Commodore Amiga

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Commodore-Amiga, Inc.
Former type Subsidiary
Industry Computer hardware
Founded 1985
Defunct 1994
Headquarters West Chester, PA, United States
Key people Irving Gould (Chairman),
Mehdi Ali (President)
Parent Commodore Business Machines


The Commodore Amiga is a computing platform, introduced by Commodore in 1985.

The classic Amiga used the Motorola MC680x0 family of processors and a custom chip set which gave it good graphics and sound capabilities (for the time) at a low cost. Its proprietary operating system had a windowing system and was one of the first for home computers to have preemptive multitasking. It was considered before its time when it arrived but behind its time when Commodore folded in 1994.

The platform still has a small but very dedicated user community which has produced different expansions, emulators and follow-up systems. This is an input device wiki, so the focus of this article is on Amiga keyboards and mice.

Common features of Amiga keyboards

  • What makes the Amiga keyboard layout stand out the most are the two Amiga keys at each end of the space bar.
  • ANSI Amiga keyboards have a backwards-L ("Big-Ass") Return key where as ISO keyboards have a vertical Return key. Compared to PC keyboards, ISO has not one but two additional keys: one next to left Shift and one next to a vertical Return key. All variations have a small Backspace key.
  • The layout has both a Ctrl key and a Caps Lock key to the left of 'A' on the home row. Unlike the PC the (only) Ctrl key is seldom used in GUI based programs and is used mainly in terminal emulators, the command console and Micro Emacs which shipped with the OS.
  • The Caps Lock key has a LED in it to indicate Caps mode. This is the only LED used, so a dedicated LED panel is not necessary.
  • There are Cursor keys, with Del and Help keys above them. Shift+cursor is used to move the cursor to beginning of line, end of line, page up and page down, so special navigation keys for these tasks are not needed. Text selection using the keyboard is typically modal, initiated with the key combination Amiga-B and ended with Amiga-C or Amiga-X.
  • There are two Alt keys, both functioning as second-level Shift (like the Alt Gr key on PC, or the Option key on Macintosh), on the bottom left and bottom right corners of the main typing area.
  • All Amiga keyboards except the one in the Amiga 600 have a numeric keypad. Starting with the Amiga 2000, the numpad also has +, *, /, as well as left and right brackets. The added keys, different layout and side printed legends make it more compatible with the layout in the common IBM Enhanced Keyboard, which was relevant for PC emulation.

External Amiga keyboards

Most external Amiga keyboards have been found with tactile switches. The exceptions are the Cherry-made versions that instead have linear Cherry MX Black.

Amiga 1000

There is a storage area for the keyboard under the Amiga 1000's case where it could be stored when not in use. The keyboard is are more compact than later full-sized Amiga keyboards. The cursor keys are in a star instead of an inverse-T.

Amiga 2000

Three variants have been identified: 1. With Cherry MX Black 2. With tactile NMB switches 3. With tactile KPQ type Mitsumi hybrid switches.

Amiga 1500, Amiga 2500

Late variations of the Amiga 2000.

Amiga 3000 (T)

External. Linear KPR no sleeves, spring only or Tactile KPQ type Mitsumi hybrid switches with rubber sleeves under the keycaps. The keyboard case had been updated with stripes on top reminding of the cooling vents on the Amiga 500.

The connector is the same DIN-plug as for the Amiga 2000.

Amiga CDTV

Basically a black version of the Amiga 3000 keyboard, but with a mini-DIN connector using a custom pinout.

Amiga 4000 (T)

Similar to the Amiga 3000 keyboard. The case is white (not beige) and has (yet) another connector.

The connector is a 6-pin mini-DIN with pin-out: 1:Data, 3:Ground, 4:+5V, 5:Clock. Pins 2 and 6 are not connected.[1]

Amiga CD32

Anthracite case and keys with black modifiers, plus the "Amiga CD32" logo.[2]

The connector is the same 6-pin mini-DIN as for the Amiga 4000, except that the keyboard port also doubles as a serial port. Pins 2 and 6 are used for RS-232 transmit and receive, respectively.[1]

Integrated Amiga keyboards

These are inside the computer's case above the logic-board. Where as most external Amiga keyboards have tactile feel, most integrated Amiga keyboards have linear feel.

Amiga 500 keyboards have Power and FDD activity LEDs on a circuit board together with the keyboard controller in the keyboard assembly. Inside the Amiga 600 and 1200, the controller is instead on the main logic-board and Power, FDD and HD activity LEDs are on a separate board.

Amiga 500 (+)

Early Amiga 500 keyboard

Like the Amiga 2000, the Amiga 500 has also come in multiple revisions.

Early models have Hi-Tek Series 725 "Space Invader" switches like the Amiga 2000 keyboard.[3]

Most Amiga 500s have linear KPR type Mitsumi hybrid switches with coiled springs under the keycaps.

Amiga 1200

Linear KPR type Mitsumi hybrid switches with coiled springs under the keycaps. The membrane extends as a ribbon cable to a connector on the main logic board where the controller is located.

Amiga 600

More compact layout that omitted the numeric keypad. The cursor keys and the Help and Del keys have moved left and the Esc key is 1.25 units wide.

