Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Emulation of old consoles and arcades.

Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Postby Jo22 » 2017-11-06 @ 01:12

Hello everyone!

I've recently seen some videos about ancient emulators on YouTube and was wondering how the emulation scene was in the 90s.
So I tracked down several old homepages and emulators.. On my journey trough Web 1.0 and archaic newsgroups
I've found prior versions of famous emulators, like Snes9x, ZSNES and Vice64.
All available for major OSes of that time, like AmigaOS, DOS, Win95, Solaris and even OS/2, RISC OS and BeOS.
All were there, except ports for good old (-well, old at least-) Win 3.x.

"So hey, where are they ?" I asked myself - Since some of todays popular emulation projects started out in the early to mid 90s,
according to archived web pages of that era.. And since, with WinG, there was already an early form of DirectDraw available.
"So wasn't Win3.1 suited well enough as a platform for emulators ?", I thought and continued my search across the old web.

Well, I've found evidences on some private homepages that there were indeed a few emulation projects written for 16-Bit Windows,
but most files are gone by now. What happened to those ? And why does nobody remember them ? Questions after questions.
- It's almost like they were lost in the mists of time..

In case you're interested, here's what I've found so far..

Ancient Emulators
YouTube play list of old emulators (mainly DOS)

Emulators for PCs (DOS/WIN)
FTP server, Pooldisk, CD2

NES Emulators
http://kubloid.tripod.com/nesemul.htm

Various consoles
http://www.emulationzone.org/consoles/
Very intersting page. Also has a lot of background information about consoles, utilities and
detailed emulator information. Last updated early 2000s.
Old pages:
http://www.emulationzone.org/consoles/sms/old/sms.htm
http://www.emulationzone.org/consoles/nes/old/Emuold.htm

-=Video Game Art Archive=-
archived

Emuviews - The Site for Views on Emulators
http://www.emuviews.com/
Reviews and interviews. Last updated early 2000s.

Books:
The Emulation User's Guide by Kenneth Stevens
ISBN-10: 1435753739 ISBN-13: 978-1435753730

Files:
Sorry, most links are dead, but Some files can be found on zophar.net or Dave's classics (archived)
I haven't included the archive names, yet, as they differed on every ftp server and web site I've seen.
Maybe you're still able to find them by their names and their version numbers..

// Ancient emulators for Windows 3.1 //
Altair v.09 + IMSAI 8080 v.01 (Altair)
Apple Win (Apple ][)
BeebEm (Acorn BBC)
CowChip v0.2 (CHIP-8)
Gemulator 95,96 (AtariST / TOS)
PasuFami(PasoFami)/PASWING v1.0,v2.x,v2.6b (Nintendo NES)
Famicom v0.13 (Nintendo NES)
iNES v0.4 (Nintendo NES)*
Emu48 (HP48)
VirtualMSX v1.1beta (MSX 1.0 standard)
fMSX v1.30 (MSX, Tokuyama's port)
fMSX v1.5u (MSX)
Win Z88 (Z88)
Z88dream (Z88)
VGB Virtual GameBoy v.03 (Gameboy)
PC64 v2.14 Windows (C64)
WinZ80 v4 (Sinclair Spectrum)
WSpecem W3.1 version (Sinclair Spectrum)
Turing Machine (simulates a turing machine)
Turing-Maschine (another version)

..


Somehow this is just a little bit bitter and sad. So many games have been preserved today, but not so much the early emulation projects.
Maybe it's just me, but I think keeping old emulators archived/preserved is much more worthwile by now.
Not because they are good (ha!), but because they were a part of "our" online society and gaming culture.
And I also think they and their authors deserve to be remembered of (*in whatever way. ;) )


What do you think / what is your opinion ? :)

- And did you use Win 3.x as an emulation platform at some point in the 90s ? Or rather DOS, Win9x, ..


-= Tiny Windows 3.1 Emulation Gallery =-

imsai_altair.jpg
Altair v.09 + IMSAI 8080 v.01

appl2win.jpg
Apple Win

pc64win2.jpg
PC64Win v2.14, playing "Planet des Todes"

vmsx.jpg
VirtualMSX v1.1beta

cowchip.jpg
CowChip v0.2

PS: I hope I posted this in the right spot.. ^^;

(Note: This thread is about emulators only, be it Freeware/Shareware/PD; no links to binary images of any game cassettes are given. No ware-z.)
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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Re: Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Postby BitWrangler » 2017-11-06 @ 02:23

Mostly they ran under DOS but some had windows support. You have to dig them out of (possibly mirrors or archives of) the "classic" ftp sites, example...
http://www.lanet.lv/simtel.net/msdos/emulate.html
Basement full of ancient PC stuff, starting to go through it. Most recently toyed with DOS era stuff 15 years ago, so memory might be rusty. So what's this BitWrangler guy's deal ??? >>> http://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=56382
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Re: Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Postby Stiletto » 2017-11-06 @ 03:52

In general, most emulator authors for the PC back then wanted blistering raw speed and direct hardware access, and felt that they could not achieve this under Windows. DOS development was far more common until Windows 95 came along, and many times not even until Windows XP came along. Speaking for MAME, the primary developed port only transitioned from DOS to Windows commandline with MAME 0.37b15 (May 24, 2001).
http://www.mamedev.org/history.html

And some of it is of course "scene", environment and inertia.

