Amiga computer awakened from sleep with makeover

Amiga roars back to life more than 20 years after it was first introduced.

Nearly three decades after its initial introduction, the Amiga personal computer has been given a makeover with a new design and some of the latest computing technologies.

The first Amiga, the Amiga 1000, went on sale in 1985, according to the Computer History Museum. The brand went on to gain a loyal following among users, especially gamers who valued its high-end graphics.

The Amiga Mini, which was announced this week by Commodore USA, aims to recreate the magic of the old Amigas.

The Mini resembles a larger version of Apple's Mac Mini. It has the Commodore OS Vision Linux distribution and Intel's Core i7-2700K processor, an enthusiast chip that can be overclocked. The company has tried to recreate the powerful processing and graphics capabilities of yore and is targeting the new Amiga at gaming, workstation and home theater use.

The system is available now via Commodore USA's online store. For US$1,995, users get a system that has a Blu-ray drive, four USB 3.0 ports, an Nvidia GeForce GT480M graphics card and a 1TB hard drive. A bare-bones system for $345 has only the Blu-ray drive. Optional 300GB or 600GB solid-state drives are also available.

Commodore USA, which licensed the Commodore name from a company called Commodore Gaming, gained exclusive rights to the Amiga name in August 2010, clearing the way for the launch of the all-in-one desktops.

The Amiga did quite well in the late '80s and early '90s and gained a cult following among gamers, said Tim Bajarin, principal strategist at Creative Strategies.

"The Amiga was the first one to have enhanced graphics. That's what really put it on the map," Bajarin said.

Apple's Macintosh was successful at the time because of its graphical user interface, but the Amiga eventually got dedicated hardware and software that allowed it to deliver high-end graphics -- a breakthrough for its day. The Mac eventually overtook the Amiga on graphics and Amiga sales declined. Commodore filed for bankruptcy in 1994.

Nostalgia could drive some people to fork out for an Amiga Mini, said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, whose first machine was a Macintosh.

"It's like old cars," Kay said. "I think there is some parallel nostalgia."

The machine is priced at a premium but it's aimed at a specific audience of enthusiasts, Kay said.

Commodore USA also updated some other all-in-one desktops with vintage names. The VIC-Slim and Commodore 64x house all the components in a keyboard and have been upgraded to the latest dual-core Atom D2700 processor at 2.13GHz, more memory and a terabyte of storage. The C64x, known for its classic design, has been given an Nvidia GeForce GT 520 GPU, two USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI port. The VIC-Slim has 2GB of RAM and an HDMI port.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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