Happy Birthday Amiga, 37 Years Young Today
Updated: Sep 19, 2022
When I first started working back in 1989, I was lucky enough to get a fulltime job in a local independent computer shop. Although we sold a number of Commodore XT & 286 PC's, we really were specialists in Amiga. I recall selling upward of thirty Amiga's almost every weekend, this was not down to my selling abilities (believe me) but mainly because of how impressive Shadow of the Beast and Deluxe Paint were.
Commodore released the first Amiga computer on July 23, 1985, and to my ailing mind, that makes the platform 37 years old today! Though the system did not necessarily catch on in the USA to the extent of the UK & Europe -- mostly thanks to its ground-breaking graphics and audio capabilities, GUI interface, and massive library of shareware, public domain and excellent commercial games and creative software.
When the first Amiga computer was released it was called the Amiga 1000, devoid of references to Commodore. Commodore marketed it both as their successor to the Commodore 64, and as their competitor against the Apple Macintosh. It was later renamed the Commodore Amiga 1000. All subsequent models also featured the Commodore name.
The massively successful Amiga 500 was first introduced in 1987 and went on to be Commodore’s best-selling model. At the time, it was capable of a wide variety of tasks including creativity, business and productivity, however it’s most popular and widespread use was for gaming where the graphics and sound processors brought them to life. It’s estimated that over 6 million units were sold.
After the success of the Amiga 500, the Commodore Amiga 500 Plus (also known as A500 Plus), the A600, A1200 and other 'big box' Amigas were launched as enhanced versions of the multimedia home computer. They introduced new versions of Kickstart and Workbench along with a number of improvements to the chips.
AmigaBASIC was an early programming language which was installed as part of early Amiga operating systems. It was written by a little company called Microsoft, years before it started making its own Windows operating system.
Before the launch of Amiga computers, the Amiga brand (Amiga Corporation) was used to market peripherals and controllers for Atari consoles. Its oddest creation was something called the Joyboard, a flat board players stood and leaned on to control games instead of a joystick. Although Commodore went bankrupt way back in 1994, the Amiga community remains active. Popular magazine Amiga Format was still going right up to May 2000, and even now in 2022 there are still monthly print-magazines being published like Amiga Addict.
So, 37 years since the original release of the Amiga and we still enjoy new game releases, a wealth of new hardware and a thriving community of Amiga users that I believe no other retro-computer (apart from maybe the C64) enjoys.