DraCo – the Amiga ‘clone’

When Commodore went bankrupt in 1994, the Amiga was still a viable option for video editing and titling.  Rather than wait for the mess to be sorted out with regards to the ownership and production of the high end Amiga models suitable for such tasks (Amiga 2000/3000/3000T/4000/4000T), a company already known for producing Amiga expansion products for high-end Amiga systems, MacroSystem Computer GmbH, designed and produced the DraCo.  This system was was later called the DraCo Vision, it was an Amiga-like system, compatible with some hardware and software and intended for  non-linear video editing.

What makes this system interesting is that the Draco did not contain any of the Amigas custom chips.  This meant it could not run any Amiga software or hardware that depended on the Amigas unique hardware.  But it did start using an Amiga 3000 kickstart, which was patched during boot with the SetPatch command to re-route most of the requests to work with graphics and sound to the appropriate hardware that was a part of the Draco system.

For video output, it used a modified version of the Retina BLT Z3, called the Altais, which is connected via one of the proprietary DraCo Bus slots.  For audio, it uses the Toccata Zorro II card.  There was also a V-Lab Motion Zorro II card, and for storage it had a SCSI II controller and came with a SCSI Hard disk drive  and a CD-ROM drive.

For expansion, there are a total of 3 DraCo Bus slots and 5 Zorro II slots.  There were only ever 2 cards produced to work with the DraCo Bus slots: the Altais and Draco Motion cards.  The 5 Zorro II slots are clocked at a higher bus speed than any other Amiga, and thus not all Zorro II cards work properly, but for those that do, they can process data faster than in other systems.

So, was this an Amiga system?  That really depends on your definition of an Amiga.  If your definition of an Amiga is that it must contain at least one of the Amigas custom chips, such as Paula (found in all “Amiga” machines) than no, it wouldn’t be.  But if your definition of an Amiga is any system that can use some hardware and software for an Amiga computer, than yes, it would be.  Very very few game software titles designed for Amiga computers will work on a Draco, as most do not use the software routines in Kickstart, instead working directly with the Amiga custom chips.

Here at the Amiga Museum, we have decided to include the Draco Amiga ‘clone’ system in our online museum, as it’s a historically significant system that shows there was considered to be enough market demand for a high-end Amiga to produce such a thing – which in itself shows how successful the Amiga had become by 1994 in the professional non-linear video editing market.

CPU: Motorola 68040 @ 25MHz
Motorola 68060 @ 50MHz
Motorola 68060 @ 66MHz
Chip RAM: None.  Reports video memory on the graphics card as Chip, but this is NOT Chip RAM
Maximum resolution: 1600×992 in 16-bit colour (65,536 different colours on screen at once)
Kickstart versions: 3.1
Workbench version: 3.1
Total RAM: 128MB
Price in 1994:
(US Dollars)

More information is available on this page: https://amitopia.com/draco-the-unknown-68k-amiga-clone/