Even today, I remember wanting one of these machines right from the very beginning. I had read an article in some computer magazine while I was still in my Air Force technical school back in September of 1985. The Amiga could do better graphics, better games, and was just a generally superior machine to anything else on the market at that time.
I spent a lot of time on my car for the first few years in the military. Then I got married and learned that computers were my true calling. If I was going to get the one I wanted, the sales pitch had to be perfect. The sales pitch had to get my wife, Julie, into the computer store. It was truly a work of art. I told her about all the great things this machine could do. Julie was not (and still isn't) a big computer person, but I managed to talk her into spending close to $1,000 of my hard earned tax money to buy my first computer, my Amiga. It was an Amiga 500 with 1.3OS, 512k Chip RAM, 512k Fast RAM, 2 floppy drives, a Commodore 1084S monitor, and a Star NX1000 9 pin black and white printer.
I was so thrilled with it and used if for simply everything. Then a friend of mine, Don Gass, showed me that mine could be upgraded and expanded. This opened a whole new world of thought for me. Over the next few years I managed to get a Supra XP expansion chassis with a 52 Meg hard drive and 2 Meg additional RAM. I had to use the old "Do you have any idea how fast things will load off a hard drive?" and "Your programs will run better with 3 times the RAM." arguements. I can't even remember exactly where I picked up the Supra XT, but it served faithfully for many years, until I finally passed it to my son, Duncan.
Shortly after this, I borrowed a 1200 baud modem from Don. My eyes were once again opened to the world of telecommunications. In 1991 (ish), a 1200 modem was still considered slow, but I foresaw the potential. When I returned it, I rushed out and bought my first modem, an Intel 14.4 Fax Modem. I used that one up until I decided to get on the internet.
My Second Amiga...
My first Amiga 500 served me very well for many years. Then in late 1994 when I got notified of my assignment to Osan AB in South Korea, I had to by another Amiga 500. My wife refused to let me take our only computer. So, I searched and found a second Amiga 500 to take with me. This one had 2.1OS, 8 Megs Fast RAM, 1 Meg Chip RAM, and a whopping 120 Meg hard drive. I thought this was the end-all-be-all of Amiga computers. I discovered how to soft boot my machine with a 3.1 ROM. I test drove 3.1OS the rest of my time there and knew I had to have the genuine article once I returned to the states.
I realized during this time that a 120 Meg hard drive was not nearly large enough. This prompted me to start using a wonderful program called EPU, an Amiga hard drive compression program. I didn't notice a dramatic speed loss (even on a 68000 processor) and I gained roughly 60 Meg extra storage space on that drive. I squeaked by with this until I got to Hawaii. My first income tax money here got me an 020/881 M-Tech Turbo accelerator with 4 Meg 32-bit expansion RAM. This was a good improvement, but I used it for less than a year.
My First A2000...
Joe Schlosser sold me my first Amiga 2000. It was equiped with a GVP G-Force 030/25 Accelerator with 5 Meg 32-bit Fast RAM, a SCSI second SCSI controller with 8 Meg 16-bt Fast RAM, 1 Meg Chip RAM, 2.1 OS, BSC MultiFace Card III, an ICD Flicker Fixer, and a couple larger hard drives. One of these, the Seagate 650 Meg (Full-height, 5.25) drive, is still in my current system and chugging along.
I upgraded this system to 3.1 OS and a USR 33.6 modem. This was all I needed to get hooked up to the internet. Or should I say, AmiTCP, YAM, AWeb, lots of help from my good friend Wolf (Mark Elsevier), and even more praying, got me successfully connected to the web. I could surf, email, IRC, and edit/upload my webpages with this machine. I was very content with my perfect Amiga, until I heard of someone selling their 040 A2000.
My Second A2000...
Just before Christmas 1996, a school teacher named Nathan sold me his A2000. This machine was a blessing. It had a DKB MegaChip (which gave me 2 Meg of Chip RAM), a GVP G-Force 040/33, 16 Meg 32-bit RAM, DCTV, GVP Digital Sound Studio, and much more. Since this machine had 2 Meg of Chip RAM, I could install my GVP Spectrum graphics card. My son inherited my A2000/030/25, thus retiring his A500/020 and we both had departed the A500 realm never to look back. (If you want to see specs on my Amiga in sickening detail click here.)
I feel at this point I should mention this, the 020 upgrade was nice. The 030 was even nicer, but the 040 and graphics card changed my machine totally. The speed increase was dramatic. It completely revitalized my love for my Amiga.
My current system is still growing as I find IBMers (as I like to refer to them... not a compliment) who don't want to mess with SCSI anymore (or just find their SCSI devices are too slow or too small). I must be like the king of recycling old unwanted computer components. I realize that none of my CD-Roms are nearly as fast as most other people's, but I don't need the speed. I don't have hoards of CDs, so by having 4 CD Rom drives running I increase the amount of files I continually have access to. I still have a few more old CD Rom drives sitting around, but I will have to start a 3rd chain to add them. Now, power is becoming an issue. I wonder how many more devices I can add before I start tripping the circuit breaker for this section of the house.
Now, I normally run my system on a 16-bit (512 color) 1024x768 resolution screen (See a screen snap), but with the 3.5 OS I have to use a full 64,000 colors. I keep my workbench simple with default Opus background and MagicWB icons. My system has 4 serial ports & 4 parallel ports (Standard A2000 has 1 SER & 1 PAR, Combo card has 1 SER & 1 PAR, & MFCIII Card has 2 SER & 2 PAR ports). I use these ports for DCTV, Digital Sound Studio, Modem, NULL-Modem connection, etc. It is nice to have multiple ports and never have to swap them around.
My Current Amiga (A1200 PPC)...
I had been saving and saving for the "NEW" Amiga. Several ones have been promised, but none have materialized. I finally decided to take the plunge and spend my money on a towered A1200 060/PPC system I found on eBay.
This A1200 system is housed in a Power Tower with a Zorro IV Busboard. It is powered by a Blizzard 68060 50Mhz/PPC 603e 240Mhz accelerator card. My Blizzard has a SCSI option and 2 128M EDO RAM SIMMs for a whopping 256M of Fast RAM and (of course) the 2M of Chip RAM. This is the max this system can take since there are only 2 RAM slots and I have not seen 72 pin SIMMs larger than 128 megs. I have added my GVP SCSI card to this system, giving me access to all 7 of my hard drives, my ZIP drive, my JAZ drive, my 1.2G QIC tape backup, scanner, 2 CDs, and my CDRW. I bought a 60G IDE drive to accompany the 10G IDE drive that came with it. I think I have finally ruled out RAM and hard drive space from my Amiga computer needs. I have an X-Surf ethernet card installed which is connected to a Linksys Cable/DSL Router and on into the wide open internet.
My current system is still growing and changing. I will be adding my current configuration (in sickening detail) here soon.
The minimum Operating System anyone should be running is 2.1, 3.1 if you are going to be using the internet, and 3.9 if you are going to stay with the platform. Every Amiga user should have a CD-ROM drive by now. We do not need the ultra fast 40x speed ones. I, myself, only possessed a few 4x and 3x CD-ROMs until recently. You can buy external SCSI cases and old CD drive on eBay for cheap.
I would recommend at least a 68040 and a graphics card are also a bare minimum. With the internet and ofher uses, a 16 color screen just doesn't cut it anymore. If you are going to be on the internet, a 33.6 modem, 8 Meg FAST RAM, and 1 Meg Chip RAM are essential.