On December 24th, 1996, Nicola Salmoria began working on his single
hardware emulators (for example Multi-Pac), which he merged into one program during
January 1997. He named the accomplishment by the name of Multiple Arcade
Machine Emulator, or MAME for short (pronounced as the word 'maim' in English,
other languages may differ).
The first official release was MAME 0.1, which was
released on the evening of February 5th, 1997. Using a modular
and portable driver oriented architecture with an open source philosophy, it
soon grew into immense proportions. The current version recognizes over six
thousand ROM sets. Because MAME releases happen whenever they are ready, at one
point the wait between new versions was almost 4 months. To help the agony of
the users, a public beta system was used, with a beta release happening every
2-3 weeks on an average. However, now the beta designation has been removed in
favor of a good old 0.xx version number. Also a work-in-progress -page exists,
if you really want to know the latest information.
Even though MAME allows people to enjoy the long-lost arcade games
and even some newer ones, the main purpose of the project is to document the
hardware (and software) of the arcade games. There are already many dead arcade
boards, whose function has been brought to life in MAME. Being able to play the
games is just a nice side-effect. The huge success of MAME would not be
possible without the talent of the programmers who joined to form the MAME
team. At the moment, there are about 100 people on the team, but there is a
large number of contributors outside the team too. Aaron Giles is the current
coordinator of the project.