The Commodore Amiga 1985 - 1994
This is the hardware you needed to play most Psygnosis games of the period. Many titles were also available on the Atari ST and even the humble C-64, but to get the full Psygnosis experience you really needed an Amiga.
In the late 80s, the 16-bit Commodore Amiga was the state of the art in personal computers. For graphics and animation it was unsurpassed and so naturally it was the ideal platform for games development. Part of its appeal was custom sound and graphics chips that were useful for coping with complex images, movement and sound without burdening the processor. Game developers and 'demo' coders were among the first to exploit the technology and many modern computers still struggle to keep up with some of the incredible visual effects possible on this machine.
The Amiga was originally conceived of by ex-Atari employee Jay Miner. Miner played a key role in the development of the Atari 2600, 400 and 800 systems, but he left Atari out of frustration when the company refused to support his idea for a new 16-bit computer. In 1982, Miner set up a new company to build his 'super computer'. The company was originally called Hi-Toro but later renamed Amiga Inc. (Amiga was chosen because it sounded friendly and was the Spanish word for female friend!) The new company set about designing a prototype that was referred to as 'Lorraine' but later became the first Amiga, the 1000. As debts began to pile up, the company looked for outside funding. After a tentative deal was struck with Atari, Commodore swooped in to buy Amiga Inc. in August 1984. A year later the Commodore Amiga was unveiled at the Lincoln Centre in New York with much fanfare. Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry were even hired to demonstrate the Amiga's graphics.
At the time the Amiga 1000 was expensive and competed at the high end of the market. Commodore wanted to compete directly with Atari's ST in the home market and in 1987, the Amiga 500 was born. The new machine still used the 1000's Motorola 68000 processor, but it had 512k of ram and it looked something like a Commodore 64.
These were the golden years of the Amiga. It was the number one home computer and an object of desire for many who's old 8 bit systems were suddenly looking very pale in comparison.
Unfortunately Commodore were never much good at marketing their products. In the early days the Amiga kind of marketed itself. It appealed to a broad range of users who might be loosely referred to as 'home enthusiasts'; people who tended to dabble in graphics, video, music, desktop publishing, and games. The Amiga was very versatile, it could even be connected to a TV set and with just a basic A500 system you could write your own games. In the U.S. the Amiga was starting to be used for broadcast graphics. Products like the Video Toaster pushed this market forward.
In the following years, however, Commodore released one blunder after another. Abysmal marketing did not help the Amiga prosper in the new climate. In 1990, the CDTV (Commodore Dynamic Total Vision) was released, looking more like a piece of Hi-Fi equipment than a computer. It was infact an Amiga 500 with a CD-Rom attached in a sleek black box. The product failed to sell and disappeared without a trace soon after. The Amiga 500 was updated to the A500+ and then the A600 which confused everybody.
Commodore returned to form in 1992 with the release of the Amiga 1200 and 4000. These new machines contained the new AGA chipset and were a significant step forward. Once again the Amiga was way in front of anyone else. However neither machine was properly advertised and the cracks were starting to appear at Commodore. The CD-32 was a games console containing the new chipset but like the CDTV it didn't catch on.
In a way Atari and Commodore had destroyed each other by directly competing for the same market. As both companies crumbled in the mid 90s, Microsoft moved in for the kill and stitched up the home market. It didn't help that many so-called Amiga specialist stores would often advise their customers to switch to a PC!
Commodore filed for bankruptcy in 1994. The Amiga rights continued to be thrown around like a hot potato for the next few years but slowly the dream of a miraculous resurrection fizzled out.
Commodore Amiga 1000 (1985)
Commodore Amiga 500 (1987)
Commodore Amiga 2000 (1987)
Commodore Amiga 2500 (1989)
Commodore Amiga 1500 (1990)
Commodore Amiga 3000 (1990)
Commodore Amiga 500+ (1991)
Commodore Amiga 3000T (1991)
Commodore Amiga 600 (1992)
Commodore Amiga 4000 (1992)
Commodore Amiga 1200 (1992)
Amiga CD-32 (1993)
Commodore Amiga 4000T (1994)
© 2004 The Purple Owl