Daily Archives: July 10, 2020

TSR – The Server Room – Shownotes – Episode 38 – 39 The One/s That Got Away – Commodore, Amiga , MorphOS

The One/s That Got AwayCommodore, Amiga , MorphOS

History of Commodore and Amiga

Commodore International (other names include Commodore International Limited, or just simply Commodore) was an American home computer and electronics manufacturer founded by Jack Tramiel. Commodore International (CI), along with its subsidiary Commodore Business Machines (CBM), participated in the development of the homepersonal computer industry in the 1970s and 1980s. The company developed and marketed the world’s best-selling desktop computer, the Commodore 64 (1982) and released its Amiga computer line in July 1985. With quarterly sales ending 1983 of $49 million (equivalent to $106 million in 2018), Commodore was one of the world’s largest personal computer manufacturers.

The company that would become Commodore Business Machines, Inc. was founded in 1954 in Toronto as the Commodore Portable Typewriter Company by Polish-Jewish immigrant and Auschwitz survivor Jack Tramiel.

For a few years, he had been living in New York, driving a taxicab, and running a small business repairing typewriters, when he managed to sign a deal with a Czechoslovakian company to manufacture their designs in Canada. He moved to Toronto to start production. By the late 1950s, a wave of Japanese machines forced most North American typewriter companies to cease business, but Tramiel instead turned to adding machines

In 1955, the company was formally incorporated as Commodore Business Machines, Inc. (CBM) in Canada. In 1962 Commodore went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), under the name of Commodore International Limited. In the late 1960s, history repeated itself when Japanese firms started producing and exporting adding machines. The company’s main investor and chairman, Irving Gould, suggested that Tramiel travel to Japan to understand how to compete. Instead, Tramiel returned with the new idea to produce electronic calculators, which were just coming on the market.

Commodore soon had a profitable calculator line and was one of the more popular brands in the early 1970s, producing both consumer as well as scientific/programmable calculators.

However, in 1975, Texas Instruments, the main supplier of calculator parts, entered the market directly and put out a line of machines priced at less than Commodore’s cost for the parts.

Commodore obtained an infusion of cash from Gould, which Tramiel used beginning in 1976 to purchase several second-source chip suppliers, including MOS Technology, Inc., in order to assure his supply. He agreed to buy MOS, which was having troubles of its own, only on the condition that its chip designer Chuck Peddle join Commodore directly as head of engineering.

Through the 1970s Commodore also produced numerous peripherals and consumer electronic products such as the Chessmate, a chess computer based around a MOS 6504 chip, released in 1978

Once Chuck Peddle had taken over engineering at Commodore, he convinced Jack Tramiel that calculators were already a dead end and that they should turn their attention to home computers. Peddle packaged his single-board computer design in a metal case, initially with a keyboard using calculator keys, later with a full-travel QWERTY keyboard, monochrome monitor, and tape recorder for program and data storage, to produce the Commodore PET (Personal Electronic Transactor).

From PET’s 1977 debut, Commodore would be a computer company.

It was one of the earliest mass-produced and mass-marketed retail home computers just behind the Radioshack´s Tandy TRS-80

By 1980, Commodore was one of the three largest microcomputer companies and the largest in the Common Market.
The company had lost its early domestic-market sales leadership, however; by mid-1981 its US market share was less than 5%, and US computer magazines rarely discussed Commodore products.
BYTE stated of the business computer market that “the lack of a marketing strategy by Commodore, as well as its past nonchalant attitude toward the encouragement and development of good software, has hurt its credibility, especially in comparison to the other systems on the market”.
The author of Programming the PET/CBM (1982) stated in its introduction that “CBM’s product manuals are widely recognized to be unhelpful; this is one of the reasons for the existence of this book.”

Commodore reemphasized the US market with the VIC-20.The PET computer line was used primarily in schools where its tough all-metal construction and ability to share printers and disk drives on a simple local area network were advantages but PETs did not compete well in the home setting where graphics and sound were important.

This was addressed with the VIC-20 in 1981, which was introduced at a cost of US$299 and sold in retail stores. Commodore bought aggressive advertisements featuring William Shatner asking consumers “Why buy just a video game?”

The strategy worked and the VIC-20 became the first computer to ship more than one million units.

A total of 2.5 million units were sold over the machine’s lifetime[14] and helped Commodore’s sales to Canadian schools.

In another promotion aimed at schools (and as a way of getting rid of old unsold inventory)
some PET models labeled “Teacher’s PET” were given away as part of a “buy 2 get 1 free” promotion.

