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The AMIGA or the Multimedia Revolution


1982

A small development team, named Hi-Toro, chose the codename "Amiga". The team responsible for the development of the "Amiga" had 4 members: Jay Miner , RJ Mical, Dave Morse and Carl Sassenrath. In the beginning they sold other products to win the repsect of their customers and to earn them some money while devloping the Amiga. One of their first productions was "JoyBoard" a controller that you used by sitting on it! There were many games for that, but the best was "Zen Meditation" in which you have to stay absolutely still. Does the word "Meditation" means something to you? Guru Meditation? The codename "Amiga" was not choosen by luck. Jay Miner didnt like that name at the beginning. The team didnt want to have a computerized name, such as AM32/III, because they didn't want to be easily identified as a computer development team. The codename "Amiga" was the spanish name for girlfriend. They continued this tactic with the custom chips that they made (Agnus, Portia, and Daphne). For the main CPU they used a Motorola 68000 (16bit), the best CPU available in 1982.


1983

Rumours about a super-computer, with the codename Lorraine (the first Amiga, named for the HiToro president's wife) were travelling across the USA. 1983 was the year that all the custom chips were built. RJ Mical (the coder of the intution) wanted a cheap games machine, but the others wanted the best computer. Jay Miner was dreaming about a machine like the Amiga 2000, one with lot of expansion slots. Jay Miner cooperated with Ron Nicholson who gave the idea of the blitter. HAM was Jay Miner's idea after a visit to some flight simulators. $7,000,000 had already been spent on the Amiga project.


1984

January 1984 C.E.S. (Consumer Electronics Show) took place in Chicago, USA. The team introduced an Amiga with the hope that they would find someone to invest in their project. On January the 4th Dale and RJ Mical made the first Amiga Demo ever, the famous "Boing" demo, a sphere with red and white rectangles on it, bouncing on the screen. June 1984 The Amiga Inc. team was trying to find a company to buy their technology and to employ them, since they had run out of money. Many companies were interested in the custom chips of the Amiga, such as Sony, Apple, Philips, HP etc. Atari's president, Jack Tramiel, who had just left Commodore, because he purchased Atari secretly, was trying to get his revenge by buying Amiga inc. He lent Amiga Inc. $1,000,000, to be payed back one month later. When the month was almost up, it became apparent that Amiga Inc. would not be able to pay Jack Tramiel back, so he offered .98 cents per share for the company. Amiga Inc. looked for someone else to buy them. Just 2 days before the deadline, Commodore came in and began to talk to Amiga Inc. They managed to get $4.25 a share from Commodore, and just before the deadline ended Commodore gave them $1,000,000 to pay back Atari. The Amiga was now the property of Commodore.


1985

July 23 The Amiga 1000 is introduced at the Lincoln Center in New York. Many people say that this was the date that changed the future of computers. Multimedia ... back in 1985! September The Amiga 1000 shipped to its first customers.

It was the FIRST computer to use more than 16 color output as a standard feature (4096 colors / HAM6 [Hold And Modify]). It was also the first computer with preemptive multitasking OS. It already had 4 channel digital stereo sound and the first computer to ship with a mouse as a standard.

The kickstart was loaded from floppy. The price was about $2000 in the days where singletasking PC's (286) cost about $4000.

It only had one external expansion slot because Commodore wanted to keep costs down.

At the same year the first issue of "Amiga World" made its debut. It was the first Amiga magazine.


1986

The team began working on a new amiga model. They wanted it to be more expandable, with a lot of slots and they wanted the slots to be AutoConfig. They had to argue with Commodore once again, because the autoconfig slots cost .50 cents. Two prototypes of the new model were developed. One in the Los Gatos (USA) and one in Braunschweig Germany. Commodore also wanted IBM compatibility, so both teams tried to do the best to emulate an IBM 8088. Jay Miner didn't like the idea. Finally, the emulator came out from Germany. The "SideCar" was a $1000.00 product, basically an IBM XT without a keyboard that was plugged into the side of an Amiga 1000. The product that Los Gatos was producing it was a $200 accelerator, for an IBM PC software emulator. Los Gatos helped the German team a lot with the emulator's software. The Los Gatos began working on a new "dream machine", no one knew exactly what at that point. The very same year, Mehdi Ali, was employed at Commodore by Irving Gould. as a consultant for Dillon Reed.


