Retro computing – Amiga 500


I was surprised that it worked, but it did. Dad and I cranked up the old Amiga 500 yesterday. The power supply is bigger than many of today’s desktop computers and it needs a strange set of cables to get it connected to a TV but other than that, it looks like a pretty modern machine – everything built into a space not significantly bigger than the keyboard.

I immediately remembered the familiar tick when there’s no disk in the drive and when you do put one in, it sounds like it’s being ground up like coffee beans rather than read by delicate electronics. The first game we tried – Shadow of the Beast II – didn’t work, I think the disk had degraded.

But Mig-29 Soviet Fighter loaded up without a hitch and was very playable. The Amiga mouse is also a lot better than I would have expected – they haven’t improved that much over the years.

I’d assumed Commodore was a European firm but originally they were Canadian and later moved their HQ to New York. By the time I was using the Amiga the company was in trouble in the US due to competition from PCs, but they kept on going in the UK during the 1990s because it remained a strong market and the UK arm apparently nearly bought out the whole outfit.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of stuff online about all the games and the electronics inside the Amiga – it was a very well loved machine. A second hand Amiga can cost you about the same as a second hand Playstation 3. I’m very glad it still works and I think it deserves to be used so I’ll bring it into the office at some point.

  • Brilliant to know you’ve still got one! We gave ours away years ago, but over Christmas I had a go at getting PUAE running on the Mac. Worked a treat, and whiled away a good few hours playing Rainbow Islands, Cannon Fodder and It Came From The Desert. Such good memories and a remarkable machine.

  • Also have a ZX Spectrum that I’m going to bring in – just needs a new keyboard and then ready to use!