Commodore Amiga 2000
In 1986-87, Commodore released the Amiga 2000. The machine was technically similar to the Amiga 500, but had a larger case and was designed to be more expandable. Costing around $1,500 (US), the Amiga 2000 was designed to compete with the much more expensive Apple Macintosh II (~$5,500) and IBM PC (~$3,000). Follow along as we crack open the second generation he Amiga 2000--the Amgia B2000-CR.
Updated 1/8/2011: Dave Haynie, lead engineer for the Amiga 2000 (B2000-CR), has posted several comments about the Amiga 2000 and his worked on the project in this gallery's discussion forum. I encourage everyone to read his posts. And, I would like to thank Mr. Haynie for taking the time to share his experiences.
Photo by: Bill Detwiler / TechRepublic
Caption by: Bill Detwiler
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Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. He was most recently Managing Editor for TechRepublic Pro. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.
Back in 1986, almost all computers were dogs. Stupid, stubborn and, worse than dogs, dull. The Amiga was the liberator. With very little money, I was digitizing stop-action animation (New-Tek digiview), sequencing and sampling sounds (linking via MIDI to my Casio CZ-101), rendering infographics in paint programs sucking data from spreadsheets (via AREXX), banging out code to render beautiful fractals. Sharing cool hacks with a great community. I never got around to playing any games. It was geek heaven for a kid on a shoestring. Thanks, Dave, Jay (RIP), et. al!
Macs are pcs always have been the same just different cpu in the beginning same underlying inferior bus architecture. any 68040 can beat a dual g5 mac - why architecture - basically 22 programmed cpus and now u brag about 8 normal non preprogramed cpus that suck and intel and amd admits to it- phipp sad very sad.1947 technology and no improvement since then . Intel has admitted to this. Heck , they have to pay royalties to Motorola as they own the technology that they left in 1969 for the one they invented now and use.
NO they used the Amiga only thru out the series I was in the back of it. It was only a rumor started by mac and pc people , and the producer used it to hide that the amga was still being used. They actually used the faster amiga the itanium- amiga clone also one of the first the first 20 went to bell south who still have them and more- yes intel own amiga . Fact
Hi, (proud Amiga 500 user here!) this may sound a bit silly but i was curious some time ago about the Commodore factories around the world and the order they have opened and closed and what models were made in those, but didn't find any complete information. Maybe Dave or any other user can post some info on that in this thread. Thanks for this teardown, chapas
check out the video I just posted... some remembrances of the Amiga from users and developers, a short film I made for the "Deathbed Vigil" DVD release: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAIrfLUXBF4
I bought a Commodore Amiga back in 1987 - it was my first computer. I wil always have fond memories of it and what could have been....
I still have my 3000, a 68000 @ 66Mhz, Their "Workbench" GUI, simple and still unequaled, true desktop multitasking unapproachable until Linux gained momentum, My 3000 still renders complex graphics with an air of authority and ease that leaves the uninitiated with a firm chin print in their lap. All of us would be talking about our Amiga's today were it not for some incredibly bad decisions, Talk about snatching defeat from the craws of victory, I still can't believe no efforts were made towards preserving the intellectual propertys. One of the major "faux pas", management really ticked off one of their primary "Dreamers" the very brilliant and resourceful Bill Crockett, who left and began Ensoniq, a musical instrument mfr ( keyboards, digital samplers and programmable hearing aids). The Ensoniq "Mirage" was the first affordable stage worthy sampler within the reach of a performing musicians budget, Ray Kurzweil's K250 was an awesome instrument with a price to match, the Emu "emulator, portable but dear, then there was the "Fairlight" and "Synclavier" both requiring refrigerator sized racks and a second mortgage. Not the ideal piece for a bar gig. But you could look inside an Ensoniq product with the right eyes and see the genus of Amiga, I was always looking for a "Fat Alice" LSI every time I opened an new Ensoniq instrument.
