Commodore  Amiga 500


In 1987, Commodore introduced the Amiga 500, or simply the A500. It was a relatively inexpensive 16-bit home computer. Commodore's aim was to create a machine that could compete in the market against the other 16 bit machines such as the Atari and the Apple Computers.

The Amiga architecture is built around Motorola's 68000 processor. The Amiga 500 came standard with 512KByte of RAM, expandable to 9MByte. The RAM was devided into Chip RAM and Fast RAM. The Chip RAM was accessible by the Video and Sound Chip, and the Fast RAM was accessible by the CPU.

The Amiga could be connected to a monitor, but also to a TV set. The A500 is the best selling computer in the Amiga line-up. Amiga offered excellent graphics and performance at a reasonable price.

Graphics Capabilities, provided by the Denise Sound Chip.

  • 320x200 in 32 colors (320x256 on PAL versions)
  • 640x400 in 16 colors (640x512 on PAL versions)
  • Planar graphics with up to five bit planes.
  • Colors come from a 4096 color palette
  • Extra half-brite mode for 32 additional colors at half brightness
  • HAM (Hold And Modify) mode allowing 4096 colors simultaneous

Amiga had 8 hardware sprites, each is 16 pixels wide, by unlimited height, in 4 colours (3+transparent)

  • Sprites 1&2 take their palette from Colours 16,17,18,19 (16 is ignored.. transparent)
  • Sprites 3&4 take their palette from Colours 20,21,22,23 (20 is ignored.. transparent)
  • Sprites 5&6 take their palette from Colours 24,25,26,27 (24 is ignored.. transparent)
  • Sprites 7&8 take their palette from Colours 28,29,30,31 (16 is ignored.. transparent)
2 sprites can be combined, by setting their positions to the same place, and setting the "attach" bit in the control word. This gives you a 16 colour sprite that uses from colours 16 to 31 (although again, 16 is treated as transparent)

Motorola 68000 CPU Family

The Motorola 68000 is a 16/32-bit microprocessor that was first released in 1979. It was widely used in computers and other electronic devices during the 1980s and early 1990s. The 68000 was known for its advanced architecture, which included a 32-bit internal bus and a 24-bit address bus, allowing it to access up to 16 megabytes of memory. This made it more powerful than many other processors of its time, such as the Intel 8086 and Zilog Z80. It was also designed to be highly modular and expandable, with a large number of on-chip and off-chip peripherals.

Some of the most famous and successful computers that used the 68000 was the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST, both of which were popular in the home and personal computer markets. Additionally, it was also used in workstations, such as the Sun 3 and Apollo DN3000, and in a wide variety of embedded systems and industrial control systems. The 68000 was also used in the Macintosh, the first model of the Macintosh was powered by a Motorola 68000 CPU. The processor was eventually succeeded by the 68020 and 68030, which offered improved performance and additional features.

The 68000 has a 32-bit instruction set, with 32-bit registers and a 16-bit internal data bus. The address bus is 24-bit and does not use memory segmentation, making it easier to address memory. There are three ALU's (Arithmetic Logic Unit), two for calculating addresses, and one for data, and the chip has a 16-bit external address bus.

The 68000 architecture was expanded with 32-bit ALUs, and caches. Here is a list with some 680x0 versions and their major improvements:

  • 68010 - Virtual memory support
  • 68020 - 32-bit ALU & Instruction Cache
  • 68030 - On-Chip MMU, 2x 256 byte cache
  • 68040 - 2x 4K Cache, 6 stage pipeline, FPU
  • 68LC040 - No Floating Point Unit (FPU)
  • 68060 - 2x 8K Cache, 10 stage pipelinet

Released 1987 Country United States Brand Type COMMO Amiga Name Amiga 500 CPU Class 68000 CPU Motorola 68000 @7.16MHz Memory 512kB RAM, 8MB Max Sound Chip Paula - 4 DMA-driven 8-bit PCM channels Sound 4x8-bit channels @28 kHz stereo Display Chip Denise Display 640x400 16 colors
320x200 4096 colors
1280x512 4 colors
Sprites 8 hardware sprites, 16 pixels wide, unlimited height, 4 colors (3 + transparent) System OS AmigaOS 1.2 Storage Internal 3.5" Floppy Disk Drive. Original Price $699.99
Related Systems
Commodore PET/CBM - 2001/3000 Series
Commodore CBM 4000 Series
Commodore CBM 8000 Series
Commodore CBM-II 500 Series
Commodore CBM-II 600 Series
Commodore CBM-II 700 Series
Commodore C16
Commodore Vic/C64
Commodore Amiga
Amiga  500 (1987)
Commodore Amiga Desktops
Books & Publications
6502 CPU
Collection of books on the 6502 and compatible CPUs
Commodore 8-bit
Collection of books for the Commodore computer platform
Magazines & Serials
German Commodore 64/128 Magazine and themed Specials (Sonderheft)
Commodore Magazine
Magazine for the Commodore 64/128/Amiga
Commodore Revue
Commodore Revue is a French Magazine dedicated to Commodore and later to the Commodore Amiga in particular. The name later changed to Amiga Revue.
Commodore World
BiMonthly magazine for Commodore users in the USA
Commodure User
Oldest British Comodore Magazine
Compute's Gazette
Compute!'s Gazette was a computer magazine of the 1980s, directed at users of Commodore's 8-bit home computers.
Computer Club
Una rivista italiana di informatica dedicata a tutti i computer Commodore. An Italian computer information magazine dedicated to the Commodore Computer.
RUN focused on 1980's Commodore 8bit hardware like the Commodore 64, VIC-20, Plus/4, C16,116, 264, and 128.
Your Commodore
Your Commodore was a magazine for the Commodore range of computers, including the Commodore 64, Amiga, and Commodore PC range.
World Wide Web Links
Wikipedia: Motorola 68000 CPU Family
WikiPedia page on the Motorola 68000 series of processors