Commodore Amiga 1200
A is for Ancient
Amiga 1200 with two additional floppy disk drives
Type Personal computer
Released 1992
Discontinued 1996
Processor Motorola 68EC020 @ 14 MHz
Memory 2 MB (MiB)
Operating system Amiga OS 3.0 - 3.1

The Amiga 1200, or A1200, was Commodore International's third-generation Amiga computer, aimed at the home market. It was released in October 1992, at a base price of £399 in the United Kingdom and $599 in the United States.[1]

Like its predecessor, the Amiga 500, the A1200 is an all-in-one design incorporating the CPU, keyboard, and disk drives (including, unlike the A500, the option of an internal hard disk drive) in one physical unit.

The system competed directly against the Atari Atari Falcon, but intended as a home computer it inadvertently competed against entry level PCs and 16-bit game consoles. During the first year of its life the system reportedly sold well, but not comparable to game consoles and in a desire to compete Commodore launched the Amiga 1200-based Amiga CD32 game console in June 1993.

The future looked good for the Amiga 1200, but due to poor financial management, Commodore ran into cash flow problems and soon went bankrupt - this despite the fact that the Amiga 1200 and Amiga CD32 both were successful and profitable products. Before going bankrupt Commodore had found buyers of around 1 million units of A1200. With Commodore’s demise, the A1200 almost disappeared off the market, but the system got a second chance with Escom's re-launch in 1995.

The new Escom A1200 was almost identical to the original model, the difference being a slightly updated operating system and a floppy disk drive from a different manufacturer. Re-launched at a price of one-hundred and fifty dollars above what it had been sold for two years prior (equal to the 1992 launch price) potential buyers found that the system provided little value and largely ignored the system. After Escom's financial problems, the Amiga 1200 was taken off the market some time during 1996.

Popularity Edit

Although a significant upgrade, the A1200 proved not to be as popular as the earlier Amiga 500. There were a number of reasons for this:

  • While its graphics capabilities stood up well in comparison to the competition, the Amiga no longer commanded the lead it had in earlier times.
  • The Amiga's custom chips cost more to produce than the commodity chips utilized in PCs, making the A1200 more expensive, relative to PCs, than earlier Amiga models.
  • Fewer retailers carried the A1200, especially in the United States.
  • The Amiga 1200 received bad press for being incompatible with a number of Amiga 500 games.
  • Some industry commentators felt a 68020 CPU was too old and slow to be competitive, and that the machine should have been fitted with at least an '030. Complaints were also made about the capabilities of the AGA chipset. Commodore had earlier been first working on a much improved version of the original Amiga chipset, codenamed "AAA", but when that fell behind they'd rushed out the much less improved AGA found on the A1200/A4000/CD32 units. It had been working on an improved chipset, codenamed "Hombre" when it went bankrupt.

Although Commodore never released any official sales figures, it is estimated that Commodore shipped fewer than 1 million A1200s worldwide before going bankrupt in April 1994 (information from March 2007).

Technical information Edit

Processor and RAM Edit

The A1200 utilized the Motorola MC68EC020 CISC CPU (roughly four times faster than the 68000 processor in the A500). It is noteworthy that, like the 68000, the 68EC020 had a 24-Bit expansion bus; allowing for a theoretical maximum of 16 MB (MiB) of memory.

It shipped with 2 MB of Chip RAM. Chip RAM could not be expanded beyond those 2 MB, but an additional 8 MB of Fast RAM could be added through use of the trapdoor expansion slot.

Later, various accelerators featuring 68020, 68030, 68040, 68060 and PowerPC processors were made available by third parties. Such accelerators did not only have faster CPUs but also more and faster memory (on the most expensive boards 256 MB on two 128 MB SIMMs), real time clocks, IDE and SCSI ports and other enhancements. An example: Apollo 1260.

Graphics and sound Edit

The A1200 shipped with Commodore's third-generation chipset, the Advanced Graphics Architecture or AGA. As the name implies, the AGA chipset had superior graphical abilities in comparison with the earlier chipsets.

The A1200's faster CPU also allowed for higher sampling rates for sound playback, however the basic sound hardware was not upgraded and remains identical to the original Amiga 1000.


Mainboard view with BlizzardPPC expansion board

Peripherals and expansion Edit

In addition to the ports common to all earlier Amiga models, the A1200 featured a memory/CPU slot, a PC card slot and a feature unique to the A1200 – a clockport.

The clockport was a remnant of an abandoned design feature (real time clock and Chip RAM expansion). Third party developers put it to ingenious use by creating an array of innovative expansions for the A1200 such as audio cards (Delfina) and even a route to expanding the A1200 with USB (Subway USB).

