The format of the Apple product launch is legendary, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the July 23, 1985, launch of the Commodore Amiga 1000. Held at Lincoln Center, with Commodore employees sporting tuxes and the music of a full orchestra swelling, the launch featured none other than pop art icon Andy Warhol using the Amiga to create a portrait of pop music icon Debbie Harry. (It’s worth watching.)

The first computer for creatives

Andy Warhol as brand ambassador was only fitting for a machine billed as the first computer for creatives. The Amiga’s many innovations included 256 kilobytes of RAM, heretofore unseen graphics—including a 256-color display—and preemptive multitasking, which meant that a hanging task would slow the computer but not stop it completely. There was much to love about the Amiga. A top-of-the-line model sold for $1,790 in 1985, or at least $4,000 in contemporary dollars. Today’s collectors shell out thousands of dollars for a chance to own and use one of these rare machines.

But back to Warhol. His Debbie Harry portrait and January 1986 Amiga World magazine cover had been well-known, but it wasn’t until 2013 that it was discovered just how many Amiga images Warhol had created using GraphiCraft software. Artist Cory Arcangel, a devoted Warhol fan, collaborated with the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club to extract the contents of the 41 Amiga floppy disks in Warhol’s archives, unearthing a treasure trove of his final works. The club made use of the Kryoflux, technology that allowed them to extract images on the Amiga for display on a modern PC. While only 200 x 300 pixels in size, the images are undeniably Warhol’s—including a reimagining of his iconic Campbell’s Soup can piece. Today the works can be seen at The Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, Pennyslvania.

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Photo: Lotto Baden-Württemberg / Flickr. Used under Creative Commons 2.0

Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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