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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:58 pm

(note: scroll down for pictures, read on for the story)

I've been on the hunt for an Amiga 1000 for some time. After having used over half of the models Commodore made, I eventually came to realize that the earlier models/OSes fit my current personal preference. As such, the original Amiga, the 1000, always seemed to call to me like a siren song off in the distance.

About a month ago, I thought I'd finally struck gold. I wound up winning an auction for a machine that appeared to have been boxed since the 1980s! The plastic was unblemished and near-perfect. It didn't have any expansions or extra peripherals, but I didn't care considering how great it looked. In the pictures (there weren't many) I only saw an old arm covered in liver spots holding up the machine. My guess was that arm belonged to the original owner, but who knows. He would have likely been in his mid-40s when he bought it back in 1985/86, if I was right. And I won it.

And then days rolled by and the auction's status never flipped over to "shipped". After nearly two weeks of sitting on my hands I finally contacted the seller. After three days of queries, I finally threatened to open a case if I didn't hear back within 24 hours. The excuses dropped into my email Inbox less than an hour later.

After three more days of unnecessary procrastination, I got my full refund. I hate it when I encounter Ebay turds like that... it's rare, but it does happen. At least I got all of my money back.

But during all of this commotion a different auction popped onto my radar. This machine was stated to be coming from a single original owner. The auction only had a few photos, and only one sentence of text to barely describe what was being offered. So I started to email the owner and got the info I was looking for that no one else saw as he never made my questions and his answers public, thus making the auction a total sleeper.

This "kid" (now grown up) had received this Amiga 1000 as his first computer, the machine "I learned about computers on". He had since moved away from home and his parents still had his old machine in the original box stored away and wanted it cleared from their home. So he was selling it from afar for them.

Amiga 1000s only came with 256KB of built-in RAM - about half of which (I think) is used to load Kickstart off a floppy and into memory on boot-up. Since the initial release of Kickstart was fairly buggy, Commodore decided to not burn it onto Kickstart ROM chips like they did later on with the Amiga 500, after it was a thousand times more stable.

Long story short, I won this auction and wound up getting it for almost 1/2 the price of what I would have spent on the scammy auction. And no, the machine had not been used in over 10 years, so there was no way of knowing what state the thing would be in when I got it. I accepted the risk and rolled the dice. The price was so much lower than I was used to seeing anywhere it felt like a decent gamble.

Today my Amiga 1000 arrived; see the pics below.

The 1000s tank mouse has that fantastic 90-degree connector where the case designer, Howard Stolz, actually paid attention to glorious little aesthetic details that the future big-box Amigas lack (IMO). The tank mouse that came in the box has pretty bad yellowing on one side, and the thing tracks like a pickup truck driving down a dirt road. The good news is I have 3 tank mice, all in excellent condition. So I'll be using one of those and simply swapping out the connector cable.

The case and keyboard are pretty dirty, but that's an easily solved situation. The case itself has some signs of yellowing, too. I can see where an old Amiga monitor used to sit on top it. That's not as easy a problem to solve. I'm not a huge retr0bright fan, but it may come to that later this summer.

This Amiga also came with its original manual and Kickstart/Workbench disks (1.1!). Thankfully, it also came with the "expansion set" of 1.3 disks. Whew! It also came with a "free disk" made my Electronic Arts called Kaleidoscope, which apparently is a sample disk of a program called Polyscope - basically an electronic kaleidoscope.

Inside the box is also an external floppy drive.

After plugging everything up, I held my breath and flicked on the power button. The machine was so quiet at first I thought it was dead. Then I noticed the red power light was on. After a few moments a Kickstart request screen popped up! Whew!!

I put in the KS 1.3 disk. Boom! The internal floppy started crunching nicely and its red light shone brightly. Next the screen switched to a WB request screen, so I put in the WB 1.3 disk.

All was well! The Amiga looked back at me, ready to get to work.

The auction didn't mention this, but this particular machine had its RAM expanded: 256KB Commodore RAM behind the front cover, and an additional 512KB on the side. Pretty cool! That means this 1000 has 1MB of RAM (apx 900kb free with WB loaded) which is pretty much what most "top-end" games require. Sweet!

