• Tag Archives Amiga 500
  • The Commodore Amiga 500

    The Commodore Amiga 500


    The Amiga 500 was the second and by far the most popular computer in the Amiga line. It was released about two years after the original Amiga 1000 but at a significantly lower price. When the Amiga 1000 hit the market, it retailed for $1,285. The Amiga 500 was only $699 when it arrived.

    While the Amiga 500 was considered the first low-end Amiga Computer, it had most of the same abilities of the Amiga 1000 and even a few advantages. Instead of 256K like the Amiga 1000, the Amiga 500 came stock with 512K of RAM. It had the same CPU and custom graphics and sound chips as the Amiga 1000. The biggest differences between the Amiga 500 and the Amiga 1000 that preceded it were the form factor and boot method. Whereas the Amiga 1000 had a more traditional desktop design with a separate CPU/disk drive unit and keyboard with the ability to place the monitor on top of the CPU, the Amiga 500 was an all-in-one design with the keyboard built into the case as with the Commodore 64. Also, with the Amiga 1000, the core of AmigaOS (Kikstart) was booted from disk as it was still considered too buggy to include in ROM. By the time the Amiga 500 came out, this was included in ROM. Otherwise, the Amiga 500 and Amiga 1000 had pretty much the same hardware including:

    CPU: Motorola 68000 @ 7.16 MHz
    Graphics: Custom “Denise” chip
    Sound: Custom “Paula” chip
    Disk: 880k 3.5″ floppy
    Ports: 2x DE9M Atari joystick ports, RS-232 serial, DB23F floppy and Centronics parallel port

    Arguably, the Amiga 1000 had more room for expansion but the truth is there were tons of expansions and upgrades available for both machines. Capability wise they are virtually identical.

    While there were other more expensive and expandable models (i.e. the Amiga 2000) that were popular in the professional video world and certain other places, because of its relatively low price, the Amiga 500 was the model that was most popular with hobbyists and home users. Because of its excellent graphics and sound capabilities, it made for a very good games machine. However, it’s true multi-tasking OS and available scripting language (AREXX) among other innovations made the Amiga line machines that were truly ahead of their time and it could be had at a bargain price with the Amiga 500.

  • Amiga 500

    Amiga 500 magazine ad from 1987


    The Amiga 500 was not the first Amiga model but it is probably the most well known and best selling model and is the one that ensured Amiga’s success. When the first Amiga model was introduced nearly two years previously (the Amiga 1000), it was well ahead of its time. It was a high end machine credited with being the first multimedia computer and it was sold only in computer stores at a cost of $1295 which is the equivalent to about $3000 today.

    When the Amiga 500 was released, things were different. While it had all the power of the Amiga 1000 and some improvements as well, prices had come down on components and Commodore had cost reduced it in some other ways. It was introduced at nearly half the price the Amiga 1000 was at only $699 (though the intent had originally been to price it even lower at $595). The Amiga 500 had a similar form factor to Commodore’s previous big success, the Commodore 64 in that the computer and keyboard (and disk drive in the case of the Amiga) were all built in to one unit. Also like the Commodore 64, it was sold at various department and toy stores in addition to computer stores. The Amiga 500 was produced from 1987 until 1992 which while not quite as impressive as the Commodore 64’s longevity, is still pretty impressive. By the end of production, more than 6 million units had been produced.

    The Amiga 500 competed directly with the Atari 520ST (and its immediate successors) which had been released around the same time as the Amiga 1000 in 1985. While both used the Motorola 68000 (as did the original Macintosh), the Atari ST did not have the same class of dedicated video hardware nor a true multi-tasking operating system making the Amiga 500 a clearly superior machine. Having said that, the Atari ST was generally cheaper and was popular for MIDI related tasks. Like the Atari ST, the Amiga was probably used for games more than anything else but it was a popular hobbyist computer and higher end models were often used for professional video work (the TV series Babylon 5 comes to mind).

    The Amiga 500 contained:

    • Motorola 68000 CPU @ 7.16 MHz
    • 512 kB RAM (expandable up to 9 MB via 3rd party add-ons)
    • Max resolution of 736×483
    • 4 8-bit channels PCM at up to 28 kHz
    • Built-in double-sided, double-density 3.5″ disk drive (880 kB)
    • Side and trap-door expansion slots, plus socketed upgradeable chips
    • etc.

  • Google emulates 1980s-era Amiga computer in Chrome

    The Amiga 500 lives again — in Google’s browser.

    Google developer Christian Stefansen on Thursday resurrected a version of the venerable computer system from the 1980s in the form of a Web app that runs in Chrome. Forty-year-olds who want to relive their childhoods or younger people who want to see just how hard their elders had it can visit the Amiga 500 emulator for Chrome online, boot the machine, and play some games.

    Chrome emulates the old operating system by a Chrome-specific version of the Open Source Universal Amiga Emulator. Stefansen brought its 400,000 lines of code, written in the C programming language originally, to the Portable Native Client (PNaCl) foundation built into Chrome.

    The Native Client technology runs software written to run on a particular processor at close to the speeds that native software runs. The approach gives software more direct access to a computer’s hardware , but it also adds security restrictions to prevent people from downloading malware from the Web that would take advantage of that power.

    Native Client started with x86 chips, but Google has been expanding it with the PNaCl version. PNaCl is processor-independent, letting programmers run native code for the ARM chips in mobile devices — and the old Motorola 68000 family that was at the heart of the Amiga 500.

    Full article: http://news.cnet.com … -computer-in-chrome/