Retro Computing News

Happy 30th Birthday, Amiga!


Thirty years ago today, at the Lincoln Centre in New York, one of the most advanced home computers ever was launched – the Commodore Amiga A1000. And the world of desktop computing was changed, forever.

The Amiga A1000

A decade ahead of much of the market as it was then, and rightfully recognised as the first multimedia computer, it and its successors were to find a place in the heart of many who are still dedicated followers today, as part of the retro hobby scene. But it was first and foremost one of the most popular home computers of a generation, and sent a seismic shock around the digital globe.

The Amiga was not only THE gaming machine par-excellence, with more colours and better sound than the competition, in fact neither IBM or Apple had anything to touch it at the time!

But, more importantly, it was to become the top – and equally importantly, one of the most affordable – creative digital content computers of its time.

The so-called ‘industry standard’ IBM PC was then limited to a 16 colour display and the Apple Macintosh, with no Mac II then in sight, only had plain black and white. The new Amiga A1000, which had been taken over by Commodore, had a 12-bit colour palette and was capable of displaying up to 4096 colours (Hold And Modify ‘HAM’ mode) – startling in its day, though it had its limitations as well. The Amiga also had astonishing stereo sound, offering 4 × 8-bit PCM channels.

All this meant that the Amiga was to have an enormous impact on TV and video special effects and music, as well as turning up on space-age projects for NASA!

The Amiga A500

Today, after a string of evolutionary successors to the A1000, and despite the end of mass-market Amiga production in the mid-1990s, there is still a huge and loyal community around the world, dedicated to using and preserving surviving computers and software, and to adapting aging Amigas to modern times with aftermarket hardware, software and emulation, as well as using those few Amiga-compatible computers which have since been produced in small numbers.

These Amiga fans can be found everywhere online on websites and blogs, on Facebook in groups and on Twitter, and on forums ad infinitum in cyberspace…

Amiga A2000 (pic Trafalgarcircle, Wikipedia)

Now, after such historic 8-bit predecessors as the Sinclair Spectrum, BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 have already, and rightly, celebrated their own thirtieth birthdays, it is time to do so for the Amiga, and Retro Computing News has been cheering the Amiga on as loudly as anyone.

And, in a very real sense, this magazine site exists entirely because of the Amiga – our own editor and publisher, Stuart Williams, owned an Amiga A1000 himself, and wrote for Amiga User international and Amiga Computing magazines, back in the day!

Today is the day

So, the big day is today, 23rd July, 2015 – but much has already been happening to mark the anniversary of the A1000 launch, as we have reported, and much more will continue to happen over the year ahead.

So, watch this space for more Amiga news over the next few weeks and months. Meanwhile…


The legendary Amiga Boing Ball demo