History in the making: Amiga CD1200 tear down

Beth Richard, lead engineer of the CD1200, provides more in-depth information about the device's story as she's taking it apart.

As a follow up to the article about the rediscovery of the ultra-rare Amiga CD1200 drive, we're happy to be able to share even more information about it.

On July 17th 2022, Beth Richard, lead engineer of the CD1200 in 1993/1994, visited the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester, UK, making more history and providing invaluable information by actually talking about her experience, and taking the device apart.

A video of the event was uploaded to YouTube about a month ago.

Here's the video of Beth Richard taking the (presumably) only Amiga CD1200 in existence apart (on YouTube channel "PixelFix"):

Shortly after the video was uploaded to YouTube, Ms. Richard left a comment which provides even more insight into the background of the CD1200 (transcript of comment follows).

Ms. Richard's comment on the above video
(source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYGhOuIysVU)

"That was quite an experience! I'm so glad we got to do that. 

People look back at my work and assume that as the lead engineer, I was somehow a Commodore "Legend". I'll leave that to those to whom it really applies. I was a junior engineer at the time, near the beginning of my career. I think the best way I can describe how I ended up being the lead engineer on this project is a quote taken from Any Weir's "The Martian": "Ares 3. Well, that was my mission. Okay, not mine per se. Commander Lewi was in charge. I was the lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be 'in command' of the mission if I were the only remaining person.What do you know? I'm in command."It was very clear by the time I started this project that the end was near. I worked on this at a time where we thought it may be possible that someone would buy the company and take it seriously. Having demonstrated that there were ideas and projects with a roadmap into the future would be what someone would want to buy. Several of us were working right to the end to keep a portfolio of projects that could be turned on immediately, should a new owner wish it. (Like the work Dave Haynie was doing at the high end, and some stuff Greg Berlin had been doing too.). It was not to be. 

I'm so embarrassed about misspeaking that the date of Pearl Harbor was 7-Dec-1943... ***1941***!!!! I know that! How could my mind have been so bounced and distracted that I would have gotten that wrong? I might have had an excess of adrenaline at the time. 

Although I designed that in 1993-1994, I was particularly nervous about opening it because it isn't mine... it's the RCM's. And it's got to be the only example left in the world by this point. I offered to coach Andy through opening it as it's his museum's property, but he wouldn't have it. Sadly, in order to make it work, it needs the controller board to go into the A1200 and cable that came through the port on the rear of the A1200 to connect it to the drive. None of those seem to have survived. 

I know it was edited for privacy reasons, but when I was going through the names I saw on the PCB, I started with the first one on the list... mine. The names were actually the userIDs for our email addresses, each of which ended with @ 'cbmvax.commodore.com'. And the word preceding that cut was my userID: brichard. Since that email has been invalid since April 1994, I'm not terribly worried about people knowing it. 

And credit where credit is due: My spouse, Teresa, who has her degree in Engineering Management that included nearly the complete curriculum of Mechanical Engineering took a look at the lid spring and noticed the extra bend that was causing it to pop out of position. When she showed it to me, I recognized that the spring was not actually the original factory spring. It must have been broken at some point and someone replaced it by bending a bit of spring-steel wire to (nearly) match. In fact, that mechanism was not custom to the CD1200 - it was re-used from the CD32. So by comparing with a CD32 lid spring mechanism, we confirmed it was wrong and replaced the spring with one from a CD32. The lid works correctly again! 

Such a great day! Thank to Andy for inviting me to the RCM and being so gracious about the experience."

(transcript of @bethteresarichard3910's comment on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYGhOuIysVU)

Great work by Ms. Richard, Retro Computer Museum, and all others involved! Thanks for sharing, and keeping the CD1200 alive.

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