On early computing systems, configuration of extension hardware usually involved configuring cards manually via "jumpers" or DIP switches for certain address areas or interrupt numbers. This is a very tedious and error-prone process, and in practice, requires in-depth knowledge of the system to avoid conflicts among different cards used simultaneously. AutoConfig was introduced with the Amiga 1000 in the year 1987, and automated this procedure totally, so that the user never had to bother with such details. A similar technology - called Plug&Play - was released by Microsoft with the introduction of Windows 95.

When the Amiga is switched on, the Kickstart begins to search for an expansion card every expansion slot. When a card is found, information about its type and needed resources is read from that card. The Kickstart then automatically allocates all necessary resources. The important difference to Plug&Play is that Amigas already allocate all expansions before the operating system is loaded. On Windows machines, the operating system itself searches and invokes expansion cards.

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