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The Amiga Development System

The Amiga Development System

Hey guys it’s intric8 from Today I’ve got something really unique and special that I want to share
with the amiga community that has come into my possession. And it is a Developer
Edition Amiga. Now this is a machine that was created
prior to the retail sale of a single Amiga machine anywhere in the world. Back in 1985, Commodore – like a lot of companies even to this day – sent
developer editions to different companies around the world in the hopes
that they would develop software and tools for their new Amiga platform. One
of the companies that they sent one of these machines to – and it’s believed it’s
somewhere below 700 total machines were ever created – one of the companies that
they decided to send one of these machines to was Hewlett Packard in
Colorado. It turns out that there was a gentleman back in 1985 in Colorado by
the name of Larry who had been reading about the Amiga coming out soon and was
really excited to get his hands on one. Now this was 34 years ago, and so some of the details have been lost to the sands of time. He can’t quite remember
everything in terms of how he made the connection to Hewlett Packard. He’s always been in technology, and at the time I believe he worked for a phone company.
But in any case he was able to make a connection with a gentleman in HP who
had the ability to sell the machine. Larry drove up to that office they made
a deal, and he had in his possession what’s called the Developer Edition
Amiga. And he was one of the only people on the planet in 1985 to have one in his
hands. I mean think about it think about being one of the only people anywhere in
the world and you’re the guy. You’re the one that has an Amiga in your house. Now
it wasn’t like he had a lot of software ready to go but he could code and he was
into technology, and he really wanted to start to understand the nuts
and bolts of this amazing thing that he’d been reading about in the different
journals and magazines and newspapers. And of course he was also a member of a
user group up in Boulder Colorado where they … it sounded really Wild West.
It wasn’t just a Commodore group or just a TRS group, or anybody – it was like the whole collection of people. Everybody
was learning and trying to share information. So he was getting it from
there as well. In any case he held on to that machine and literally by July of
1985 just a few months later – so this would have been probably somewhere in
the range of three to five months later – the Amiga was available for retail sale
and he instantly went to his computer dealer and bought one so he then had two
of these things! Now the fact is the developer edition
– the one that he got – turns out there’s more than one version of the developer
edition. Up to this point to my knowledge there’s really only one site in the
world that has broken one of these down and analyzed it from from inch to inch.
To their knowledge there’s about five of these known to still exist. There’s
probably more than that they’re just in someone’s closet or basement. If that’s
true, though, this is now the sixth and my version is different than the one that
they analyzed. The technical guts of it are very different than the one that
they analyzed. In fact the one that they took pictures of literally says … velvet on the silk screen of the motherboard. Mine does not say velvet and I believe I understand why but it’s just another piece of history that we’re kind
of unraveling as we go. I can also say this – I can guarantee that Larry in
Colorado is the only owner of this machine prior to HP having it for a few
weeks or a few months. And I am now the second official owner of this machine.
It’s 100% authentic. None of it has been changed. Now, in 1988 Larry did make an upgrade for it. Because he still – and I think that’s
totally fair – it was his machine and he wanted to actually use it to get work
done, and he installed a QuickStart ROM upgrade which allows him to bypass the
Kickstart disk. So you’ll notice that when I turn this
on here in a minute that they didn’t ask for the Kickstart. Well it’s because he
actually made that upgrade himself back in 1988 and it still works and it works
great. So my point is what you’re about to see is a hundred percent real and it
is absolutely different from the velvet model, but these are both from the
developer edition set that went out to various companies around the world. And
now I can walk you through the differences. We’re gonna start with the
outside and then work our way in. Come check it out. But first an introduction
is in order. Say “Hi” to the Developer Edition Amiga. Now the first thing you’re
going to notice is that the plastic itself is actually glossy. It’s not matte
plastic like all the Amiga 1000s we’re used to seeing. It actually has a very
noticeable shine and gloss to it. In fact you can even see my reflection in the
plastic. It’s very unusual. Sadly mine’s a bit yellowed and I
probably could deal with that if I really cared, but part of me wants to
actually just leave this the way I found it and kind of keep it time capsuled.
But in any case, really shiny plastic and the other thing you’re gonna notice
right off the bat – there’s no… there’s no Amiga logo. Right? There’s no … there’s no
checkmark. It actually says Commodore right on the case… That’s hilarious. It’s so glossy it’s actually making my finger fart. The next piece of this worth
showing since it’s already right here is the keyboard. It’s got the Commodore logo
instead of the “A” – the red “A” that we’re used to seeing. And it has the hollowed
out version as well. So you get those two guys. In addition the actual text – the
letterforms – they used a black ink on everything. On all of my other Amiga 1,000’s – and I have… a few – they actually use a really dark blue on most of these
keys the is all black and to that point the
actual color of the case is slightly different. It’s a little bit of a
different color gray than what we’re used to seeing. Also, these seams are
totally different. In fact, they’re a… they’re a little stylized. Got like a
little rounded area before it goes and wraps around and then continues on doing
the same style on the sides. The regular Amiga 1000 keyboards didn’t do that. They
were just a flat seam all the way around. This one’s got a little bit of… a little
bit of pizzazz going on there, which is kind of neat. Another key difference between the Developer System keyboard and a regular Amiga 1000 keyboard is
that there’s no logo up in the upper right hand corner. It’s totally blank.
They didn’t even bother to put like an empty square there for a future logo.
Total tabula rasa. On the side of the case it’s virtually the same as what
we’re used to saying and the back looks like a carbon copy of what actually went
