The A1200 was considered the baby brother of the A4000 and was a very popular low-end machine of the early 1990's and is still popular among Amiga users today. It's probably the most common Amiga model still in regular use in vastly expanded forms.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Type Personal computer
Release date October 1992
Operating system AmigaOS 3.0-3.1
CPU Motorola 68EC020 @ 14 MHz
Memory 2 MB
The Amiga 1200, or A1200, was Commodore International's third-generation Amiga computer, aimed at the home market. It was launched in October 21, 1992, at a base price of £399 in the United Kingdom and $599 in the United States. Initially, only 30,000 A1200s were available at the UK launch.Like its predecessor, the Amiga 500, the A1200 is an all-in-one design incorporating the CPU, keyboard, and disk drives (including, unlike the A500, the option of an internal hard disk drive) in one physical unit.The system competed directly against the Atari Falcon, but intended as a home computer it inadvertently competed against entry level PCs and 16-bit game consoles. During the first year of its life the system reportedly sold well, but not comparable to game consoles and in a desire to compete Commodore launched the Amiga 1200-based Amiga CD32 game console in June 1993.The future looked good for the Amiga 1200, but due to poor financial management, Commodore ran into cash flow problems and soon went bankrupt - this despite the fact that the Amiga 1200 and Amiga CD32 both were successful products Before going bankrupt Commodore had found buyers of around 1 million units of A1200. With Commodore’s demise, the A1200 almost disappeared off the market, but the system got a second chance with Escom's re-launch in 1995.The new Escom A1200 was almost identical to the original model, the difference being a slightly updated operating system and a floppy disk drive from a different manufacturer. Re-launched at a price of one-hundred and fifty dollars above what it had been sold for two years prior (equal to the 1992 launch price) potential buyers found that the system provided little value and largely ignored the system. After Escom's financial problems, the Amiga 1200 was taken off the market some time during 1996.
Although a significant upgrade, the A1200 proved not to be as popular as the earlier Amiga 500. There were a number of reasons for this:
* While its graphics capabilities stood up well in comparison to the competition, the Amiga no longer commanded the lead it had in earlier times.
* The Amiga's custom chips cost more to produce than the commodity chips utilized in PCs, making the A1200 more expensive, relative to PCs, than earlier Amiga models.
* Fewer retailers carried the A1200, especially in the United States.
* The Amiga 1200 received bad press for being incompatible with a number of Amiga 500 games.p>
* Some industry commentators felt a 68020 CPU was too old and slow to be competitive, and that the machine should have been fitted with at least an '030. Complaints were also made about the capabilities of the AGA chipset. Commodore had earlier been first working on a much improved version of the original Amiga chipset, codenamed "AAA", but when that fell behind they'd rushed out the much less improved AGA found on the A1200/A4000/CD32 units. It had been working on an improved chipset, codenamed "Hombre" when it went bankrupt.Although Commodore never released any official sales figures, it is estimated that Commodore shipped fewer than 1 million A1200s worldwide before going bankrupt in April 1994
Processor and RAM
The A1200 utilized the Motorola MC68EC020 CISC CPU (roughly four times faster than the 68000 processor in the A500). It is noteworthy that, like the 68000, the 68EC020 had a 24-Bit address space; allowing for a theoretical maximum of 16 MB of memory.
It shipped with 2 MB of Chip RAM. Chip RAM could not be expanded beyond those 2 MB, but an additional 8 MB of Fast RAM could be added through use of the trapdoor expansion slot.Later, various accelerators featuring 68020, 68030, 68040, 68060 and PowerPC processors were made available by third parties. Such accelerators did not only have faster CPUs but also more and faster memory (on the most expensive boards 256 MB on two 128 MB SIMMs), real time clocks, IDE and SCSI ports and other enhancements.
Graphics and sound
The A1200 shipped with Commodore's third-generation chipset, the Advanced Graphics Architecture or AGA. As the name implies, the AGA chipset had superior graphical abilities in comparison with the earlier chipsets.The A1200's faster CPU also allowed for higher sampling rates for sound playback, however the basic sound hardware was not upgraded and remains identical to the original Amiga 1000.