I had an A4000T with an 060 CPU, never had a problem with it, I believe I had 6-8 HDD hooked up to it way back when. I was forced to move platforms because they never did what they were supposed to do but I did use the platform from initial release until 2003 when I went to windows, here's some pix of my machine https://picasaweb.google.com/EddiesPix/Amiga?authkey=Gv1sRgCLSXt4Hu9ZC7cw&feat=directlink
I invested heavily in Amiga systems back in the 1990s - never again. No matter what Amiga promise for the future I will never trust their ability to deliver.
I restore these beast on a weekly basis. I am in the middle of 2 Amiga A2000's right now (waiting for parts) but this weekend I started on a really sweet A4000, with a Warp Engine and a Cybervision 64 Video card. Pictures can be seen soon on lab.amigalounge.com. There are pictures on Amibay now (under dirty pictures thread) and twitter hashtag #A4000.
I was a mini-computer tech when "personal computers" came out and had a go at an Apple II...bad choice (but the MAC was TOOOO expensive). Then I spotted the Amiga 1000 which used the same CPU, a Motorola 6800, as the MAC but, unlike the MAC, had 1082 (?) color desktop AND was multi-tasking and cheap in price. I remember an OS upgrade costing $25. I found that the 1000 had all of the developer's signatures embedded in the case (molded in). When that system "went South", I purchased the 3000 and enjoyed that until it too died. The reason for the demise of the Amiga...Commodore's GREED. They held their conferences in the Bahamas (along with OUR money) and, as the story went, kicked out a visiting complainer about how they were fostering the demise of the Amiga. That proved to be true when they sold lock, stock and barrel to Dell who promptly buried the only personal computer worth it's salt. I recall free antivirus support from the Amiga community as well. Ah me...I'm stuck with my current HP Laptop (MADE IN CHINA), which had to be replaced two months after purchase. Dead motherboard AND hard drive (lost ALL my data before a full backup was possible). Sorry about the length of this. Hoope you enjoyed reading it!
agnus indeed contains chip-ram addressing but also the co-pros "copper" and "blitter" - onto that provides video- synchronization signals and complete logic for 6x dma
I never thought I'd read a post from an Amiga designer. Until now.... Thanks for posting. Still have an A1000 and 2 A3000's in the attic. What's a good way to get them working again if need be? Haven't used them in over 10 years.
I had an A2000 with 4MB Supra-Ram card and a SUPRA-SCSI card driving 2 miniscribe 20mb hard drives. Was the hottest rig in the local BBS/modem scene for a brilliant moment there. Also had the Newtek Digiview Gold and Audio digitizers with the robotic color wheel for doing color scans. I'm sure you've all downloaded some of my early work done on the Digiview at some point. ;)
I still have mine, it still works! I left it on the shelf once for 10 years, 1998 to 2008, and when I hooked her up and turned her on, the on-board time clock was only off by 4 minutes! Still had correct day and date! ASTOUNDING MACHINE! (Thanks, Dave!) AND I still use it as an on-the-fly A/B roll video mixer! I have an original A2000 with 10 meg ram, 2 meg onboard chip, and a 120 gig hard drive. The way I have always described the Amiga and Video was like this: What the Amiga/Toaster does with video, it does very well and very smoothly and with incredible finesse; At the time, I had professional studios hiring me to edit for them due to the quality of the toaster output! What the IBM/Windows platform does to video is not done nearly as well, or nearly as smooth, but with ABSOLUTE BRUTE FORCE! Enough RAM & Harddrive and a quad-core processor - 2011 technology - doesn't hold a CANDLE to the 20+ year old Amiga/Toaster! Too bad Amiga didn't have anyone in "product marketing" that had a clue or they could have wiped the field of all competition! Talk about a "gaming" platform! Sorry for rambling! I STILL get excited about this!
