Maybe we are exaggerating, but we are generationamiga.com right? And today is a special day for all those Amiga fans celebrating in what is better know as ‘Amigaphilia‘. The story of the Commodore Amiga is the story of highs and lows. Like a Hollywood star burning out in front of our eyes. The Amiga built on Commodore’s momentum, the C64′s success and managed to go from the lofty heights of the being the number one selling computer in 1990 to being a part of a bankrupt company by 1994. Later on revived by Hyperion’s Entertainment AmigaOS 4 and A-EON technology’s AmigaOne computers. The life of the Amiga had many twists and turns. The most popular Amiga was the Amiga 500, it’s all in one shape fit perfectly into a teenagers bedroom. With most Amiga monitors just being TVs with a scart input they often did double duty as a bedroom TV once a video was plugged in. The integrated shape was continued on with the 600 and 1200. The 1200 was the last model to be released by Commodore, even though it was released 5 years after the 500 it was the first real upgrade to the chipset. The desktop shaped Amiga’s were the 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000 with the last models sharing the 1200′s chipset. One of the things that made these early computers special was the ability to directly connect a TV as the display(very popular in Europe during the 80’s not in the US). In fact the Amiga’s chipset was designed to synchronize with TV and could drive TV’s to their maximum resolution of 720×576 pixels. Because of these special features the Amiga made a natural video editing and effects machine. The video boom peaked with NewTek’s VideoToaster and Lightwave 3D Software. Many large studio’s – Industrial Light and Magic, Amblin – used Amiga’s with this hardware and software combination. Movies and TV shows such as Robocop, The Abyss, Terminator 2, Babylon 5, SeaQuest DSV and MaxHeadroom were produced with Amiga’s doing effects and other video tasks.
The Amiga’s real specialty though was playing games on your living room TV. In it’s day it was considered arcade quality, with even the early games having highly detailed and colourful graphics that was silky smooth. Many small software companies experienced rapid growth with the Amiga, Electronic Arts who produced the Amiga’s standard file format IFF and Deluxe Paint were one of the early players on the Amiga. Other game companies that found success on the Amiga include Psygnosis (now Sony’s in-house development team on the PlayStation), a sub-set of Psygnosis called DMA Design (later to became Rockstar Games and develop the Grand Theft Auto series). Factor 5, now a PlayStation developer created classics such as Turrican. The birth of the bedroom musician started on Amiga’s and Atari ST’s. By the early 1990′s a number of musicians had released albums completely recorded and produced on Amiga’s using OctoMed software, Paradox, DJ Zink and Christian Vogel all released albums produced on Amiga’s. All of the early Amiga’s used Motorola’s 68000 CPU with custom chips to do the grunt work – Graphics, Audio, Video Processing. The members of the chipset family were Angus, Denise, Paula, Gary, Gayle and Buster amongst others. Angus was the controller chip, Denise did video and Paula the audio. Most of the other chips were responsible for various input and output operations like controlling floppy drives. Back in the days when one man designed a chip he got to name it and often the names were quite personal. The Paula chip was named after the designers girlfriend for example. Now with whole teams required to design a chip you won’t see this happen. For its day the Amiga was well ahead of its time. It was the first proper multi-tasking machine, had a GUI operating system and advanced graphics chipset blowing away any competition, to sad that the big bongo’s of Commodore never fully understood the potential and mostly loved big $$$ bonuses for screwing the dream….