The Amiga Family
I'd like to buy an Amiga 500, but I don't know how compatible it is with the Amiga 1000. How compatible is it? Can it run IBM software like the 1000?
Yip Man Tsang
The Amiga 500 is basically a repackaged Amiga 1000. It has all the powerful features of an Amiga 1000—multitasking (the ability to run several programs at the same time), excellent sound, and the most impressive graphics system of any home computer. The keyboard, while not detachable, has been expanded and enhanced. Most people agree that the 500's keyboard has a better feel than the 1000's. The Amiga 500 comes with more standard RAM than the 1000 (512Kvs. 256K for the 1000), and is easily upgradable to one megabyte (1024K). Best of all, the 500 has a much lower price.
The Amiga 500 is compatible with all software written for an Amiga 1000 running version 1.2 of Kickstart and Workbench. It will not run some software written for version 1.1 (remember, Kickstart 1.2 has been placed in ROM on the Amiga 500). This shouldn't be a problem since nearly all commercial software is now written for version 1.2.
Some hardware designed for the 1000 does not work on the 500. Before you plug anything into your 500's expansion connector, make sure to ask whether it is compatible with your computer. Now that there are three Amiga models, most manufacturers clearly state which model or models their products work with.
Currently, only the Amiga 1000 and 2000 have the ability to run IBM PC software. The Amiga 2000 offers an optional bridge card (an 8088 microprocessor on a board), and the 1000 has a hardware addon (called the Sidecar) for IBM compatibility. Commodore has not mentioned any details for running PC software on the 500, but there's always hope—the numeric keypad includes IBM cursor-control keys.