The LF347N is a "Wide Bandwidth Quad JFET Input Operational Amplifier " a popular IC so far. This chip is made by National Semiconductor. The logo on the chip was in use in the late '80. Actually this chip was produced in 1987 (alike other IC on this PCB).
Could go right now & Fire up the A2000,A1200 or A500 & have no doubt they would still work! Or even my Vic20,C64,128,128D or my SX64....... Yeah i know a HARDCORE Commodore fan. Thanks for the Article! Hope all have tried "Amiga Forever",C64 Emuls.
that Should have been connected to the back of the second drive allowed the user to use a PC Floppy drive with the Amiga 2000: The Amiga FDDs are one of the FEW computers that acually used the SENS switch, which detected the presence or removal of a disk. On PC floppy drives, this signal was on a different pin, and that board thus provided the corrected signal so that the Amiga could detect the insertion of a disk, and Not leave it mounted on the desktop when it was manually removed from the system. Note that the FDD Without the drive door is the Original FDD supplied with the system.
I would like to thanks Mr Haynie for all what he did fow the Amiga. It has been my first computer (A2000 + PC Card). Working with a real full multitasking OS, beautiful simple and efficient hardware was an experience so huge that even today I miss this "KISS" computer. Then I get an A4000 with graphic card, hoping that we will beat all of them at that time. I was wrong unfurtunaltly, not by the system but by Commodore, such a pain. I still enjoy some time the OS, using uae (and I still have my ROM 3.1 @ home) ;-) Thanks again for that time. Enjoy to get once again, such pleasure. Regards Dave for all you done. Laurent
Anybody remember the Raptor? It was the LightWave 3D Raytracing engine for commercial use. When I saw the write-up in an Amiga magazine I wanted one. Alas, a college students budget...
The Mac and PCs haven't caught up yet! My Amiga 1000 had "say" in the file menu along with save and print. I would have it "say" my spreadsheet while my eyes were on the input data to double check against entry errors. AV from the start. And now MS is talking about a second desktop. Even now jaws drops when I pull down the first playfield to reveal the fullscreen bouncing ball hidden behind the first "destop". firstname.lastname@example.org
I have an Amiga 500 in mint & brand new condition with all the original software also in mint condition. I loved that machine, but just in storage now, considering selling it to an Amiga lover.
I was a commodore fanatic. I had the Vic 20, C64, 64C, 128D, Amiga 500, Amiga 2000, Amiga 3000 and a modified Amiga 2500. I have to agree with mckinnej about the company Commodore. If it were not for the greedy bums who ran it, we would have been idolizing a cpad as apposed to an ipad. At one point in the 90's the three major technologies of PC clones, Macintosh and Commodore were competing for the computer throne as Intel and AMD are now. The Amiga's technology blew away its competition but Commodore blew away its marketing campaign for its on selfishness. I will and forever will be an Amigan....................
Ever heard of Natami?! It is the new 'classic' AMIGA 68k-compatible computer! Featuring new 68k CPU called 68050, 512 MB DDR2 RAM, SuperAGA chipset (HD resolutions in 32-bit color, native chunky modes), more hardware audio channels, built-in scandoubler, Amiga floppy drive, 3.5" IDE port (connect your Amiga hard drive directly), Ethernet port, USB 2.0 ports, SyncZorro port (e.g. CPU expansion slot), Compact Flash slot, PCI port, MiniITX format 140mm x 170mm with VERY LOW power consumption (pico PSU), Amiga mouse and Joystick ports, DVI-I port, IrDA and S/PDIF ports, and many many more (http://nemuri.dip.jp/Natami_pinout_3.png) It is the next 'classic' AMIGA model we all waited for so long! More info at YouTube (search for "natami stage i video") and www natami net. See you there!
