Amiga computers were 16-bit home computers manufactured by Commodore from 1985 to 1992 and in later years by Amiga Inc.
The first Amiga computer was launched in 1985 and was the A1000 which was a tradition PC style with a keyboard separate from the base unit and built around the Motorola 68000 CPU with custom hardware that handled the video and sound. The A1000 was quite expensive and was therefore marketed as a business PC. In 1987 Commodore took the A1000 technology and put this into an all-in-one ‘bread box’ case with built in keyboard and gave it the model number of the A500. It was this Amiga computer that propelled the A500 into the biggest selling home computer of the late 80s and early 90s.
The Amiga 500 was followed up by the A500+ and then the A600 which had the ability to be support more upgraded memory and came with an updated version of Workbench. They also continued the big box PC style Amiga computers with the A2000 which replaced the A1000 and later the Amiga A3000.
The Amiga computers were quite ahead of their time they had a full graphics user interface in the form of Workbench and true multitasking capability which at the time were only found in high end workstation computers costing thousands of pounds yet the A500 was retailing for 399. Amigas were also capable of displaying more colours than most IBM compatible PCs of the time with ever Amiga capable of displaying 4096 colours although most games on the 16bit Amigas only used 32 colour mode.It wasn’t just in the graphics department where the Amiga out paced PCs of the time as Amiga computers also had great 4 channel sound built in at a time when most PCs needed an expensive sound card add on to achieve similar sound quality.
After the success of the 16 bit Amiga computers in 1992 Commodore brought out a new range of 32-bit Amigas the A1200 and bigbox A4000. These came with faster 32-bit Motorola processors the 68020 and 68040 and also with the new AGA chipset that supported new graphics modes of 256 colours and a 265,000 ‘true colour’ HAM8 mode. They later followed up those Amiga computers with a CD console based on the A1200 hardware the CD32. Unfortunately the writing was on the wall for Commodore who in 1995 filed for bankruptcy putting the entire future of the Amiga in jeopardy.
The rights to the Amiga computer range got passed around various companies from 1995 onwards. initially german PC manufacturer Escom bought the rights and continued to produce the A1200 and A4000 models but Escom itself went bankrupt in 1997 so the Amiga name went up for sale again. This time it was bought by American computer manufacturer Gateway but for the time they owned the Amiga name they never released any hardware and sold it in 2000. During this time many large software houses stopped producing software for the Amiga leaving just a few independent publishers and public domain releases being the only new software being released for the platform.
You can still buy a new Amiga Computer in the form of the Armiga from www.armigaproject.com which has recreated the Amiga running on a custom-built ARM based computer to which you can connect modern hardware such as USB mice and keyboards and connect to TVs using HDMI.