The first Commodore Amiga (the Amiga 1000) was released in 1985, and was a huge step up from Commodore’s previous 8-bit computers like the legendary Commodore 64. It featured a 16/32-bit Motorola 68000 CPU running at 7.16MHz (7.09MHz for PAL systems), 256KB of RAM, and a drastically improved color palette. Most notable, however, was the state-of-the-art multitasking operating system. Like the Apple Macintosh, the Commodore Amiga set the stage for our modern graphical user interfaces. It also had impressive multimedia capabilities. If you have a Commodore Amiga 500, you can now use it to play Spotify thanks to Daniel Arvidsson’s fantastic work.
The Commodore Amiga 500 was released a couple of years after the Amiga 1000, and was designed to be more affordable. That proved to be a solid decision, as it sold very well — somewhere between 4 and 5 million units worldwide. Today, there is still a very active Commodore Amiga community and the vintage Amiga 500 remains a favorite. One handy feature of the Commodore 500 is a “trap-door” expansion slot, which facilitates the use of additional hardware that shares memory with the Amiga. There are many interesting things you can do with that expansion slot, and one of the best is to use an A314 expansion board to plug a Raspberry Pi SBC into that slot to act as a coprocessor.
In this case, Arvidsson has programmed the Commodore Amiga 500 to accept raw audio data from the Raspberry Pi via the shared RAM. Spotify Connect is running on the Raspberry Pi, which lets you use the Pi as an output device for your Spotify account. A plugin called Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) pipes the audio from the Raspberry Pi to the Amiga. A script running on the Amiga then reads the raw audio data from the shared memory and plays it through the built-in Paula sound chip. The music then outputs through the speakers connected to the Commodore Amiga 500. You can’t actually control the music from the Amiga, but this is still a very cool way to integrate old tech with new.