It’s a computer! – The fabulous Commodore Amiga

The Commodore Amiga was released on July 23, 1985

In 1985 Commodore revolutionized the home computer market by introducing the high end Commodore Amiga with a graphic power that was unheard of by that time in this market segment. Based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor series the Amiga was most successful as a home computer, with a wide range of games and creative software, although early Commodore advertisements attempted to cast the computer as an all-purpose business machine. In addition, it was  also a less expensive alternative to the Apple Macintosh and IBM-PC as a general-purpose business or home computer. The platform became particularly popular as a gaming platform.

The Amiga was so far ahead of its time that almost nobody — including Commodore’s marketing department — could fully articulate what it was all about. Today, it’s obvious the Amiga was the first multimedia computer, but in those days it was derided as a game machine because few people grasped the importance of advanced graphics, sound, and video. Nine years later, vendors are still struggling to make systems that work like 1985 Amigas.” (Byte Magazine, August 1994)

The Juggler Demo, released in 1986, was the first animation that demonstrated the ray tracing capabilities of the Commodore Amiga.

All Amiga systems can display full-screen animated graphics with up to 4,096 colors or even 16.8 million colors. Also a possibility to overlay external video sources with graphics was possible with the so-called genlock interface. Some frequent users of this ability included wedding videographers, TV stations and their weather forecasting divisions (for weather graphics and radar), advertising channels, music video production, and ‘desktop video‘. Notable example for the application of Amiga graphic capabilities was the rendering of Season 1 and part of season 2 of the television series Babylon 5. Amigas were also used in various NASA laboratories to keep track of multiple low orbiting satellites, and were still used up to 2003/2004 (dismissed and sold in 2006). This is another example of long lifetime reliability of Amiga hardware, as well as professional use.

After Commodore went bankrupt in 1994, there remained a very active Amiga community, which continued to support the platform long after mainstream commercial vendors abandoned it.

At yovisto you might watch a 1990 broadcast of a tv computer magazine, where the Commodore Amiga is demonstrated and discussed.

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