiga used 128k ram!]
[(*): Later expandable to 8.5mb ! ]
It was the FIRST computer to use more than 16 color output as a
standard feature (4096 colors / HAM6 [Hold And Modify]). It was also the
first computer with preemptive multitasking OS. It already had 4 channel
digital stereo sound and the first computer to ship with a mouse as a
The kickstart was loaded from floppy. The price was about $2000 in
the days where singletasking PC's (286) cost about $4000.
It only had one external expansion slot because Commodore wanted to
keep costs down.
At the same year the first issue of "Amiga World" made its debut. It
was the first Amiga magazine...
The Amiga 1000 was finally launched in the UK.
The team beginned working on a new amiga model. They wanted it to be
more expandable, with a lot of slots and they wanted the slots to be
AutoConfig. They had to argue with C= once again, because the autoconfig
slots cost 50c more.
Two prototypes of the new model were developed. One in the Los Gatos
(USA) and one in Braunschweig (Germany). C= also wanted IBM compatibility,
so both teams tried to do the best to emulate an IBM 8088. Jay Miner
didn't like the idea.
Finally, the emulator came out from Germany. The "SideCar" was a
$1000 product, basically an IBM XT without a keyboard that was plugged into
the side of an Amiga 1000. The product that Los Gatos was producing it was
a $200 accelerator, for an IBM PC software emulator.
Los Gatos helped the German team a lot with the emulator's software.
The Los Gatos began working on a new "dream machine", no one knew
exactly what at that point.
The very same year, Mehdi Ali, was employed at Commodore as a
consultant for Dillon Reed by Irving Gould.
Finally the new amiga model was on production The name was just the
simple as A2000. The Amiga 2000 was bigger than the A1000 and extremely
expandable, with 5 Zorro II slots  (Zorro II) plus a video slot.
-===- Amiga 2000 -===-
Processor : Motorola 68000
Custom Chips : (4): Agnus, Denise, Paula, Gary
RAM : 1mb Ram / expandable to 9mb
FD : 1 3'1/2" - 880kb
It has been launched in the UK for 32000 (later 31500).
The kickstart was finally in ROM. A2000 was a base for other Amigas,
being released on various world markets, as the A1500 [A2000 with two 3
1/2" drives], A2000HD, A2500/20, A2500/30, A2000HDA/100, A1500 plus and
Later the same year, the Amiga 500 was launched (3599 in the UK).
It was the same as the Amiga 2000, with a compact design (keyboard and cpu
in the same box) and no internal slots. Both the machines had a new
graphics mode, the EHB (Extra Half Bright), that gives 64 colors on
The operating system was 1.2. The Amiga 500 was the first really
Scala founded in Norway.
Jack Tramiel, returns, as Atari takes Commodore to court, by claiming
that it had given money to research the Amiga. The judge supported
Minor changes, to the chipsets. Agnus became Fat Agnus, and later,
Fatter Agnus, which can control 1mb chip Ram.
The first fully 32bit system, with a 68030 and the ECS chipset (fatter
agnus), named the A3000, was launched in the UK for 33000 (later 32000)..
-===- Amiga 3000 -===-
Processor : Motorola 68030 / 68881FPU (later 68882)
16mhz (later 25mhz)
Custom Chips : (4): Fatter Agnus, Denise, Paula, Gary
RAM : 2mb Ram / expandable to 18mb [2mb chip - 16mb fast]
The Kickstart was 2.0. It had an onboard SCSI controller and Zorro
III slots. It was also available on a tower model, the A3000T, and a UNIX
model, the A3000UX. A flicker fixer was also included so that the A3000
could easily be plugged in a VGA monitor.
A few months later, the A500+ was released. It was a European model,
with ECS (Enchanced Chip Set), 1 Ram (expandable to 10mb), and Workbench
2.0. The price was about 3399.
Both the systems had graphics mode of up to 1470x580 (4colors).
Kickstart 2.0, was a step forward. It occupied 512kb ROM (1.3 was just
256kb), but there was not very much backwards compatibility with 1.3. The
compatibility problem was not Commodore fault, however, but the fault of
bad programming by coders.
The first multimedia CDRom system, CDTV, was launced in the UK for
3599. The CDTV was an A500 and kickstart 1.3 with a CD-Rom drive. CDTV
wass the shortened version of Commodore Dynamic Total Vision (codename:
"babe" as they were designing it for 9 months :)). Commodore hoped to
sneak it into the homes of computerphobes. Commodore also didn't put the
Amiga logo, anywhere on the CDTV. As a result, CDTV failed to catch the
public's imagination, partly because it was 3200 more expensive than an
A500, and partly because the software was disappointing. This year no more
than 50 CD disks went on sale, but the games was no better than the floppy
disk versions. The CDTV was operated by a user-friendly infra-red remote
control. Later the same year the option of turning the CDTV on a full A500
computer was available. Maybe the market was not ready yet for that
[A570, a CDROM drive for A500 released, before the end of the year. The
[major [problem was that all this years Commodore had a stable system.
