From the AMI Archives: The Programmer’s Guide to the AMIBIOS

Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter

For today’s post we have dug deep into our extensive AMI Archives for a look at an object from several years back that some of our readers may be familiar with, or might possibly even own in their own collections:The Programmer’s Guide to the AMIBIOS, published in 1993 by Windcrest/McGraw Hill.

The reasons why AMI undertook the creation and publication of this book are rather interesting. As many readers will know, although AMI never truly produced a commercial BIOS or UEFI itself – instead licensing it to computer and motherboard manufacturers – we decided that a book from the AMI experts who created and work with AMIBIOS on a daily basis would be of great reference use both to professionals in the computing industry as well as for computer enthusiasts.

The back cover of the book offers a synopsis of what the contents are and the target audience for the material. It reads:

“The Programmer’s Guide to the AMIBIOS was created by AMI, Inc., manufacturer of the world-famous AMIBIOS. More than half the world’s AT-compatible computers contain an AMIBIOS.

Perfect for software engineers and programmers who use BIOS calls, the Programmer’s Guide to the AMIBIOS is the most comprehensive source of information on BIOS software available anywhere. This book not only describes all standard ISA and EISA system BIOS functions, it also includes complete documentation of the new PCMCIA Socket Services, Advanced Power Management (APM), and Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) BIOS functions.”

One of the most important and useful sections of the book are a number of tables containing lists of error codes for AMIBIOS contained within an Appendix towards the back of the book. The Appendix includes AMIBIOS “beep codes”, an audible clue that can tell a user what error or issue has occurred with the system if it fails to boot properly.

The list of AMIBIOS beep error codes is shown in the picture below:

Additionally, there is a section on “AMIBIOS History”, which describes the history and branches of AMIBIOS releases up to the early 1990s. The first paragraphs of that section of the book is shown in the picture below:

Surprisingly, although The Programmer’s Guide to the AMIBIOS is several years out of print, used copies can still be found on online marketplaces like, so perhaps you can try and find your own copy for your computing library. Can we speculate that there are many computer historians and collectors for whom this book still holds value and interest?

There’s not enough space in this post to describe everything contained in the book, though it represents a valuable snapshot in time of computing and programming limitations of computers in the early 1990s. But after reading this post, are you still curious to know more about this book? If so, please get in touch with us via the “Marketing” option of our contact form to let us know what else you’d like to see from it.

Thanks for reading – we hope you enjoyed today’s peek into the AMI Archives!