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Before I managed to pick up a cab I began putting together the computer that would potentially be going inside it, and that particular part of the project will be covered in part two. This first part is concerned with the actual cabinet restoration and refit but first I'll explain the reasoning behind taking a piece of gaming history and putting a Computer inside it. How do we go about getting our computer to run the much loved arcade games? An emulator is how. One called M.A.M.E. (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator).

Put simply, emulators are software programs that recreate (emulate) hardware environments, so for example an original arcade machine would be made of physical hardware such as circuit boards and chips and the games would be hard coded onto these chips and boards. That meant that a cabinet was hard wired by design to play one game. If you wanted to play a different game you bought a different machine. There are examples of game boards running in other machines but for the most part, and for the sake of this article, it was one cab one game.

What M.A.M.E. Does is recreates all of this bespoke hardware but it does it in software which runs like any other program, and that means our single program can enable us to play every game. M.A.M.E. is perhaps one of the most used and most famous of all emulators, and as such it is very well supported and documented and has a long history of builds. The beauty of this is that if you want to emulate some of the more modern games you can use a more recent build installed on a higher end machine, but for our purposes here, we will be playing mainly the old classic games so we can use an old M.A.M.E. build on our older hardware.

That is the emulated hardware covered so what about the games themselves? The game files that the emulator uses are called ROM files (Read Only Memory) and as is customary when mentioning ROMs there will now follow a meandering an unspecific diatribe about the legality of using them.

Remember when blank audio cassettes first came out? Me neither because I wasn't born but I know people that were, and at that time the record industry attempted to have cassettes banned. The reasoning behind this attempted ban was that the Record Labels felt they were being cheated because people were buying a vinyl album, and then making a copy of it using a cassette tape. They could then listen to this cassette tape in places that they couldn't listen to a vinyl album such as in their car, in the kitchen or in the bathroom, and in later years on the move with the advent of the portable cassette player.

You had bought the album and owned the album but the record company wanted you to buy the cassette version as well so they said that it should be illegal to copy something you owned and took the matter to court. They lost and people everywhere recorded their vinyl albums onto cassette and were free to listen to them in their cars or even in the bathroom.

The same thing is true of Video Games and other similar technologies like music CDs, though you will be told otherwise again by the record companies. Let?s say you buy a CD and listen to it every day until one day it has got so scratched and damaged that it has become unplayable. You have to buy it again. That?s paying twice for the same thing and the record company would love for you to do just that, well, here?s what you should be legally able to do.

You buy a CD or a game, take it home and make a copy of it, then place the original in safe storage. You can?t sell it on or give it away, you must keep hold of it as you own it. You now play this copy every day until it also becomes so scratched and damaged that it is unplayable. At this point you destroy the copy, do not sell it or give it away, destroy it and get your pristine original out of safe storage and make another copy of it for everyday use.

Well, the idea is the same with M.A.M.E. ROMs it?s just that the technology is different. If you own a Space Invaders arcade cabinet it contains the game in hardware, so it follows that you can also own a ROM file for Space Invaders. In fact the company Atari have even made some of their ROM files available for purchase in the past. Now that is fine for those games that you already own in hardware or have bought the ROM for, but nobody owns every arcade game cabinet and Atari didn't sell the ROMs for all of their games, so if you want to play the ROM file of a game whose cabinet you don't own or which you haven't bought what is the situation there?

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