[They had to do a major system upgrade
A600 launched in the UK for 3399. The CPU was still the Motorola
68000. So whats the difference between A600 and A500? First of all it had
a surface-mount technology (lower cost for Commodore). RF and Composite
output were also added. It was also the first Amiga with an IDE controller
(2 1/2") and a PCMCIA slot. The major disadvantage was that it did not
have a numeric keypad. An A600HD was launched later that year.
Rumours about a new Amiga, with an advanced chipset, able to support
up to 16.7 million colors, were true! Commodore announced the release of
the new AGA chipset (Advanced Graphics Architecture).
At the world of Commodore Show (Pasadena California) in September 11,
1992, Commodore introduced the first machine with the AGA chipset. As
Commodore announced it was "the company's most significant new technology
advancement in its Amiga line since the product's introduction in 1985."
At the W.O.C. they also announced AmigaDOS TM Release 3 Operating
System and "AmigaVision TM" Professional Authoring System.
The first machine with the new AGA technology was the A4000/040
launched in the UK for 32100. (USA $3699).
-===- Amiga 4000/040 -===-
Processor : Motorola 68040 / 25Mhz
Custom Chips : (6): Super Gary, Super Ramsey, Super Amber, Lisa, Alice,
RAM : 6mb Ram [2mb Chip/ 4mb Fast]
They replaced the SCSI controller with an IDE one (they included a
SeaGate ST3144A 3.5" 120mb HD - The HD was preformatted, with an 8meg
Workbench partition and a 116 Meg Work partition). The floppy drive was a
dual speed high density one. They also used the SIMM technology for the
memory upgrades, but all fast ram simms must be on the same type.
(Commodore used a 4mb SIMM for the internal 4mb)
At the Christmas of 1992, the low-end AMIGA 1200, an A500 like Amiga
with the AGA chipset, was released as a low-cost machine, with full 32 bit
technology and 2mb Chip RAM. The machine nearly missed the vital Christmas
season, and although it did just make it, not enough parts had been ordered
to build an adequate number. Christmas 1992 is a disaster. No one wants
an ECS machine and few can get one of the new "AA" systems. (now called
"AGA")". David Haynie, an ex-engineer at the Pensylvania production plant,
states at his movie, named "The Deathbed Vigil".
The AMIGA 1200, was one of the most successful AMIGA computers. It
launched in the UK for 3399 (USA: $599). It also had the IDE controller
and the PCMCIA slot of the A600, plus a 32-bit trapdoor expansion. It
included Amiga Dos v3.0.
-===- Amiga 1200 -===-
Processor : Motorola 68EC020 / 14Mhz
RAM : 2mb Chip Ram , expandable to 10mb total Ram. [8mb Fast]
Both Amiga 4000 and Amiga 1200 used the AGA chipset, able to display
256 colors on hi-res displays, from a palette of 16,7 million colors.
There is also a HAM-8 mode able to display 256.000+ colors (very close to
24bit display!). Compared to the old ECS chips the new AGA chips are very
fast, even on 256 colors!
Both Amiga 4000 and Amiga 1200, make use of AmigaDos v3.0! AmigaDos
3.0 adds CrossDos as standard (a useful commodity that helps you read and
write on PC disks). It supports all the new AGA graphic modes. WB 3.0
also supports "datatypes," a new facility that allows programs to access
data in an unlimited number of formats, as long as you install a datatype
that understands the format. Another useful adition is the Localization,
so WB3.0 and programs using it can easily be on multiple languages. A lot
of usefull programms such as Multiview (a viewer for every datatype) and
Installer (a easy to use install utility), are also supplied. A new
filesystem is also included, the DCFS. (Directory Caching File System).
You could also now use what every picture you like for a window or
A4000 with the Motorola 68040 wasn't so cheap that everyone could
afford it. So a little bit later, Commodore launched the cheap-version of
the A4000/040, the A4000/030, with a Motorola 68EC030.
Commodore was a very profitable company, especially in Europe and it
had a major power in computing, especially in Germany. But what happened
these years on the story background? Commodore wasn't producing any
hardware (except the basics) and they also cut the production of the A500
plus and later the A600. Why? Well, no one really knows...
Well... First issue of Amiga Report, online magazine ! :)
The very last machine of Commodore, the CD32, a games machine,
launched in the UK for 3299. It was the worlds first 32bit console. It
had a double speed CDRom Drive, 2mb Chip memory, AGA chipset and the option
of a FMV (Full Motion Video) module. But once again the machine didnt make
it. It had many sales but not as many as they were needed to save the
financial problems of Commodore. Most of the games released were just CD
conversions of the original A1200/4000 ones, with no extra CD music, or
FMV. The Commodore situation was awful...
