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How old is my BIOS?

Microsoft says that any earlier than 1987 are "suspect" for running Windows, and there is a list of Known BIOS Problems later on. For IDE systems, the AMI BIOS must be later than 04-09-90, and for SCSI 09-25-88, as long as the SCSI card is OS220 compatible. For RLL and MFM drives, try 9-25-88 or later. The keyboard BIOS for AMI systems must be revision 'F'. If you want to check how old your BIOS is, the date is on the start-up screen, usually buried in the BIOS ID String, which looks a bit like this (121291 is the date in this AMI sample):

40-0201-BY6379-01101111-121291-UMCAUTO-04

If you donít get one, you can also use debug. The BIOS lives between F000:0000 and F000:FFFF, with copyright messages typically at F000:E000, F000:C000 and F000:0000. Type:

debug

at the DOS prompt. A minus sign will appear. Press D followed by an address in memory to see the 128 bytesí worth of the values stored there, for example:

-d f000:e000

ASCII text information will be displayed on the right hand side of the screen.

You can also use the S command to search for the word "version", although some computers, IBM and Compaq, for example, donít use version numbers. In this case, the date will be near F000:FFE0.

Quit debug by pressing q at the dash prompt.

The AMI WinBIOS has a normal date on the startup screen. Otherwise, as you can see, you don't just get the date; many manufacturers include extras that identify the state of the chipset inside. For example, with the AMI Hi-Flex BIOS, there are two more strings, displayed by pressing Ins during bootup, or any other key to create an error condition.

This is an article from  Phil Croucher, author of  "The BIOS Companion" Phil has a way of explaining in "plain" English. The information is well presented and is well above A+ standard.

"The BIOS Companion" Home Page

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Updated 07/06/04

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