http://caesar.logiqx.com has a half-decent retrospective for the early arcade emulation scene, BTW. :D
(In case you're not sure of the history there, MAME eventually ate everyone's lunch. As the classic joke goes, "We are the Borg, resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own." We'll probably do this for console and computer emulation too if given a long enough timeframe. :lol: )
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Re: Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Postby Zup » 2017-11-06 @ 06:21

Well, Windows was not an OS until NT and (maybe) 9x. Windows 3.x was only a DOS GUI like GEM, so it made sense not to support it.
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Re: Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Postby Azarien » 2018-2-06 @ 14:15

Zup wrote:Well, Windows was not an OS until NT and (maybe) 9x. Windows 3.x was only a DOS GUI


Windows 3.x looked like a GUI or app launcher in that you executed a program (win.com) and you could normally exit back to DOS.

But it had its own drivers and own applications incompatible with DOS, reducing DOS to the role of a bootloader and compatibility layer.
There was no technical reason why Microsoft couldn't sell DOS and Windows in one box with one installer, like they did with Windows 95.

Or alternatively, you can think of DOS + Windows as a weird hybrid OS that was sold in two boxes.
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Re: Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Postby dr_st » 2018-2-06 @ 14:42

Azarien wrote:Windows 3.x looked like a GUI or app launcher in that you executed a program (win.com) and you could normally exit back to DOS.
There is an interesting question here - why could you exit Win 3.x back to DOS without a reboot, but you cannot similarly exit Win9x? Did Win9x go an extra step in unloading the DOS layer, that could not be undone without a reset, or was it just an arbitrary decision by the programmers?
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Re: Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Postby Azarien » 2018-2-07 @ 11:38

dr_st wrote:
Azarien wrote:Windows 3.x looked like a GUI or app launcher in that you executed a program (win.com) and you could normally exit back to DOS.
There is an interesting question here - why could you exit Win 3.x back to DOS without a reboot, but you cannot similarly exit Win9x? Did Win9x go an extra step in unloading the DOS layer, that could not be undone without a reset, or was it just an arbitrary decision by the programmers?


I think they wanted to hide the existence of DOS from casual user ;-)

DOS is not being unloaded by Windows 95. It is simply not fully loaded - by default, win.com is automatically loaded instead of command.com, and there's no exit from that (except the "Restart the computer in MS-DOS mode" option, which I'll explain later).

However, you can change BootGUI=1 to 0 in msdos.sys. This way normal command.com prompt is loaded, and you can run windows by executing win.com, just like in 3.x.
The difference is that upon exiting Windows, you still see "It's now safe to turn off your computer." instead of DOS prompt. But that prompt is there!
You can start typing to see the message gets garbled. You can try to execute some program that would reset the screen to text mode and voila. Back to DOS again.
That works only if BootGUI=0 and you manually (or via autoexec.bat) executed win.com.

Then things changed when on newer machines instead of the message the computer physically turned off.

Regarding that "Restart the computer in MS-DOS mode" option. This efectively unloads Windows keeping only the win.com, and then runs command.com as a normal program.
When you exit that (typing exit), win.com reloads Windows, or if it isn't feasible at this point, reboots the machine.
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Re: Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Postby dr_st » 2018-2-07 @ 13:38

Azarien wrote:However, you can change BootGUI=1 to 0 in msdos.sys. This way normal command.com prompt is loaded, and you can run windows by executing win.com, just like in 3.x.
The difference is that upon exiting Windows, you still see "It's now safe to turn off your computer." instead of DOS prompt. But that prompt is there!
You can start typing to see the message gets garbled. You can try to execute some program that would reset the screen to text mode and voila. Back to DOS again.
That works only if BootGUI=0 and you manually (or via autoexec.bat) executed win.com.

Then things changed when on newer machines instead of the message the computer physically turned off.

Interesting. So on a non-ACPI system (that doesn't turn the PC off), if you select "shut down Windows" it just takes you back to the DOS prompt and hides it with an overlay? Does Logo=0 affect it in any way?
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Re: Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Postby Zup » 2018-2-07 @ 15:25

dr_st wrote:Interesting. So on a non-ACPI system (that doesn't turn the PC off), if you select "shut down Windows" it just takes you back to the DOS prompt and hides it with an overlay? Does Logo=0 affect it in any way?


No. It shows the "shut down the computer" screen and then locks the computer. The Logo=0 doesn't affect the process, it only avoid the initial logo screen.

The "shutting down windows" and "shut the computer" are necessary. While the "shutting down windows" screen is showing, the computer is closing any open file, writing down the disk caches (internal and external) and asking external devices to shut down. The second screen is showed to signal that everything is properly finished (if Windows can not power off the computer). Shutting down the computer before showing the last one can lead to data corruption, so those screens can't be disabled.
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Re: Emulation on MS Windows 3.1x ?

Postby Azarien » 2018-2-15 @ 15:41

Zup wrote:
dr_st wrote:Interesting. So on a non-ACPI system (that doesn't turn the PC off), if you select "shut down Windows" it just takes you back to the DOS prompt and hides it with an overlay? Does Logo=0 affect it in any way?


No. It shows the "shut down the computer" screen and then locks the computer. The Logo=0 doesn't affect the process, it only avoid the initial logo screen.


If BootGUI=0 then there's no lock. Instead, Windows exits to DOS but does not clear the screen, so you still see the message.
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