Portal:Amiga

Amiga

The Amiga is a family of personal computers introduced by Commodore in 1985. The original model was part of a series of 16/32- and 32-bit computers that featured 256 KB or more of RAM, mouse-based GUIs, and significantly improved graphics and audio over 8-bit systems. This wave included the Atari ST—released the same year—Apple's Macintosh, and later the Apple IIGS. Based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor, the Amiga differed from its contemporaries through the inclusion of custom hardware to accelerate graphics and sound, including sprites and a blitter, and a pre-emptive multitasking operating system called AmigaOS.

The Amiga 1000 was released in July 1985, but a series of production problems kept it from becoming widely available until early 1986. The best selling model, the Amiga 500, was introduced in 1987 and became one of the leading home computers of the late 1980s and early 1990s with four to six million sold. The A3000 was introduced in 1990, followed by the A500+, and the A600 in March 1992. Finally, the A1200 and the A4000 were released in late 1992. The platform became particularly popular for gaming and programming demos. It also found a prominent role in the desktop video, video production, and show control business, leading to video editing systems such as the Video Toaster. The Amiga's native ability to simultaneously play back multiple digital sound samples made it a popular platform for early tracker music software. The relatively powerful processor and ability to access several megabytes of memory enabled the development of 3D rendering packages, including LightWave 3D, Imagine, Aladdin4D, TurboSilver and Traces, a predecessor to Blender.

Although early Commodore advertisements attempt to cast the computer as an all-purpose business machine, especially when outfitted with the Amiga Sidecar PC compatibility add-on, the Amiga was most commercially successful as a home computer, with a wide range of games and creative software. Poor marketing and the failure of the later models to repeat the technological advances of the first systems meant that the Amiga quickly lost its market share to competing platforms, such as the fourth generation game consoles, Macintosh, and the rapidly dropping prices of IBM PC compatibles, which gained 256-color VGA graphics in 1987. Commodore ultimately went bankrupt in April 1994 after a version of the Amiga packaged as a game console, the Amiga CD32, failed in the marketplace.

Since the demise of Commodore, various groups have marketed successors to the original Amiga line, including Genesi, Eyetech, ACube Systems Srl and A-EON Technology. Likewise, AmigaOS has influenced replacements, clones and compatible systems such as MorphOS, AmigaOS 4 and AROS.

Selected article

Hunk is the executable file format of tools and programs of the Amiga Operating System based on Motorola 68000 CPU and other processors of the same family. This kind of executable got its name from the fact that the software programmed on Amiga is divided in its internal structure into many pieces called hunks, in which every portion could contain either code or data.

The hunks in an Amiga executable file could exist in various types. There are 32-bit hunks, 16-bit hunks, and even some 8-bit hunks.

Types of hunks were standardized in AmigaOS, and well documented in The AmigaDOS Manual edited by Commodore to explain to programmers how to code on the Amiga, during the years in which Commodore manufactured Amiga computers. Their structure was officially codified and could be changed only by a Commodore committee, which then communicated the modifications to the developers for new releases of the Amiga operating system.

The structure of an Amiga hunk is very simple: There is a header at the beginning of the hunk indicating that that kind of "portion of code" is a known and valid Amiga hunk type, then follows an ID which indicates the length of the hunk itself, and at the bottom is the segment of the hunk which contains the real code or data.

Selected biography

Matt Bielby in Bath, 2007.
Matt Bielby is a magazine editor based in the UK. He is best known for launching and editing many successful titles in assorted markets during the 1990s, mostly on the subjects of computer and video games, and film and television. These include .net, Amiga Power, Super Play and PC Gamer.

Bielby was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in 1965, and spent most of his early life in Bradford, West Yorks, where he attended Bradford Grammar School.

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Did you know...

...that Amiga intellectual property is fragmented between Amiga Inc., Cloanto, and Hyperion Entertainment?
Other "Did you know" facts... Read more...

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