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.
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!