In 1982, Commodore introduced the Commodore 64 as the successor to the VIC-20. Thanks to a well-designed set of chips designed by MOS Technology, the Commodore 64, (also referred to as C64), possessed remarkable sound and graphics for its time and is often credited with starting the computer demo scene.

Its US$595 price was high compared with that of the VIC-20, but it was still much less expensive than any other 64K computer on the market. Early C64 advertisements boasted, “You can’t buy a better computer at twice the price.” Australian adverts in the mid-1980s used a tune speaking the words

“Are you keeping up with the Commodore? Because the Commodore is keeping up with you.”

In 1983, Tramiel decided to focus on market share and cut the price of the VIC-20 and C64 dramatically, starting what would be called the “home computer war”.

TI responded by cutting prices on its TI-99/4A, which had been introduced in 1981. Soon there was an all-out price war involving Commodore, TI, Atari, and practically every vendor other than Apple Computer.

Commodore began selling the VIC-20 and C64 through mass-market retailers such as K-Mart, in addition to traditional computer stores. By the end of this conflict, Commodore had shipped somewhere around 22 million C64s, making the C64 the best selling computer of all time.

At the June 1983 Consumer Electronics Show, Commodore lowered the retail price of the 64 to $300, and stores sold it for as little as $199.

At one point the company was selling as many computers as the rest of the industry combined.

Its prices for the VIC-20 and 64 were $50 lower than Atari’s prices for the 600XL and 800XL.

Commodore’s strategy was to, according to a spokesman, devote 50% of its efforts to the under-$500 market, 30% on the $500–1000 market, and 20% on the over-$1000 market.

Its vertical integration and Tramiel’s focus on cost control helped Commodore do well during the price war, with $1 billion in 1983 sales.

Although the company and Tramiel’s focus on cost cutting over product testing caused some hardware defects in the initial 64, some resolved in later iterations by early 1984 Synapse

Software—the largest provider of third-party Atari 8-bit software—received 65% of sales from the Commodore market and Commodore sold almost three times as many computers as Atari that year.

Tramiel quits; the Amiga vs. ST battle

Although by early 1984 Creative Computing compared Commodore to “a well-armed battleship [which] rules the micro waves” and threatened to destroy rivals like Atari and Coleco, Commodore’s board of directors were as impacted as anyone else by the price spiral and decided they wanted out. An internal power struggle resulted; in January 1984, Tramiel resigned due to intense disagreement with the chairman of the board, Irving Gould. Gould replaced Tramiel with Marshall F. Smith, a steel executive who had no experience with computers or consumer marketing.Tramiel founded a new company, Tramel Technology (spelled differently so people would pronounce it correctly), and hired away a number of Commodore engineers to begin work on a next-generation computer design.

Now it was left to the remaining Commodore management to salvage the company’s fortunes and plan for the future. It did so by buying a small startup company called Amiga Corporation in February 1984, for $25 million ($12.8 million in cash and 550,000 in common shares) which became a subsidiary of Commodore, called Commodore-Amiga, Inc.

Commodore brought this new 32-bit computer design (initially codenamed “Lorraine”) from 1979, and had been called High-Toro from 1980 to 1981 then later dubbed the Amiga, under Amiga Inc. in early 1982.

There were three unsuccessful attempts to release the Amiga by Jay Miner and company. These were: 1982, 1983 and one more after Commodore bought Amiga in 1984, after which it was released only to the local public. Then in 1985 Commodore re-released it to the world. Cost was $1000-$1300.

But Tramiel had beaten Commodore to the punch. His design was 95% completed by June. In July 1984 he bought the consumer side of Atari Inc. from Warner Communications which allowed him to strike back and release the Atari ST earlier in 1985 for about $800. The Atari ST was technology-wise almost out, however the Amiga was out sooner.

During development in 1981, Amiga had exhausted venture capital and was desperate for more financing. Jay Miner and company had approached former employer Atari, and the Warner-owned Atari had paid Amiga to continue development work.In return Atari was to get one-year exclusive use of the design as a video game console. After one year Atari would have the right to add a keyboard and market the complete Amiga computer. The Atari Museum has acquired the Atari-Amiga contract and Atari engineering logs revealing that the Atari Amiga was originally designated as the 1850XLD. As Atari was heavily involved with Disney at the time, it was later code-named “Mickey”, and the 256K memory expansion board was codenamed “Minnie”.

The following year, Tramiel discovered that Warner Communications wanted to sell Atari, which was rumored to be losing about $10,000 a day. Interested in Atari’s overseas manufacturing and worldwide distribution network for his new computer, he approached Atari and entered negotiations. After several on-again/off-again talks with Atari in May and June 1984, Tramiel had secured his funding and bought Atari’s Consumer Division (which included the console and home computer departments) in July.