Thanks for the trip down memory lane! The Amiga was an awesome machine. Too bad Commodore was run by a bunch of greedy vultures who destroyed the company for their own profit. Hopefully they lost everything quickly and died dirt poor after long and miserable life. (Too harsh? Naaaa... ;) It's safe to say I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now if it wasn't for my trusty A500. I learned so much on that machine that really isn't possible on today's PCs. It was fun too. Today's machines are too complex and locked down (except for Linux). I remember spending $800 for a 40meg HD with a 2meg RAM expansion. I had a 14.4 Supramodem too which cost me about $350. I was poor, but a total badazz! LOL It broke my heart when I moved and had to unload a bunch of old stuff. Since I didn't have a working monitor and couldn't find one, the Amiga went in the dumpster in its original box along with my old Radio Shack Color Computer II, also in original box. Along with them went a yard bag full of floppy disks. It was a sad day. :(
#70: Yeah, that was a Signetics 68000... Hitachi also made them. Commodore, being a chip company, used to crack the lid of any major chip we sourced externally, to analyze the technology. In short, we knew what they cost to make. So we were buying 68000s for $2.50 when Apple was paying $8.00. That gets significant when you make a million or more computers in a year. #71 Yeah, that's Fat Agnus. The three Amiga chips acted as one. Agnus worried about memory access, and also generated the "register address", which basically told Paula and Denise (the other two chips) who the cycle was for, and which direction. Agnus also contained the bit-blitter, and served as the interface to the CPU. #72 The ROM was 256K for AmigaOS 1.x, but expanded to 512K for Amiga 2.0. Both sized were supported for the A2000. #77 Buster doesn't mean "bus terminator", it's the bus controller. The Amiga 2000 bus was fairly simple, but this device (my design) replaced a number of expensive high-speed PAL devices, which were used to implement external Zorro bus controllers on the Amiga 1000 and Amiga 500. This also manages the "coprocessor" protocol, which allows a CPU accelerator card to be dropped into the CPU slot and take over the system from the built-in 68K. #80 The National Semiconductor LF347 is a quad low-speed operational amplifier. Part of this was used in the reset circuitry -- the "Cntl-Amiga-Amiga" sequence generated a special condition over the two-wire keyboard interface, which was detected and driven as a hardware reset to the system. #81 Those are HCT244s, which are bus drivers. Those shown are for the chip bus. #82, #83 These are the bus drivers for the Zorro bus, address and data. These are bidirectional.. both data and address can be driven either way. #84 Those look like data drivers for the chip bus... all that DRAM. Well, all those DRAM chips... 1MB is hardly "lots" by modern standards, but this was 1986. #86 Yeah, there's me and Fish. In late 2005 and early 2006, Commodore was reeling over financial problems, and there were a total of three rounds of layoffs. On the other side of that inscription, it used to read "the few, the proud, the remaining" and then we had the initials for everyone still left in Commodore West Chester Engineering. For some inexplicable reason, we didn't get to keep that... but that's probably why we got to keep the HAYNIE/FISHER. #87 Yeah, the case was big and ugly, and very industrial -- a product of Commodore's German division. The location of the mouse and keyboard ports was a very bad idea... we had crazy problems with noise from the memory array coupling to those ports.. there's a big reason PCs always put this stuff in the back, or run cables to the front if they need a front port. Anyway, thanks for featuring one of my creations!
I stumbled on this recently. Hopefully, the projects they have going will come to fruition. I would love to have a new 64 and a new Amiga. http://www.commodoreusa.net/CUSA_Home.aspx
This takes me back. I had an A2000 with the upgraded CPU, 68020 if I recall. I also had an A1000 and an A500 before that, I still have an A3000 sitting in my basement. Wonder if there is still a market to sell it. At one time there were a lot of avid AMIGA users still looking for the classics.
I think they used 880k on low density (720k) disks, and for some reason i seem to remember not all pc drives were compatible, but I can't remember why. I still have in my garage a CD32 with an SX32 expansion (broken connector), A500 with supra turbo and supra expansion drive, and an A4000 accelerated with a Cybervision 64! I have now given in to the PC dark side.
