Emulation:  Right or Wrong?
aka "The EmuFAQ"


copyright (c) 1999 Sam Pettus (aka "the Scribe"), all rights reserved

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Appendix C
Emulation Timeline

     The following is a summary in brief of some of the more important events in the history of personal computer and videogame emulation.  For a more detailed look at the subject, including any items that you feel were unjustly omitted, I suggest you read the original, The History of Emulation, which you can find in the articles section of Zophar's Domain.

Birth Pains: Emulation Prehistory (1800 - 1961)
1822 British mathematician Charles Babbage invents the difference engine, the world's first computer.  The steam and gear driven technology of the day is incapable of making his design a reality.
1842 Lady Ada Augusta Byron, the Countess of Lovelace and friend of Charles Babbage, writes the world's first computer program. 
1889 Nintendo is founded in Japan by Fusajiro Yamauchi.
1896 IBM is founded in the United States by Herman Hollerith.
1931 German engineer Konrad Zuse invents the world's first calculator.
1939 American academians John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry build the world's first working computer.
1941 The British government uses Alan Turing's Colossus computer and its successors during World War II to simulate certain functions of the German Enigma coding machine.  This is considered by some to be the first practical example of emulation, long before the concept itself was defined.
1945 American naval officer Grace Murray Hopper discovers the first computer "bug." 
1958 American computer programmers Willian Higginbotham and David Potter devise Tennis for Two, the world's first videogame.
1956 Sega (SErvice GAmes) is founded in Japan by American entepreneur David Rosen.
1958 American engineer Jack Kilby invents the integrated circuit (IC).

Thus Spake Zarathustra: The Dawn of Emulation (1962 - 1988)
1962 American programmer Steve Russell devises Space War, the world's first arcade-style videogame.

American engineer John Haanstra, an employee of IBM, devises the world's first cross-platform computer.

American engineer Larry Moss, a member of IBM's System/360 development team, devises the concept of computer system emulation.  For this, he is widely regarded as "the father of emulation."

1965 IBM releases 7070 Emulator for the System/360 product line, permitting the use of IBM 7070 programs on high-end System/360 computers.  It is the world's first emulator.
1968 Intel (Integrated Electronics) is founded in the United States by Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce.
1969 The Internet comes into existence.
1971 American computer enthusiast John Blankenbaker devises the world's first personal computer (PC).

Author Julian Reitman predicts the rise of the emuscene in his book Computer Simulation Applications.

Magnavox releases the world's first home videogame system.  It is the Magnavox Odyssey, and it based on the work of videogame pioneer Ralph Baer.

1972 Atari markets Pong, the very first commercial arcade videogame.
1974 MITS markets the Altair 8800, the world's first commercially vended PC.  It is the brainchild of Ed Roberts and Bill Yates.
1975 Microsoft is founded in the United States by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
1976 Apple Computer is founded in the United States by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Fairchild markets the Channel F, the world's first cartridge-based videogame system.

The long-running debate over violent content in videogames officially kicks off with a public outcry over Exidy's Death Race, in which players are awarded points for running over people.

1978 Atari releases the legendary cartridge-based Video Computer System (VCS) videogame console, later redubbed the Atari 2600.
1989 Motorola releases the MC68000 CPU, the first processor for a PC powerful enough to permit the possibility of sophisticated software-based emulation on these systems.
1989 Microsoft releases the Z80 Softcard, the very first computer system emulator designed for use with a PC.  It permits the use of CP/M software on a suitably equipped Apple II PC.
1981 IBM releases the IBM PC, which for better or for worse has become the system that has shaped both the design and direction of most mainstream PC technology ever since.  Because of this, the term "PC" is now nearly synonymous with IBM compatible personal computers.

Acorn Computers Ltd. releases the legendary BBC Minicomputer System, one of the most venerated of the classic British PC designs.

Computer code is deemed eligible for copyright protection In Tandy v. Personal Microcomputer.

An American dies of a heart attack while playing the arcade videogame Berzerk.  He is the videogame industry's only confirmed fatality for almost two decades.

1982 Commodore Business Machines releases the legendary Commodore 64, the first PC to incorporate both multichannel sound and multicolor graphics into its basic design.  It would go on to sell more units during its lifetime (some 4 million) than any other basic PC design and would also become the first PC to break the US$1 billion mark in sales.

Compaq Computer Corporation releases the Compaq Portable PC, the first legal clone of the IBM PC and the first portable "PC clone."  The legality of reverse engineering a computer system BIOS is validated by the subsequent lawsuit, IBM v. Compaq.

Intel releases the i80286 CPU, which contains within its internal code the first known firmware emulator for a personal computer part.  This code permits the 16-bit i80286 to run practically all programs originally designed for use with the older 16-bit i8086.

Coleco releases the ColecoVision Expansion Module #1, the world's first videogame system emulator.  It permits the playing of Atari VCS games in a suitably equipped ColecoVision console.  The legality of unlicensed videogame system emulation by pure hardware/firmware techniques is established in the subsequent lawsuit, Atari v. Coleco.

Atari releases the Atari 5200, the world's first back-compatible videogame console.

