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STEM Academy

1 Post authored by: spannerspencer

After we all enjoyed such a deeply nostalgia trip down through the circuits of time over on the micromemories blog, MicroMemories of a Silicon School Day, I thought you guys would love to join me in wishing the wonderful 16-bit sensation, the Commodore Amiga, a very happy 30th birthday!


All Hail the Amiga A1000


It was on this day, 23rd July 1985, that Commodore first released the Amiga A1000 to the world of home computing. This was the forerunner to the even more popular A500, which went on to sell a staggering 6 million units across the globe.


This was the only model to sport the famous Amiga check mark logo on its casing, and boasted a Motorola 68000 CPU running at just over a speedy 7MHz. Also, this original model was the only one to ship with 256KB of RAM, which could be extended to a whopping 512KB by plugging an expansion board into the base unit. Power computing in the comfort of your own home was finally a reality!


It was released with much fanfare on 23rd July 1985, when Debbie Harry and Andy Warhol were drafted in to help the world celebrate the birth of 16-bit home computing. It weighed in at a not-inconsiderable $1,295 for the base unit alone, and you could add $300 to the price tag if you also wanted a monitor (which was recommended). Still, it performed admirably for many years to come, even in light of cheaper versions released shortly afterwards, making it a worthy investment for hackers of the day.


My Amiga Amigo

Here's how my computing education went (keeping in mind that it was entirely driven by games):

  • 1981: Philips Videopac G7000 (AKA, the Magnavox Odyssey 2)
  • 1984: ZX Spectrum
  • 1986: ZX Spectrum +2
  • 1988: Commodore Amiga
  • 1990s onward: You know. Like, consoles and stuff, until I eventually broke down and bought a PC near the millennium. Whatever. I still had my Amiga!


I still remember the first time I saw an Amiga. At the time I was used to the 8-bit blocks of Spectrum gaming, and the deluge of colours and torrent of eye-blasting animations and deep gaming experiences verged on the unbelievable. It's not an easy thing to put into context these days, as all those chunky pixels have blurred together, tamed by time. But take my word for it; the step up between 8-bit and 16-bit gaming was mountainous and breathtaking.


My Spectrum -- my previously beloved Spectrum -- became immediately defunct. Returning to it after glimpsing an Amiga-driven future was like going back to playing with a hoop and a stick. It's appeal, much to my own dismay, evaporated in an instant. There was no other option than to buy an Amiga. It was a simple matter of salvaging my gaming sanity.


And salvage it the Amiga did.


Halcyon Amiga Days

Here's a list of my top five Amiga games of all time:

  1. Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
  2. Lords of the Rising Sun
  3. Rocket Ranger
  4. Populous
  5. Xenon II: Megablast



Of those, it was actually Rocket Ranger that ushered in my Amiga obsession. A friend of mine had bought the machine early in its life (looking back, it must have been somewhere around launch day), but I'd never taken the time to check it out until he loaded up that sensational Cinemaware title.


I devoured all of Cinemaware's games in the years to come, alongside those of the Bitmap Bros. and Bullfrog. And many others, naturally, too numerous to mention.


Indeed, what I need now is dragging right back down Memory Lane. Beautiful reminders of the Amiga's pixelated prowess.


Tell me all about your introduction to the Amiga, and don't forget your list of top five games!


This is important stuff on such a seminal anniversary, as I suspect there aren't many contemporary computers that'll be celebrating their 30th birthdays decades from now, so let me hear you cheer for Commodore's stalwart system.


To the fore, Amiga-nauts, and relive! RELIVE!