CD32 was the first (and the last?) machine using as standard,
(Released later as an upgrade for all Amiga machines.)
Commodore had a financial damage of $107 million dollars by the end of
1993. But the Amiga was still a very popular machine. In 1992, Commodore
sold about 800.000 Amigas (17% more than 1991) and in 1993, it sold 20%
Big problems made Commodore lose all that money : Fall of Amiga
periherals sales (Monitors,Printers etc.), the US $ and its price fall on
the major economic markets) and ... Me*di A*i (president of the
Commodore, has announced that they were having financial difficulties
which might result in bankrupty or liquidation. Commodore had lost $8.2
million. The stock fell to 0.75 per share. The New York stock exchange
halted trading of Commodore stock!
Until the middle of April, Commodore was still producing A4000s,
A1200s, and CD32s, and the engineers continued development of the new AAA
chipset. AAA was meant to be a big improvement over AGA. 24bit Graphics
[resolutions up to 1280x1024], 16bit CD quality audio and other interesting
things. AAA was never truly finished.
During the second half of April the production of Amigas stopped. The
Philippines factory closed, but left behind a big stock of Amigas. The
Scotland factory also stopped the production. Many employees were told by
the management to hunt for new jobs...
*April,22 1994* ---------------
15 people were dismissed from West Chester (PA), and the Commodore
Semiconductor Group was closed. 15 people were also dismissed from the
*April,26 1994* ---------------
Engineering closed. The site in West Chester, once supported by 1000
employees, now had only 22 people left on it.
*April,29 1994* (Friday) ------------------------
Commadore International filed for liquidation in order to be proteced
from its creditors Friday April 29, 1994, at 4:10 P.M.
Commadore's official statement follows:
"Commodore International Limited announded today that its Board of
Directors has authorized the transfer of assets to trustees for the benefit
of its creditor and has placed its major subsidiary, Commodore Electronics
Limited, into voluntary liquidation. This is the intial phase of an
orderly liquidation of bothe companies, which are incorporated in the
Bahamas, by the Bahamas Supreme Court."
"This action does not affect the wholly-owned subsidiaries which
include Commodore Business Machines (USA), Commodore Buisiness machines LTD
(Canada), Commodore/Amiga (UK), Commodore Germany, etc. Operations will
But how can the branches work without the head, of engineering that
designs and builds the new hardware and software ?
Few of the stuff knew about the bankrupty, till the next day when they
arrived at W.C.
*April,30 1994* ---------------
CEI announced that they would still supply and distribute Amigas and
should be able to meet demand, something that today seems wrong, as there
wasn't any stock available during the next months.
*May 1994* ----------
Rumors, rumors and rumors. Samsung was interested in buying Amiga,
but they dropped when they found out that other companies interested
offered less money than they did.
*June 1994* -----------
| Jay Miner, passed away June 20, 1994 at the El Camino Hospital In |
| Mountain View. The actual cause of death was heart failure, but it was |
| the result of kidney complications. |
Many ex-Commodore employees moved to work for other companies such as
Scala (for example Dave Haynie that will oversee all computer related
hardware research and development activities in Scalla offices).
CEI placed its bid for Commodore.
*July 1994* -----------
Amiga Convention 94, took place in Quebec, Canada.
The liquidators had finally received four proposals to buy Commodore,
Those being Amstrad, Philips, Samsung and Commodore UK. But the Bahamian
court rejected the proposals to move the proceedings to New York City, that
was closer for any company interested for Commodore.
*August 1994* -------------
Commodore set 2 phone numbers for getting informations about the
current proceedings of the liquidation.
*September 1994-October 1994-November 1994*
Rumours about, Nestle, Atari, Sony and other companies willing to buy
More rumours for the day that the liquidation will commence.
This day is continously jumped from month to month.
CEI seemed to be more interested than any others and that is
represented by the online conferences held by Amiga Report, on Portal, BIX,
CEI finally offers a big amount of money as long as the liquidators
give Commodore to them right away.
*December 1994* ---------------
World Of Amiga Show held in the Webley stadium in UK. C=UK claimed
that they are prohibited to talk about the buyout publicly. David
Pleasance informed everyone that CEI had lost their financial baking-up
status. CEI never confirmed that.
*January 1995* --------------
Rumors on UK magazines that C=UK got the highest bid. CEI again
gives a new bid to the liquidators.
*February 1995* ---------------
CEI announced that they were signed an agreement with IBM to have them
manufacture Commodore products, for them if they win Commodore.
