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What is MAME?

In the gaming space, MAME is an acronym for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. According to the official MAME website (http://www.mame.net), the first official MAME release (0.1) was released on February 5 1997 by Nicola Salmoria. MAME tries to faithfully emulate as many different arcade machines and games as possible, and has been ported to many different platforms. The X11 port for UNIX-like systems is called XMAME.

MAME’s purpose is to preserve gaming history, and to stop vintage games from being lost or forgotten. As of version 0.93 (actually the 137th proper release), released February 27, 2005, MAME now supports 3061 unique games and 5524 actual ROMsets (each game may just have the original or have one or more clones as well – see below) and is growing all the time. However, not all of the games in MAME are playable, about 680 ROMsets are marked as not working in the current version.

How Does It Work?

MAME is a software program which runs on personal computer hardware. Current versions exist for Windows, Macintosh, and Unix operating systems. MAME itself performs several emulation functions: a CPU emulator, which emulates the CPU of the original arcade machine; an input emulator, which maps the arcade buttons, joysticks, and so on to PC devices; and an emulator for the arcade game display and sound equipment. The only thing missing from MAME is the ROM image, which is the program from the original arcade game which made the game run. When MAME is run, it is running the original game from several years ago – just on different hardware.