Was actually started by Commodore guys, but they split off before Amiga: Bruce Crockett, Al Charpentier, and Bob Yannes. They left pretty much as I was starting up at Commodore. A friend of mine from college worked for Ray Kurzweil, but over at his speed recognition company, "Kurzweil Applied Intelligence"... I think the synth people were across the hall. He got a company discount on a K250... sweet piece of kit, back then.
Commodore did not in fact sell everything to Dell. IIRC Dell, lost the bids on Amiga. The technology was sold to a German Computer company Who then Renamed themselves Amiga Technologies and Sold the A1200 and A4000 Tower under the re-banded name. Story goes, the over exerted themselves with both the PC computers and the Amiga Computers. They were even close to launching "The Walker" a totaly new Amiga. When they bent bankrupt, they sold all of the Amiga stuff to Gateway, who also produced some prototypes of new Amiga computers. From there it gets kind of fuzzy Some say Bill McEwen purchased all rights and Amiga Inc holds them today, Some say Gateway (Now owned by Acer) still owns the rights. The sad truth is that the Amiga rights since the demise of Commodore is always going to be questioned and seems to have a lot of shady past to it.
Did they work when you parked them? I took my A2000 off the shelf after 10 years (1998 to 2008) and it fired right up, and even still had the correct time and date, with the time only off by about 4 minutes!
I had no idea the design was consistent enough to be shared between platforms. I expected a completely different interface. Turns out reality was somewhere between the two. :-) Still, a minor difference.
"It broke my heart when I moved and had to unload a bunch of old stuff. Since I didn't have a working monitor and couldn't find one,....." Sorry to hear that, I've got 2 brand new (and a couple of used ones) 1084s monitors in my garage (no to mention other Amiga stuff!) I'm always say I'm going to put it all on ebay but somehow I never get around to it.
The Amiga certainly needed a 15kHz interlaced monitor for most of its existence, and none of the PC monitors supported this. But today..the dual 1200p LCD monitors I have here in my office no only support a normal 15kHz input (CVBS, Y/C, or VGA), but they do the de-interlacing themselves, just like most any other digital display. So at least some modern monitors are, finally, Amiga ready :-)
That last paragraph made me think of when I got rid of both of my Amiga's. I shall never forgive you :p
Dave, It's awesome that you took the time to comment on this article, many long-time Amiga fans, myself included, appreciate the insight you provide. I was an Amiga 1000 -> Amiga 2000 user, with my 2000 being heavily used as a dual-headed, triple OS beast. My Amiga 2000 was affectionately known as Frankenputer: * Amiga OS and MAC emulator (running in a window on the Amiga monitor) * Intel 286 bridgeboard with MS-DOS, using a 30 MB MFM hard-drive on an ISA card controller, and an ISA VGA card driving a VGA monitor (sitting next to my Amiga monitor). * I shared the MFM hard-drive back to the Amiga, since I was a college student who couldn't afford the SCSI drives that the Amiga liked to use. I customized the boot-sequence so that it would boot the Amiga from the workbench floppy, which after it got enough of the Amiga stuff working to access the bridgeboard, booted the PC-side, then shared the PC's HD back to the Amiga side and finished booting the Amiga from the PC's HD. Life was good (and only got better). Thanks again for your contributions -- not only to the A-2000 back in the day, but to this discussion thread.
This is awesome stuff. It's not every day that the information-hungry of us can get an engineer's personal reflections on an historical design. And Bill -- I love this series. I don't know what it is, but I love seeing the guts of devices big, small, new and old. I was surprised to see the first teardown article, and QUITE pleasantly surprised that it caught on and flourished. Thanks to both of you. This article was a real find today.
Thank you so much for joining my discussion and posting the correction about the Buster chip and all the other fantastic information. I've updated the image's description and added a note about your post to the first image. Again, thank you!
