Once Jack Tramiel quit, Commodore was in dire need of a new hit and, luckily, they found it in the Amiga. The Amiga was planned from the ground up to be a powerful gaming machine and, indeed, its multimedia and graphical qualities were well ahead of their time thanks to a set of specific custom chips: Agnus, the central component responsible for accessing the chip’s dedicated RAM; Denise, the main video processor; and Paula, the audio chip (later referenced all together under the name OCS, or Original Chip Set). The OCS endowed the machine with fast and powerful image
manipulation and video editing abilities.
The first model, released in 1985 soon after the Atari ST launch, was the Amiga 1000,which was followed by the Amiga 500 in 1987. The Amiga 500 was the most popular of the series and, within the European region, it succeeded in replacing the Commodore 64 as the most popular home computer.
Several other Amiga models followed, featuring revisions and upgrades for the OCS, such as the Enhanced Chip Set (ECS) and Advanced Graphics Architecture(AGA). The last model, the Amiga 4000, sported a 32-bit Motorola 68040 CPU (or,in a different configuration to reduce costs, a 68EC030) and was released in 1992.
Built around the Motorola 68000 CPU and thanks to the addition of specific customized chips, Amiga computers soon became the favorite tool for video editing and graphic manipulation purposes. Many graphical software packages still common nowadays, like Blender and LightWave 3D, were first released on this platform.
The Amiga 500. With 512 KB RAM, it was the entry machine in the Amiga series. It also became the most popular one and the gaming machine of choice for many European teenagers during the late eighties and early nineties.
Overall, games were obviously what made the Amiga so attractive to many young people, but the Amiga was also widely used by professionals thanks not only to its graphical prowess but also to a very advanced operating system, the AmigaOS, which was one of the very first commercial ones to allow preemptive multitasking1 and to combine both a friendly GUI and a command line interface.
Shadow of the Beast, a side-scroller action/adventure game developed by Reflections Interactive and published by Psygnosis in 1989, pushed home gaming to new heights. Extremely colorful environments, detailed sprites, 12 levels of parallax scrolling, and atmospheric music featuring high quality samples made a truly unique experience that was later ported to many other home computers and gaming consoles.