1983 The illegality of the dumping of computer code stored within the ROMs of videogame hardware by the average user is established by Atari v. JS&A Group.

The legality of copying and using protected forms of expression for noncommercial purposes is established by the famous "Betamax case," Sony v. Universal.  The final ruling is not issued until the following year.

1984 Four legendary computer systems are released or made ready for release in America during this year, four that would forever change both the PC and videogame console industries.  They are the Apple Macintosh (Mac), the IBM PC-AT, the Commodore Amiga, and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES, the import version of the Famicom).

The illegality of incorporating unlicensed BIOS code into a competing computer product is established by Apple v. Franklin.

1985 Microsoft releases the very first version of Microsoft Windows.  It is an obvious rip-off of the Apple Macintosh operating system designed for use on IBM compatible systems.  Nobody notices, and nobody cares - except Apple, who promptly file a copyright infringement lawsuit against Microsoft.

Commodore's Amiga development team devises Transformer, the first "true" (software-based) computer system emulator of any kind for a PC platform.  It allows a stock Amiga to emulate a stock IBM PC.

1986 Intel releases the i80386 CPU, the first processor powerful enough to permit sophisticated software-based emulation on an IBM compatible platform.

The illegality of the unauthorized modification of computer code stored in ROM is established by Kramer v. Andrews.

Avant Garde Systems releases PC-Ditto for the Atari ST, the first "true" computer system emulator for PCs to hit the market.  It allows a stock Atari ST to emulat a stock IBM PC.

Commodore's Transfomer software is rushed to market under the banner of Insignia Solutions in direct response to the release of PC-Ditto.

1987 Commodore releases the Amiga 2000, the first PC specifically designed with emulation in mind.

The idea that on-screen textual displays of an informative nature can be protected by copyright is established by Digital v. Softklone.

The possibility that an emulator could violate vendor patents is established under the doctrine of equivalents by Penwalt v. Durand-Weyland.

1988 Atari devises the Rabbit emulator as a means of bypassing the 10NES lockout on Nintendo's proprietary format for NES videogames.  It is based on illegally obtained Nintendo source code.  It subsequently markets several games utilizing Rabbit under the Tengen banner.  Nintendo eventually sues Atari a couple of years later over unlicensed games released by Atari utilizing Rabbit technology.

The legality of archiving copy-protected computer programs is established by Vault v. Quaid.

Gadgets-by-Small releases Aladdin for the Atari ST, the world's first Mac emulator.

Sega releases the 16-bit MegaDrive videogame console in Japan.  Among its more notable features is back-compatibilty for Sega Master System games, achieved via a form of firmware emulation.  The console would be exported to the United States the following year as the Sega Genesis.

Readysoft unveils A-Max for Amiga systems at the World of Commodore show in November.  Designed by Simon Douglas, it is the Amiga's first Mac emulator.  Unlike Aladdin, it provides almost perfect emulation of a stock Mac on a stock Amiga - right down to native Apple floppy format support on stock Amiga disk drives.  Subsequently, Apple threatens a lawsuit.

Salad Days: The Golden Age of Emulation (1989 - 1998)
1989 A hacked bootleg version of A-Max becomes the emuscene's first emulator to require a BIOS dump for proper operation.

The widely anticipated lawsuit by Apple against Readysoft over A-Max never materializes.  As a result, what is now termed "the A-Max affair" legitimizes unlicensed PC emulation, setting off a virtual explosion in emulation technology that is one of the chief hallmarks of the Golden Age.

The high cost of math coprocessors for PCs of the day results in a number of software-based FPU (floating point unit) emulators being released into the public domain.  The most popular and by far the most notable of these is Ron Kimball's 87EM for IBM compatible systems.

1990 The U.S. Secret Service launches Operation Sun Devil, a nationwide sweep against all forms of illegal computer activity.  Although hailed as a victory, the actual results were mixed and its impact only temporary at best.

Anticompetitive EULA language, such as the denial of reverse engineering rights, is held to be unlawful in Lasercomb v. Reynolds.

Videogame enhancement technology is determined to be noninfringing in Galoob v. Nintendo.

1991 Yuji Naka, author of Sonic the Hedgehog, devises the very first software-based videogame system emulator.  It is an unreleased NES emulator for the Sega Genesis/MegaDrive (G/MD) videogame console.

The ban on advertising on the Internet is finally lifted in October - a decision that many will rue in the years to come.

1992 The concept of intermediate copies is defined by Sega v. Accolade.

The possibility that an emulator could violate copyright protection is established under the notion that it could infringe "protectable expressions" or go beyond its "stated purpose" in Nintendo v. Atari.

Argonaut Software devises Gameboy 68000 for Amiga systems, long held as the emuscene's first software-based videogame system emulator (until Yuji Naka's admission to GameWeek in mid-1999).  It still retains its claim as the first videogame system emulator to hit the infant Internet emuscene.

The notion that only limited, specific portions of on-screen graphical displays can be protected by copyright is established by Apple v. Microsoft.

AmIBM, the first-ever hoax emulator, is released.

