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Amiga 1200 MAGIC

The Amiga 1200, or A1200 (code-named ‘Channel Z‘), was Commodore International‘s third-generation Amiga computer, aimed at the home market. It was launched on October 21, 1992, at a base price of £399 in the United Kingdom and $599 in the United States.


Like its predecessor, the Amiga 500, the A1200 is an all-in-one design incorporating the CPU, keyboard, and disk drives (including the option of an internal 2.5″ hard disk drive) in one physical unit. The A1200 has a similar hardware architecture to Commodore’s Amiga CD32 game console, and is technically close to the Atari Falcon, which was intended as the A1200′s competitor.[1]

Initially, only 30,000 A1200s were available at the UK launch.[2] During the first year of its life the system reportedly sold well, but Commodore ran into cash flow problems and filed for bankruptcy.[3] World wide sales figures for the A1200 are unknown but 95,000 systems were sold in Germany before Commodore’s bankruptcy.[4]

After Commodore’s demise in 1994 the A1200 almost disappeared from the market but was later re-launched by Escom in 1995. The new Escom A1200 was priced at £399 and it came bundled with two games, seven applications and Amiga OS 3.1.[5] It was initially criticized for being priced 150 pounds higher than the Commodore variant had sold for two years prior. It also came with a modified PC floppy disk drive that was incompatible with some Amiga software titles. The A1200 was finally discontinued in 1996 as the parent company folded.[6]

Design Improvements

The A1200 offers a number of advantages over earlier budget Amiga models. Specifically, it is a 32-bit design, the 68EC020 microprocessor is faster than the 68000 and has 2 MB of RAM as standard. The AGA chipset used in the A1200 is a significant improvement. AGA increases the color palette from 4096 colors to 16.8 million colors with up to 256 on-screen colors and an improved HAM mode allowing 262,144 on-screen colors. The graphics hardware also features improved sprite capacity and faster graphics performance[citation needed]. Additionally, compared to the A600 the A1200 was considered to offer greater expansion possibilities.[by whom?]

Popularity and Criticism

Although it was a significant upgrade, the A1200 did not sell as well as the earlier Amiga 500 and proved to be Commodore’s last budget model before filing for bankruptcy in 1994. This was mainly because the A1200 failed to repeat the technological advantage over competitors like the first Amiga systems. The AGA chipset was something of a disappointment. Commodore had initially been working on a much improved version of the original Amiga chipset, codenamed AAA, but when development fell behind they rushed out the less improved AGA found on A1200, A4000 and CD32 units. While AGA was not notably less capable than its competition, when compared to VGA and its emerging extensions, the Amiga no longer commanded the lead it had in earlier times. Additionally, the Amiga’s custom chips cost more to produce than the increasingly ubiquitous commodity chips utilized in PCs, making the A1200 more expensive.[7] Some industry commentators also felt the 68020 microprocessor was already too outdated and that the new system should have been fitted with a 68030 to be competitive.

The gaming market, which had been a major factor in the A500′s popularity, was becoming ever more competitive with the emergence of more advanced and less expensive fourth generation console gaming systems, and multimedia-enabled IBM PC compatibles. As a result, fewer retailers carried the A1200, especially in North America. The A1200 also received bad press for being incompatible with a number of Amiga 500 game titles. Further criticism was directed at the A1200′s power supply which was often inadequate in expanded systems, limiting upgrade options that had been popular with earlier Amiga models. Due to less sales and short life-time, much fewer games titles were produced for A1200 than for previous generation of Amiga computers.

While Commodore never released any official sales figures, Commodore Frankfurt gave a figure of 95,000 Amiga 1200 systems sold in Germany.[4] Worldwide sales of A1200 should be less than 1 million units.[8]

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