The A1000 casing featured the signatures
of all the designers and the paw print of Jay Miner's dog moulded into
the inside of the casing. When it was demonstrated at the CES show in
1984 it was just 4 breadboards cabled together. They were so fragile each
board had its own seat on the plane to Chicago. According to rumour it
was going to include a phone answering machine built in, but Commodore
decided it would be too expensive to fund.
Source : Amiga
the original Kickstart 1.0 disk was duplicated from a disk that the developers
were using to note source code around. If you look on the ADF disk image
past the first 256kb, you will see source files just sitting there, rather
than with releases afterwards which were on previously-blank disks.
Source : Scott Lawrence.
More information from Ekkehard Morgenstern (Germany):
Jay Miner was not the overall inventor
of the Amiga 1000, he designed just the Copper and Blitter parts of the
custom chips (AFAIK). Amiga 1000 design goes back to 1979 (!!!), and the
Amiga Company was manufacturing joysticks to fund the project.
The first Amiga did not have only 64 K of RAM, actually it had 64 K of
ROM to boot the Kickstart OS from a floppy disk. The OS was loaded into
a 256K WOM (write-once memory). During the boot process, the WOM became
write-protected and kept the OS until power off. The A-1000 had actually
64K of Boot ROM, 256K of OS WOM, and 256K of RAM. Even the initial A-1000
models were capable of being expanded to 16 MB. After booting the Kickstart
OS, the user could boot the Amiga Workbench or other application from
a separate disk.
AmigaDOS was not the operating system. The operating system was called
"Kickstart" (b/c of the boot process, I guess), and was a 32
bit microkernel realtime OS. The Amiga was able to boot into the graphical
user interface without the DOS library. The boot code on the Workbench
floppies simply initialized the DOS library (AmigaDOS) and started the
Workbench application. This was to permit games and other apps close to
hardware to run without the AmigaDOS library.
The AmigaDOS library was indeed supposed to be written by MetaComCo, but
I guess for lack of time, they simply used a library based on TRIPOS,
a minicomputer OS created by Martin Richards at the Cambridge university
of England. TRIPOS was written in BCPL, and so the AmigaDOS layer driver
developer docs said "this is normally written in BCPL". BCPL
is the ancestor of C, had an optional virtual machine layer, and already
was portable in a way that's nowadays only known of Java.
In AmigaOS 2.0, Commodore had the DOS library rewritten in C to get rid
of the BCPL ancestry (don't know if that was a good idea tho).
There's some anecdote about the AmigaBASIC written by Microsoft: Despite
the developer docs clearly stated not to use the upper 8 bits of pointers,
they did and so AmigaBASIC became incompatible with computers that used
any memory above the 24 bit address range provided by the 68000 processor.
More recent models like the A-3000 and A-4000 had the MC68030 / 040 CPU
built in and hence operated beyond the 24 bit range. Hence, Commodore
stopped shipping AmigaBASIC with versions 2.0 (I think) and up of the
EHB is not an "enhanced video mode", actually it was pretty
useless and meant "extra-halfbrite mode". It was the most unused
graphics mode of the Amiga. It mirrored the colors in the 32 color registers
with half intensity when the appropriate bit was on.
The most interesting graphics mode was called HAM (hold-and-modify) and
it provided almost true-color graphics with only 6 bit-planes! Raytracing
and video processing programs used this mode to create photorealistic
images. And that with A-1000 hardware already!
The Amiga was probably the only computer to support real PAL and NTSC
video display and video genlocking (mixing of computer and video image
using color keying).
The audio capacity was 4-channel 8-bit digital audio DMA and it sounded
quite good. Hence, music programs using the Amiga as a sampler and sample
player spread like wildfire!
Overall the Amiga hardware another cool ability: It had 18 channels of
DMA that ran parallel to the CPU!
The AmigaOS kernel had a lighting-fast non-copying message system and
hence could send messages of arbitrary length in practically zero time
to tasks and processes. AmigaOS provided multithreading and had a white-box
concept that permitted programmers to change or extend the OS to let the
user customize their system to a large degree. There were even programs
to provide virtual memory and memory protection for those who really needed
And you could switch off the Amiga, you never had to shut it down (it
wrote its status to disk every couple of seconds).
An anonymous visitor reacts about the EHB mode:
The info provided by Ekkehard Morgenstern on EHB
mode is inaccurate. This is personal opinion, not fact. In fact, EHB mode
was pivotal in allowing Amiga games to remain viable in light of the onslaught
of VGA titles utilising 256 colors. While computers displaying 16 or 32
colors could not appromimate the rich look of VGA, 64 color was *just
enough* to get close.
The Amiga systems also offered a
video "overscan" mode, where the black area surrounding the
video image on a monitor could be filled in with graphics. AFAIK, this
is the only platform to offer a graphics mode like this.