A Tale Of More Than One Amiga 1500

If you were an Amiga enthusiast back in the day, the chances are you had an Amiga 500, and lusted after a 2000 or maybe later a 3000. Later still perhaps you had a 600 or a 1200, and your object of desire became the 4000. The amusingly inept Commodore marketing department repackaged what was essentially the same 68000-based Amiga at the bottom end of the range through the platform’s entire lifetime under their ownership, with a few minor hardware upgrades in the form of chipset revisions that added a relatively small number of features.

We’ve probably listed above all the various Amigas you’ll be familiar with, with a few exceptions you either didn’t have or only saw in magazines. The original A1000, the chipset-upgraded A500+, the CDTV multimedia  platform, or the CD32 games console as examples. But there’s one we haven’t listed which you may never have seen unless you hail from the United Kingdom, and it’s an Amiga behind which lies a fascinating tale that has been unearthed by [RetroManCave].

In the late 1980s, Commodore sold the A500 all-in-one cased Amiga to consumers with marketing based heavily upon gaming, and the A2000 desktop Amiga to businesses with the promise of productivity software. Both machines had a 16-bit Motorola 68000 running at the same speed, with the A2000 having a lot of extra memory and a hard drive lurking within that case. The price difference between the two was inordinately high, creating a niche for an enterprising British company called Checkmate Computers to fill with their provocatively named A1500, a clever case for an A500 mainboard that gave it an expansion slot and space for that hard drive and memory.

This machine’s existence angered Commodore, to the extent that they vowed to eradicate the upstart by releasing their own UK-only A1500. The result, a comically badly concealed rebadge of an A2000 with two floppies and no hard drive, is something we remember seeing at the time, and dare we admit it, even lusting after. But the full story in the video below is well worth a watch for an engrossing insight into a little-known saga in one corner of the computing world during the 16-bt era. Towards the end it becomes a plug for the Checkmate Computers co-founder’s current Kickstarter project, but if that holds no interest for you then you are at least forewarned.

Of course, if you have either A1500 today, you might want an up-to-date graphics card for it.

Via Hacker News.

25 thoughts on “A Tale Of More Than One Amiga 1500

    1. I did. But I didn’t buy one.
      It turned up unexpectedly as it did for hundreds if not thousands of other kids one xmas when they ordered an A500 and commodore replaced them with the A500+ without telling anyone.
      Bit of a surprise come xmas day !!

  1. “This machine’s existence angered Commodore, to the extent that they vowed to eradicate the upstart by releasing their own UK-only A1500.”

    Kind of like the Apple clone market.

        1. ahhh… then they weren’t clones either.
          I always expected a clone to be a COPY of the hardware, some copies being identical other copies being slightly improved but allowing the same functions of the original hardware.
          From where I come from, it means that in order to have a clone you need to build something from scratch… not putting the original hardware in a different case. The whole idea of clones was (if I understand correctly) to sell the original product for less, so how can you build a computer using hardware bought from the original manuf and sell it for a lower price?

          okay… I think I get it now…

          So these types of clones are all about making a cheap model look like a more expensive model (and not telling (actively) that there is a cheap model inside. Okay that makes sense.
          And as history has proved us… it did for certain models… like the A1500.
          I never realized it from this perspective. So on one side they aren’t clones and on the other side they are. Interesting viewpoint. Thanks Ostracus for pointing that out with the link.
          I guess I’ve learning something today.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Jenny it was an interesting story to cover. You’ll also find a follow up interview with Stephen on my channel in which he reminisces about the old days and talks a little more about the 1500+

        1. Can verify there was a 3000, as I own one. Bought used system for $50 back in 90s. Will dig it out someday, put it on ebay and buy myself something else I won’t use for decades….

  3. The Motorola 68000 is an 32bit processor with a 24bit address bus and a 16bit data bus. All internal buses, registers and ALU were 32 bit. Calling it a 16bit processor would make the 68008 an 8bitter!

    1. Either you are trolling or wrong. Go look it up. 32 bit (24 if counting address size) ISA in a 16 bit implementation. Well documented, never disputed by anyone with knowledge.

  4. Reminds me of the rack of Amiga 3000 computers that were used for the Legend Quest, Virtual Reality gaming centre in Nottingham in the early 1990s. Awesome! You’d get given an electronic key (which had 4 pin sockets, so it probably connected to a small amount of serial EEProm, maybe microwire) which would store your character’s identity; then you’d put on the heavy VR visor and stand inside a padded, circular, pen to play the game. There was also a multi-player dragon hunting game played on a sort-of 3D chess board.

  5. Started on an A2000 back in 1990…ended with an A4000 around 2009. Workbench 1.3 was my favorite since it had the SAY program in the CLI. Many a wonderful night working with those wonderful machines. My A2000 had an A-2094 52MB SCSI drive with 4MB on card, a Supra Memory card with an extra 4MB of RAM, replaced 68K CPU with a 68010 (and added the 68010 library in the SYSTEM folder), A Bridgeboard 2088 (8088 XT which worked alongside the A2000, AND a 5.25″ floppy), Genlock card (on the far right next to the PSU (which needed a piece of insulation to keep it from touching and shorting out)), and a PBX board (which I used in college for my dorm mates). Later on, it was the Toaster 2000 and a TBC card for video. Those were the days. Still have the floppies, but the machines are long gone with their chips laying on some proto-boards with index cards beneath them. Man, I miss my Amigas.

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