Parceiro: An Extraordinary Upgrade for Amiga 1000 Users

In October 1985 I purchased the first Amiga sold in the state of Virginia. It was a transformative experience to have that level of technology on the desk in front of me as a young geek. The Amiga 1000 was miles beyond any other consumer computer available on the market at the time in several respects. It boasted preemptive multitasking, a palette of 4096 colors (at a time when EGA‘s 64-color palette was considered impressive), four channel stereo digital audio, and a custom chipset with a graphics co-processor that allowed for incredible on-screen animation. In fact, it was ahead of its time to such a degree that much of the tech press didn’t know what to make of it, and so it was largely considered to be an expensive game machine, sadly, which did not help its adoption (especially in the states). I loved that system, but software was very slow in coming for the new platform and after a while I put an ad in the newspaper, sold it, and moved on to another system (which was a routine I carried out for quite a few years). But, I never forgot the magic of that first Amiga.

Many years later (in 2009), despite having an accelerated Amiga 2000 on the desk, I acquired another Amiga 1000 system to try and relive that 1985 magic. I enjoyed the machine greatly, but even though I expanded it with 2MB of FAST RAM and dual SCSI hard drives, it was always difficult to load it up with programs and put it to use, as compared to my fully networked Amiga 2000 with its 68020 accelerator, ethernet card, SD-based SCSI hard drive emulator, and HxC2001 floppy drive emulator. The Amiga 1000 was more of an island and, as such, it saw little use.

Flash forward to late 2020 when I read a post by AmigaL0ve in which he described a new expansion device made specifically for the Amiga 1000. It was called the Parceiro (“parceiro” meaning “partner” in Portuguese) and offered a very impressive and useful 3-in-1 upgrade in a svelte side-expansion about the size of a Hershey bar — and all for a reasonable price. I ordered one immediately.

The Parceiro was created by Amiga hobbyist and (now retired) once-CIO of the United States Space Force, David Dunklee. An ardent fan of the Amiga 1000 and the landmark moment in computing history that it represented upon release, David designed the Parceiro to help bring this innovative system up to speed with other members of the Amiga family, for which upgrades are much more readily available.

The Parceiro consists of a single circuit board that happens to be festooned with printed references to some of the best pieces of old school nostalgia that will bring a smile to the face of anyone who was a child of the ’80s. Sitting in a removable plastic enclosure, it attaches to the Amiga 1000’s side bus-expander connector and offers the following features:

  • 8MB of auto configuring “FAST” RAM (the A1000 shipped with just 256K) with zero wait states (thanks to the use of SRAM rather than DRAM)
  • A front-facing microSD card reader supporting a 2GB card (bundled) formatted as a FAT32 volume allowing it to be read/written to on a PC or Mac for moving files, using live in an emulator, etc.
  • A Real-Time Clock (RTC) with onboard battery backup and a driver allowing it to be recognized my AmigaDOS at boot

The Parceiro replaces most of the expansion hardware shown in this post’s introductory image.

Since acquiring one of the first 5 units produced, I have had the pleasure of loading a huge number of new programs onto my Amiga 1000 by mounting the SD-card in a PC-based emulator running Workbench 1.3 and running install after install of programs I’d always wanted to have on this venerable Amiga. It’s been a huge game changer for my and my A1000 and it seems David hasn’t been content to let the device stagnate; he released a v1.1 unit during the summer that notable increased the SD card drive access speed and capacity, and is working on a v2.0 release that takes things much farther with an SD card reader 4x faster than the initial Parceiro as well as a 2MB flash ROM and a WiFi + Bluetooth TCP/IP Stack for simple TELNET/FTP/etc, file sharing, and HTTP GETs, etc.

It has been a real pleasure to be able to use my Amiga 1000 so much more frequently and in so many new ways, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the upcoming, feature-expanded Parceiro II to take things to the next level. Global electronics shortages have forced David to put orders on hold, but I will post an update when the Parceiro II is available to order (sadly, towards the end of 2022 is the expectation) for other Amiga 1000 fans who want to get the most out of their exceptional and groundbreaking system.

For further information or to inquire about ordering, send an email to David Dunklee at amiga.parceiro@outlook.com.

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2 Responses to Parceiro: An Extraordinary Upgrade for Amiga 1000 Users

  1. DaveJustDave says:

    So I’ve tried several Sierra games that supported hard drive installation on my early Parceiro. Install worked fine off of floppy, but the games would never run. Have you had any issues with games not running? I really wish I had the patience to get whdload working on the A1000 as not many games supported hard drive install

    • Blake Patterson says:

      To run (some) WHDLoad games under Workbench 1.3, find the program JST. It was included on my Parceiro workbench from David. It will load some of the WHDLoad slaves, but not all. I’ve got a good few in a drawer that I fire up on the A1000 from time to time. JST actually preceded WHDLoad.

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