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The Commodore Amiga is a computing platform, introduced by Commodore in 1985. It has lived a bleak life since Commodore went bankrupt in 1994. 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. This is an input device wiki, so the focus of this article is Amiga keyboards and mice.
- 1 Common features of Amiga keyboards
- 2 Commodore Amiga models
- 3 Other Amiga Keyboards
- 4 Keyboard adapters
- 5 Mouse
- 6 References
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 and a small Back Space key, whereas ISO keyboards have not only one additional letter/symbol key but two: one next to left Shift and one next to a vertical Return key. The Amiga-ISO layout also has a small Back Space key.
- The layout has both a Ctrl key and a Caps Lock key to the left of 'A' on the home row. Unlike Windows 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.
- All Amiga keyboards have a Caps Lock key with a LED in it to indicate Caps mode. This is the only LED used, so a dedicated LED panel is not necessary.
- To the right of the main typing area are cursor keys. Above them are the Del and Help keys.
- 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.
- Shift-arrow are 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.
- Above the main typing area, there is an Esc key and ten function keys.
- All Amiga keyboards except the one in the Amiga 600 have also a numeric keypad. Starting with the Amiga 2000, the numpad also has '+', '*', '/', as well as left and right parenthesis. 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.
Commodore Amiga models
In chronological order:
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 layouts were more compact than later full-sized Amiga keyboards. The cursor keys were in a star instead of an inverse-T.
Amiga 1500, Amiga 2500
Late models of the Amiga 2000. Mitsumi keyboards.
Amiga 500 (+)
The keyboard is built into the computer case, but the controller is on the keyboard. Like the Amiga 2000, the Amiga 500 has also come in different revisions.
Most Amiga 500s have Mitsumi hybrid switches. Unlike the Amiga 2000, these are linear with a coiled spring and a black slider with a somewhat mushy landing.
Amiga 3000 (T)
External. Tactile Mitsumi hybrid switches with a rubber sleeve like the latest Amiga 2000 keyboard but a more distinct landing like the Amiga 1200 keyboard. The keyboard case had been updated with stripes on top resembling the cooling vents on the Amiga 500.
The connector is the same DIN-plug as for the Amiga 2000.
Basically a black version of the Amiga 3000 keyboard, but with a mini-DIN connector using a custom pinout.
Built-in keyboard with controller on the motherboard, most of the time using linear Mitsumi hybrid switches 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.
More compact layout that omitted the numeric keypad. The other keys on the right are laid out as on the Amiga 1000, except for cursor keys who are now laid out in an inverse T at the bottom right corner.
Amiga 4000 (T)
Similar to the Amiga 3000 keyboard. The case is white (not beige) and has (yet) another connector. At least two varieties exist, both from Mitsumi but only one using rubber sleeves to provide tactility rather than giving the usual linear feel common to most Amiga keyboards.
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.
Anthracite case and keys with black modifiers, plus the "Amiga CD32" logo.
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.
Other Amiga Keyboards
There were third-party kits for converting Amigas with built-in keyboards into towers.
The AmigaOne platform used 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.
All Commodore Amiga keyboards use the same wire protocol, but there are different connectors and pinouts. Several third-party adapters between different Amiga connectors have been produced. Pin-outs are described under the heading for each particular keyboard above. 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.
External keyboards for the 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.
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.
- 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.
All Amiga models came with a two-button ball mouse to be plugged into the first of two male DE-9 ports. Those two ports were also used for Atari-compatible joysticks and other peripherals.
If the right 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. The same 9-pin D-sub ports can also used be for Atari-compatible digital joysticks, analogue paddles and light pens, but there is no identification protocol. 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.
- Amibay — Help Key and white "space invaders" switch
- The-Liberator.net — Disassembly of an ESCOM Amiga 1200HD
- Eski Bilgisayarlarım — Amiga 600
- ExRetro.com — Disassembly of an A600 keyboard, UK model
- Amiga Keyboard Pinouts on l8r.net. Retrieved on 2018-01-04
- Amiga.org — Is there a genuine CD32 keyboard?