PCs

Dinosaur sightings: Commodore Amiga 500

Kickstart 1.2 IC

© Webshots - HollyDayMan

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

29 comments
TroyW
TroyW

In the "Amiga 500, hard drive, mouse and joystick" pic there is also an external 3.5" floppy disk drive. In the "Amiga Workbench v1.3" pic it is clearly Workbench 2.x, most likely 2.04. The 1.x series had a very different look, with a blue background, 'flat' white windows, see google image search for lots of examples: http://images.google.com.au/images?q=workbench%201.3 Regarding the "ALFA DATA external AT-Bus hard drive" in the next picture showing the Maxtor drive you can clearly see extra RAM installed in what look to be 30 pin SIMMs, so it wasn't just a hard drive expansion, but RAM + hard drive. Other then those very glaring mistakes, very cool pics :)

rayhyman
rayhyman

I still have two Amiga 500's still in the box. Is anyone interested in them? Ray

GWilk
GWilk

Boy does that ever bring back memories. The only thing better would have been seeing the VIC-20 and its tape drives. Too bad they went bye bye.

cbbennett
cbbennett

I had a customised Amiga 500 with updated 68010 chip running slightly faster than the original. I can't remember the clock speed for sure but I think it was about 1.1MHz or something (GHz weren't even dreamed of back then :-).) It had reset & turbo switches put on the back, extra memory in the slot underneath & an Octagon? SCSI controller & HD mounted off the side with more memory (about 9Mb total I think). Plus a second drive (external of course). I went from 1.2 to 1.3 to 2.0 ROMs & Kickstart. At the time it absolutely rocked! Then I moved up to the 4000/030...HEAVEN!! Ahhh, the good old days...:-)

scotts
scotts

I had an Amiga 500 also and I loved it... I had a 24pin dot matrix color printer. It was loud and slow but it was the "stuff" at the time. I remember printing a full page color image and it took like an hour or something and you couldn't do anything else while it was printing :)

RknRlKid
RknRlKid

I almost bought stock in Commodore because of the Amiga series. The Amiga was the first true multitasking home computer. It was technologically better than anything selling at the time for the home user. Its too bad it didn't get the credit it deserved.

smf8_2000
smf8_2000

Try ebay for the 500's. I'd like 1 but have no extra cash now. :(

kennysessions
kennysessions

Got 2 Vic 20's,4 C64's,4 C128 (Orig & D),SX 64 Portable,Amiga 1200,500(2),2000,Amiga CD32,Timex Sinclair,First Compaq Portable PC,TI99/4A,Orig Mac AIO,(SE),Quadras,Several '040 Macs,G3 DT,G4 DT,Powerbook G3 & Pismo,iMac G3,Apple II's,Apple II GS,386 & 486 PC's.I know i left some out,but you see what i mean.Same goes for game consoles!!

cbbennett
cbbennett

And who can forget the brilliant Commodore 64? With it's tape deck or 1541 5.25" drive, or if you were really lucky the 3.5" (1540?). You could cram so much into that 49K (approx) of RAM, or switch out the ROM and use the whole 64Kb! SAM enabled great sound and one of the first (if not the first) speech synthesiser. But anyway, this is really an Amiga post, so... Enough reminiscing for me.

robert_binz
robert_binz

I never had the A500, but I sure did love my A2000 and genlock. Even after Commodore America went under, I used the unit for years. Then I donated it to the group who was trying to port Linux to the Amiga. Sure hope they put it to good use.

paradise7650
paradise7650

The Amiga 1200 was even better, but Commodore still refused to ship Amigas with a hard drive installed. Sure the Amiga was a better choice by far than an Intel 286 or 386 but by the early 90's nearly every PC clone came with a hard drive of some kind. Also no IDE interface meant a SCSI adapter and SCSI drive, which was not usually a seamless thing to get running. Mine worked fine with a Quantum 52 meg hd. So it wasn't just stupid Commodore marketing, it was selling them at that point in time without even a small hard drive built in.

AbbyD
AbbyD

When I bought my first computer my best friend had just got an a computer with an Intel 80286 CPU and he was so proud of his monochrome monitor. I wanted color so my first computer choice was the Amiga 1000. The amazing thing was that Apple had just introduced their first Macintosh with the tiny 8" black and white screen and this computer had the same Motorola 68020 CPU as the Amiga 1000. What Commodore did with that CPU was far ahead of of what Apple was able to accomplish. The Amiga had color, and voice synthesis and a math coprocessor. What it didn't have was very much software. The only thing I remember using it for was playing Marble Madness. Ironsides

mwesse
mwesse

Windows Scripting Host is still a pathetic attempt when compared to the OS wide inter process communication afforded by Arexx. I can't believe that MS is still so far behind in this area. ANY decent app was IPC able. Too bad MS got to Mehdi Ali (Maybe misspelt) and crashed and burnt the whole lot...well one less competitor to the monopoly I suppose.

Fosdyke-Smythe
Fosdyke-Smythe

I owned a 500, 600, and 1200 (with a vast 10MB ram and 100MB HDD). A quality product by any measure. In fact, I'm sure I still have the 1200, plus assorted bits and pieces lying around somewhere. WinUAEX anyone?

