Sinclair Spectrum Emulation - What's going on?
The Sinclair Spectrum was a home computer manufactured during the 1980s. Millions were sold, and vast amounts of software was written for the various Spectrum models. Today, the Spectrum machines themselves are a distant memory, although they can be obtained on eBay if you have more money than sense.
This site will show you how to recreate a Spectrum on your PC. This is entirely legal, unlike the emulation of most every other games system.
The examples in the following pages are from Windows XP and Windows Internet Explorer 7. Your computer may display things sightly differently, depending on which browser and operating system version you have. However, the basic principles are the same.
The Basics - pay attention, authentic information
An emulator is a program which attempts to simulate a real Spectrum. No emulator is perfect, but some are very close. The emulator can be considered equivalent to a real Spectrum.
You must download and install an emulator program before you can start using any games. Imagine trying to load a game from cassette when you don't have a Spectrum. Clearly useless and impossible. The same applies if you try to use game files without an emulator program.
You only need to download and install an emulator once. Nobody wants 47 copies of an emulator installed, in the same way you don't want 47 Spectrums in your house.
The game files which you can download from this and other websites are equivalent to the cassettes used with the original Spectrum. The emulator works without them, but you would then either have to have some real cassettes available, or start to tediously type programs in by hand.
These files are NOT 'roms' because the Spectrum didn't generally use roms to contain games. Other emulation programs use 'roms' (or more correctly, files containing the contents of 'roms') because those other systems used roms to contain games. Virtually all Spectrums used cassettes, unless you had one of those newfangled Amstrad dealies with a built in disk drive, or you insisted on using the squealing tape mangler or equivalent devices.
(For those who do not know, a Rom is Read Only Memory - a memory chip which contains information permanently even when not powered up. Although a few games were released on ROM for the Spectrum, the vast majority of software was supplied on audio cassette. You needed to buy the optional Interface II to use the expensive ROM cartridges, so most people didn't bother. Next lesson - the fortress fone ...)
Time for a summary
Game Files are equivalent to the ancient cassette tapes in the picture below.
The emulator program is equivalent to the computer in the picture below.