out to retail markets. There’s no difference from what I can tell. Looking at these side-by-side the back panel looks identical to me. The one exception to this side of the machine that is different than
all of my other Amigas is actually the power switch is reversed. Usually you
pull forward towards yourself to turn the machine on. In this one you push
backward, which is a little strange but that’s the way it is. The funny thing is, though, the actual case – the top – at least with mine there are no clips. This whole
top shell is just loosely put on there and it just comes right off.
There’s no snapping, there’s no clipping. Now when you take the case off – this is
another stark difference. I’m gonna point this out briefly, but on Ebay from time
to time you might see a listing of an Amiga 1000 that has: “Signatures inside!
ULTRA rare!” Well, we all know that every single Amiga 1000 that was ever sold
they ALL had the signatures on the inside. That’s the way they were made. The developer edition – this really could use all-caps and say ultra-rare. The developer edition didn’t have any
signatures at all. In fact the little posts that where the case would rest on
to the screw posts below they don’t even have the little metal grommets. If you flip the developer edition upside-down and look at the bottom of it they didn’t
actually have serial numbers for these yet. Not production level serial numbers
so they actually printed them out on pieces of paper and and taped them to
the bottom. It’s a little sketch and a little ghetto but I absolutely love it. And look at this on the left – it looks like a a card catalog you might find at
the library back in 1985 where it shows some some sort of check-in and
check-out for this particular model which is hilarious. I love it. I’ve taken the top off here and actually
want to show you guys the insides of this machine and why my particular
edition of the the developer edition is so different than the Velvet. The Velvet
one that you see in Austria, those photos show a completely different layout on
the motherboard. Mine actually is a lot more like the retail versions that went
to market. The chip layouts are in exactly the same place that you would
expect and all of the silk-screening is the same. There are only very subtle
differences that I can see when I put these side-by-side, and I’ve actually put
here for you to witness. On the left is a very early Amiga 1000. It was purchased
the moment they came out by the same person who purchased the developer
edition. So as soon as they came out to retail he went and got one and then he
had the developer edition. So I have both of those side-by-side. So this is about
as early as you can get for an Amiga that you could buy next to one that you
could never buy – normally – and they look almost the same. The main differences are
on the motherboard themselves very subtle changes in the resistors
used, the coloration of the resistors you can see are different, some of the
capacitors have been changed when they went to mass-market, and there’s actually on the production model you can see little copper tabs all the way
around. The developer edition didn’t have any of those. These actually are the
developer edition custom chips. There really early revisions of each for
example the Denise chip – this is actually the serial number for a Daphne. And for
the Paula chip, this is actually the release number for the Portia. So this
is actually the developer edition level of chips, but it’s not the Velvet layout,
which is fascinating. And what that tells me, if you go back and look at the serial
number, this particular serial number is 638. The one in Vienna was in the 500s
range. My theory is that this is one of the last developer editions created
and they’d already made the swap to the production level release candidate. So
they actually … the developer editions were going through a metamorphosis of
their own during the time these are being sent to all these various
companies, and this in my opinion, my theory is this is one of the last
developer editions made, because it already has the revised motherboard
inside it that is very very close to what they went to retail with. What’s also fascinating about this is that because they went to the newer
layout of the motherboard my developer edition actually has 256K on-board
whereas the one in Vienna the one in Vienna actually only had 128, which is what most people assume the developer edition only had. Mine is actually
what went to retail – it’s got 256 and the front expansion is capable and actually
does have a 256 expansion inside it. So this
actually is more like a regular Amiga that went to market it’s just in the
developer edition clothing which is completely cool. I can
actually use this machine like any of my other Amigas if I wanted to. I’ll probably… I’m not sure what I’m gonna do with it to be honest besides look at it
and … smile at it all the time! What I’d like to do next is actually power the machine on to show you guys that my version actually works. There’s not really anything special to show in that regard… but it does power on. That’s asking for the workbench disk which is unique to this particular edition or
this System I should say, because Larry back in 1988 as I mentioned before made
some modifications and he installed the DKB QuickStart upgrade, which is totally
fine by me. Disk drive still works. Still has that
gorgeous sound. She’s firing up… I’m just using a typical Workbench 1.3
disk. I’m not trying to go old-school here and load up 1.0 or 1.1. Just trying
to prove that the thing works. Hopefully you haven’t decided to go watch a little bit of paint dry by now. These aren’t exactly speed demons. There we go! And you
can see up here – I believe – that I’ve got basically less than half a Meg because some of that Kickstart got loaded into the RAM but regardless this is a half-Meg
Amiga right out of the box. Pretty dang cool if I do say so myself. So guys, that’s the Amiga Developer System. I hope you enjoyed looking at that as much as I enjoy looking at that. And I also want to take this opportunity as I conclude
these remarks to give a huge shout out to Larry who reached out to me a couple
of weeks ago. I’ve really enjoyed having multiple phone conversations with him
and I feel like we’ve become friends as he’s explained his history with the
machine and with the Amigas. He actually went on to buy an Amiga 3000 back in the
day and ran his own little studio for a while there completely off of Amiga
hardware. Very, very cool guy. Very very kind. Very generous. Thank you so much,
Larry – for everything. And that’s it guys! If you enjoyed this I hope you’ll
subscribe like the video and if you have some more information that you’d like to
share please feel free in the comments below. I’ve also attached the link to an
article with a lot of the photos that you saw in this video in more detail. You can take a look at that over to And I have a lot more Amiga
videos planned for the near future so stay tuned. We’ll see you next time. Take it easy. Bye-bye

