The Commodore Amiga 500 was the second computer I owned, having upgraded from the legendary Commodore 64.

Featuring 512Kb of memory, a Motorola 68000 at 7Mhz and three custom chips offering high resolution graphics (up to 640x512), lots of colours (up to 4096 colours on screen) and four channel digital sound, it was indeed a great step forward. Having upgraded it to 1Mb of memory - which is to say, one eight-thousandths of the memory currently residing in my PC - I decided to try my hand at writing software for my newly bought marvel.

Being used to the Commodore 64 with its built in basic and on-cart machine code monitor, I was expecting something great here. Obviously, Commodore would include a great version of basic and a machine code monitor with all the features, so I could get started right away.

Amiga 500 advert from 1989. (Source: Commodore Billboard)
Above: Amiga 500 advert from 1989.

Well... No. My brand new Amiga 500 came without any programming language at all*. Something which, back then, came as a bit of a shock. Sure, nowadays it's pretty much expected that a new PC won't include a programming language (Linux/Unix based ones left aside). But in the 80's and early 90's almost all computers came with a version of basic or something like it pre-installed.

Lucky me the Amiga Format magazine of that particular month came with a coverdisk containing a programming language called AMOS. Not knowing at the time what I was getting into**, I set about creating lots and lots of not-so-great games and utilities.

So, at the very end of the 1990's I released two of my nicer AMOS based programs: A.S.O.S. (a GUI to be used in AMOS programs) and Breakout (my take on Arkanoid). As I learned more I also wrote and released a C multitasking tutorial and eventually a Blitz Basic, but unfinished, version of Pacman. You can still download all these from the site.

Should I make another program for the Amiga, it probably won't be written in AMOS (or Blitz Basic). But I did have a lot of fun writing stuff in these basic-plus type languages on my marvellous Amiga 500, so I decided to keep my efforts online for others to enjoy. Spaghetti code and all!

Available articles so far:

*) Yes, Amiga basic existed, but my A500 was one of the first Amiga's delivered without it included on the Workbench & Extras disks.

**) As it turned out, AMOS disregarded every hint, tip, suggestion and plea made by Commodore about how to do things. At the time this didn't seem like a big deal - after all, most of the games available didn't do things any better! - but in retrospect I've become pretty sure that this is not the way to do things if you want to say, use your program on a higher specced machine!