A range of home computers first released by Commodore Business Machines
in early 1985 (though they did not design the original - see below). Amigas were popular for games
, video processing
, and multimedia
. One notable feature is a hardware blitter
for speeding up graphics operations on whole areas of the screen.
The Amiga was originally called the Lorraine, and was developed by a company named "Amiga" or "Amiga, Inc.", funded by some doctors to produce a killer game machine. After the US game machine market collapsed, the Amiga company sold some joysticks
but no Lorraines or any other computer. They eventually floundered and looked for a buyer.
Commodore at that time bought the (mostly complete) Amiga machine, infused some money, and pushed it through the final stages of development in a hurry. Commodore released it sometime[?] in 1985.
Most components within the machine were known by nicknames. The coprocessor
commonly called the "Copper" is in fact the "Video
Timing Coprocessor" and is split between two chips: the instruction fetch and execute units are in the "Agnus" chip, and the pixel
timing circuits are in the "Denise" chip (A for address, D for data).
"Agnus" and "Denise" were responsible for effects timed to the real-time
position of the video scan, such as midscreen palette
changes, sprite multiplying
, and resolution
changes. Different versions (in order) were: "Agnus" (could only address 512K of video RAM
), "Fat Agnus" (in a PLCC
package, could access 1MB of video RAM), "Super Agnus" (slightly upgraded "Fat Agnus"). "Agnus" and "Fat Agnus" came in PAL
versions, "Super Agnus" came in one version, jumper selectable for PAL or NTSC. "Agnus" was replaced by "Alice" in the A4000 and A1200, which allowed for more DMA
channels and higher bus bandwidth
"Denise" outputs binary video data (3*4 bits) to the "Vidiot". The "Vidiot" is a hybrid that combines and amplifies the 12-bit video data from "Denise" into RGB
to the monitor
Other chips were "Amber" (a "flicker fixer", used in the A3000 and Commodore display enhancer for the A2000), "Gary" (I/O
, addressing, G for glue logic
), "Buster" (the bus controller
, which replaced "Gary" in the A2000), "Buster II" (for handling the Zorro II/III cards in the A3000, which meant that "Gary" was back again), "Ramsey" (The RAM
controller), "DMAC" (The DMA controller chip for the WD33C93 SCSI adaptor
used in the A3000 and on the A2091/A2092 SCSI adaptor card for the A2000; and to control the CD-ROM
in the CDTV
), and "Paula" (Peripheral
, Audio, UART
Lines, and bus Arbiter
There were several Amiga chipsets: the "Old Chipset" (OCS), the "Enhanced Chipset" (ECS), and AGA
. OCS included "Paula", "Gary", "Denise", and "Agnus".
ECS had the same "Paula", "Gary", "Agnus" (could address 2MB of Chip RAM), "Super Denise" (upgraded to support "Agnus" so that a few new screen modes
were available). With the introduction of the Amiga A600
"Gary" was replaced with "Gayle" (though the chipset was still called ECS). "Gayle" provided a number of improvments but the main one was support for the A600's PCMCIA
The AGA chipset had "Agnus" with twice the speed and a 24-bit palette, maximum displayable: 8 bits (256 colours), although the famous "HAM
" (Hold And Modify) trick allows pictures of 256,000 colours to be displayed. AGA's "Paula" and "Gayle" were unchanged but AGA "Denise" supported AGA "Agnus"'s new screen modes. Unfortunately, even AGA "Paula" did not support High Density floppy disk drives
. (The Amiga 4000, though, did support high density drives.) In order to use a high density disk drive Amiga HD floppy drives spin at half the rotational speed thus halving the data rate to "Paula".
Commodore Business Machines went bankrupt on 1994-04-29, the German company Escom AG
bought the rights to the Amiga on 1995-04-21 and the Commodore Amiga became the Escom Amiga. In April 1996 Escom were reported to be making the Amiga
range again but they too fell on hard times and Gateway 2000
(now called Gateway) bought the Amiga brand on 1997-05-15.
Gateway licensed the Amiga operating system to a German hardware company called Phase 5
on 1998-03-09. The following day, Phase 5 announced the introduction of a four-processor PowerPC
based Amiga clone
called the "pre\box
". Since then, it has been announced that the new operating system will be a version of QNX
On 1998-06-25, a company called Access Innovations Ltd
announced plans (http://micktinker.co.uk/aaplus.html) to build a new Amiga chip set, the AA+
, based partly on the AGA chips but with new fully 32-bit functional core and 16-bit AGA hardware register emulation
for backward compatibility
. The new core promised improved memory access and video display DMA.
By the end of 2000, Amiga development was under the control of a [new?] company called Amiga, Inc.
. As well as continuing development of AmigaOS (version 3.9 released in December 2000), their "Digital Environment" is a virtual machine
for multiple platforms
conforming to the ZICO
specification. As of 2000, it ran on MIPS
, and x86
Amiga Web Directory (http://cucug.org/amiga.html).
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