1987

Finally the new Amiga model was on production. The name was just as simple as A2000. The Amiga 2000 was bigger than the A1000 and extremely expandable, with 5 Zorro II slots plus a video slot.

The kickstart was finally in ROM. A2000 was a base for other Amigas, being released on various world markets, as the A1500 [A2000 with two 3 1/2" drives], A2000HD, A2500/20, A2500/30, A2000HDA/100, A1500 plus and A2000Plus.

Later the same year, the Amiga 500 was launched. It was the same as the Amiga 2000, with a compact design (keyboard and cpu in the same box) and no internal slots. Both the machines had a new graphics mode, the EHB (Extra Half Bright), that gives 64 colors on screen. The operating system was 1.2. The Amiga 500 was the first really affordable machine.


1988

Jack Tramiel, returns, as Atari takes Commodore to court, by claiming that it had given money to research the Amiga. The judge supported Commodore, however.


1989

Minor changes, to the chipsets. Agnus became Fat Agnus, and later, Fatter Agnus, which can control 1Mb chip Ram.


1990

The first fully 32bit system, with a 68030 and the ECS chipset (fatter agnus), named the A3000, was launched in the UK for 3300 (later 3200).

The Kickstart was 2.0. It had an onboard SCSI controller and Zorro III slots. It was also available on a tower model, the A3000T, and a UNIX model, the A3000UX. A flicker fixer was also included so that the A3000 could easily be plugged in a VGA monitor.

A few months later, the A500+ was released. It was a European model, with ECS (Enchanced Chip Set), 1 Ram (expandable to 10mb), and Workbench 2.0.

Both the systems had graphics mode of up to 1470x580 (4colors). Kickstart 2.0, was a step forward. It occupied 512kb ROM (1.3 was just 256kb), but there was not very much backwards compatibility with 1.3. The compatibility problem was not Commodore fault, however, but the fault of bad programming by coders.


1991

The first multimedia CDRom system, CDTV, was launched. The CDTV was an A500 and kickstart 1.3 with a CD-Rom drive. CDTV was the shortened version of Commodore Dynamic Total Vision (codename: "babe" as they had designed it for 9 months. Commodore hoped to sneak it into the homes of computer phobes. Commodore also didn't put the Amiga logo, anywhere on the CDTV. As a result, CDTV failed to catch the public's imagination, partly because it was more expensive than an A500, and partly because the software was disappointing. No more than 50 CD disks went on sale, but the games was no better than the floppy disk versions. The CDTV was operated by a user-friendly infra-red remote control. Later the same year the option of turning the CDTV on a full A500 computer was available. Maybe the market was not ready yet for that multimedia revolution. A CDROM drive the A570, for the A500 was released before the end of 1991.


1992

March: the A600 is launched . The CPU was still the Motorola 68000. It had a surface-mount technology (lower cost for Commodore). RF and Composite output were also added. It was also the first Amiga with an IDE controller (2 1/2") and a PCMCIA slot. The major disadvantage was that it did not have a numeric keypad. An A600HD was launched later that year. Rumours about a new Amiga, with an advanced chipset, able to support up to 16.7 million colors, were true! Commodore announced the release of the new AGA chipset (Advanced Graphics Architecture).

September 11 at the World of Commodore Show (Pasadena California) Commodore introduced the first machine with the AGA chipset. It was "the company's most significant new technology advancement in its Amiga line since the product's introduction in 1985." At the W.O.C. They also announced AmigaDOS TM Release 3 Operating System and "AmigaVision TM" Professional Authoring System.

December: The first machine with the new AGA technology was the A4000/040. $3699US.

They replaced the SCSI controller with an IDE one including a SeaGate ST3144A 3.5" 120mb HD - The HD was preformatted, with an 8 Megabytes Workbench partition and an 112 Meg Work partition). The floppy drive was a dual speed high density one. They also used the SIMM technology for the memory upgrades, Commodore used a 4mb SIMM for the internal 4mb.

At Christmas of 1992, the low-end AMIGA 1200, an A500 like Amiga with the AGA chipset, was released as a low-cost machine, with full 32 bit technology and 2mb Chip RAM. The machine nearly missed the Christmas season, and although it did just make it, not enough parts had been ordered to build an adequate number.

Christmas 1992 is a disaster. No one wants an ECS machine and few can get one of the new "AA" systems. (now called "AGA")". The AMIGA 1200, was one of the most successful AMIGA computers. $599US. It also had the IDE controller and the PCMCIA slot of the A600, plus a 32-bit trapdoor expansion. It included Amiga Dos v3.0.

Both the Amiga 4000 and Amiga 1200 used the AGA chipset, able to display 256 colors on hi-res displays, from a palette of 16,7 million colors. There is also a HAM-8 mode able to display 256+ colors (very close to 24bit display!). Compared to the old ECS chips the new AGA chips are very fast, even on 256 colors! Both Amiga 4000 and Amiga 1200, make use of AmigaDos v3.0! It adds CrossDos as standard (a useful commodity that helps you read and write on PC disks). It supports all the new AGA graphic modes. WB 3.0 also supports "datatypes" a new facility that allows programs to access data in an unlimited number of formats, as long as you install a datatype that understands the format. Another useful adition is the Localization, so WB3.0 and programs using it can easily be on multiple languages. A lot of usefull programms such as Multiview (a viewer for every datatype) and Installer (a easy to use install utility), are also supplied. A new filesystem is also included, the DCFS. (Directory Caching File System). You could also now use what every picture you like for a window or workbench background (like MS Windows 95). A4000 with the Motorola 68040 wasn't so cheap that everyone could afford it. So Commodore launched the cheap-version of the A4000/040, the A4000/030, with a Motorola 68EC030. Commodore was a very profitable company, especially in Europe and it had a major power in computing, especially in Germany. But what happened? Commodore wasn't producing any hardware (except the basics) and they also cut the production of the A500+ and later the A600.


1993

September: The very last machine of Commodore, the CD32, a games machine. It was the worlds first 32bit console. It had a double speed CDRom Drive, 2mb Chip memory, AGA chipset and the option of a F.M.V. (Full Motion Video) module. But once again the machine didnt make it. It had many sales but not as many as they were needed to save the financial problems of Commodore. Most of the games released were just CD conversions of the original A1200/4000 ones, with no extra CD music, or FMV. The Commodore situation was awful. CD32 was the first (and the last?) machine using as standard, Kickstart3.1 .


1994

Commodore had a financial damage of $107 million dollars by the end of 1993. But the Amiga was still a very popular machine. In 1992, Commodore sold about 800,000 Amigas (17% more than 1991) and in 1993, it sold 20% less.

March: Commodore, has announced that they were having financial difficulties which might result in bankrupty or liquidation. Commodore had lost $8.2 million. The stock fell to 0.75 per share. The New York stock exchange halted trading of Commodore stock!

April: Until the middle of April, Commodore was still producing A4000s, A1200s, and CD32s, and the engineers continued development of the new AAA chipset. AAA was meant to be a big improvement over AGA. 24bit Graphics [resolutions up to 1280x1024], 16bit CD quality audio and other interesting things. AAA was never truly finished. During the second half of April the production of Amigas stopped. The Philippines factory closed, but left behind a big stock of Amigas. The Scotland factory also stopped the production. Many employees were told by the management to hunt for new jobs.

April 22, 1994 15 people were dismissed from West Chester (PA), and the CommodoreSemiconductor Group was closed. 15 people were also dismissed from the Norristown factory.

April 26, 1994 Engineering closed. The site in West Chester, once supported by 1000 employees, now had only 22 people left on it.

