Emulators, Machines & Preservation

What the heck is an emulator? I had to look it up. An emulator is a hardware or software that enables one computer system to act like another and usually lets the host system to run software or use peripheral devices designed for the guest system. An example of this is being able to run Windows on a Mac computer, or being able to play old console video games on your computer.

To understand emulators a bit more, I looked on Lifewire- a website for information on technology and gaming. Specifically, an article called, What is an emulator?

Emulators give people the opportunity to play their favorite video games through their personal devices like their laptops or phones. They let people experience the original hardware or software with additional features if needed. With that though, the game may lag due to the required computational requirements. Although you may not have the chance to play the original game on the platform it was originally made for, you can still play the game.

Virtual machines are types of emulators that run on the underlying hardware of the host system which helps with the lagging, but the virtual machines have their own limitations.

According to Microsoft, virtual machines are computer files, usually images, that behaves like an actual computer. It translates from the host’s computer to the user’s computer, giving them the same experience. The software within the virtual machine can’t escape or tamper with the computer itself. The virtual hardware is mapped to the real hardware on the machine which saves costs.

Using emulators are helpful because they are created specifically for whichever device you own. Digital preservation is also a positive when it comes to emulators. I learned that programs stored on obsolete formats, like old game cartridges, can be downloaded read-only memory (ROM) files using a special device. ROM’s can be played by using the emulator.

For information about digital preservation, I looked at an article from dpconline.org. Digital preservation is involved with basically all things technology- from text and image, to video games and databases. Digital preservation is the act of maintaining access to digital information.

Digital materials are still fragile, though. As digital platforms change, so do their chains of interdependence and their longevity is threatened. “Digital preservation protects investment, captures potential and transmits opportunities to future generations and our own,” from DPC online.

Sources: https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-an-emulator-4687005 https://www.dpconline.org/handbook/digital-preservation/why-digital-preservation-matters https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/what-is-a-virtual-machine/

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