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The Amiga computers such as the Amiga 1000 required a Kickstart floppy to be able to boot directly into a hard drive. I have a Amiga 1000 as well but missing the Kickstart floppy. I would like to access the hard drive for my personal use with the floppy without damaging any of the internals of the Amiga 1000.

How can I safely and effectively boot directly to the hard drive with an Amiga 1000 without the necessary Kickstart floppy?

4 Answers 4

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You need a Kickstart ROM adapter to eliminate the need for the Kickstart disk. There are a number of such adapters out there such as this one that's currently in production.

And to boot to a hard drive, you will need a Kickstart 1.3 (or greater) ROM (I think the linked one will work).

Then you can boot to a SCSI hard drive.

I should also mention the ACA500 accelerator which includes Kickstart 1.3 and 3.1 (no Kickstart adapter necessary) and two CompactFlash slots which replace a hard drive. Here is a video showing it connected to the Amiga 1000, with another accelerator plugged into it.

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snip-n-snail's answer is definitely the correct one. However, theoretically and with enough time, the A1000's boot ROM could be reworked to pilot your hard drive controller, interpret the Rigid Disk Block structure on the HD and eventually load a Kickstart either from a file with a filesystem (that would also require a small read-only OFS/FFS driver) or from a special partition. Then you would enable the Write Control Store and reset to the loaded Kickstart.

AFAIK, the original A1000 ROM code is a 8KB but the ROM chips themselves are two 8bit x 32K locations, so there is 64KB of space available.

I'm not aware of anyone that ever tried this way, however, not even back in the days when Commodore was alive.

EDIT:

Further expanding what I wrote, as it may be a bit more complicate that "just" talking to the chip and reading data from disk.

A potential hurdle could be bringing the HDD controller to life... investigation would be needed to see if the AutoConfig protocol can be activated on the controller in such an early environment (to be sure the controller card initializes itself so that the controller chip can be acted upon) and still end in a state where the next reset would reinitialize it. Indeed, assuming A1000 hard drive cards even had AutoConfig!

It may be easier if the controller did not use AutoConfig, but then more investigation would be needed to understand where the controller maps itself in the address space.

In any case code in the eventual controller's ROM would probably not be useful as it would assume Exec running and if an autobooting one, that it is called via AmigaDOS's boot protocol.

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  • For clarity, you're suggesting theoretically replacing the boot ROM with one that has a minimal driver to load the Kickstart from the HDD? If so that should theoretically be possible, although the boot ROM would have to be specifically coded to match the type of HDD controller being used, or sophisticated enough to detect the HDD controller and respond accordingly, correct?
    – mnem
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 20:06
  • Yes, that could be a fun, challenging project. Especially the "fit it in 64KB of ROM" part. Back in the day it probably would have been easier and better for the manufacturer of the HDD controller to supply a modified boot ROM that specifically matched their product rather than a universal type one that detected which type of controller was present. It could have been used as a sales feature to differentiate their product. The biggest hurdle would probably be getting permission to include the Kickstart files on the HDD as shipped, since user installation would be non-trivial.
    – mnem
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 17:52
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    There is at least one controller for A1000 that implemented Kickstart and Workbench autobooting back in the days. That could be done because the very first thing the A1000 boot ROM does is check for a magic value (IIRC: 0x1111) at the start of the "Cardrige ROM" area (IIRC: 0xF00000), and jump there if it finds the magic value, much like what Kickstart itself does as the very first operation. So the HDD controller board had a ROM mapped at that address with custom code to locate (straight on the FileSystem?) and load a Kickstart file from the hard disk.
    – user180940
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 8:04
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    @mnem: I would think "user installation" could be accomplished by having the hard boot sector check whether KickStart was already installed and, if not, requesting that the user insert the KickStart floppy, from which it could then copy the code.
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 15:39
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I think it's worth mentioning, an alternative to installing hardware is to create a software solution known as a KickWork disk. This solution basically repurposes the unused portion of a Kickstart disk as a normal Workbench disk. You can think of it like 'partitioning' a floppy disk into Kickstart and Workbench, although (obviously) the available disk space for Workbench is significantly reduced.

I only recently became aware of this technique after bumping into an article and video produced by AmigaLove. Full disclosure, I haven't tried this solution (yet).

If all you are doing is bootstrapping a specific HD controller, this seems like a pretty cool idea. In my case, my A1000 has an original Microbotics Starboard / StarDrive connected to a new ZuluSCSI which I boot from floppy disk. I've never had a problem popping the Kickstart in/out when I power up the machine, but creating a KickWork disk would save me a disk swap when I power up.

Fun fact, I got my Amiga 1000 for Christmas of 1986 and my after-school job paid for the Microbotics Starboard with Stardrive and a 20Mb Xebec SCSI drive. After getting my new ZuluSCSI up and running using 35-ish year old hardware I actually found my original boot disk from way back in 1987. It was freakishly similar to the one I cobbled together recently!

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  • As another alternative, would it have been practical to write a floppy with just enough of boot information to launch code from a hard drive, or would the WCS be "permanently" write-protected by the time the code from the floppy got control?
    – supercat
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 14:40
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The Amiga500/2000 version of the PiStorm can be modified to run on a 1000. This would let you boot up to Amiga OS 3.2 on the machine without a Kickstart floppy needed.

Not sure if this meets the "without damaging any of the internals of the Amiga 1000" as you remove the 68000. (No additional modifications are needed to the 1000, though you do need to modify the Pi.)

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