55 comments on “The Amiga Development System

  1. Eric, that is really fantastic! What a tremendous find! It is great being able to hold a piece of history like that. I feel similar about my A2200 board – it is just something special that only a few people on Earth even have. Amiga Forever, my brother!

  2. Oh wow, what a fantastic find! Thank you so very much for sharing this valuable piece of Commodore Amiga history with us all!

  3. Hi from the Velvet guy, nice find. Your unit is called "ZORRO", there is another one in existence. The ZORRO slots were named after this unit, as "no one suggested a better name" and (probably/maybe) the slot had it's final revision with this unit, so they just kept the name. Maybe they mean the "expansion bus" which later went to the inside in A2000's design, keeping the name of the prototype because the spec was finailized here. At least, that is what I heard about it.

  4. the case should have following differences, e.g. no "riffles" on the outside keyboard garage stands, no text description below the ports, no signatures inside. I also have a detailed comparision video of the keyboard on my channel if you are interested in that.

  5. Hey, I love the nice “Back to the future“ Litho poster behind you. Where dit you get it from?

  6. Dave Needle tells a story ( 37:36): "We had something like 100 or so black-box Amigas — I think they were called 'Zorro' …" Commodore wanted to sell them to developers, so Dave stole four out of the lab and gave them to Electronic Arts.

