What Does Amiga Mean?

The Amiga was a line of computers based on the Motorola 68000 CPU that was sold by Commodore International from 1985 until the company’s bankruptcy in 1994. The Amiga was one of the first personal computers to support multitasking. Its advanced graphics and sound made it popular for gaming and video production, but a series of bad business decisions caused Commodore to shut down. The platform still has a loyal following today.


Techopedia Explains Amiga

The Commodore Amiga was a line of personal computers marketed by Commodore International. The first model was released in 1985 as a follow-up to its popular Commodore 64.

The Amiga was developed by a small startup company of the same name based in Silicon Valley. Jay Miner, who had developed the chipsets for the Atari 2600 and Atari 8-bit computers, created the custom Amiga chipset. Like its competitor, the Atari ST, it was based around the Motorola 68000.

The Amiga’s BITBLT graphics capabilities were very impressive for the time, with the ability to display up to 4096 colors at once in its Hold-And-Modify, or HAM, mode. It could also genlock, or synchronize its video timing signals with other equipment. This made the Amiga popular with video editors and TV studios for generating graphics overlaid with footage. The Video Toaster was a product by NewTek that turned the Amiga into an inexpensive video switcher and editing system.

The machine was also the first personal computer to support multitasking with its revolutionary AmigaOS. The system used a GUI called Workbench.

The cheaper Amiga 500 was released in 1987, and became popular in Europe, as did the Amiga platform as a whole. However, the computer’s successes could not stave off poor management of Commodore as a whole.

Other machines followed, but in 1994 the company finally went bankrupt. The rights to the line passed to German manufacturer Escom, before Escom itself went bankrupt. The Amiga trademark has continued to change hands since then, with AmigaOS still available and having a devoted fan base.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.