Friday April 29, 1994, at 4:10 P.M. Commadore International filed for liquidation in order to be proteced from its creditors.

April 30, 1994 CEI announced that they would still supply and distribute Amigas and should be able to meet demand.

May 1994 Rumors, Samsung was interested in buying Amiga, but they dropped when they found out that other companies interested offered less money than they did.

June 20, 1994: Jay Miner, passed away at the El Camino Hospital In Mountain View. The actual cause of death was heart failure, but it was the result of kidney complications.

July 1994: Amiga Convention 94, took place in Quebec, Canada.

The liquidators had finally received four proposals to buy Commodore, Those being Amstrad, Philips, Samsung and Commodore UK. But the Bahamian court rejected the proposals to move the proceedings to New York City.

September 1994-November 1994: Rumours about, Nestle, Atari, Sony and other companies willing to buy Commodore. More rumours for the day that the liquidation will commence. This day is continously reported from month to month. CEI seemed to be more interested than any others and that is represented by the online conferences held by Amiga Report, on Portal, BIX, and Delphi. CEI finally offers a big amount of money as long as the liquidators give Commodore to them right away.


1995

January 1995: Rumors on UK magazines that Commodore UK got the highest bid. CEI again gives a new bid to the liquidators.

February 1995: CEI announced that they have signed an agreement with IBM to have them manufacture Commodore products, for them if they win Commodore. Escom seems to be interested in Commodore.

March 1995: Techmedia Publishing, stopped the publishing of Amiga World, the world's first Amiga Magazine. The primary reason was the 11 months Commodore liquidation and the magazine's low circulation. The last issue of Amiga World was April 1995. The cancelation came after the issue was completed so you will not find any goodbyes and things like that on April's issue. Escom (a German based PC-clone maker) and the liquidator had reached an agreement to make their bid the contract bid. The contract bid was for $6 million, not counting the $1.4 million they have paid for getting the Commodore's Logo from Commodore Germany. Other offers were made for other parts of Commodore. At last the judgement day of Amiga (or the auction date), was set. It was April, 20th 1995. The companies that made it till that day were Commodore UK, CEI and Escom.

Escom made it! In the auction on April 20, only two companies had bid, Escom and Dell. Escom was the German computer retailer, and Dell is a big American computer company. CEI, long thought to be a bidder, had thrown in their hat with Dell, so that Dell would work with CEI on the Amiga, although CEI would be the ones running the show in respects to the Amiga. Escom's bid was the starting bid of approximately 5 million dollars, as well as the money they spent on the Commodore trademark, approximately 1.3 million dollars. Dell made a bid at 2 PM of an undiclosed amount. However, that bid was rejected because it had conditions attached to it, whereas Escom's bid was unconditional. After the auction ended, and Escom's bid was accepted, Dell continued to work on, trying to make a more suitable bid. Their second bid was a $15 million bid, with the condition that they be allowed a 30 day waiting period to look at the Amiga and decide if they wanted to keep it. If they decided not to keep it, they would forfeit their $1 million deposit, and the whole process of getting another bidder would have to go on again. In the hearing on Friday, April 21, the Creditor's Commitee wanted to accept Dell/CEI's bid. However, Escom felt that was unfair, because Dell's bid was placed after Escom's bid was accepted. There was much legal wrangling, but finally, the judge asked that during the recess the parties try to work out an agreement. After 3 hours, the court re-adjurned, and Escom said that they would agree to raise their bid by $6.5 million, to 12 million dollars. Although that was less than Dell/CEI's bid of $15 million dollars, the Creditor's agreed to drop the objection to stop Escom winning the Amiga, because Dell could back out of the deal and then they'd have to go through the process again. Commodore UK did not place a bid at the auction, apparently because their backer dropped out. However, Colin Proudfoot of Commodore UK and Escom have both stated that in 2 weeks they will be holding talks as to Escom either liscencing Amiga technology to Commodore UK, or, more likely, buying Commodore UK. Escom has said that they will work with Amiga developers, user groups, and the Internet to support the Amiga. The Phillipine plant and stock in it wasn't included in the auction, but it will most likely be sold to Escom for $1 million soon, because it may actually be illegal to sell it to anyone other than Escom.May 1995 Escom held a conference in May 30th. Escom announced the beginning of a new era for Amiga machines. First of all Escom created a new division, called Amiga Technologies. Their first priority is to resume the production of the machines. They were expecting the new Amigas to be out on September 1995. They announced the production of an Amiga 4000/060 in a brand new Tower case and the A4000/040 in tower also. In October they will produce Amiga 1200s. They have also signed contracts with Scala, so with every Amiga you get a free Scala MM300. The RISC technology should be researched in 1996.

