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Everything You Never Expected from a Computer: Remembering the Amiga 500

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In 1987, Commodore released the Amiga 500, a home computer, a system that — to this day — is beloved by dedicated gamers.

More than 6 million Amiga 500 units were sold (originally at the princely sum of $700.00), and Commodore advertised the system as “the most advanced home and small business computer” in history.  One might contrast this marketing slogan with Atari’s promise for the 800…that it was ‘timeless.’


Indeed, Commodore promised that the Amiga 500 was so wondrous an advancement in home computing that the user is limited “only by imagination.”

The 500 featured “software to aid learning,” 4096 colors and stereo sound, and most importantly “the latest high-tech video games.”


Anyone who had an Omega remembers great games such as Wings (1990), Lemmings (1991) and Worms (1995).  Uniquely, one could also hook the Amiga up to a VCR and add video overlays — special effects — to home made movies.

The system was even advertised with a VHS training video called ‘The Amiga 500 Test Flight.”

Although the Amiga 500 was ultimately replaced by a 500+ unit, the computer lived up to its marketing promise, giving the user everything they never expected — at least in the late 1980s — from a home computer.

Below, some commercials for the Amiga 500.



  • Mack Bonham

    Ah, the Amiga. Now we’re talking!

    There were games on the Amiga that still hold up today. All of the offerings from a publisher named “Cinemaware” were amazing, particularly their WWI flying game “Wings” and their spot-on homage to B- movies “It Came From the Desert”. And the various Sid Meier games like Pirates and Civilization never looked better during that generation than when played on an Amiga.

    This was the first machine I owned that had an esoteric storage device called a “hard drive”, which I had to buy separately for an additional $250. Blew my mind at the time, even though it was less than a 10th of the memory on my smartphone.

  • Dusty Ayres

    Such a tragedy that the Amiga’s not here with us today. Thanks for this look back, John.

  • I bought an Amiga in college when everyone else was getting a Macintosh.

    I learned a lot about software (and software design) from having one, but the lack of a good Word Processor (with a spell-checker) probably cost me a grade point in my college average.