Peripherals and expansion
The A1200 featured Amiga compatible connectors including two DB9M ports for joysticks, mice, and light pens, a standard 25-pin RS-232 serial port and a 25-pin Centronics parallel port. As a result the A1200 was compatible with many existing Amiga peripherals, such as external floppy disk drives, MIDI interfaces, sound samplers and video digitizers.Like the earlier Amiga 600 the A1200 featured a PCMCIA Type II slot and an internal 44-pin ATA interface both most commonly seen on laptop computers. In addition the A1200 featured a 32-bit CPU/RAM expansion slot and a feature unique to the A1200, the so called 'clock port'.The clock port was a remnant of an abandoned design feature for addition of internal RAM and a real time clock. Later, third-party developers put it to ingenious use by creating an array of innovative expansions for the A1200, such as, high performance I/O cards, audio cards and even a USB controller.The 16-bit PCMCIA Type II interface allowed use of a number of compatible peripherals available for the laptop market, though only 16-bit (Type II) PCMCIA cards are hardware compatible, newer 32-bit PC Card or CardBus peripherals are incompatible. The PCMCIA implementation is almost identical to the one featured on the earlier A600. A number of Amiga peripherals were released by third-party developers for this connector including SRAM cards, CD-ROM controllers, SCSI controllers, network cards, sound samplers and video digitizers. Later, a number of compatible laptop peripherals have been made to operate with this port including, serial modems, wired and wireless network cards and CompactFlash adaptors.One problematic factor for expanding the A1200 was the rather limited 23 watt power supply. Hard disks and even external floppy drives could stress the power supply leading to system instability. The problem could be mitigated by replacing the default power supply with a higher rated supply, such as the one supplied with the A500.If one was willing to forgo the A1200's form-fitting desktop case in exchange for further expansion options it was possible to re-house the hardware into alternate casing. Several third-party developers built and supplied kits to 'tower up' the A1200 and in essence convert it to a 'big box' Amiga. These expansion kits allowed use of PC AT Keyboards, hard disk bays, CD-ROM drives, and Zorro II , Zorro III and PCI expansion slots. Such expansion slots made it possible to use devices not originally intended for the A1200, such as, graphic, sound and network cards.The revision of the A1200 manufactured by Escom was fitted with PC-based 'High Density' floppy disk drives that had been downgraded to Double Density drives. This resulted in some software incompatibility (PC style drives do not supply a "ready" signal, which signals if there is a floppy in the disk drive.).
The first incarnation of the A1200 shipped with AmigaOS 3.0, consisting of Workbench 3.0 and Kickstart 3.0 (revision 39.106), which together provided standard single-user operating system functionality and support for the built-in hardware. The later Amiga Technologies/Escom models shipped with AmigaOS 3.1 and Kickstart 3.1, though earlier A1200 models could be upgraded by installing compatible Kickstart 3.1 ROM chips. The later AmigaOS 3.5 and 3.9 releases were A1200 compatible as pure software updates requiring Kickstart 3.1.
AmigaOS 4, a PowerPC native release of the operating system, can be used with the A1200 provided compatible PowerPC hardware is installed. Likewise, MorphOS, an alternative Amiga specific operating system can be used with this hardware.
Variants of platform independent operating systems such as Linux and BSD can also be used with the A1200.
