How to Get Another Year Out of Your Commodore Amiga

The Commodore Amiga 4000 is a true law office workhorse.  We’ve got three A4000s humming in the office, two just upgraded from the 500 and one upgraded from the Commodore 64. As with many aging computers, though, how do you eke out another year without having to shell out the big bucks to upgrade to a Packard Bell or to one of the newer Wangs? With careful planning, solid optimization, and a bit of luck, you can continue to get good mileage out of your Amiga. Here’s how we do it.

amiga-4000

Parts

It’s best to stock up on parts, which are readily available at any area Radio Shack. But, even though Radio Shack continues to offer serial ports, SCSI controllers, and AM radio plush animal pillows, it doesn’t mean they will be doing so forever, or at least not until 2030. Buy a dozen of everything, just to have them available. Remember, too, that the joystick on the A4000 is a bit dicey. It’s best to have two extra joysticks around in case one of yours goes on the fritz.

Reinstall AmigaOS

If you are like us, you’ve probably kept your set of six floppy disks with AmigaOS 3.1, which includes Workbench 3.0 and Kickstart 3.0. Simply reinstall the system using a simple command line interface or, better yet, upgrade to AmigaOS 4. While it’s not nearly the same as the Apple IOS 4, AmigaOS 4 does have some nice features, like support for CD-ROM. But, remember, for AmigaOS 4, you’ll need a CyberStorm PPC board installed. Again, grab one at Radio Shack if you don’t have one.

Optimize Your RAM

The A4000 comes with a surface mounted 2 MB Amiga Chip RAM. If you are still at 2 MB, you really should consider upgrading to the full capacity of 18 MB. The boost in speed will noticeably cut down on computer time in the office. Before we added more RAM, we could watch all of “My Dinner with Andre” before the A4000 got back to us with basic search results. Now, however, we barely have time to get to the action scenes before we have to get back to work. Sure, that can be frustrating, but it does help, especially when you need to churn out a brief with WordPerfect or render a new video with the Amiga’s NewTek Video Toaster.

As with any cutting-edge technology, you need to pay attention to regular maintenance to keep things running smoothly. With just these three tips, we expect you can get another year out of your A4000, or at least enough life so that you can budget and plan for a Kaypro or a Wang Freestyle. Or, better yet, switch to a portable device, such as the Apple Newton MessagePad. Whatever you do, good luck.