The Amiga 600 is believed to have mostly linear Mitsumi hybrid switches[4] as is common with most Amiga keyboards though at last one sample has been found using what appears to be a variant of NMB dome with slider, this time with the discrete domes not glued to the membrane sheet.[5]

Other Amiga Keyboards

AmigaOne

The AmigaOne platform supports common PS/2 keyboards and mice.

Amiga Infinitiv Keyboard

The Infinitiv kit from Micronik allowed an Amiga 1200 to be turned into a minitower system with an external keyboard enclosure.

Conversion kits for the Amiga 500 also existed, but as the Amiga 500 talked a serial protocol these could use extension cables.

Keyboard interface

All Commodore Amiga keyboards use the same serial protocol, but there are different connectors and pinouts. Several third-party adapters between different Amiga connectors have been produced. Note that the Commodore CDTV keyboard pinout is special, and not compatible with the Amiga 4000 even though both have mini-DIN.

The Amiga 500 has a serial cable connected to the motherboard and can be adapted or rebuilt to use an external keyboard. The Amiga 1200 and 600 have serial communication only between components on the motherboard, so any adapter would have to be a controller or emulate a matrix, respectively.

All Amiga keyboards (are supposed to) have the same logical matrix unless they have N-key rollover. The matrix was published in the Amiga Hardware Reference Manual so that software developers would be able to avoid blocking key combinations.[6]

Keyboard adapters

Other keyboard to Amiga

  • The Lyra is a converter that allows a PS/2 keyboard to be connected to an Amiga. There is a version for the Amiga 1200 and a version for Amiga 2000/3000/4000/CDTV/CD32.
  • The PC-Key is an interface device for the Amiga 1200 and 600, allowing them to use an external Amiga keyboard or a PS/2 keyboard.
  • The Sum adapter enables connecting a USB HID keyboard to the Amiga 1200.

Amiga keyboards to USB

The options below require more or less hacking.

  • The Keyrah is a controller that replaces the motherboard in the Amiga 600 and 1200 (also the Vic 20, Vic 64 and 128). It has two digital joystick ports and USB out. Joysticks are emulated as key presses.
  • Tynemouth Software has different adapter boards for installation into Amiga 1200/600 and 500 enclosures.
  • AMIGA 500/1000/2000 Keyboard Interface. Firmware for an Arduino Leonardo, allowing an external Amiga keyboard to be connected via USB to a modern computer.
  • EzHID Amiga Keyboard Firmware for the Cypress' EZ-USB (AN2131) chip. The firmware has support for other input devices.

Mouse

Original "tank" mouse supplied with the Amiga 1000 and later the A500.
All Amiga models came with a ball mouse to be plugged into the first of two male DE-9 Controller ports. Those two ports are also used for joysticks, Amiga paddles and light pens etc.

Mouse buttons

If the right mouse button is pressed a menu bar appears at the top of the screen. A menu item is selected by releasing the right button when hovering the pointer above it. Releasing the mouse button elsewhere cancels. Third-party utilities were available that replaced (or complimented) the menu bar with a pop-up menu underneath the mouse pointer.

An Amiga mouse can contain minimal logic - each sensor inside the mouse gets one or more direct wires inside the mouse cable, with +5 V and Ground shared between components. An Amiga mouse does not work on the Atari ST, but building a passive adapter is straightforward: lines have to be crossed. Some third-party mice contain a switch to change between Amiga and Atari usage.

Mouse models

  • "Tank mouse" (Amiga 1000, 2000, 500). Variation 1. 1352. A variations of the 1350 and 1351 for the Commodore 64 but delivering pulse trains directly on the port.
  • Tank mouse version 2: 313254-01
  • Amiga 3000 "pregnant" mouse. Ridge at edges between buttons.. [7]
  • Amiga 3000 UX mouse. This has three buttons for use with Amiga Unix.[7]
  • Wireless infrared CDTV mouse. "CD 1252".[8]
  • Wired CDTV mouse, 1253. Apparently inspired by the 1987 Microsoft mouse: the ball has moved forward and the buttons are larger.[8]
  • Amiga 1200/4000/6000 mouse. Similar to 1253 but off-white like the computers it was bundled with.
  • CD32 mouse.
  • Amiga Technologies Mouse. Made by Amiga Technologies who had bought Commodore assets after Commodore had folded.


See also

  • Atari interface — Every Amiga had two of these Controller ports for mouse and joystick/s.
  • Atari ST — This computer was the Amiga's biggest competitor at the time.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Amiga Keyboard Pinouts on l8r.net. Retrieved on 2018-01-04
  2. Amiga.org — Is there a genuine CD32 keyboard?
  3. Amibay — Help Key and white "space invaders" switch
  4. Eski Bilgisayarlarım — Amiga 600
  5. ExRetro.com — Disassembly of an A600 keyboard, UK model
  6. AmigaOS 3.5 Developer Docs — Amiga Hardware Reference Manual: Interface hardware: The Keyboard: Limitations of the Keyboard. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Zimmers.net—Commodore/Amiga A3000 "Pregnant" Mice. Retrieved 2018-07-13
  8. 8.0 8.1 Zimmers.net—Commodore 1252 & 1253 Mice. Retrieved 2018-07-13