The Commodore Amiga

I was enjoying that great site, stumbleupon when I came across a commented listing of the Amiga 1.2 ROM. Then it hat hit me, I’ve never really written about some of the great emulators for the Commodore Amiga.

Back when I was in highschool I wanted a Commodore Amiga, as at the time I was stuck with a Commodore 64. However the world was starting to accept the IBM PC swing of things. Windows 3.0 was out, suddenly the protected mode of the 80286 could be exploited for only a few hundred dollars, vs the thousands for a UNIX port, or what OS/2 cost. And of course the big appeal at the time was that you could build your own PC in a kit fashion (well it still is!). So I was toying with the idea of buying this 286 8Mhz board for $30 CDN when I saw this program that a kid had brought in… It needed VGA, but it could apparently emulate a Commodore Amiga!

You can still download it here.

Running it just simply threw up a picture of the Amiga’s insert a workbench diskette, and clicked the drive madly.. Passing it through a hex editor showed a copy of an Amiga ROM tacked on the end, but it didn’t actually emulate anything.

But I didn’t realize it at the time, and it cemented my decision to buy the 286.

Years later and the topic of m68k emulation came up, as there were simple cross assemblers and simulators, and I can remember in college searching to see if anyone had started an Amiga emulator… And there was one project!


Originally it stood for “Unusable Amiga Emulator” and well it was unusable. But then with enough people starting to flock to the project it suddenly could boot AmigaDOS. I used to use this on MS-DOS back in the day for ‘maximum’ speed. I was able to find one ancient version of this 0.65 that still has an MS-DOS exe. And it runs great under DOSBOX. You can find it here.

And for the heck of it, here is a screen shot with a 1.3 ROM.

UAE 0.65 under DOSBOX

UAE 0.65 under DOSBOX

Naturally transferring disks was a major pain in the butt… I luckily had a friend with a working Amiga and cross dos for AmigaDOS all configured so I could transfer some terminal emulator to my poor Amiga 500 I had picked up at a used hardware store in college. Then I used what I could of ramdisks, compression programs and whatnot to upload via some 50 foot nullmodem cable I had to transfer ADF’s of my workbench disks and an old favorite game of mine, Captain Blood. Even back at the time, Commodore was bankrupt their future was bleak. Getting spare parts then was becoming hard for my Amiga 500. And my 486SX-20 could almost run at an acceptable speed in emulation..

But time marches on.

UAE was then ported to Linux & X11, and the SVGA lib. I had some old RS232 terminal so I could keep on using my machine to ‘work’ and still play console vga stuff like doom for SVGAlib and of course UAE. Now with CPUs in the GHz++ speed range, emulation of a 8Mhz machine with 3 custom chips is more in software then raw cpu speed. The UAE project kind of died off, there hasn’t been any big updates in years, but the CPU core work lives on in all kinds of m68k derived work.

There is no doubt that there is still a few closeted Amiga users out there, but I suspect that we don’t kick up UAE all that much these days.. But it’s still cool to watch it in action.

And of course the demos! One of my favorites was the fairlight 242 demo. Which UAE with a Kickstart 1.3 ROM will run. Even the MS-DOS version!

fairlight 242 UAE for DOS on DOSBOX

fairlight 242 UAE for DOS on DOSBOX

I should add you can find more demos here, and a Win32 version of UAE here.

3 thoughts on “The Commodore Amiga

  1. I had an Amiga 3000 back in 1991 and ran Windows 3.0 emulated on it. It was barely usable, but worked about as well as a very slow 286. What the Amiga excelled at was emulating other 68K machines like the Mac and Atari ST and regularly ran Quicken in the Mac emulator mode. Now, like the rest of the old Amiga fans, we run Amiga Forever on Windows machines. Surprisingly, the emulation of the Amiga and the custom graphics and sound (paula) still have issues running all of the apps. Not certain if it is tricks developers used or what causes it, but there is still room for improvement.

  2. Sadly my Amiga 3000 didn't survive the move… somehow it ended up uninsured. 🙁

    I wanted to run that AMIX on it, but I know I'd need more ram… And who on earth knows where to score zip ram from??

    There were a few cool Mac emulators back in the day too, I remember one where you'd put the Mac roms into a cartridge, plug it in the back, and away we go….

    And if I remember it ran quicker then a physical MAC…

  3. UAE proper may have "died off" but WinUAE (which you actually linked to) continues to move forward adding new capabilities all the time. Heck, WinUAE 2.0.2 was just released in February. Modern builds of WinUAE can emulate far more than the simple A500: they can emulate massive powerful 68060-enhanced A4000s with RTG graphics and (with a special driver called QuarkTex running on top of AmigaOS) even a 3D card. And of course, these emulators now run faster than even the beefy systems that people emulate with them ever did. If anyone's interested in playing with Amiga, the best way to do so is to buy a package called Amiga Forever: it bundles WinUAE with legally licensed copies of the Amiga OS and ROMSs.

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