* CPU: Motorola 68EC020 at 14.32 MHz (NTSC) or 14.18 MHz (PAL)
* Chipset: AGA (Advanced Graphics Architecture)
+ 24-bit color palette (16.8 Million colors)
+ Up to 256 on-screen colors in indexed mode
+ 262,144 on-screen colors in HAM-8 mode
+ Resolutions of up to 1024×768i 1280×512i (more with overscan)
+ HSync rates of 15.60-31.44 kHz
o Audio (Paula):
+ 4 voices / 2 channels (Stereo)
+ 8-bit resolution / 6-bit volume per voice
+ Maximum DMA sampling rate of 28-56 kHz (depending on video mode in use)
o 512 kB Kickstart ROM
o 2 MB Amiga Chip RAM
o Up to 8 MB of Fast RAM in the expansion slot without CPU upgrade
o Up to 256 MB of Fast RAM in the expansion slot with CPU upgrade
* Removable Storage:
o 3.5" DD floppy disk drive, capacity 880 kB
* Internal Storage:
o ATA-Controller supporting PIO-2 transfer mode[clarification needed]
* Input/Output connections:
o Analogue RGB video out (DB-23M)
o Composite video out (RCA)
o RF audio/video out (RCA)
o Audio out (2 × RCA)
o 2 × Mouse/Joypad ports (DE9)
o RS-232 serial port (DB-25M)
o Centronics style parallel port (DB-25F)
o Floppy disk drive port (DB-23F)
o 16-bit Type II PCMCIA slot
o 150 pin local expansion port (trapdoor)
* Other characteristics
o Weight: 3.6 kg (8 lb).
o Size: 24.1 cm deep, 47.0 cm wide, 7.62 cm high (9.5" × 18.5" × 3")
o Integrated keyboard with 96 keys (including 10 function keys and a numeric keypad)
* Operating System:
o AmigaOS 3.0 or 3.1. (Kickstart 3.0-3.1/Workbench 3.0-3.1)
Advantages over the low-cost Amiga 600
* AGA graphics chipset
o 24-Bit color palette (12-Bit on A600)
o HAM-8 and 8-Bit color modes
o Improved sprite graphics
o Faster graphics performance
* 2 MB of Amiga Chip RAM by default
* Faster CPU
* Expansion slot and clock port
* Numeric keypad
Software officially bundled with the A1200 included Deluxe Paint IV AGA (2D image and animation editor) and Final Copy (word processor). The Amiga Technologies/Escom version was bundled with applications, such as, Scala (multimedia authoring software) and Wordworth (word processor).
* The A1200 far outlived its shelf life, despite being only a desktop-based home computer. This was made possible by third party expansions released long after the Amiga disappeared from shops.
* Because the unit's built-in memory was shared between the CPU and the sound and video chips, making it slow, adding additional RAM (so called "Fast RAM", which wasn't shared) increased the A1200's speed to a larger degree (double: ~2.26x) than one would expect on, say, an IBM PC.
* The A1200 motherboard is inscribed with "Channel Z", which is a reference to the B52's song.
* New Old Stock Amiga 1200's, manufactured by Amiga Technologies, are still currently available from various online retailers.The Amiga Magic Pack NOS-available right now at Amiga Kit.
A recent Episode of the Fox Show "Bones" featured a Black Amiga 1200. Although they dialogue got the name "Amiga" right, the technical information that the cast spoke was utter "nonsense"
The A1200 pops up all the time on Ebay and generally go for $150 to $200 stock. The collectors know to avoid these auctions and go right to AmigaKit for a new or used unit that comes with a full warranty.
My Collection (as of January 1, 2010)
Supposibly, I have had a unit willed to me by a dear departed friend. So far the estate has not been able to find the unit. I was also to have another one in a big shipment from down south, but at this time, it looks like that deal has gone bust. So I ordered one in from AmigaKit.com in April of last year:
The following is a review from my old blog:
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The (new) A1200 is in
This past week has been a real treasure trove for the Amiga. I have a ton of stuff coming in and over the weekend I decided to pull the trigger and get me an A1200. I doubt if I will ever see the one that was will to me so I had decided a long time ago that I would order one from Amiga Kit.com.
Also, this month Softhut will be getting a shipment of new A1200 Accelerators. I ordered one with 32 megs of ram and the scsi upgrade.
I went to Amigkit and ordered a re-furbished A1200 with a 40 gig internal hard drive and OS 3.9 (knowing about the Accelerator). I also got an Indvision A1200 internal graphics card, so I can hook it all up to a modern VGA Monitor.
