It’s Not Just Your Lawn: Why Retro-Computing Belongs To Their Future, Not Your Past.

Nostalgia is not the only purpose of emulation

Recently we experienced some negative feedback on a public forum from an individual who took issue with our exuberance in announcing new features in microM8, calling them unimportant or defective, accusing us of stealing some of them, discounting microM8’s novel features, and basically telling us to shut up.

Leaving aside the sexist overtones of an old man telling two women to keep out of his metaphorical ‘man cave’, we think it’s important that we drill down a little bit into our motivations versus his. See, for us it’s not about nostalgia, it’s about ensuring that an important time in the history and formation of the world we live in can be experienced and understood by the generations that followed, and will follow, much in the way that students study Shakespeare to learn about the evolution of language.

We promote microM8 as much as we can because we want help making it better, because eventually it’s going to be the core of a larger learning platform that will teach younger people about 8-bit computing, hopefully get them to do a bit of coding, and allow them to share their creations with each other. So it’s not just an emulator.

We understand that for some people, including presumably our detractor, the Apple II was a big part of their teenage years, with video games being a central focus of that, and they like the nostalgia of reliving that time in their lives. It makes them happy. But for us, we were young children when we encountered the Apple II and while it was a big part not only of teaching us about math and astronomy and life on the Oregon Trail, it was also responsible for getting us interested in how computers worked, and we think we can recapture some of that magic for the kids of today if we can just jazz things up a bit. And you’re not going to do that with AppleWin, sorry.

That said, while we do empathise with some members of the community who think we’re intruding into their happy place (even though we find some of their reasoning for doing so distasteful and definitely not in step with the times) our aim is not to spend all of our spare time for years on end just to find some trivial fame for ’doing what other people have already done’ (What? There’s another 3D Apple II emulator? Really? Where?) but to build a solid emulation platform designed for what we want to do with it, which is to make it a central component of a much larger platform with much loftier goals.

(This is, by the way, also why microM8 isn’t open source we don’t want to give potential hackers the ability to attack that platform later. We’d COPPA lot of crap if that happened. But now that we’re a not-for-profit organisation we hope to find volunteers to help us with coding. There will be a larger announcement about that soon.)

So, yes, we’re taking over a part of your lawn and turning it into a playground. But we’re leaving plenty of lawn for you to do keep doing whatever you want with. So let us be, and we’ll continue working on the future while you keep celebrating the past.

And no, obviously we won’t shut up about it.

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