The Amiga Portal

The 1987 Amiga 500 was the best-selling model.

Amiga is a family of personal computers introduced by Commodore in 1985. The original model is one of a number of mid-1980s computers with 16- or 16/32-bit processors, 256 KB or more of RAM, mouse-based GUIs, and significantly improved graphics and audio compared to previous 8-bit systems. These systems include the Atari ST—released earlier the same year—as well as the Macintosh and Acorn Archimedes. Based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor, the Amiga differs from its contemporaries through the inclusion of custom hardware to accelerate graphics and sound, including sprites and a blitter, and a pre-emptive multitasking operating system called AmigaOS.

The Amiga 1000 was released in July 1985, but production problems kept it from becoming widely available until early 1986. The best-selling model, the Amiga 500, was introduced in 1987 along with the more expandable Amiga 2000. The Amiga 3000 was introduced in 1990, followed by the Amiga 500 Plus, and Amiga 600 in March 1992. Finally, the Amiga 1200 and Amiga 4000 were released in late 1992. The Amiga line sold an estimated 4.85 million units.

Although early advertisements cast the computer as an all-purpose business machine, especially when outfitted with the Sidecar IBM PC compatibility add-on, the Amiga was most commercially successful as a home computer, with a wide range of games and creative software. The Video Toaster hardware and software suite helped Amiga find a prominent role in desktop video and video production. The Amiga's audio hardware made it a popular platform for music tracker software. The processor and memory capacity enabled 3D rendering packages, including LightWave 3D, Imagine, and Traces, a predecessor to Blender.

Poor marketing and the failure of later models to repeat the technological advances of the first systems resulted in Commodore quickly losing market share to the rapidly dropping prices of IBM PC compatibles, which gained 256 color graphics in 1987, as well as the fourth generation of video game consoles.

Commodore ultimately went bankrupt in April 1994 after a version of the Amiga packaged as a game console, the Amiga CD32, failed in the marketplace. Since the demise of Commodore, various groups have marketed successors to the original Amiga line, including Genesi, Eyetech, ACube Systems Srl and A-EON Technology. AmigaOS has influenced replacements, clones, and compatible systems such as MorphOS and AROS. Currently Belgian company Hyperion Entertainment maintains and develops AmigaOS 4, which is an official and direct descendant of AmigaOS 3.1 – the last system made by Commodore for the original Amiga Computers. (Full article...)

Selected article

AmigaOS is the proprietary native operating system of the Amiga and AmigaOne personal computers. It was developed first by Commodore International and introduced with the launch of the first Amiga, the Amiga 1000, in 1985. Early versions of AmigaOS required the Motorola 68000 series of 16-bit and 32-bit microprocessors. Later versions were developed by Haage & Partner (AmigaOS 3.5 and 3.9) and then Hyperion Entertainment (AmigaOS 4.0-4.1). A PowerPC microprocessor is required for the most recent release, AmigaOS 4.

AmigaOS is a single-user operating system based on a preemptive multitasking kernel, called Exec. It includes an abstraction of the Amiga's hardware, a disk operating system called AmigaDOS, a windowing system API called Intuition and a desktop file manager called Workbench.

The Amiga intellectual property is fragmented between Amiga Inc., Cloanto, and Hyperion Entertainment. The copyrights for works created up to 1993 are owned by Cloanto. In 2001 Amiga Inc. contracted AmigaOS 4 development to Hyperion Entertainment and in 2009 they granted Hyperion an exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to AmigaOS 3.1 in order to develop and market AmigaOS 4 and subsequent versions. (Full article...)

Selected biography

Carl Sassenrath
Carl Sassenrath
Carl Sassenrath (born 1957 in California) is an architect of operating systems and computer languages. He brought multitasking to personal computers in 1985 with the creation of the Amiga Computer operating system kernel, and he is currently the designer of the REBOL computer language as well as the CTO of REBOL Technologies.

In the late 1960s his family relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to the small town of Eureka, California. From his early childhood Sassenrath was actively involved in electronics, amateur radio, photography, and filmmaking. When he was 13, Sassenrath began working for KEET a PBS public broadcasting television station. A year later he became a cameraman for KVIQ (American Broadcasting Company affiliate then) and worked his way up to being technical director and director for news, commercials, and local programming. (Full article...)

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Kickstart 1.3
Kickstart 1.3
Credit: Perhelion
The default boot screen displayed under Kickstart 1.3.

Did you know...

... that AROS implements the AmigaOS API in a portable open-source operating system?
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