History of the Amiga
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Amiga Corporation 
The Amiga's chipset was designed by a small company called Amiga Corporation during the end of the first home video game boom. Wary of industrial espionage, the developers codenamed the chipset "Lorraine" during development. Development of the Lorraine project were done using an Sage IV (m68k/8 MHz/1MB) machine, nicknamed "Agony". Amiga Corp. funded the development of the Lorraine by manufacturing game controllers, and from an initial bridge loan from Atari Inc. while seeking further investors. The chipset was to be used in a video game machine, but following the video game crash of 1983, the Lorraine was repurposed to be a graphics-focused personal computer. Steve Jobs was shown the original prototype for the first Amiga and said there was "too much hardware". He was in the midst of work on the Macintosh at the time and was reportedly worried that the Amiga would surpass his plans.[unreliable source?] However, before Amiga Corp. could bring the machine to market, the company encountered financial difficulties. Atari was early favored to be sold the technology, but in a "surprising" development, the company was purchased by Commodore.
1985-87, The early years 
When first Amiga computer was released in 1985 by Commodore it was simply called the Amiga devoid of references to Commodore. Commodore marketed it both as their intended successor to the Commodore 64 and as their competitor against the Apple Macintosh. It was later renamed the Commodore Amiga 1000.
At a relatively affordable base price of 1295 USD the Amiga could display up to 4096 colors, produce 8-bit stereo audio and run several applications concurrently. These qualities were unprecedented in a consumer-oriented computer and gave the Amiga 1000 a significant technical lead on its three main competitors (the Atari ST, the Macintosh and the IBM PC) that was not matched until after the Amiga faded from the mainstream market.
Poorly marketed, the Amiga 1000 was not an instant success. Commodore at first tried to distance itself and its reputation for making "toy computers" from the Amiga, asking that it be referred to as "The Amiga, from Commodore" by the press and designing new logos to replace its own iconic "C=" design. Commodore compounded the problem by marketing a new 8-bit computer alongside the Amiga, confusing the general public about Commodore's direction and the Amiga's advantages. In 1994 Byte wrote "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."  This marketing confusion would plague the Amiga throughout its lifetime, even as it changed hands between Escom, Gateway and other owners.
1987-90, Cost reduced and high end models 
In 1987, faced with strong competition from Atari ST in the lower end of the segment, Commodore released the cost reduced Amiga 500 and the high end Amiga 2000 for the respective prices of US $699 and $2395 (this price included 1 MB RAM and a monitor).
With its lowered price, the Amiga 500 went on to become a successful home computer and eventually outsold its main rival, the Atari ST. The Amiga 2000, thanks to its Genlock and internal expansion slots, managed to carve out a market niche within desktop video. This market was not as large as the office and publishing markets dominated by the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh and as a result the Amiga 2000 lagged these systems in sales. Also, Commodore had initially announced a price of $1495 for the 2000, resulting in widespread grumbling among their customer base when the higher price was made public. To a lesser degree this was the case for A500 which Commodore announced its price $595.95 but later released it at $699. The Amiga did see widespread use in the television and video production industry during the late 1980s and early 1990s, including on popular shows like Clarissa Explains It All and Unsolved Mysteries.
1990-93, Height of popularity 
In 1990, Commodore released a significant update of the Amiga platform, in the shape of the Amiga 3000 featuring an enhanced chipset (ECS) and the second release of its operating system, commonly referred to as Workbench 2.0.
Many users[who?] had criticised Commodore for letting the Amiga platform languish since its introduction five years earlier; this criticism did not diminish with the Amiga 3000. Commodore was unable to match the pace of PC advancement with their lower resources and economy of scale, and users complained that the custom ECS chipset failed to match the features of the PC and Mac display hardware at the time. Users also felt that the operating system (Workbench 2.0) only featured improvements taken from the user community. As Apple was the only other major user of Motorola chips at the time, Commodore often had to wait for a new CPU technology until increased supplies allowed Motorola to sell chips to anyone but Apple.
On the plus side many users considered the Amiga 3000 the most well engineered Amiga model, and the Amiga 3000's integrated flicker filter made it painless to use inexpensive PC-style VGA monitors. This may in part be the reason Commodore went on to sell one million Amigas in just one year, which is equal to a third of all Amigas sold up to that time.