Escom seems to be interested in Commodore.
*March 1995* ------------
Techmedia Publishing, stopped the publishing of Amiga World, the
world's first Amiga Magazine. The primary reason was the 11 months
Commodore liquidation and the magazine's low circulation. The last issue
of Amiga World was April 1995. The cancelation came after the issue was
completed so you will not find any goodbyes and things like that on April's
On the date that Amiga World's death is announced, the first issue of
Amiga Link online magazine is released.
Escom (a German based PC-clone maker) and the liquidator had reached
an agreement to make their bid the contract bid. The contract bid was for
$6 million, not counting the $1.4 million they have paid for getting the
Commodore's Logo from Commodore Germany. Other offers were made for other
parts of Commodore.
At last the judgement day of Amiga (or the auction date), was set. It was
April, 20th 1995. The companies that made it till that day were Commodore
UK, CEI and Escom.
*April 1995* ------------ 1 year after the liquidation... Geez! Time is
Escom finally made it!
----------> Cut from Amiga Link - Buyout <---[Thanks Zool!]----------------
In the auction on April 20, only two companies had bid, Escom and Dell
Escom was the German computer retailer, and Dell is a big American computer
company. CEI, long thought to be a bidder, had thrown in their hat with
Dell, so that Dell would work with CEI on the Amiga, although CEI would be
the ones running the show in respects to the Amiga. Escom's bid was the
starting bid of approximately 5 million dollars, as well as the money they
spent on the C= trademark, approximately 1.3 million dollars. Dell made a
bid at 2 PM of an undiclosed amount. However, that bid was rejected for
Escom's bid, because it had conditions attached to it, whereas Escom's bid
After the auction ended, and Escom's bid was accepted, Dell continued
to work on, trying to make a more suitable bid. Their second bid was a $15
million bid, with the condition that they be allowed a 30 day waiting
period to look at the Amiga and decide if they wanted to keep it. If they
decided not to keep it, they would forfeit their $1 million deposit, and
the whole process of getting another bidder would have to go on again.
In the hearing on Friday, April 21, the Creditor's Commitee wanted to
accept Dell/CEI's bid. However, Escom felt that was unfair, because Dell's
bid was placed after Escom's bid was accepted. There was much legal
wrangling, but finally, the judge asked that during the recess the parties
try to work out an agreement. After 3 hours, the court re-adjurned, and
Escom said that they would agree to raise their bid by $6.5 million, to 12
million dollars. Although that was less than Dell/CEI's bid of $15 million
dollars, the Creditor's agreed to drop the objection to stop Escom winning
the Amiga, because Dell could back out of the deal and then they'd have to
go through the process again.
Escom has sales of approximately 2 billion dollars last year.
Commodore UK did not place a bid at the auction, apparently because
their backer dropped out. However, Colin Proudfoot of C= UK and Escom have
both stated that in 2 weeks they will be holding talks as to Escom either
liscencing Amiga technology to C= UK, or, more likely, buying C= UK.
Escom has said that they will work with Amiga developers, user groups,
and the Internet to support the Amiga.
The Phillipine plant and stock in it wasn't included in the auction,
but it will most likely be sold to Escom for $1 million soon, because it
may actually be illegal to sell it to anyone other than Escom.
Editor-in-Chief of Amiga Link Magazine
*May 1995* ----------
Escom held a conference in May 30th.
Escom announced the beginning of a new era for Amiga machines. First
of all Escom created a new division, called Amiga Technologies. Their
first priority is to resume the production of the machines. They are
expecting the new Amigas to be out on September 1995.
They announced the production of an Amiga 4000/060 in a brand new
Tower case and the A4000/040 in tower also. In October they will produce
Amiga 1200s. They have also signed contracts with Scala, so with every
Amiga you can get for free a Scala MM300. The RISC technology should be
researched in 1996.
Well... lets hope to see our Amigas back again on the top. :) Lets
hope that Escom will make the right movements and correct management and to
not copy the Commodore's mistakes.
LONG LIVE AMIGA! Only Amiga Makes It Possible!
I would like to thank:
Joshua Galun - for helping on this article!
Jason Compton - For Amiga Report and for the things he did
for the Amiga Community.
Jay Miner, RJ Mical, Dave Haynie (I really liked your Deathbed Vigil!
Thanks for your great work all this years on the Amiga [AIKIDO!:)]),
Frank Livadaros,Aggelos Poulakis, Lucas Sorotos, Pantelis Christoforidis,
Spyros Paraschis, Nikos Sardelianos,Sotiris Varotsis,
January,February,March,April,May, June 1995 - Manos Konstantiniadis
email: email@example.com , IRC: Guybrush
Sysop Of Odyssey BBS - Greece - 301-4123502