If one was willing to forgo the A1200's form-fitting case, PCI and Zorro busses could also be added to the A1200, allowing graphics, sound and network cards to be added. Eyetech and Power Computing built and supplied many PC tower kits to 'tower up' the A1200 and in essence convert it to a 'big box' Amiga, even allowing for use of PC AT Keyboards.

One problematic factor for expanding the A1200 was the rather limited 23 watt power supply. Hard drives and even external floppies could stress the power supply too much. This was usually alleviated by 'towering up' the Amiga as it allowed for use of much more capable power supplies. The problem could also be mitigated by replacing the A1200's factory default power supply with the much more powerful A500 power supply.

The Escom A1200 were fitted with PC-based 'High Density' internal drives that had been downgraded to Double Density drives. This resulted in some software not working. (PC style drives do not supply a "ready" signal, which signals if there is a floppy in the disk drive.)[2]

Software Edit

The first incarnation of the A1200, by Commodore, was bundled with AmigaOS 3.0 that used Kickstart 3.0 (39.106), CrossDOS – allowing for reading & writing MS-DOS format disks - various utility programs including calculator and screenblanker, and limited-time offers of Deluxe Paint IV AGA (a 2D paint & animation program) and Final Copy (a full featured word processor).[3]

The Amiga Technologies/Escom version shipped with AmigaOS 3.1 and Kickstart 3.1, and used to be bundled with various third-party programs such as Scala, Wordworth and so on.

Summary Edit

  • CPU: Motorola 68EC020 (14.32 MHz NTSC, 14.18 MHz PAL).
  • Chipset: AGA (Advanced Graphics Architecture)
    • Audio (Paula):
      • 4 voices / 2 channels (Stereo)
      • 8-bit resolution / 6-bit volume
      • 28/56 kHz maximum sampling rate (depending on video mode)
      • 70 dB S/N Ratio
    • Video:
      • 24-Bit palette (16.7 Million colors)
      • 256 Simultaneous colors (More with HAM-8)
      • Resolutions ranging from 320×200 to 1280×512i
  • Memory:
  • Removable Storage:
    • 3.5" DD Floppy drive, capacity 880 KB.
  • Internal Storage:
  • Input/Output connections:
    • Composite TV out (PAL versions sold in Europe and Australia, NTSC elsewhere).
    • Analogue 15 kHz RGB video plug (DB23)
    • RCA audio plugs
    • 2 × Game/Joy ports (DE9)
    • RS232 Serial port
    • Centronics Parallel port (DB25)
    • Port for external floppy drive (DB23)
    • 16-bit Type II PCMCIA slot
    • 150 pin local expansion port (trapdoor)
    • Clockport
  • Other characteristics
    • Weight: 3.6 kg (8 lb).
    • Size: 24.1 cm deep, 47.0 cm wide, 7.62 cm high (9.5" × 18.5" × 3")
    • Integrated keyboard with 96 keys (including 10 function keys and a numeric keypad)
  • Software (Bundled):
    • AmigaOS 3.0-3.1 operation system. (Kickstart 3.0-3.1/Workbench 3.0-3.1)

Advantages over the low-cost Amiga 600 Edit

  • 24-Bit palette (12-Bit on A600)
  • HAM-8 and 8-Bit color modes
  • Numeric keypad
  • Faster CPU
  • Expansion slot and clock port
  • Can run AGA games and applications
  • test

Trivia Edit

  • The A1200 far outlived its shelf life, despite being only a desktop-based home computer. This was made possible by third party expansions released long after the Amiga disappeared from shops.
  • Because the unit's built-in memory was shared between the CPU and the sound and video chips, making it slow, adding additional RAM (so called "Fast RAM", which wasn't shared) increased the A1200's speed to a larger degree (double: ~2.26x) than one would expect on, say, an IBM PC.
  • The A1200 motherboard is inscribed with "Channel Z", which is a reference to the B52's song.
  • New Old Stock Amiga 1200's, manufactured by Amiga Technologies, are still currently available from various online retailers.

References Edit

  1. Gareth Knight (2005). "Commodore Amiga 1200". Retrieved May. 22, 2006.
  2. Thor Bernhardsen. "Amiga floppy woes...". Retrieved July. 12, 2006.
  3. Kevin J. Klasmeier. "Falcon030 -vs- 1200 -vs- Performa 400". Retrieved Oct. 20, 2006.

Source Edit

This article was get from [1] in Wikipedia, authors: [2]