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A collection of resources re: emulation for preservation and access. Maintained by myself for personal and professional reasons, but pull requests welcome!

If you have never contributed to GitLab before, feel free to file a new issue with a link and I'll add it! Or just ping me elsewhere.

There is a related companion repository for disk imaging resources at disk-imaging-resources



Organized by target system.

x86 PCs

  • DOSBox (DOS-based x86 PCs)
  • PCem (x86 PCs)
    • 86Box (x86 PCs, fork of PCem, Windows-only)
  • Bochs (x86 PC emulation)
  • Microsoft Virtual PC (x86 PC virtualization)
  • VirtualBox (x86 PC virtualization)
  • VMware (x86 PC virtualization) - I think Workstation Player is the current free product/version for Windows + Linux, and Fusion for Macs, but good luck sorting that out
  • QEMU (x86 PC virtualization)
    • QEMU Manager (QEMU front-end; Windows-only)
    • AQEMU (QEMU front-end, not actively developed and must be compiled from source)
    • Virtual Machine Manager (can be used as a QEMU front-end but largely targeted at managing modern KVM virtual machines/virtualization rather than emulation)
    • qemu-virgil (QEMU build with the Virgil 3D rendering library pre-configured; Linux-only Snap)
    • qemu-screamer (QEMU fork with experimental sound support for PowerPC MacOS guests; must build from source)





  • Wang3300 and Wang2200 (Wang mini/microcomputer series emulators)
  • QDAE (Apricot series and Wang Professional Computer)


  • ContrAlto (Xerox Alto)
  • Salto (Xerox Alto, for Windows)
  • Dark Star (Xerox Star 8010)
  • Medley Interlisp (not an emulator per se; modern re-write of the Medley Lisp IDE running on a portable VM, but could be used to run Lisp-based code/software in a modern environment)




Software Download Sites

I have generally had luck with these sites, but be careful out there. (WinWorld is usually the first stop, then try others)




Setup Guides

Hobby Sites and Computer History Resources

I've received many questions about where I get information about using and configuring old operating systems (and troubleshooting them with various emulation applications). Short answer: wherever search engines take me, even if it's a random forum post from 2004. But there are some vintage computing hobbyist sites and resources that have popped up more often, so a shoutout to those here:

I should also mention that the Internet Archive frequently has scanned manuals, magazines and self-help books that you can download or check out from their eBook library!

Emulators Written in JavaScript

Many of the emulators listed above and more have been ported to JavaScript, enabling them to be hosted and embedded on web pages and run by a browser. This is, for instance, how Internet Archive does their in-browser console and early PC emulation (e.g. with Em-DOSBox, a JS port of DOSBox, and JSMESS, a JS port of MAME/MESS).

JavaScript emulation has many advantages, especially that it makes emulated computers widely and quickly shareable. However, it passes much of the computing load on to client browsers - the entire emulator application, plus whatever operating system and applications or files the user wants to view, have to get downloaded into the user's browser. So it makes a lot of sense for early systems that barely take up much storage space or computing power by modern standards, but trying to run anything from ~2000 on (e.g. Windows XP and up) or the size of a CD-ROM runs the risk of unexpected/slow behavior, crashing the browser or client system, etc.

There are A LOT of emulators written in JavaScript, and I have found an already-existing list organized very similar to my own, so instead of recreating that work I will just link it here:

Hardware Emulators

Hardware emulation refers to the process of imitating one piece of hardware with another piece of hardware. Its utility is a little unclear in preservation and archiving use cases - part of the advantage of software emulation is the portability and flexibility of working in virtual environments.

Hardware emulation projects are frequently pushed forward by retro-computing and gaming hobbyists who want, for example, to maintain and use legacy computers without relying on fragile and no-longer-produced digital media (i.e. floppy disks, CD-ROMs) or parts.

They're pretty neat though, so I thought I'd include them here.

Floppy Drive Emulators



For some time, I maintained a bilbiography here of published resources related to emulation and software/digital preservation, including blog posts, journal articles, use cases, discussions of copyright consideration, training modules, and more. It ultimately grew to a point that GitLab/markdown was not a great place to keep adding to it.

Those citations and resources have instead all been moved to a sub-collection of the Software Preservation Network's public Zotero library! Going forward, I will contribute new resources I find there. Do check it out, as that page now has everything I linked and more. (Much thanks to the SPN Training & Education working group for accepting my "donation"!)

Repository Copyright

To the extent possible under law, has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to emulation-resources.


A collection of resources re: emulation for preservation and access