Acorn era preservationBy Chris Williams. Published: 19th Feb 2005, 15:21:18 | Permalink | Printable
Software museums, uniteAmid 'serious' digital preservation efforts, a number of users have shown an interest in keeping the more light hearted side of the early Acorn era alive. I recently stumbled across the Acorn Preservation project, a website run by David Moore, which wants achieve just this: to preserve games from the 8bit 6502 powered world.
Whether or not you consider the redistribution of old games and other software to be piracy ("yarr, me disc images"), a form of back up ("my real tape died, but I still want to play the game") or abandonware ("No one will care"), it's no secret that there's a wealth of titles out there, freely available to download. Some fear, though, that abandonware will hinder the re-release of classic retro games.
"The Acorn Tape Images on Stairway to Hell were not truly representative of the original cassettes, in that they only contained program data: the gap lengths, baud rates, and so on, were not preserved", says David on why he created his preservation website. "This was due to limitations of the MakeUEF transfer software. Another restriction of MakeUEF was that it couldn't cope with tapes that used non-standard data blocks."
He adds: "I knew that a programmer by the name of Fraser Ross was working on a new version of MakeUEF that would address these limitations, so to coincide with its release, I wanted to build a new site that would contain an archive of UEF files in the new 'High Quality' format, together with decent scans of all associated packaging and documentation."
UEF tape image files are digital copies of the actual signals on cassette tapes, which can then be loaded into a machine emulator or used to reproduce working copies of a tape. David's site also includes 600 dpi scans of the manuals bundled with the various games, just to boost the feeling of nostalgia, and compressed audio files from the tape cassettes.
David says in the future he wants to add tapes from serious, non-gaming software, Acorn Atom software and also protected DFS disc images. Although he owns a StrongARM RiscPC and originally an A3000, it's apt that David now uses and is a big fan of RISC OS hardware emulator, VirtualAcorn.
Acorn Preservation project website
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