The original Commodore assets were sold to ESCOM in Germany. At the time (1995), they were the second largest PC vendor in Germany, and pretty big all over Europe. The launched a division called Amiga Technologies, they didn't rename the whole company. And in fact, Andy Finkel and I consulted with Amiga Technologies in late 1995/early 1996, with the intent on launching a new A500-class Amiga, based on the PowerPC chips. We were in talks with both Motorola and IBM on the best performance we could get for a ~$500 computer. Andy's team was looking to build a portable version of AmigaOS, with a HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) and other modern goodness... the old 68K stuff being supported via emulation. We even had some somewhat interesting graphics as a possibility, using some stuff Motorola was developing. I had actually designed a totally custom architecture (not the whole chipset, but the overall architecture), but we were up against deadlines, and the fact that neither IBM nor Motorola had PPCs as core designs just yet (they did, later on). Sadly, ESCOM basically screwed themselves, and it really wasn't anything to do with the Amiga acquisition, which was pretty small potatoes for them. They had bought chains of retail stores, and had guessed wrong about PC product demands for the 2005 Christmas season. This left them in bad enough shape that they were called into bankruptcy in the Spring or Summer of 2006... they started dismantling Amiga Technologies long before then. They did put the A1200 and A4000T back into production. The Walker was a really a stop-gap system, something they started before Andy and I came on to the project. At the ESCOM bankruptcy, Gateway 2000 did buy the Amiga assets, including patents and AmigaOS, the Commodore name and other stuff went off in a different direction, landing ultimately at the new Commodore, the guys who have managed to put a whole PC inside a classic C64 case (I think it's kind of cool... give the guys credit for doing what they can). Gateway really just wanted the patents. They launched a brief project to develop their own Amiga, using Linux and/or QNX (I tried very hard to move them away from Linux, which, in 1996 was no platform for a multimedia system, but suggested QNX would be a good fit -- I had no official involvement in any of those projects), but dropped it. Sometime later, the Bill McEwan Amiga company licensed AmigaOS from Gateway, and hired Hyperion Entertainment (a video game company) to port it to the PowerPC. A move I also strongly tried to convince them was a bad idea... after Apple stopped MacOS licensing, it was clear to me the PowerPC was doomed as a desktop CPU. I'm not sure the situation between Gateway, Amiga, and Hyperion was ever made all that clear in public. Given that there's virtually no hardware available to run the PowerPC version, and certainly nothing even remotely competitive (I did suggest a PS3 port was their best bet, at least back when PS3s could easily load an alternate OS).
Dave, Which LCD brand/model is that? I have a A4000T which has been running 14 years now (non-stop as a house controller) I sure would love to plug in something other then this ole 1084 monitor. Bill, I suspect the floppy adapter on image 26 is to make a regular PC floppy compatiable with the Amiga. My 2nd computer (after the C-64) was the Amiga 2000. I had the 2088 bridgeboard and SCSI harddrive. I followed up with A3000T. Sold both to purchase the A4000T. I loved the resale value, sold 2000 to school in NY for $350.00 (9yrs old) and the 3000 to NASA for $900.00 (4 yrs old). The 4000T "talks" to my house via X10 and controlls lights, block heater, fans, and wakes me up each morning. Play CD's. If I could upgrade the monitor, I'd spend a bit more time on it then I currently do. LeEric
