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Amiga computers hold a place very dear to my heart. Growing up my family did not have an IBM PC or PC compatible until the mid to late 1990’s but what we did have was a Commodore C64 and my dads almighty Amiga 500. Today though we are going to talk about the worlds very first Amiga computer, the Amiga 1000.

The Amiga 1000 was released in 1985 and utilized a Motorola 68000 CPU running at 7.16mhz as well as 256kb of built in RAM (expandable to 8.5MB or possibly more with a CPU accelerator card) and a custom chipset known as the OCS (Original Chip Set) that consisted of special chips known as Agnus (display controller), Denise (graphics), Paula (sound) and Gary (system address decoader) for graphics and sound that blew away anything the IBM PC was capable of doing at the time. The highest Kickstart and workbench version (The name of the Amiga graphical operating system) the A1000 will run without upgrading is ver. 1.3 though the bulk of games were meant to run in this environment so it’s generally not much of an issue.

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The A1000 is a fairly light and low profile desktop machine. It is the only Amiga to use the checkmark logo which you can see on the far upper left of the case. Under the logo and above the power LED my machine has a sticker for the “Insider one meg Ram” expansion which is a third party upgrade the previous owner added. Also on the left side of the case not seen above is a small power switch for turning the A1000 on and off. In the center is a RAM expansion module that can be used to expand the on board RAM but we’ll get to that in a moment. On the far right is a single double density 3 1/2 floppy drive. This is not a standard IBM type drive and uses a special Amiga disk format for 880k disks though a standard PC floppy drive can be modified to run in an Amiga. Also not seen in the image are two 9 pin joystick/mouse ports on the right side near the face of the machine. these are like the ports found on a Atari 2600 and support joysticks such as the Wico commander.

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Also on this side is a plastic panel which can be removed to reveal an 86 pin expansion port. This port can be used with various side cart expansions that add things such as RAM, hard drives and SCSI controllers though these sidecars tend to be hard to find and expansive.

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We should talk about the Amiga 1000 keyboard as well while were looking at the front since that space you see at the bottom of the machine is actually ment to be a keyboard port to park your keyboard under the Amiga when not in use.

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The A1000 keyboard is actually rather fragile and as you may be able to see here mine is not in the best condition. Here’s also a tip, to restart the Amiga without powering on and off hold down the two “Amiga” keys marked “A” and the control button. The A1000 keyboard also uses a phone jack type cable to connect to the main computer.

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Now lets take a look at the rear of the machine.

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On the back we have a variety of ports. Will start with the ports on the far left. First we have the telephone style keyboard connector jack followed by a printer parallel port and then a port for connecting an external floppy drive followed by a RS-232 serial port that is labeled for modem use. Next we have two stereo RCA jacks for audio and an RGB port for connection to a RGB computer monitor.

The nice thing about the A1000 is besides the RGB port for a monitor is it also has an RF modulator port for connections to most TV’s and a composite RCA jack. The jack for the RF modulator is next to the RGB connector and requires a modulator box to be connected to it like this one.

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From this box one could then connect a coaxial cable. The downside is the box does awkwardly stick out of the back on the machine. Finally next to that is a composite RCA jack so you could hook your Amiga up to a TV for a better picture then RF provided the TV had the jack. Note the A1000 can output video simultaneously through RGB and composite and possibly RF. Under the A/V connectors there is a standard three pronged power jack.

While we are talking about video outputs I want to take a quick look at the monitor.

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I’m using a Commodore 2002 monitor from 1987 which is fairly accurate to what would of been used with the A1000 at the time. Commodore had a habit of giving nearly identical models different names. I don’t believe this was the original model monitor that was sold early on with the A1000 but it’s close.

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This monitor is capable of accepting both digital and analog RGB as well as composite and “sep” video which is basically a early form of S-video that uses two RCA jacks. The 2002 model conveniently has a pretty nice mono speaker built in.

Now remember that RAM expansion module I mentioned that inserts into the front of the machine. Lets take a look at that now. The A1000 comes stock with 256kb of RAM but can be fairly easily expanded to 512kb via adding a 256kb RAM module. Those modules were a very common upgrade and most Amiga games require 512kb RAM at minimum to run.

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Here is the A1000 with the front RAM module removed and below is a better look at the module itself.

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a100012Opened module case with RAM board exposed

As I mentioned this upgrade is very recommended and chances are your A1000 quite possibly will already come with this upgrade installed.

Now it’s time to take a peak under the hood. To open the A1000 first remove the several screws on the underside then flip the Amiga back over and remove the top. One cool thing about the North American A1000 that to my knowledge is absent from all but perhaps the very earliest PAL A1000’s is the autographs of the Amiga team on the inside of the case.

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Once open we’re greeted with a large metal shield that has a number of screws to remove.

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Finally once the metal shielding is removed we can see the motherboard inside.

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Most of the board unfortunately is obscured by two daughterboard’s which I have outlined in red and blue in the image above.

1) This is the daughterboard outlined in red and is present in all North American models of the A1000. This is where the built in RAM is located. On later PAL revisions this memory was placed on the main motherboard removing the need for this daughterboard.

2) The second motherboard is a third party add on board that was installed when I purchased this machine. This is the Insider One-Meg RAM upgrade card. This is what the sticker on the front of the case was referring to.

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As far as I know this was a not so common internal RAM upgrade that when paired with the 256kb on board and the 256kb from the front RAM expansion gives this Amiga a nice 1.5MB of RAM which should be more then enough for Amiga games of the time. I really like this upgrade since it is inside the actual case and leaves the side expansion slot available. This is not a simple upgrade and like many A1000 upgrades required some soldering to be done when it was installed. The Insider daughter board also sockets into the CPU socket so the CPU had to be repositioned into a socket located on the Insider daughterboard.

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3) The CPU of the A1000 is a Motorola 68000 running at 7.16mhz on NTSC systems and a slightly slower 7.09mhz on PAL systems.

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In my machine the 68000 has been reseated on the Insider one-meg daughterboard.

I honestly could go on and on about the Amiga but seeing as a wide array of information is already available I only wanted to do an overview. The Amiga 1000 is personally not my favorite model and is perhaps even my most disliked model for the expense and difficulty in performing any significant upgrades as well as the inconvenience of not having Kickstart in ROM. It is though the original model which will appeal to collectors and enthusiasts and it also looks really nice set up on a desk for use. If you need an Amiga and come across a 1000 for a good price don’t let my favoritism of later models dissuade you as in my opinion “Any Amiga is better then no Amiga”. It does have its little annoyances but even a stock model with a common upgrade to 512kb of RAM should be enough to play a large percentage of Amiga games. If your feeling adventurous as well an Amiga floppy emulator either internal or external should ease the burden of using Amiga floppy disks, though in my opinion an internal drive destroys the classic look of this machine and many others.

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