Amiga Kickstart ROMsAmiga Kickstart ROMs

History of the Amiga "Kickstart" ROM

The Amiga 1000 computer, released by Commodore-Amiga in 1985, required a bootable floppy disk named "Kickstart", which was used to load basic operating system functionality before continuing the boot process from additional disks. This initial boot code would normally have been stored on a ROM chip, allowing for a simpler user experience and less expensive components, but the development team needed more time to finish the software while the hardware had already gone into production. After the Amiga 1000 (A1000), e.g. on models such as the Amiga 500 (A500) and Amiga 2000 (A2000), this functionality was indeed moved to ROM. Even as new ROM versions were released (from v. 1.x to v. 3.x), the "Kickstart" name remained popular to refer to what would be more accurately referred to as the "Amiga ROM", or the ROM-resident part of the operating system. As PCs became more popular, the name "Amiga BIOS" could also be found, although the name "BIOS" was never used by Commodore/Amiga systems.

Amiga Kickstart ROM Files and Amiga Emulators

On many emulation systems, "ROM" is the word used to refer to games. Not so on the Amiga, where a "ROM" is the original "Kickstart" operating system code as released by Commodore-Amiga in the 1980s and early 1990s. Amiga games are commonly referred to as RP9s or ADFs (if you are looking for a specific Amiga game, try and search for the game title followed by "RP9" or "ADF").

Broadly speaking, there are two categories of Amiga emulators: those that aim to emulate the Amiga API (operating system functions), such as the AROS project, and those that aim to emulate the hardware at the lowest possible level, such as the UAE and Fellow projects. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages: AROS aimed to be independent of Amiga IP from the beginning, but never tried to be compatible at the hardware level, while UAE and Fellow are more compatible with the original hardware, but they depend on the original Kickstart ROMs, which are not freely distributable.

In addition to the ROM (the "Kickstart"), all Amiga systems require a set of operating system files (named "Workbench" in Cloanto's Amiga Forever) in order to function. A "Kickstart ROM" or "Kick ROM" alone is not enough to boot into a functioning system, although some games and demos come on disks which include minimal operating system (or OS-replacement) functionality. The CDTV and CD³² also require a second ROM (called the "Extended ROM").

Is it Legal to Copy Amiga "Kickstart ROMs"?

While this is not meant to be legal advice, Amiga operating system components appear to fall within the same category as other commercial systems, like Windows and macOS. Would you copy Windows from one PC to use it on a different PC, and expect this to be OK? Following the guidelines and precedents set by the likes of Microsoft and Apple, and even statements by Amiga itself, we have to assume that Amiga Kickstart ROMs and other operating system components are not legally transferable between different systems (hardware or emulated). Unless specified otherwise, a separate license is required for the specific system in use.

Websites inciting to infringe copyright by indicating "if you already own X/Y/Z, you can copy the Kickstart ROM(s) and do that" do not appear to have any legal basis for such claims, and may be at risk of being considered liable for contributory copyright infringement.

As of the last check, Amiga Forever allowed for installation on two systems. Amiga hardware itself never allowed the ROM or OS components to be copied to other systems.

Cloanto's Amiga Forever

If you are reading this page, you are probably interested in the best possible way to easily run thousands of Amiga games, which are now available from legal download sites. In this case, one would have to mention the Amiga Forever package from Cloanto, which not only tightly integrates with (Win)UAE, (Win)Fellow and AROS, but also includes games, demoscene productions, a search-engine and database, auto-updates, and a lot more. While you might be able to find the individual files online, configuring the emulation is not a simple task, and Amiga Forever makes running a game (or an original Amiga system configuration) as simple as a mouse click, while also helping you find and run more games, and keep the various emulation components up to date. Sophisticated title authoring features are included for power users, which make it possible to describe and configure Amiga content in a durable way.

Cloanto has been an Amiga developer since 1986, and has been officially publishing the Kickstart ROMs and other OS files in Amiga Forever since 1997, which helped support aging Amiga hardware and keep Amiga emulation legal in difficult years (the topic was quite debated in the late 1990s). By supporting Amiga Forever you not only get a quality package, but you support the ongoing development and preservation efforts of a long-time Amiga friend and contribute to the growth of legal emulation.

Downloading Amiga "Kickstart ROMs"

If you are wondering "Where can I find a Kickstart ROM?", the short answer is Amiga Forever. Different ROMs which are required for the Amiga emulation environment to boot into a functional operating system and then play games and run other Amiga software are included and preinstalled in Amiga Forever for Windows.

Amiga "Kickstart ROMs" for Android

On Android systems, Amiga Forever Essentials for Android installs official Amiga ROMs and some additional disk images in a way that is autodetected by Amiga emulator apps for Android (e.g. UAE4Droid, AnUAE4All, UAE4All2, Omega 500). These are the 512 KB system ROM files (256 KB ROMs won't work on many mobile emulators) to run Amiga OS versions 1.2, 1.3, 2.04, 3.0 and 3.1 in emulated computers like the Amiga 500 and Amiga 1200. So if you are searching for "Amiga 500 Kickstart 1.3" or "kick.rom" or "kick13.rom", or for a ROM with MD5 hash 192d6d950d0ed3df8040b788502831c2, Amiga Forever Essentials for Android is the answer that is both legal and easy to use, as it requires no manual configuration work.

Different Versions of Amiga Forever

Amiga Forever comes in different versions:

Additional Information

Also see:

Amiga, AmigaOS, AmigaOne, Powered by Amiga, Kickstart, Workbench, the Boing Ball logo, the slanted A logo, the rainbow checkmark logo and the Amiga model identifiers are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Amiga Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Keywords: Amiga, Kickstart, Kickstart ROM, kick, kick rom, kickrom, download, torrent, ROM, Amiga Forever, Amiga ROM, Amiga ROMs, Amiga Kickstart, UAE, WinUAE, Fellow, WinFellow, emulator, emulation, emulators, amigaz, kick13, kick31.