July 1995 A new official Amiga logo, replaces the old one. The logo has been designed by FrogDesign.

November 1995 Gilles Bourdin, announces on VTU Expo that "development will carry on through the last of the 68xxx processors, the 68060, and then onto the PowerPC." The new Amiga 1200s are already in stores everywhere in Europe. They are exactly the same as the old ones, but now featuring the OS 3.1 as standard and came with a pack full of useful programms, named "Magic Pack". Magic Pack Includes: Wordworth v4.0SE Digita Datastore v1.1 Digita Organizer v1.1 Turbo Calc v3.6 Personal Paint v6.4 Photogenics 1.2SE Whizz Pinball Mania The A1200 has some incompatibility problems, concerning the floppy disk. World Of Amiga show held in Cologne. Comdex show held in Las Vegas Also the new A4000s with the 040 are shipped. The only difference is that they have a 1.0Gb SCSI hard disk and not a HD drive, but a DD one. December 1995 World of Amiga held in Toronto (8,9,10 of December). Upcoming Amiga Surfer Pack, a pack that allows plug and play software hardware for Internet, announced from Gilles Bourdin.


1996

January 1996 Visual Information Service Corp. (Viscorp), an INTERACTIVE TV developer headquartered in Chicago, Illinois have finalized an international license agreement to adapt, utilize, license and distribute the AMIGA technology within VISCROP's interactive intelligent set-top TV appliance. The license authorizes VISCORP the right to use, re-license and distribute the AMIGA operating system and compatible parts of current versions of the technologies where the AMIGA products are used as, or as part of, interactive television devices.

Amiga Surfer Pack, is finally available! The pack, consists of an Amiga A1200HD multimedia system fitted with 260MB hard drive and two megabytes of RAM, together with a complete suite of Internet software and a 14,400bps modem. The package includes: Magic User Interface v3.2 AS225 R2 Voodoo Multimedia Mailer AmFTP AmIRC MindWalker World Wide Web Browser and also all the programs of the Magic Pack. February 23, 1996Atari swallowed by JTS corp. JTS, is a privately held maker of computer disk drives. Atari said in a press release that under the agreement the merged company will operate under the name of JTS Corp. and the current officers of JTS Corp. will become the officers of the merged company. The Atari entertainment business and the JTS disk drive business will operate as separate divisions of the merged company.

March 1996 Amiga Technologies announces that two, new Amigas will be shown at Cebit: The Amiga Surfer and a new, 680EC030/40MHz Amiga. New Amiga Prototype ('Walker'), presented on the Cebit Show. Its like an A1200+, or A1300. It has a black tower and looks like a vacuum cleaner case! A 68030/40Mhz, Fpu socket, Realtime clock onboard, 1 MB chip ram, 4mb fast ram, 2 simm sockets for ram expansion up to 96mb, 4xSpeed CDROM, Midi, External Keyboard, new powerfull expansion slot allowing Cpu/Zorro III(or IV)/PCI and Video slots, OS 3.2, and a Super IO chip. The Supervisory Board of ESCOM AG has appointed Helmut Jost as Member of the Board of ESCOM AG. He will replace Manfred Schmitt as the company's CEO. Mr. Schmitt's desire to leave the Board of ESCOM AG has been accepted by the Supervisory Board. He is to quit his post on 31 March, 1996. Mr. Schmitt will continue to serve the company as a consultant.

