There is no computer on this great green Earth I’d rather have than an Amiga 4000t. Sure, it’s not the newest, oldest, most rare, most valuable, or even historically significant computer ever built, but aesthetically and functionally it was one of a kind. And, oh man, did it look good. Still looks good, if you can find one intact.
I’m sure there are plenty of kids out there these days who have never even heard of Amiga, but it was a force to be reckoned with back in the mid-to-late 1980s. It competed directly with IBM PCs and their myriad of clones as well as Apple and Atari (Commodore purchased the fledgling Amiga in 1984). The Amiga 1000 was released in 1985, followed by the Amiga 2000 and 500 in 1987, were all commercial successes, selling almost 5 million units overall. By the mid-1990s, however, the company had failed to innovate fast enough and had lost considerable ground to IBM, Compaq, and Apple.
Thankfully Amiga had one more computer to give the world before they went belly-up: the Amiga 4000t or A4000T. The 4000t is a bit of an odd duck. It was originally released with a 25 MHz Motorola 68040 CPU, which was later upgraded to 50 MHz Motorola 68060 in 1995. Most computers at this time were sporting either Intel or AMD processors, and by 1994 the 66 MHz Pentium and 486 DX2 chips were leading the pack in terms of price/performance ratio.
The computer also featured a lithium, rather than a standard leak-prone nickel–cadmium rechargeable battery, but what really set the 4000t apart was it’s modularity. Unique to this computer, the CPU, audio, video, and input-output ports all sat on their own separate expansion cards, making it easier than most to customize. The computer was also quite expandable with two Amiga video slots, 4 ISA slots (the standard back before PCI), and could accommodate up to six drives within its ample full tower case.
And it’s the case that makes the 4000t instantly recognizable. Unlike most Amiga models, the 4000t has a sleek tower chassis. Its signature feature, which sets it apart from the earlier 3000t, is the front panel with a vertical smokey gray translucent window that allows you to see the optical drive and hard drive lights even when closed. This is a unique design feature that has seldom been replicated, and one you aren’t likely to find on any modern case. Though transparent and translucent glass is quite popular on contemporary cases, having a window like this on the front, allowing you to see the computer “think” with every blink of the LEDs, is something special.
An Amiga 4000t recently sold for nearly $20,000 eBay, so I don’t think I’ll be adding one to my collection any time soon. I’m still holding out hope, however, that a case manufacturer will offer a design like this so I can have my cake and eat it too — a powerful, modern computer wrapped in a regal vintage chassis.