amiga 1000

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Introduced July 23, 1985
Discontinued January 1987
Release Price $1295.00


      Commodore introduced the Amiga 1000 with much fanfare at the Lincoln Center in New York on July 23, 1985. It was the most advanced computer of its day. The Amiga 1000 was originally conceived a few years earlier by a small California company originally called High Toro (The company changed it's name to Amiga not to be confused with a popular lawn care machine manufacturer called Toro ) and was financed by a group of Florida dentists looking to invest in a killer game machine. The prototype machine was codenamed 'Lorraine'.

      During the design phase the company ran into financial difficulties and ran out of money. They soon were looking for a buyer to bail them out. Two interested buyers came to the forefront. Atari and Commodore Business Machines.

      In early 1984 Jack Tramiel, the founder of Commodore Business Machines, left the company and sold all his stock over a power struggle with Irving Gould, the CEO of Commodore.  He purchased the Atari subsidiary from Time-Warner who was desperate to unload the money losing division. Seeing that the 8-bit computer market was beginning to collapse, Jack saw the Lorraine as a golden opportunity to get a new advanced technology without spending any money or time on research and design. Best of all it was ready now and it was cheap! He made an extremely low offer to buy the outstanding stock of Amiga Inc. and gain access to the Lorraine technology behind the computer. Being desperate this offer was tentatively accepted by the Amiga Company.

       Commodore also realizing that it's position in the home computer market was in jeopardy unless they came up with the new technology to replace the aging but still popular C-64 saw the golden opportunity. A few days before the signing of the sale papers Commodore made a last minute bid doubling the one presented by Atari and won the bidding on the Loraine computer.

      This infuriated Jack Tramiel and he immediately started work on a 32-bit platform of his own. Forcing him to use off the shelf components to construct what will become the ST line of computers. The Lorraine platform was then renamed to Amiga.

       It truly was an amazing computer in its time, based on the Motorola 68000 16/32-bit processor and a number of custom support chips. This is the same processor used in the Apple Macintosh released in early 1984. At roughly half the price of a Mac the Amiga took the technology a step further probably because the original concept of the machine was to be a game machine.

      It surpassed the Mac by including color of up to 4096 colors at a resolution of 640 x 400 bits, while the PC and its compatibles were still wallowing in CGA with 16 colors at 3 times the cost. It was not lacking in the sound area either with its four voice digital stereo capability.

      It came standard with 256k RAM  built into its motherboard and an optional 256k plug in RAM cartridge to bring the total to 512k. The total RAM accessible by the processor was 9 MB. The 96 key keyboard of the Amiga 1000 is connected through a port on the back of the computer and the keyboard slides into a unique 'garage' built for it under the front of the computer (see pictures).

      On the right hand side of the unit are two 9 pin D-plug sockets for connecting the joysticks one of which doubles as a mouse port. On the left hand side is the on/off switch.

      The rear of the computer has a row of D-type plugs for hooking up the peripherals of the computer. Starting from the left side is the modular telephone style keyboard plug, next is the industry standard Centronics parallel port for a standard PC printer, then the disk drive port for connecting an external floppy drive, a standard RS-232 port for connecting a modem, right and left RCA type plugs for stereo audio outputs, and three video ports.

      The video output ports make the Amiga very versatile. The first is a 23 pin D-plug for hooking to an analog RGB monitor such as the Amiga 1080 monitor, the second is a 9 pin round DIN plug (similar to those found on the C-64) for hooking to a composite color monitor , and an RCA type plug outputting an RF composite video signal.

     The computer came with a multitasking OS called Workbench similar to the Macintosh with Icons and pull down menus. Although the Amiga used the same processor at about the same clock speed of the Mac, it was considerably faster due mostly to the several custom chips inside acting as coprocessors to handle such things as video and sound processing, relieving the burden on the CPU.

      Built into the Amiga is an 880-kilobyte double-sided double-density floppy drive. The start up files for the computer curiously was not included in ROM but on a disk called Kickstart. This was probably because at the time of its release the OS and startup program were not completely ready and had a few bugs.

      Commodore was forced to rush the Amiga out to market early due to pressure from the Atari 520ST(a remarkably similar 68000 processor based machine) which was released several months earlier by Jack Tramiel, who felt that Commodore stole the Lorraine from him with a last minute bid. Commodore was afraid that they would lose valuable market share and be unable to regain it. So the Lorraine prototype was rushed into production and the buggy Kickstart 1.0 was sent with it. Commodore figured if they didn't burn it into ROM it would be easier to fix it later with an upgrade disk (where have we heard that before!).

      My thanks to Ken Schoenberg for his sacrifice in selling me his Amiga 1000. This exhibit has 2 MB of RAM by way of a Spirit Board with 1.5 MB installed and can emulate a Macintosh through an external emulation plug-in called the A-MAX. I have this exhibit connected to an Amiga 1080 RGB monitor with an external 880kb floppy drive.


System Architecture Ports Data Storage
Processor: Motorola 68000
Co-Processor: 68881
FPU: n/a
Data Buss: 16 bit
Address Buss: 24 bit
L1 Cache: n/a
L2 Cache: n/a
2nd Processor: n/a
No. of Expansion Slots: 1 bit
Clock Speed: 7.14 MHz
Buss Type: ZORROW I
USB: no
ADB: n/a
Video: DB-23
9 pin DIN
Composite RCA
Floppy: DB-23
SCSI: no
Geoports: n/a
Ethernet: n/a
FireWire: n/a
RS-232C Serial: DB-25
Parallel: 1 Centronics
Other Ports:  
Tape Drive: no
Disk Drive: internal
Floppy Size: 3.5 inch
No. of FD's: 1
Int Hard Drive: none
Int HD Size:  
Int HD Interface: none
Int CD Support: none
Orig CD Speed:  
No. of Internl Bays: 1
Memory Video and Graphics
Logic Board: 256 K
RAM Slots or Sockets:  
Max RAM: 8 MB
Min RAM Speed: 120 ns
RAM Sizes:  
Install in Groups of:  
Notes: Maximum on board is 512 K (Processor can address up to 8 MB)  
Graphics Processor Agnus & Denise
Screen size - columns & rows 80 x 25
Video on board yes
Video RAM uses main RAM
Max colors 4096
RGB output yes
Composit Video Output yes
Screen Resolution 320 x 200 / 640 x 200
Sprites or Missles 8
Physical Specs. Software Power
Introduced: July 23, 1985
Discontinued: January 1987
Form Factor: Component Box
Gestalt ID:  
Weight (lbs):  
Dimensions (in):  
Addressing Modes: 16 bit
Orig SSW: Workbench
Orig Enabler:  
ROM Ver:  
ROM Size: 256 K
Amiga OS Supported 1.2 - 1.3
Max Watts: 100
BTU per Hr: n/a
Voltage: 120 VAC
Freq Range: 60 Hz
Battery Type: n/a
Soft Power: n/a
Pass Through: n/a
Sound Keyboard Specs.  
Sound Interface Device: Paula
Sound Generation: 4 voices
ADSR Capable: yes
Sound Output: monitor/TV/R-L Stereo RCA Jacks
Sound Input: none
Number of keys: 89
Built In: no
Detached: yes
Upper / Lower case yes / yes