As more execs and researchers left Commodore after the announcement to join up with Tramiel’s new company Atari Corp., Commodore followed by filing lawsuits against four former engineers for theft of trade secrets in late July. This was intended, in effect, to bar Tramiel from releasing his new computer.

One of Tramiel’s first acts after forming Atari Corp. was to fire most of Atari’s remaining staff, and to cancel almost all ongoing projects, in order to review their continued viability. In late July/early August, Tramiel representatives discovered the original Amiga contract from the previous fall. Seeing a chance to gain some leverage, Tramiel immediately used the contract to counter-sue Commodore through its new subsidiary, Amiga, on August 13.

The Amiga crew, still suffering serious financial problems, had sought more monetary support from investors that entire spring. At around the same time that Tramiel was in negotiations with Atari, Amiga entered into discussions with Commodore. The discussions ultimately led to Commodore’s intentions to purchase Amiga outright, which would (from Commodore’s viewpoint) cancel any outstanding contracts – including Atari Inc.’s. This “interpretation” is what Tramiel used to counter-sue, and sought damages and an injunction to bar Amiga (and effectively Commodore) from producing any resembling technology. This was an attempt to render Commodore’s new acquisition (and the source for its next generation of computers) useless. The resulting court case lasted for several years, with both companies releasing their respective products. In the end, the Amiga computer outlasted the Atari. Amiga 500 (1987)

Throughout the life of the ST and Amiga platforms, a ferocious Atari-Commodore rivalry raged. While this rivalry was in many ways a holdover from the days when the Commodore 64 had first challenged the Atari 800 (among others) in a series of scathing television commercials, the events leading to the launch of the ST and Amiga only served to further alienate fans of each computer, who fought vitriolic holy wars on the question of which platform was superior. This was reflected in sales numbers for the two platforms until the release of the Amiga 500 in 1987, which led the Amiga sales to exceed the ST by about 1.5 to 1 despite reaching the market later. However, the battle was in vain, as neither platform captured a significant share of the world computer market and only the Apple Macintosh would survive the industry-wide shift to Microsoft Windows running on PC clones.


Commodore failed to update the Amiga to keep pace as the PC platform advanced. CBM continued selling Amiga 2000s with 7.14 MHz 68000 CPUs, even though the Amiga 3000 with its 25 MHz 68030 was on the market. Apple by this time was using the 68040 and had relegated the 68000 to its lowest end model, the black and white Macintosh Classic. The 68000 was used in the Sega Genesis, one of the leading game consoles of the era, PCs fitted with high-color VGA graphics cards and SoundBlaster (or compatible) sound cards had finally caught up with the Amiga’s performance and Commodore began to fade from the consumer market.

 Although the Amiga was originally conceived as a gaming machine, Commodore had always emphasized the Amiga’s potential for professional applications.But the Amiga’s high-performance sound and graphics were irrelevant for most of the day’s MS-DOS-based routine business word-processing and data-processing requirements, and the machine could not successfully compete with PCs in a business market that was rapidly ndergoing commoditization. Commodore introduced a range of PC compatible systems designed by its German division, and while the Commodore name was better known in the US than some of its competition, the systems’ price and specs were only average.

In 1992, the A600 replaced the A500. It removed the numeric keypad, Zorro expansion slot, and other functionality, but added IDEPCMCIA and a theoretically cost-reduced design. Designed as the Amiga 300, a nonexpandable model to sell for less than the Amiga 500, the 600 was forced to become a replacement for the 500 due to the unexpected higher cost of manufacture. Productivity developers increasingly moved to PC and Macintosh, while the console wars took over the gaming market. David Pleasance, managing director of Commodore UK, described the A600 as a ‘complete and utter screw-up’.

In 1992, Commodore released the Amiga 1200 and Amiga 4000 computers, which featured an improved graphics chipset, the AGA. The advent of PC games using 3D graphics such as Doom and Wolfenstein 3D spelled the end of Amiga as a gaming platform, due to mismanagement.

In 1993, the ‘make or break’ system, according to Pleasance,was a 32-bit CD-ROM-based game console called the Amiga CD32, but it was not sufficiently profitable to put Commodore back in the black. This was not a universal opinion at Commodore with Hardware expert Rainer Benda who worked for Commodore Germany in Frankfurt stating ‘The CD32 was a year late for Commodore. In other words, here, too, it might have been better to focus on the core business than jump on a console and hope to sell 300,000 or more units in a short period of time to avoid bankruptcy

In 1992, Commodore released the Amiga 1200 and Amiga 4000 computers, which featured an improved graphics chipset, the AGA. The advent of PC games using 3D graphics such as Doom and Wolfenstein 3D spelled the end of Amiga as a gaming platform, due to mismanagement.

