Emulators of Classic Computers

From: Jerome H. Fine <jhfinexgs2_at_compsys.to>
Date: Wed Jan 14 20:40:24 2004

>Tom Uban wrote:

> To further this depressing story, even if you were to save a room full of
> old computers to run the actual software on, in time they would break down
> and the integrated circuits inside would be no longer available for repair,
> assuming that you were able to secure copies of the proprietary hardware
> manuals that would be needed to maintain the systems...

Jerome Fine replies:

I suggest that the intent was to be able to use
current hardware with the old software - at
some time in the future.

The difficulty is that so little information was
made available that no estimate is possible.

As for the suggestions I have seen in respect
of using an emulator, I think that even one
example is sufficient. I currently use Ersatz-11
to run software that is more than a decade old.

The range is from the early 1970s to the early
1990s. While the former is unusual, just this
week I tested some software in response to
a question on this list. The release date of
the operating system was November 20th, 1975.
The hardware I am using is a 750 MHz Pentium III
with 768 MBytes of memory and 3 * 40 GByte
EIDE ATA 100 hard disk drives. In 1975,
that operating system would have been running
on a CPU with a speed of between 0.1 and
0.5 MHz and the memory would have likely
been around 16 KBytes with 2.5 MByte
removable hard disk drives. Yet 29 years
later, it can still be run and I fully hope that
it will still be possible in another 29 years.

As one example of a much more versatile
emulator, SIMH handles up to a dozen
different hardware systems.

I realize that probably over 95% of this list
is more inclined to hardware and likes to hear
the fans and see the lights blink, but eventually
in 200 years, that hardware will no longer
exist. BUT, I fully expect that the software
will still run in some form even if multiple
emulators are required. There is just far
too much software out there that will still
be running even if just a small fraction of the
people use emulators.

Sincerely yours,

Jerome Fine
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Received on Wed Jan 14 2004 - 20:40:24 GMT

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