I released my ZX Spectrum emulation Wspecem, and GPL sources first time publicly in the Internet at large, the 15th May 1996, for Windows 95.

I am quite sure it was the first ZX Spectrum emulation developed specifically for the Microsoft Windows 3.11/95 API - (or any previous Windows versions before that)

Can I claim at least, it was the first ever non-commercial computer emulator developed for Windows? At least at the time, I did not find anything else.

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    In case it saves anybody else some time, those of the other freeware mid-'90s emulators I've been able to date: Gerton Lunter's Z80 didn't make it to Windows until 1999; Stella was 1997; VICE 1998; vMac 1996; UAE 1997. Executor and Gemulator were first released in 1990 but didn't become free until much later.
    – Tommy
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 2:37
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    In 1995, UAE was for Unix, and I don't think WinUAE existed before 1996. I have an impression that almost all emulators on PCs that pre-dated Windows 95 were hosted in DOS, probably for performance reasons. I know of no emulators that were designed for Windows 1, 2, or 3. Therefore, in early 1996, you likely had one of the very first Windows-hosted emulators available.
    – Brian H
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 2:39
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    @BrianH Gemulator and Executor are emulators for Windows 3.x of the Atari ST and Mac respectively, from 1990. But neither was freeware at the time. Gemulator's introduction video: m.youtube.com/watch?v=UNOw3eyBygw
    – Tommy
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 2:43
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    I'm not sure it counts, since it's a simulator rather than a system emulator — spimsal was available for Windows 3 in December 1994 (if not earlier). Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 5:12
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    Yes, Executor was commercial initially (with a demo version available). Re SPIM, note that spimsal isn’t quite the same as the current SPIM MIPS32 simulator; AFAIR it does run executables (albeit only executables using its particular syscalls). Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 6:36

2 Answers 2


AppleWin was announced in August 1994, so it turns out yours isn’t the first non-commercial emulator developed for Windows. It was made available by April 1995 if not earlier.

  • Interesting find! It seems the sources where first released only in 2006 from the history in their github. I actually have documented in the sources I had private betas sent to people in April and early May, but indeed my public announcement was a month later on. So to be entirely fair, at least being the first open source emulator AND the first ZX Spectrum one. github.com/AppleWin/AppleWin/blob/master/bin/History.txt - - 25 Feb 2006 ---------------------- - Moved source to BerliOS & released under GPL Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 9:17
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    @RuiFRibeiro that's probably merely indicative of a licence change or formalisation; source was definitely available earlier — e.g. "And it now comes with source code!" from groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!searchin/comp.emulators.apple2/… would suggest a first source release in 1996. But not until July!
    – Tommy
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 18:47

XTricator was the first ZX-81 emulator for the Sinclair QL, released as shareware August 1994. So not entirely non-commercial (although today it is).

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    There were plenty of emulators by that time. I am asking specifically for emulators for MS Windows. Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 18:26

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