  7. The front bezel is probably shiny because the injection mold is not final. You add texture as a final step when the tooling is done, and not before.

  8. My first model was an A500, purchased in the fall of 1988, but I have a multitude of models…my question though is regarding A1000 upgrades. You were investigating a plethora of time into this…have you hit a wall regarding this or is the upgrade still a future possibility?

  9. Wow! That's something special in the Amiga's history for sure.
    Amiga is probably the saddeest example and proof, that rarely the best technology succeeds in the long.

  10. That's a hell of a find! The A1000 is my favourite Amiga (closely followed by the A1200). One of my A1000s has a Vampire V2 fitted – its just an incredible machine.

  11. It is just awful seeing that cheap Commodore logo on one of the most attractive PCs ever made. Thank Dog they removed every reference to Commodore from the final product (which I bought in 1986, followed by a 2000 a year later). Unfortunate about the "upgrade" the previous owner made. With almost any other Amiga 1000, having a Kickstart in ROM would be an advantage. But on a pre-release dev kit? Obviously being able to run 0.9 of Workbench with the accompanying Kickstart would be very cool. You can't do that so long as 1.3 is in ROM. Hopefully it can be removed easily and this can be restored to being a dev kit. Thanks for sharing.

  12. My first Amiga was a A500 with Word Perfect in 1990. I loved it and upgraded it over the years. The scsi hd was the best upgrade Supra made 2 meg of fast memory and a 40 mb hd. That was lightning fast compared to the floppy. You earned a new sub today! Thanks for the great video.

  13. Yup, that's a pretty damn neat piece of history, right there. If I had that machine, it'd be sitting on display in my living room, complete with a placard explaining what it was. Anyone asking about it would be subject to a lecture decided less brief than the contents of this video. Nobody would be allowed to touch it. I'd also sit and smile at it.

    Us Amiga fans are weirdos.

  14. to un-yellow, 72 hrs in sun light de-yellows easily and dosn't destroy plastic in any way like chemicals.

  15. It's a Miggy! What's not to love. Yeah was a fanboy and still am at heart, the good old days of computing not like today everything is done for you. Great find, one I'd be proud to have in my collection.

  16. Whilst I would never put liquid on that case or any kind of retrobrite cream/paste I would for the love of all that is Amiga reverse the yellowing with the gas based method, which means the computer is not taken apart beyond seperating the chip ram expansion front panel.

  17. Hey dudes! Over 10k views but only slighly over 900 subs. Thumbs up and subscribe so we can have lots more of this wonderful content!

  18. Awesome video.. I'm a Linux user since 2014, but I started on an NEC PC running Windows 95. Since getting into Linux I have spent a lot of time learning about the other operating systems available. The Amigas caught my attention because of their use in the Video Toaster, as I do graphics, video, and audio. Amiga OS seems to be very special. I'd like to get ahold of one of the the modern ones, but they are pricy.

  19. Love this video and the topic, but PLEASE normalize the audio levels in videos. Most video software will let you do that per-clip.

    I had it down for the intro, then turned it way up to hear you, and then you did a big boomy sound that my sleeping kids upstairs could hear. 😛

  20. I played a lot on the Amiga 500 as a kid. The Amiga was super popular in the UK, so it has a decent number of games developed in the UK on it.

  21. @Amiga Love
    Those bare copper patches you mention at around 11:52 are probably  grounding points for an RF shield to make the production  machines FCC compliant. I can see why they would have omitted them on the dev machines in order to save a bit of money when they didn't have to follow the FCC rules so strictly. Just a hypothesis though.

    Anyway, very interesting piece of Amiga history. Take good care of her, will you?

  22. I used to have a 1000… Then C= came up with a trade in gimmick when the 2000 came out and I like a dummy traded my 1000 in… still kicking myself for that.

  23. Fantastic find. Interesting that its a development machine yet retail specification. Also that glossy front is cool. I'd love a big box Amiga but the wedges will have to do for now. Subbed and I look forward to hearing more about it !

  24. Really nice video! Getting that dev machine is finding pure nerd gold. I wouldnt bright it, the yellowing is like getting gray hair. Might look old, but still gets respect

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