"The Amiga was a family of personal computers, Commodore company's 16-bit generation home computer. The first model appeared in 1985 as a high-end product with graphical, audio and multitasking capacities ahead of its time. The most popular model, Amiga 500, was introduced in 1987 and became the leading home computer of the late 1980s and first years of 1990s in the most of West-Europe. In the USA success was more modest. Amiga computers were used especially for gaming, demoscene-activites plus graphic and video editing. Second generation Amiga systems (A1200 and A4000) were released in 1992 but could not compete against IBM PC compatible computers.
Development on the Amiga in Amiga Corporation began in 1982 with Jay Miner as the principal hardware designer. Commodore International bought Amiga Corporation and introduced the machine to the market in 1985. Based on the Motorola 68k series of microprocessors, the machine sports a custom chipset with then advanced graphics and sound capabilities, and a pre-emptive multitasking operating system (now known as AmigaOS). While the M68k is a 32-bit processor, the version originally used in the Amiga, the 68000, has a 16-bit external data bus so it must transfer 32 bits of data in two consecutive steps, a technique called multiplexing - all this is transparent to the software, which was 32-bit from the beginning. The original machine was generally referred to in the press as a 16-bit computer; Later models featured fully 32-bit designs. The Amiga provided a significant upgrade from 8-bit computers such as the Commodore 64, and the platform quickly grew in popularity among computer enthusiasts, especially in Europe. It went on to sell approximately 6 million units.
It also found a prominent role in the desktop video, video production, and show control business, largely due to the Video Toaster video editing system, and was a less expensive alternative to the Apple Macintosh and IBM-PC. The Amiga's native ability to play back several channels of digital samples made it a popular platform for early "Tracker" music software, and the machine's relatively powerful processor and ability to access several megabytes of memory led to the development of several 3D rendering packages, including LightWave 3D and Blender. The Amiga was most commercially successful as a home computer, with a wide range of games and creative software, although early Commodore advertisements attempted to cast the computer as an all-purpose business machine.
Since the demise of Commodore, various groups have marketed successors to the original Amiga line. Eyetech sold Amiga hardware under the AmigaOne brand from 2002 to 2005. A-Cube currently sell the Sam440 PPC board designed to run the latest AmigaOS 4.1 (as of 2009).
The name Amiga was chosen for the computer by the developers specifically from the Spanish word for a female friend, and because it occurred before Apple and Atari alphabetically and also gave the message that the Amiga computer line was 'user friendly' as a sort of pun or play on words."
Source: Wikipedia, "Amiga", available under the CC-BY-SA License.