Note how I said Commodore USA there. Commodore’s UK branch did an incredible job with the tech they were given and managed to make the likes of the A500 in particular incredibly successful. In comparison, Commodore USA never got out of their “throw everything at the wall” phase. That led to such awful pieces of hardware like the Amiga 600, which was a stripped-down A500, and the Commodore CDTV, which was an A500 that was positioned as some sort of set-top box, not unlike its then-contemporary, the Philips CDi.
So where does the A2000 fit into this? Well, the Amiga 2000 was released in 1987. It came out around the same time as the A500, but while the A500 aimed to make the Amiga range more accessible, the A2000 was more of an upgraded variant of the A1000. Gone was the keyboard holder, and in was the ability to add internal expansion cards!
The A2000 wasn’t cheap, though. The base system cost a whopping $1,500 USD in 1987 money, and a nice monitor would cost an additional $300. My setup including my A2000, the Commodore 1084s RGB monitor, a Vortex 486 emulator board, and a CD-ROM drive would have likely cost around $2,200 back in the day. That’s over $5,100 in 2020 money!
Beautiful as this big beige boxy exterior is, it’s on the inside where this Amiga shines! Powering it is a Motorola 68000 CPU clocked at 7.09 MHz. This is actually the same CPU that was later used in the Sega Genesis, albeit clocked a little slower. There’s also 4MB of RAM – up from the paltry original 1MB – and even a networking card in my unit!
Aside from opening it up to do some cleaning, my unit has all the same internals as when my buddy sent it to me a few years back. This A2000 is set up the exact way it was before it was sent to rot in an attic for 20 years back in the mid-90s. And, though I’d love to perhaps put an SD card-based hard drive solution inside of it, I find there to be something lovely about this Amiga being filled with nothing but these period-original parts as well!
As far as the operating system goes, that’s where things get interesting. Usually, with an Amiga, you’d be running Amiga OS on it. Indeed, my A2000 came with multiple variants of Amiga OS, and I usually boot it into Amiga OS 2.0 when I want to play around with it. However, my unit also came with a complete in box copy of Windows 3.0 for Amiga, something that I will perhaps dedicate an article of its own to at some point!
Speaking of things that deserve pieces of their own, the Amiga games library and demo scene are more expansive than I could ever hope to cover in a single article. Along with being home to incredible titles such as Lemmings, Frontier: Elite 2, and Turrican, thousands of early coders got their start creating tech demos for the Amiga back in the 80s and 90s. Due in part to its popularity over there, the majority of these demos would come from Europe.
The size and scope of these ranges wildly. There are the likes of Sonic Attack, which is a 4-floppy album release that features a simple playable Sonic the Hedgehog demo on the fourth disk. There are the likes of the Donkey Kong Amiga port, which is a very faithful fanmade port of the arcade classic. Then there are demos such as the fittingly named State of the Art demo, which is a light and colour filled whirlwind presentation featuring the dancing silhouette of a woman set to some sweet 90s dance music that would feel right at home on old school MTV.
Indeed, when I decided I wanted to do JMGF as both a written and video series, Infinite Frontiers was my number one place to pitch it due in part to its role in the Commodore Amiga demo scene of the 90s. Back in the day, a number of Amiga demo disks were distributed by this very website here!
But that, of course, is a story for the other time. The point of this article is to merely give an overview of the A2000. It was both my entry point into the world of Amiga and is, to this day, my go-to system for experiencing Amiga software. I love typing on its keyboard – complete with its cable that wraps like an old telephone wire – and I love playing games using my wonderfully click-tastic Competition Pro joystick. Though I only got this computer in 2017, it quickly became one of my all-time favourite retro systems.
The massive box of floppies my friend Frank sent with the system has since been dubbed “Jamie’s Mystery Game Files” by a friend of mine. And perhaps without such a stellar piece of retro computing hardware, their contents would forever remain just that to me: a mystery.
Inspired by this video here that Jamie hosted, about the Commodore Amiga: