Commodore Amiga 500
Sweet 16 (bit)
The Commodore Amiga 500, or A500 as it was known, was like the CBM 64's bigger, faster and luckier with the ladies, older brother. It became Commodore's best selling Amiga model and was the main rival to the Atari ST. The 16-bit A500 was launched in April 1987.
The Amiga 500 was powered by a Motorola 68000 CPU which ran at around 7 MHz. The 68000 was actually a 32-bit processor but had a 16-bit external data bus so had to transfer the 32 bits of data in two steps - known as multiplexing. The Amiga sported 512KB of RAM with graphics and sound powered by the OCS (Original Chip Set). The OCS consisted of 4 main chips - the brilliantly named Agnus, Denise, Paula and Gary.
It's hardware capabilities ensured that it would take over the classic games mantle from the trusty C64.
The RAM could easily be upgraded thanks to the trapdoor on the bottom of the machine. This trapdoor slot would allow you to insert a small board with an extra 512KB of RAM and a battery-backed up clock. With this upgrade you could then play all those cool '1 meg only' classic games you wanted - and if you hooked the machine up to a Barbie doll while wearing a bra on your head, Kelly LeBrock would show up in your bedroom*.
Due to its top notch graphics and sound the Amiga 500 was a fantastic machine for gaming with thousands of great titles released for the machine. Some of the classic games that appeared on the machine were: Another World, Sensible Soccer, Lemmings and Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe.
If you owned an Amiga then I'm sure you will have your own personal favourite and if you owned an Atari ST, you'll (probably) be thinking how much better it looked/sounded/played on the ST than the Amiga. Oh that wonderful rivalry!
As well as classic games the Amiga also had a wide number of applications available including the hugely popular Deluxe Paint. I spent many, many hours trying to recreate the image of Tutankhamen's Mask showcased on the front of the Deluxe Paint 2 packaging - to no avail!
As well as its gaming and application running prowess the Amiga was successfully used for video and music production. Also with the huge public domain scene, there were plenty of demo disks around showing what the machine could really do.
Due to the wide commercial success of the Amiga 500, CBM later released the Amiga 500 Plus. The A500+ featured 1MB of RAM as standard, used the new Enhanced Chip Set (ECS) and had a new version of AmigaOS, which wasn't completely compatible with older software (bad move!).
There were a few classic games (I remember Full Contact being one) that just would not work on a 500 plus - to be fair it was only a handful of titles though.
This 'improved' model didn't stick around for long and was replaced after about six months with the Amiga 600.
So there we have the Amiga 500 - a great machine without a doubt. If you owned one, I'm sure, like me, you have countless memories of great times waggling your joystick sat in front of your trusty machine. So track down that emulator you have tucked away somewhere on your PC and relive the good old days of classic games. I'm off to do that now. :o)
The Commodore Amiga 500 - a fine retro computer.
See loads of amiga game info, reviews, screenshots and videos at Amiga Games
We recommend trying to pick up one of these machines.
Look at computers for sale online or even locally.
If you don't want to get hold of the real hardware then try and download an emulator and download those classic games. Alternatively you could try and play them online.
MACHINE NAME: Amiga 500 / Amiga 500 Plus
MACHINE TYPE: 16 bit Home Computer (classic games machine)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
RELEASE YEAR: April 1987 (A500) / 1991 (A500+)
END OF PRODUCTION: 1991 (A500)/ 1992 (A500+)
KEYBOARD: Built-in keyboard, 95 keys
CPU: Motorola MC68000
SPEED: 7.09379 MHz (PAL) / 7.15909 MHz (NTSC)
CO-PROCESSOR: OCS based chipset: 8370/8372 Fat Agnus (memory controller and blitter), 8362R5/8362R6/8362R8 Denise (video control chip), 8364 Paula (sound & I/O), 5719R2 Gary (I/O) (A500)
ECS based chipset: 8375 Fat Agnus (memory controller and blitter), 8373 ECS Denise (video control chip), 8364 Paula (sound & I/O), 5719R2 Gary (I/O) (A500+)
RAM: 512 KB Chip RAM (A500) / 1 MB Chip RAM (A500+)
ROM: Kickstart 1.3: 256 KB (A500) / Kickstart 2.04: 512 KB (A500+)
GRAPHIC MODES: 320x256, 320x512, 640x256, 640x480, 640x512, 1280x200, 1280x256, 1280x400, 1280x512
COLOURS: Palette: 4096
SOUND: 4 channel 8 bit PCM, stereo output
SIZE / WEIGHT: Unknown
I/O PORTS: RS-232 serial port, Centronics parallel port, external disk interface, 2x RCA audio, cartridge interface, expansion interface, 2x Atari joystick / mouse ports
BUILT IN MEDIA: 3.5'' floppy disk drive
OS: Workbench 1.3 (Later models) (A500) / Workbench 2.04 (A500+)
POWER SUPPLY: External PSU
PRICE: £599 (UK, 1987) (A500) / ?
Retro Computers and classic games