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AMIGA 1000


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 Interactive Guide

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 OS.

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 it.

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.

Jason Gilder adds:

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.

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