In the same year as the Amiga 3000, Commodore released the US $895 CDTV, aimed to move the Amiga platform to the living room and a competitor to devices such as Philips CD Interactive (CD-I). Commodore believed that there was a market for a system that could display animations, pictures and offer educational software and games on a television, and many game developers thought that interactive CD-based video games would become a popular market. The end result was a system that could be described as an Amiga 500 with a remote control replacing the keyboard and a CD-ROM replacing the floppy drive.
Considering that the Amiga 500 was cheaper, more versatile and had the promise of a future CDTV expansion few Amiga users had any interest in the Amiga CDTV. At the same time the general public preferred cheaper game consoles over both the CDTV and CD-I, and was not aware of or interested in the multimedia potential of these CD-ROM based systems.
Both Commodore and Philips tried to tempt users with promise of an MPEG-1 module capable of playing video from a CD-ROM. These Video CDs can be considered lower-resolution versions of today's Digital Versatile Disks (DVDs), but without some additional features and the inconvenience of having to change the disks during a full length movie.
The CDTV became Commodore's first Amiga based failure, one that allegedly cost them a significant amount of resources. Commodore made a last-ditch effort in saving the system with the CDTV 2, but dropped that design in favor of the much more capable Amiga CD32.
1992-94, Trouble ahead 
Commodore began 1992 early by introducing the Amiga 500+, a slightly updated and cost reduced Amiga 500, officially. This model had actually been introduced the year before to meet good sales of the Amiga 500. Viewed primarily as a game machine, especially in Europe, this model was criticized for not being able to run quite a few popular games (such as SWIV, Treasure Island Dizzy and Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge), and some people took them back to dealers demanding an original A500.
By this time the Amiga 500 and 500+ were showing signs of obsolescence, even as a game machine. Instead of discontinuing the product Commodore envisioned it taking the place of the Commodore 64 in the low-cost segment. To make that possible Commodore set out to design the Amiga 600, a system intended to be much cheaper than the Amiga 500. The Amiga 500 itself would be replaced by Amiga 1200, also under development.
Shortly after releasing the Amiga 600 Commodore announced that two new super Amigas would be released at the end of the year. In classic Osborne style, consumers decided to wait for the new Amigas and Commodore had to close their Australian office in face of plummeting sales. At the same time, Commodore's foray into the highly competitive PC market failed to bear fruit and Commodore was forced to bring it to a halt.
|“||Commodore had the new machines (A600) manufactured in Australia and launched them on what it assumed would be an eager market. Unfortunately, soon afterwards it announced that two new super-Amigas would be released.||”|
—Edge, August 1995 edition
This contributed to Commodore's 1992 profits falling to an unimpressive $28 million dollars, and made the need for a successful new Amiga launch all that more critical.
The last Amiga (and the last computer) released by Commodore was the A4000T, in 1994.
Amiga in the United States 
Mass-market Amigas were considerably cheaper than PCs and Macs at the time. This factor helped to boost sales in European markets, but it also continued Commodore's misfortune from the VIC-20 and C64 era of being viewed in the more price-conscious U.S. markets as a producer of cheap "toy computers" and "game machines". This perception was furthered by the fact that most Commodore retail outlets were toy stores, and marketing campaigns were mismatched with the American public's needs and wants. Overall, the Amiga was very successful in Europe, but it sold less than a million units in the U.S..
Another factor is that in the U.S. market, the IBM PC was already a dominant market force, especially in the workplace. Potential buyers' first question was often, "Is it IBM compatible?", allowing the user to "take work home" or more often take software home to install on their own machines. To satisfy these users, Commodore introduced a variety of PC-compatibility add-ons, such as the Amiga Sidecar for the Amiga 1000, the Bridge Board for the A2000 and a 5.25" floppy disk drive to facilitate data exchange with PC disks. But even as Commodore was improving the Amiga's interoperability, the PC's graphics drastically improved from the early mediocre CGA and EGA modes prevalent at the Amiga's introduction to VGA and SVGA which appeared to match or exceed the Amiga's abilities. This caused a raft of PC gaming titles to be introduced during the late 1980s and early 1990s, including many ported from Amiga versions. Consumers began to see no advantage in the Amiga's "incompatible" technology. Commodore's attempts at interoperability did not persuade users concerned about IBM compatibility to buy an Amiga instead of one of the inexpensive PC clones that were beginning to flood the US market. As a result, US Amiga users tended to be technophiles enamored of the Amiga's software or hardware capabilities, Commodore loyalists upgrading from the C-64 or 128, iconoclasts who disliked IBM, and video or graphic arts enthusiasts (or professionals - the desktop video market was one of the few areas where the Amiga would gain widespread adoption in the US outside of the home).