It's not everyday... anymore... that I come across questions or articles about the Amigas. So it's kind of a treat to me, too, to see these things going by. And the A2000 was kind of my journeyman project. I had been the #2 guy on the Commodore 128, a year or so out of school. After the main guy, Bil Herd left, I was all of a sudden the top guy on the 8-bit stuff. But I had already started playing with the Amiga, and really wanted to work on that. Commodore West Chester got our first Amiga system project in the summer of 1986, with the Amiga 500. George Robbins, Bob Welland, and Victor Andrade had figured out how to consolidate the fairly complex Amiga 1000 design into a much more compact form. As the 8-bit stuff was fading, I was brought in to help out... and of course, to learn the system. About a month later, we got the task of taking the German Amiga 2000 design (which was essentially an Amiga 1000 with an integral Zorro bus, and the stupid PC slots for the "Bridge Board") to something more production worthy (in Commodore speak... "cheap"). That meant using the Amiga 500 chipset, and integrating the expansion bus. This was an obvious project for George. Just before Commodore has bought Amiga, George and Bob had become the third engineering term to work on the "Commodore 900". This was a totally different personal computer, based on the 16-bit Z8000 processor. It ran a UNIX clone called Coherent, and was going to ship initially with a high resolution monochrome display. Pretty much a Sun 2 for the masses. The previous two teams failed to get it working, George and Bob did. Then it was cancelled... Commodore wasn't going to deal with two "16-bit" systems at once. Thing was, the Amiga 500 was George's baby by then.. he didn't want to give it up. So I took on the Amiga 2000, all by myself (well, certainly with lost of help from the two A500 guys, at least in understanding what they had done with the custom chips). Bob and I also worked on the CPU cards that created the Amiga 2500 series (68020 and 68030 powered). Bob left for Apple where he was one of the main guys on the Newton, then on to Microsoft. One of the few guys I know to have achieved a personal computer industry hat-trick!
I have dual Westinghouse 1920x1200 monitors here, L2410 I think is the model. I realized I did have my A3000 connected via the scan converter output, simply because I don't have a 23-pin Amiga to 15-pin VGA adapter handy. So I don't know for a fact if this monitor can do the upscaling from the VGA input. But it does handle 15kHz just dandy from other inputs: CVBS (composite), Y/C, or YPrPb. I've run DVD players and camcorders (standard def, analog HD and digital HD) into these monitors. Sadly, not made anymore, and it looks like the Westinghouse company has gone for making cheap HDTVs, not monitors so much any more. A shame, too, this was a great deal for an MVA panel, rather than the lesser TN, some years back, as well as the video input support.
I think he meant compatible in a technical sense, as newer monitors that share some ancestry with HDTVs have high-bandwidth analog receivers. I could be wrong (I'm not really familiar with the Amiga video protocol), but my guess is older TVs with composite inputs wouldn't be adequate because of the low scan rate of SDTV, but classic computer monitors wouldn't speak Y/Cb/Cr. Cool project with the house computer. I'm fiddling with a project to do the same kind of thing. I'm building a custom C codebase for Linux / Xorg / alsa to provide a touchscreen front-end for integrated (ceiling/wall) audio and environmental control. I got a 7" touch LCD from short-circuit.com and will be picking up a VIA Pico ITX board to mount in the wall behind it. Fun, fun. :-)
Most of the PC today is designed at the chip level. There's a ton of work going on there, but that also kind of locks in the design. This is why you don't see a great deal of difference from system to system. Some of it's pretty tricky at the PCB level, particularly things like high-speed DDR2/DDR3 memory layout, but the design of these is locked in by the CPU these days on AMD and Intel "i" series -- and was by the system chipset back in the "old" days of the Core2 chips. And in fact, the number of companies actually doing motherboard design is fairly small as well. Most of those Taiwanese companies that make the boards in kits for hackers, like Gigabyte, ASUS, etc. also make main boards for Dell, HP, etc. If you're a big company, you call these guys up, tell 'em what you want, and you'll get that board... for way less than you can make it yourself, even if you're doing HP volumes. This was even becoming true about PCs in the latter days of Commodore.
when an entire platform could be the project of an engineer or two. ;-) Well, that's really just an assumption. I'm not an engineer, but PCs today are a heck of a lot more complex. It's certainly true of computer games. It takes a movie-like production crew to release a title now that sprites and scrolling backgrounds have fallen by the wayside.