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

Every Now and then I play Sensible Soccer or Kick Off 2 on it!

alexgs
alexgs

All the vague reminiscing posts are starting to drive me wild! The 3.5" Commodore drive was a 1581, but who cares. I still use my C64 several times a week, even if only for demonstrating Paradroid or the Action Replay cartridge. The Amiga accelerator couldn't have run at 1MHz because that would have been slower than the original 7.09MHz. I suggest maybe 14MHz. I'm setting up a new 1200 system for myself this week. I've bought a 6GB laptop hard drive (very cheap), the 2.5" IDE cable from amigakit.com, and did a trade with someone to get their original case in exchange for a keyboard adapter. My place-of-work supplied an external SCSI CD writer, to go with a Surf Squirrel PCMCIA SCSI interface I've found. So I'm set to go. I'll be using YAM as my email client, ImageFX for my image processing, and plan to get a little creative with Deluxemusic (what is the equivalent of Deluxemusic for my Vista PC? I don't know.) Cost of my new PC was about NZ$1800. Cost of my Amiga 1200 will be about $200. You could do the same and stop just thinking about 'the old days'! :) -Alex

Freebird54
Freebird54

I still have my A2500/030 (68030 @ 25MHz 7Mb RAM) and it STILL does things easily that are difficult (if possible) on my wonderful 1GHz 512Mb PC compat. BTW - I had so much room in that 7Mb RAM that I often used a RAM disk for frequently accessed accessories. Also - still haven't found a more capable 'shell' than the WShell I ran on it.... Loved that 680x0 assembly too!

tonyj_stirling
tonyj_stirling

The later A1200 machines (it might have been after Amiga got bought by Escom) had the option of a Hard drive, but I think it was probably too late to save it. Additionally, although the IDE interface was built-in, to keep the Amiga's small size 2.5" HDD's were used rather than the significantly cheaper 3.5" equivalents. Although a 3.5" drive could be wedged in, it wasn't for the faint-hearted!

adanowotar
adanowotar

As far as I know, the Amiga 1000 had the same motherboard that the Amiga 500, only in a kind of expandable desktop case, so it was only Motorola 68000 8Mhz 16 bit Processor. The first 68020 Amiga was 1200, 32 bit in my opinion way ahead the Intel 286 PCs

JamesRL
JamesRL

The first Macintoshes did not have the 68020. The first Mac to have the 020 was the Mac II, which had colour and voice synthesis, and of course the same math co-processor. It was more expandable than an Amiga - you had 6 NuBus slots, 4 SIMM slots. You could easily install and run multiple monitors (in 1987!) The sound was 8 bit stereo. You had both an internal SCSI Bus and external. I remember when I showed my PC friend my Mac II with 16 bit color(640x480 x 16 bit color, non interlaced). He didn't think it was possible given his experience with PC ATs. If I remember correctly I did add the extra video memory to enable 24 bit colour, but my 14 inch monitor couldn't support higher resolution, unless I bought a third party. James

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

Let's have some perspective here. I'm sure it is no where near like a full time job. So you spend 4-6 hours per day maintaining your XP Install. Somthing is wrong!

pbug56
pbug56

The only system I liked as much as my 2 Amiga's (1000 and 2000) was the VAX line running VMS. The first two home computers I owned were the Amigas, and I didn't buy a Sintel based box until 1998. Much better OS, much better use of ram, much better graphics then microsloth dos/windows. Today, I run XP and maintaining it is nearly a full time job.

jrwhalley
jrwhalley

Unless you installed the optional, and expen$ive PMMU and FPU upgrades, what you got with the Mac IIs was 8MB RAM max, a software emulated FPU, and no ability to read/write PC formatted floppies. The usual upgrade was the SuperDrive 1.44 floppy which usually came with the PMMU, 68881 or 68882 FPUs (depending on whether you had a II with a 68020/Mhz, or later like a IIcx with a 68030/16Mhz. The 68040 was the first 68k series CPU with an on-board FPU, but the 68LC040s were crippled, much like the 386sx chips in the PCs (possibly to reclaim some of the rejects from full spec production). Apple used to claim 16 bit sound on the 68030 Mac II models, but I suspect they stretched things a bit, and what you really had was 15 bit sound, like the Amiga. The late production IIs with the SuperDrive, and the IIcx and later models all had the HD floppy and the upgraded PMMU hardware, but a FPU was still optional until the Quadras came out. Owning, and having used Macs, Amigas, and Atari STs of that period, I still think the Amiga was lost potential, as it was the most elegant in concept, while the Mac was the best in terms of execution. To be expected, as Apple had more people working on interface design then Commodore had doing R&D in their heyday; but it was the Amiga that really defined what a multimedia computer was all about. It took the Macs and PCs 15 years of 3d party upgrades and niche software to get where a relatively slow, bone stock machine was in 1986.

adanowotar
adanowotar

As far as I know, the Amiga 1000 had the same motherboard that the Amiga 500, only in a kind of expandable desktop case, so it was only Motorola 68000 8Mhz 16 bit Processor. The first 68020 Amiga was 1200, 32 bit in my opinion way ahead the Intel 286 PCs

mwesse
mwesse

Hi James Yeah the mac was right up there but unfortunately no IPC and as I said synergy is the power...WSH these days is still a very messy affair compared to arexx. Those days are gaawwwnnn :-(