|“||In 1993, Commodore lost a staggering $357 million.||”|
—Edge, August 1995 edition
Commodore management voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 under US bankruptcy laws in May 1994. Chapter 11 US rules allow a firm to recover its debts and reorganize. Two times in the past Commodore was reorganized in various occasions and repaid by Irving Gould without requesting filing for Chapter 11, but this time, as being controlled by US bankruptcy laws, the board of trustees, which was appointed by the court to oversee Commodore, decided to "liquidate" (sell) the company without proceeding to reorganization. The majority of Commodore's assets and name were sold to Escom. Production was halted briefly, until it was restarted for a short time under Escom's Amiga Technologies. Though the machines had been upgraded and had plentiful hardware and software support, the lack of new Amigas meant that vendors sooner or later moved on. Most of the 'leading edge' technology hobbyists and productivity market moved to PC architecture, sometimes running Linux or BeOS in preference to Microsoft Windows.
Due to the fierce loyalty of some Amiga fans, the 'scene' continued, many years even after the last original Amiga was sold. Inevitably, the PC eventually became the undisputed leading home computing technology, and the console wars also left the CD32 for dead.
The rights to the Amiga platform were successively sold to Escom and later Gateway 2000, but Escom almost immediately went bankrupt itself (due to non-Amiga related problems) and Gateway vacillated over what to do with its new acquisition. In 1999, an entirely new company called Amiga, Inc. (no relation to the original Amiga Corporation) was incorporated in the US state of Washington, and received a license from Gateway to use Amiga-related patents and trademarks.
New Amigas 
Since demise of Commodore-Amiga there have been many attempts to create new Amiga hardware and solutions. All new Amigas are built from standard components without using the original Commodore custom chips.
Amiga compatibles 
Only Amiga compatible machines share the original Amiga heritage with the custom chip compatibility. While they are not using the original chips as in original Amiga computers they implement compatible functionality using their FPGA.
Minimig is an open source hardware implementation of the Amiga 500 with the custom chipset implemented using an field-programmable gate array (FPGA), released under the GNU General Public Licence. It uses the MC68000 CPU chip from Freescale.
Natami is an ongoing hardware project to build 68k based computer to run AmigaOS.
AmigaOS 4 systems 
Since 2001 Hyperion Entertainment have been developing new AmigaOS 4 running on PowerPC based systems. AmigaOS 4 runs on Samantha systems developed by ACube Systems, Pegasos II systems developed by Genesi/bPlan and AmigaOne systems developed by British Eyetech and A-eon Technologies. AmigaOS 4 can run system friendly AmigaOS software written for original Commodore Amigas.
AROS systems 
AROS is an open source re-implementation of AmigaOS. It runs on many x86 based systems as native or hosted flavors. AROS also runs on some 68k based Amigas and PowerPC systems. There is also a company selling AresOne systems dedicated to run AROS only. Unlike many other Amiga based solutions AROS is Amiga binary compatible only on 68k based systems.
MorphOS systems 
MorphOS is a closed source re-implementation of AmigaOS. It runs on PowerPC based systems but can run system friendly AmigaOS software written for original Commodore Amigas. MorphOS runs on Efika, Pegasos I/II and PowerPC based Apple Mac G4 models Mac Mini, eMac, PowerMac and PowerBook.
- "Secret Weapons of Commodore: The Lorraine". 090427 floodgap.com
- Gareth Knight. "The History of the Amiga". Amigahistory.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
- "Steve Jobs was reported to be extremely worried about the Amiga, but fortunately for him and Apple, Commodore had absolutely no idea what they were doing". arstechnica.com.
- "Commodore's port; preview of the Plus 4, the Amiga, and Alphacom printers". Atarimagazines.com. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
- "Info Magazine issue 17".
- Tom R. Halfhill (1 August 1994). "R.I.P. Commodore 1954-1994". Byte.com. Archived from the original on 7 April 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
- "Info Magazine issue 14".
- Edge, August 1995.
- "Minimig rev 1.0 PCB". 2006-06-11 amiga.org
Further reading 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Amiga computers|
- A history of the Amiga - Jeremy Reimer's discussion of the history behind the Amiga's creation and demise with Commodore.
- Famous Amiga Uses