Hardly anyone would mention UltraCade Technologies of San Jose, Calif. That's probably because UltraCade's home gaming consoles aren't priced for the average consumer. Indeed, the $3,000 price of a single UltraCade machine would buy 17 or so PlayStations.
Granted, the UltraCade console delivers state-of-the-art performance. But it's state of the art circa 1985. The console, called Arcade Legends, is a re-creation of the coin-operated arcade games of the Reagan era. Each refrigerator-size unit is decorated with images of monsters and heroes and equipped with an array of standard game controls - trackballs, push buttons, joysticks.
In 1996, a programmer named Nicola Salmoria created an emulator that made a PC work just like the old arcade consoles. He called the program MAME, the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, and made it freely available for download over the Internet. Now anybody could run the old games on pretty much any PC. Soon similar emulators were being developed for game devices such as the Atari 2600, the Commodore 64, the Magnavox Odyssey, or the Coleco vision system. Players can even get specially made desktop controllers that plug into a computer's USB port and have the same joysticks and trackballs as the old arcade consoles.