What features of the Amiga chipset architecture and/or Amiga OS made it possible to design the Video Toaster for the Amiga?

Why weren't there similar (cost-effective) video products for the PC or Mac?

  • 2
    Speculation, therefore writing a comment instead of an answer. Amiga has support for external video devices to manage (even replace) the Amiga's video clock. This enabled lots of video technology innovation on the Amiga. I assume the Video Toaster used this technology but I don't know that. The Amiga's peers such as the Atari ST didn't have the same video clock technology and couldn't support these kinds of video devices as easily or cheaply, so couldn't compete in this area (but, the ST did have MIDI ports and became as prominent for musicians as the Amiga was for video.) Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 9:18
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    @RichardDowner it's amazing how that works. Any computer could have MIDI ports but the ST had them by default. So it ruled the pro music scene. MIDI ports aren't exactly rocket surgery but just having them was a huge success (relatively speaking). That, and the hi-res B/W monitor helped pro musicians too. The Amiga's NTSC foundation is what helped it rule the video market until the Mac caught up. Fun times.
    – cbmeeks
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 12:56

2 Answers 2


I think is a mix of features that made the videotoaster a good match for the Amiga.

  1. The Amiga 2000 has an internal slot where both video signals and parallel port signals are available. This permits to Amiga and video expansion to talk conveniently.
  2. Among the video signals there is XCLK which permits to sync the Amiga with an external clock.
  3. Another important video signal is ZD which is high (or low?) when palette entry 0 is in use at a given pixel. This permits to the video extension to implement color key. The Enhanced Chip Set was even more flexible.
  4. Amiga can show 4096 colors in HAM mode and animate graphics at reasonable speed.
  5. Amiga can use overscan reducing the size of the borders
  6. Sprites, Copper and bitplanes are extensively used to encode data towards the video toaster
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    This is a good example. And like others have said, the Amiga had NTSC video at its core. Even it's clock rate was a multiple of the NTSC colorburst IIRC.
    – cbmeeks
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 12:59

The big thing is that the Amiga can natively work in NTSC. Don't know about early macs but for example VGA is totally incompatible with this standard so PCs weren't used that much for video editing in those days.

  • I don't think there was ever a PAL Video Toaster for the Amiga.
    – Brian H
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 16:45
  • really? I seem to remember it in some UK marketing material. I could be mistaken. Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 16:49
  • @BrianH turns out you're right. I'll edit the answer. Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 16:53
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    @Wilson - I'm not sure you are correct about the market being bigger for PAL. I looked at a PAL coverage map, and it's big, but it's also VERY multinational and covers some territory that wasn't going to have the money for things like a video toaster. To make money with a PAL version you'd have to get the UI going in half-a-dozen or more languages at least, which is a pain even today, let alone back in the Toaster days. Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 15:22
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    PAL wasn't a larger market. It was small markets that were larger in total. Europe using a single currency wasn't even on the roadmap when the Toaster was designed. Germany was a completely different market from Denmark, even with compatible TVs. You would need to work with a local currency, local laws, local language, and also local frame rate. US engineers wouldn't have easy access to PAL Amiga hardware, displays, or test equipment, so spin up a completely new engineering operation in PAL territory to work cross-border, before email. That giant PAL market is less juicy than the map implies.
    – wrosecrans
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 20:30

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