I then ran and got my two Bard's Tale disks.

I shut the machine down and hooked up the external floppy drive. I re-inserted the Kickstart disk into the machine and fired her up again. Crunch-cruch. Then I inserted Bard's Tale into the drive instead of Workbench, and put the character disk into the external drive. Crunch-crunch. Bard's Tale fired right up! But hang on... it can't seem my 2nd drive for some reason.

I spent the next 20 minutes loading workbench trying to hit DF1, but it doesn't see it.

I took the drive to my Amiga 2000 and it saw it right away.

So for some reason, the drive won't mount on the 1000. That's a problem. I hope it isn't the CIA chip. I have some additional drives that I'm going to try and hook up to this thing, including an original never-used 1010. If that doesn't work, then 1) either there is some sort of DF1: mount command I need to learn and put into ... somewhere or 2) something goofy is going on with the external drive port, which would really surprise me, and suck.

For now, though, I'm going to start cleaning this thing, and later on pull the case off. I can't wait to see the signatures of Jay Miner and Mitchy, his dog, inside there!
Original outer-box of the Amiga 1000.

Keyboard, mouse and external drive. Bonus!

The incredibly unusual and awesome 90-degree connector for the 1000s tank mouse.

External case of the 1000. It has some mild yellowing along the top-front seam.

a1000 (7 of 13).jpg
The surprisingly odd keyboard connector - looks like an old-school phone plug.

a1000 (8 of 13).jpg
Back side of the 1000, with an (unexpected and awesome) 512KB RAM expansion.

a1000 (9 of 13).jpg
The whole kit and kaboodle.

a1000 (10 of 13).jpg
Kickstart Request screen. I have both 1.1 and 1.3 disks in the package.

a1000 (12 of 13).jpg
Workbench looks lovely.

This machine is looking really, really good. I need a hard drive! :)

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Posted Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:06 pm

Oh nice!

You can try taking the ball out of the mouse and gently scraping the little rollers with something (fingernail will do it). They tend to accumulate crud off your desk.


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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:56 am

You can try taking the ball out of the mouse and gently scraping the little rollers with something (fingernail will do it). They tend to accumulate crud off your desk.
Oh trust me, I took it apart completely. :)

I have a large stack of various dental tools from when I was sculpting things (over 10 years ago). I used those, as well as several other things. I was able to get the y-axis fixed perfectly. In fact, I got it smoother than butter. But the x-axis is still total garbage. I'm going to give it one more go, but unfortunately I think it may be destined for the recycling bin... although I'll probably keep it to potentially scrounge parts from it. I may be able to find a hideously orange mouse with perfect guts and swap the two at some stage.

Out of all the Amiga mouses ever made, this one is unfortunately the most unique with that L-connector, and the only one never reproduced or improved upon (i.e. left behind) from what I can tell. I can use just about any Amiga mouse with the 1000 I want, but it really doesn't look good having it stick out of the side of the thing.

I did see on Amibay one guy pull parts from an old laser Logitech mouse and get it to fit inside a tank (project here), but it looked really difficult and heavily customized. That's be the ideal way to go if one had the know-how.

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Zippy Zapp

Posted Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:52 am

Nice find. My timing is always bad trying to find an A1000 for a fair price. Not that I have room for it but hey.

As for Amiga 1000 memory I think it is technically 512k. 256k RAM for the system and 256k RAM called WCS (Writable Control Store) exclusively for the kickstart disk ROM. But if I remember correctly there was a few games that exploited this store for game data. But yeah you have the perfect amount of RAM for that floppy based system. Great!

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Posted Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:07 pm

The 1000 was my first Amiga and still my favorite. I have a mint one setup in my computer room and still love using it every day.

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:54 pm

That's awesome - I envy you having had it back in the day.

Since you're experience with it runs deep, I might bend your ear about it in the near future.

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Particles! BBS

Posted Sat Jul 29, 2017 5:44 pm

That's awesome dude - first time I've seen pics of it ;)

The 1000 is the first one I used. Later on, though I had a beefy 1200, using my friend's 1000 just seemed 'right'.

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