April 11, 1996 Chicago, IL, Visual Information Services Corp. (Nasdaq: VICP, Bulletin Board), a developer of Interactive TV (ITV) set-top boxes to enhance television use and viewing by providing Internet access and electronic communications functions, announced that it has a binding letter of understanding to acquire the assets of Amiga Technologies from Escom AG. The proposed acquisition would include the intellectual property of the former Commodore Business Machines, except Commodore trademarks. Terms were not disclosed. The pending acquisition would be subject to the approval of both boards of directors. Mr. Buck explained that the proposed acquisition would give VIScorp ownership of Amiga intellectual properties, including several that are currently used in its set-top Electronic Device (ED), as well as control over the supply of chip sets used in ED, Amiga inventories, and access to the company's sales and distribution channels.

"The World Of Amiga" exhibition held in the Novotel Exhibition Centre in London on 13th and 14th of April 1996.

May 1996 Amiga Technologies announces 2 brand new monitors.. The M1538S a 15" monitor, able to display frequencies (horizontal) from 15 to 38khz, and features such as : 0.28 dot pitch and stereo headphones. The other one is a 17" monitor, the 1764, able to display frequencies (horizontal) from 15 to 64khz.

May 19, 1996 Amiga meeting held in Toulouse/France There was a speech held by William 'Bill' Buck, CEO of Viscorp : Bill Buck and Helmut Jost Viscorp will be the owner of AMIGA. "I like to say for the record that Viscorp is committed to the future of the AMIGA computer. We`re committed to the AMIGA computer because we think the AMIGA computer represents a valuable choice to the market place and we believe it can be a profitable business." J

July 1996 ESCOM AG, a German-based computer company, owner of AMIGA went into bankruptcy in July of 1996.


1997

March 1997: Gateway acquires assets of AMIGA Technologies, GmbH

NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D., March 27, 1997 - Gateway 2000, Inc. (Nasdaq: GATE) today announced that the company has made an offer to acquire the assets of AMIGA Technologies including all patents, trademarks and trade names. The company is a subsidiary of ESCOM AG, a German-based computer company that went into bankruptcy in July of 1996. AMIGA led the industry in combining computer graphics, animation, and film sequences with stereo sound known today as multimedia.

The offer has been accepted by the court-appointed Administrator in Bankruptcy in Germany acting on behalf of AMIGA. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval.

"This acquisition is good news for Gateway and customers of AMIGA," said Rick Snyder, president and CEO of Gateway 2000. "It will strengthen our intellectual property position and invigorate a company that has been a pioneer in multimedia solutions and operating systems technology."

AMIGA Technologies will be renamed AMIGA International. The company will operate as a separate business unit and will retain its current president, Petro Tyschtschenko, who will work to develop new products for the AMIGA market.

"Gateway 2000 will give us new life and energy for the future," said Tyschtschenko.


1999

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 28, 1999 - Amino Development Corp., a privately held company based in Maple Valley, WA, has purchased from Gateway (NYSE: GTW) the Amiga trademarks and Amiga computer systems. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Peter Ashkin, Gateway senior vice president, said that the company elected to sell the name after deciding to fold Amiga's software engineering function into Gateway's product development activity as part of Gateway's overall strategy to develop and market the coming generation of Internet appliances.

"Amiga, as a personal computer brand, has a loyal following of fans around the world," Ashkin said. "Under Gateway's wing, Amiga morphed into a software development company working on a new Internet appliance operating environment software. Now that we're bringing that development work into Gateway product development, it made sense to find a buyer for Amiga ."

"Yee-haw " said Bill McEwen, president and CEO of Amino. "This is a very exciting day, and now an even more exciting tomorrow. Now we can finish the job that was started 15 years ago"

The transaction, which is effective immediately, includes the transfer of all Internet domain names related to Amiga that were held by Gateway. Gateway will retain ownership of all patents acquired when it bought Amiga in 1997.



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