Ath this point, I thought I was just about set, but then a deal on an A4000 desktop poped up that I couldn't refuse. (Sigh).
AmigaKit is just way too good! They sent it Fed Ex and it arrived today.
Now, (I guess) because Amiga kit has been dealing with rabid collectors for years, they know how to ship an Amiga WITHOUT screwing up the box (unlike A LOT of other Amiga dealers). They carefully wrap the box in plastic wrap first, to avoid damage to the box and complants from the customers who wish to keep everything mint or as close to as possible.
Once I carefully removed the plastic wrap, we can see what the box looked like. This is not an "original" "Commodore" A1200, but a A1200 produced around 1996 by the German company That bought the rights- Amiga Technologies.
The box has a few dents and wear marks in it but hey after 15 years this is to be expected, and besides, this was not "NOS".
Now, Amiga Kit does not ship Power Supplies wit the units because they are North American models and Amiga kit is in UK, so once the cover was off you see the set-up instructions.
I broke out my A500 PS to hook it all up
You can see that this unit is perfectly white, almost new. I found out later, that the shell and shielding is brand new.
Here is the software that came with it. OS 3.9 was installed on the hard drive. I also found out later from Matthew at Amiga kit, that the 40 gig HD was upgraded for free to an 80 Gig. I gues it is hard to find 40 Gigs now.
The indivision card was installed at Amiga kit. One of the complaints on the boards was the lack of cover out the back from the manufacture. Amiga Kit did a nice job in making one.
I hooked it all up to my TV for now, as I have to clean off my bench in my room to make room for this. The indvision card is having issues right now, but I don't have a lot of time before work left. I will futz more with it tomorow. I can't really go anything until the accelorator arives anyway.
Update April 13 2010,
I NEVER did get the Accelorator from SOFTHUT. I did, after 4 months get my money refunded, but I did fin an Accelorator for the a1200, the Microbotics M1230 XA card. Today's Task was to find some EDO ram and install the M1230 board in my 1200.
the Microbotics M1230 XA card.
Also, these card take regular 72 pin simms for Ram, and the hold up to 128 megs, so I have to hunt down some from my pile. I will have that A1200 smoking long before the
it was off to the store room to find my EDO stash. I found it, but, I discovered the largest stick was only 32 megs, so I will have to live with that for now. I also downloaded the manual for it
I took this time to replace the battery. The old battery seemed to have a bit of corrosion on it, and it probably had died long ago
Now, according to the instructions, all you had to do was open the access panel and put in the card. Yeah, Right.
As you can see the card is way bigger that the opening. I tried every which way to put this card in, but it seemed that MENSA puzzles were easier to do this early in the morning. So I broke out the screw driver and (GASP) broke the warranty seal from AmigaKit, and opened up the case.
Once all the crews were out (I didn't need to remove all of them, more on that later), I noticed that I am not the only one who like to use the hot glue gun.
Every cable (which is a very good idea) is glued down. Even on the floppy drive.
Now, from the top, you could slide in the board very easily. The only "hard" thing was trying to figure out where to push on the board, to plug it into the A1200, because it did need a bit of force to slide on the connection.
Now it was just a matter of putting it all back together, but something didn't feel right. There was nothing to mount the hard drive to, that I could see anyway. I doubt if Amigakit shipped it just loose. I put the shell back together and the it hit me. There four screws under the top "Lip" . There is nothing in these left hand side ones, and the other side is the floppy drive, so that must be where they mounted it
Sure enough, I was right. Those four screws did not have to be removed, and you can see that AmigaKit glued a small plastic shield down on the indivision, where the hard drive touches it (or might)
Now, everything fit back together perfectly. and nothing is loose or rattling.
Another UPDATE will come soon, as I have a Co-processor and a Gail Chip adapter to install in it. I also have a network card, but the software came on CD which is very useless to an A1200. I am looking at getting an IDE fix also, so I can put a CD-ROM on this A1200 soon.