Computer historians at the University of Portsmouth in England is working on a project to create a game emulator that will "recognize and play all types of video games and computer files from the 1970s through to the present day."
The initiative is part of the Europe-wide KEEP project (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable), whose objective is to "develop methods of safeguarding digital objects including text, sound and image files, multimedia documents, websites, databases and video games."
"Early hardware, like games consoles and computers, are already found in museums. But if you can't show visitors what they did, by playing the software on them, it would be much the same as putting musical instruments on display but throwing away all the music. For future generations it would be a cultural catastrophe," according to Dr. David Anderson from Portsmouth University.
It's not going to be an easy job though, given that by 2010 the amount of digital information created worldwide "will be equivalent to 18 million times the information contained in all the books ever written."
"We are facing a massive threat of the loss of digital information. It's a very real and worrying problem. Things that were created in the 1970s, '80s and '90s are vanishing fast and every year new technologies mean we face greater risk of losing material," says Anderson.
Sounds like a great idea, but hasn't he heard of MAME?