The company’s computer systems, especially the C64 and Amiga series, retained a cult following decades after its demise.

Commodore PR-100 3q Calculator
レトロPC」おしゃれまとめの人気アイデア|Pinterest|14r Tkd ...

Amiga 500

End of Part I.

Models of Commodore Computers

For A More Complete History on Commodore’s below is a 7 video playlist from the Youtube channel The 8 bit Guy

Operating Systems


Commodore BASIC, also known as PET BASIC or CBM-BASIC, is the dialect of the BASIC programming language used in Commodore International‘s 8-bit home computer line, stretching from the PET of 1977 to the C128 of 1985.

The core is based on 6502 Microsoft BASIC, and as such it shares many characteristics with other 6502 BASICs of the time, such as Applesoft BASIC. Commodore licensed BASIC from Microsoft in 1977 on a “pay once, no royalties” basis after Jack Tramiel turned down Bill Gates‘ offer of a $3 per unit fee, stating, “I’m already married,” and would pay no more than $25,000 for a perpetual license.

The original PET version was very similar to the original Microsoft implementation with few modifications. BASIC 2.0 on the C64 was also similar, and was also seen on some C128s and other models. Later PETs featured BASIC 4.0, similar to the original but added a number of commands for working with floppy disks. BASIC 3.5 was the first to really deviate, adding a number of commands for graphics and sound support on the C16 and Plus/4. Several later versions were based on 3.5, but saw little use. The last, BASIC 10.0, was part of the unreleased Commodore 65.

Commodore took the source code of the flat-fee BASIC and further developed it internally for all their other 8-bit home computers. It was not until the Commodore 128 (with V7.0) that a Microsoft copyright notice was displayed. However, Microsoft had built an easter egg into the version 2 or “upgrade” Commodore Basic that proved its provenance: typing the (obscure) command WAIT 6502, 1 would result in Microsoft! appearing on the screen. (The easter egg was well-obfuscated—the message did not show up in any disassembly of the interpreter.)

The popular Commodore 64 came with BASIC v2.0 in ROM despite the computer being released after the PET/CBM series that had version 4.0 because the 64 was intended as a home computer, while the PET/CBM series were targeted at business and educational use where their built-in programming language was presumed to be more heavily used. This saved manufacturing costs, as the V2 fit into smaller ROMs.


Welcome to AmigaOS | AmigaOS

AmigaOS is a family of proprietary native operating systems of the Amiga and AmigaOne personal computers. It was developed first by Commodore International and introduced with the launch of the first Amiga, the Amiga 1000, in 1985. Early versions of AmigaOS required the Motorola 68000 series of 16-bit and 32-bit microprocessors. Later versions were developed by Haage & Partner (AmigaOS 3.5 and 3.9) and then Hyperion Entertainment (AmigaOS 4.0-4.1). A PowerPC microprocessor is required for the most recent release, AmigaOS 4.

AmigaOS is a single-user operating system based on a preemptive multitasking kernel, called Exec.

It includes an abstraction of the Amiga’s hardware, a disk operating system called AmigaDOS, a windowing system API called Intuition and a desktop file manager called Workbench.

The Amiga intellectual property is fragmented between Amiga Inc., Cloanto, and Hyperion Entertainment. The copyrights for works created up to 1993 are owned by Cloanto.In 2001, Amiga Inc. contracted AmigaOS 4 development to Hyperion Entertainment and, in 2009 they granted Hyperion an exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to AmigaOS 3.1 in order to develop and market AmigaOS 4 and subsequent versions.

On December 29, 2015, the AmigaOS 3.1 source code leaked to the web; this was confirmed by the rights holder, Hyperion Entertainment.

Influence on Other Operating Systems

AROS Research Operating System (AROS) implements the AmigaOS API in a portable open-source operating system. Although not binary-compatible with AmigaOS (unless running on 68k), users have reported it to be highly source-code-compatible.

MorphOS is a PowerPC native operating system which also runs on some Amiga hardware. It implements AmigaOS API and provides binary compatibility with “OS-friendly” AmigaOS applications (that is, those applications which do not access any native, legacy Amiga hardware directly just as AmigaOS 4.x unless it’s executed on real Amiga models).

pOS was a multiplatform closed-source operating system with source code-level compatibility with existing Amiga software.

