C O M P U T E R   E M U L A T I O N
Aaron Kaluszka
14 Dec 2001

The first concept of emulation actually dates back to the first computer, the Colossus. It was used by the British government in 1941 to mimic the functions of the Nazi Enigma code machine. Emulation theory was developed in 1962 and was conceived by three IBM engineers working from three different angles. The first emulator was written by Larry Moss in 1965. This emulator ran programs from the IBM 7070 on the IBM System/360. This allowed IBM's customers to continue running their existing applications after upgrading their hardware. The next major emulators are released in 1982. One is the Intel 80286 which can run its 8086 code. The other is an emulator for the CP/M operating system. Throughout the 1980s, as systems are released, emulators are developed for other systems in order to provide compatibility in a largely incompatible environment.

The next major breakthrough in emulation development came in 1989 when developers figure out how to dump the contents of a ROM chip into a file and run the file through an emulator instead of needing a physical chip. Also in 1989, several FPU emulators are developed to perform floating point math that one would normally have to purchase a chip to accomplish. By 1991, game system emulation began to emerge, starting with Sega Genesis emulation. Shortly after, around 1995, emulation development exploded into a "scene" with ROMs commonly dumped and distributed. By 1997, dynamic recompilation techniques are developed which allow exponential increases in the speed of emulation. Also around this time, companies begin to create emulators of both classic and modern machines and market them. Emulation is now a key part of computing though most do not realize its significance.