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.

  • 2
    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
    Mar 29, 2017 at 2:37
  • 4
    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
    Mar 29, 2017 at 2:39
  • 1
    @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
    Mar 29, 2017 at 2:43
  • 1
    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). Mar 29, 2017 at 5:12
  • 1
    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). 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 Mar 29, 2017 at 9:17
  • 1
    @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
    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).

  • 2
    There were plenty of emulators by that time. I am asking specifically for emulators for MS Windows. Aug 7, 2017 at 18:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.