BeOS features also a centralized datatype structure similar to MacOS Easy Open after old Amiga developers requested Be to adopt Amiga datatype service. It allows the entire OS to recognize all kinds of files (text, music, videos, documents, etc.) with standard file descriptors. The datatype system provides the entire system and any productivity tools with standard loaders and savers for these files, without the need to embed multiple file-loading capabilities into any single program.[29]

AtheOS was inspired by AmigaOS, and originally intended to be a clone of AmigaOS.[30] Syllable is a fork of AtheOS, and includes some AmigaOS- and BeOS-like qualities.

FriendUP is a cloud based meta operating system. It has many former Commodore and Amiga developers and employees working on the project. The operating system retains several AmigaOS-like features, including DOS Drivers, mount lists, a TRIPOS based CLI and screen dragging.

Finally, the operating system of the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer bore a very strong resemblance to AmigaOS and was developed by RJ Mical, the creator of the Amiga’s Intuition user interface.

Amiga Unix

Bundled with the Amiga 3000UX, Commodore’s Unix was one of the first ports of SVR4 to the 68k architecture. The Amiga A3000UX model even got the attention of Sun Microsystems, though ultimately nothing came of it.

Unlike Apple’s A/UX, Amiga Unix contained no compatibility layer to allow AmigaOS applications to run under Unix. With few native applications available to take advantage of the Amiga’s significant multimedia capabilities, it failed to find a niche in the quite-competitive Unix workstation market of the early 1990s. The A3000UX’s price tag of $4,998 (equivalent to $9,382 in 2019) was also not very attractive compared to other Unix workstations at the time, such as the NeXTstation ($5,000 for a base system, with a full API and many times the number of applications available), the SGI Indigo (starting at $8,000), or the Personal DECstation 5000 Model 25 (starting at $5,000). Sun, HP, and IBM had similarly priced systems. The A3000UX’s 68030 was noticeably underpowered compared to most of its RISC-based competitors.

Unlike typical commercial Unix distributions of the time, Amiga Unix included the source code to the vendor-specific enhancements and platform-dependent device drivers (essentially any part that wasn’t owned by AT&T), allowing interested users to study or enhance those parts of the system. However this source code was subject to the same license terms as the binary part of the system – it was not free software. Amiga Unix also incorporated and depended upon many open source components, such as the GNU C Compiler and X Window System, and included their source code.

Like many other proprietary Unix variants with small market shares, Amiga Unix vanished into the mists of computer history when its vendor, Commodore, went out of business. Today, Unix-like operating systems such as Minix, NetBSD, and Linux are available for the Amiga platform.

Emulation Options for Commodore

Lot of options when it comes to emulating Commodore 64, 128 VIC20 platforms

From Options to Emulate a Commodore 64 and derivatives Online to Running it on a Raspberry Pi or the platform of Your choice there are tons of options out there.

  • VICE is available for nearly every platform out there. Emulates the following:
    C64, the C64DTV, the C128, the VIC20, practically all PET models, the PLUS4 and the CBM-II (aka C610/C510). An extra emulator is provided for C64 expanded with the CMD SuperCPU
  • Hoxs64 (Windows Only)
  • Online

Emulation Options for Amiga

AmiKit XE


Cloanto Amiga Forever

I was able to run AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 6 Classic with Cloanto Amiga Forever emulating an Amiga 4000. Networking and Sound working fine.



can run it even on a Raspberry Pi

MorphOS (Hardware)

Hardware Compatibility (complete link in the Shownoters)


  • AmigaOne 500
  • AmigaOne X50001
  • Apple eMac2
  • Apple iBook G4
  • Apple Mac Mini G4
  • Apple PowerBook G43
  • Apple PowerMac Cube4
  • Apple PowerMac G45
  • Apple PowerMac G56
  • Genesi Efika Open Client
  • Genesi Open Desktop Workstation


  • ACube Sam460cr
  • ACube Sam460ex
  • A-EON X5000
  • bplan Pegasos I
  • bplan Pegasos II
  • bplan Efika

AmigaOne X5000


The World´s First Multimedia PC

MorphOS 3,12 on a G4 Powerbook

Amiga OS 4.1 Final Edition for Classic Computers

SAM 460ex FlexATX Motherboard w/ SoC AMCC 460ex CPU


Amiga OS 3.9

AmigaOne X5000 (MorphOS and AmigaOS 4.1 with Enhancer Software)

AmigaOne X1000



MorphOS Hardware Compatibility

Amiga Forever


Amiga OS 3.1.4

Amiga OS 4.1 FE

AmigaOS Version History

AmiKit XE

Amikit Store

Home Computers


Commodore Basic

Amiga Unix

Amiga Unix Files for FS-UAE / WinUAE


Amiga 3000UX


Hoxs64 (Windows Only)