1993 German emucoder Christian Bauer releases Shapeshifter, the first public domain Mac emulator for Amiga systems.
1994 The Careless Gamer releases MegaDrive, the first working Sega G/MD emulator and the first ever developed by and for the emuscene.  It is a "true" (software-based) emulator, as preferred by the emuscene, and all later references to emuscene-derived emulators will be of this type unless otherwise noted.

The illegality of unlicensed distribution of commercially derived ROMs via telecommunications techniques is established by Sega v. MAPHIA.

1995 Activision releases the first of its Activision Classics multigame packs, the first time that software-based emulation is employed in a commercially vended videogame product.

The Internet emuscene begins as the very first dedicated emusites go online.

Legendary emucoder Marat Fayzullin releases Virtual Game Boy, the first cross-platform videogame emulator and the first with open source code.

1996 The oldest continuously operated emusites still operational today go online.  Among their number is the legendary Vintage Gaming Network, originally founded as Dave's Video Game Classics and still by far the most popular emusite on the Internet today.

Legendary emucoder Nicola Salmora releases the very first version of M.A.M.E. (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator).

Gary Henderson and Jeremy Koot release the very first version of SNES9X, the first (and still the best) cross-platform Super Nintendo (SNES) videogame console emulator.

Emulation comes full circle with the first release of Bernard Schmidt's cross-platform UAE (Universal Amiga Emulator).

1997 Chris George's VSMC becomes the first target of an emulator "hack" by the emuscene.

Duddie and Rafu release the first verion of PSEmu, the world's first PlayStation (PSX) emulator.

Bloodlust Software releases three remarkable videogame emulators within the span of a few months - Genecyst (G/MD), NESticle (NES), and Callus (Capcom CPS-1).  They are long the standard by which competitors are measured due to their astounding excellence, and there is a sudden explosive rash of ROM sites to support them.

Legendary emucoders _Demo_ and zsknight release ZSNES, the best of the DOS-based SNES emulators and still the "friendly rival" of SNES9X in terms of excellence.  Its appearance causes a marked increase in the number of SNES-themed ROM sites.

The first formal protest by a vendor against the emuscene is filed by Zyrinx Software against The Dump: Genesis over an unauthorized copy of Zero Tolerance posted there.

RPGe releases the very first full English translation for a import videogame ROM, Final Fantasy V for SNES.

The sudden surge in ROM sites on the Internet attracts the attention of the videogame vendors, including such notable names as Nintendo and Sony.  It also gains the notice of one of the umbrella organizations for the vendors, the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA).

1998 On 22 March 1998, the IDSA launches the "great sweep" against the burgeoning Internet emuscene, bringing the Golden Age to a sudden and harsh end.

Paradigm Shift: The NextGen Wave (1998 - ????)
1998 As a result of the IDSA's "great sweep," practically all of the major ROM sites are shut down within a six-month period, along with a fair amout of emusites to boot.  Only a few of the major emusites survive, and even some of these are briefly shut down for a time.  It takes the emuscene over a year to recover from the IDSA action.

The unreleased sequel to the arcade videogame Q*Bert becomes the first arcade videogame to be release into the public domain specifically for the enjoyment of the emuscene.

The term "NextGen emulation" is employed for the first time.  It is used is to describe developing emulators for 32-bit and 64-bit videogame consoles, such as the PSX and N64.

President William Jefferson Clinton signs the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) into law.

Connectix releases Virtual Game Station (VGS), the first commercially vended PSX emulator.  They are subsequently sued by Sony, and forced to withdraw it from retail sale for almost a full year.

1999 Episilon and RealityMan release UltraHLE, the world's first working N64 emulator.

Sega releases the Sega Smash Pack by emucoder Steve Snake, the first time ever that a public domain videogame console emulator (KGen) "went commercial."

David Herpolsheimer and Randy Linden release bleem!, the first commercially vended PSX emulator for IBM compatible systems.  They are almost immediately sued by Sony.

Nintendo announces that it will abandon the cartridge format for its console videogames, making it the last videogame vendor to do so.

ASCII Software of Japan becomes the first vendor to threaten legal action over a ROM translation patch.

Judge Charles Legge of the 9th U.S. District Court throws out Sony's third and final claim for an injunction against retail sales of bleem!, citing a conclusive lack of evidence that the emulator had violated any Sony copyrights.  This ruling is held to have been the first to truly legitimze videogame emulation in the eyes of the general public, doing for it what the resolution of the A-Max affair did for PC emulation a full decade earlier.

David Lloyd launches OverClocked, the emuscene's first comic strip.

Sega becomes the first vendor to openly support the Internet emuscene.  They do so by announcing the impending establishment of its own ROM site, specifically geared for Dreamcast customers.

2000 The unquestionable legality of unlicensed emulation is finally established by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Sony v. Connectix.

Sega, in conjunction with NEC, launches its DreamLibrary service in Japan.  This provides Dreamcast owners with hundreds of classic MegaDrive and PC Engine videogames for use under emulation on their consoles at a nominal fee.

A Korean man dies of malnutrition after repeated marathon sessions playing his favorite RPG.  He becomes the videogame industry's second known fatality to date.

... and the story continues ... 

The EmuFAQ (c) 1999 Sam Pettus - section last revised 16 March 2000