20 Years of Reverse-Engineering for the Sake of Emulation & Preservation

Presented at ekoparty 14 (2018), Sept. 27, 2018, 6:30 p.m. (50 minutes)

A lot of inner technical things like forensics, reverse-engineering, disassembly, analysis, cracking, hacking, decryption, trojaning, to understand and document each platform and emulate each component (RAM, ROMs, buses, CPUs, Microcontrollers, PLDs equations, sound and video devices, among protection layers and dedicated or customs chips), to create a "virtual" platform where the program, sound and graphics ROMs devices "think" that they are laid out in a real hardware, and start to work the same way.

From RX and melt down a suicide epoxy brick with CPU + battery backed RAM + PLDs and TTL logic, to decrypt and crack a four-rounds Feistel Network to beat an evil encryption scheme.

Memory maps creation, interrupts, bankswitching and a lot of exciting things that bring us to those old times, where some of us used to disassemble different programs trying to crack things for good.


  • Roberto Fresca
    Mi name is Roberto Fresca. I have been MAME developer since 1998, and I have in my records having emulated more than 500 games/platforms. In 2008, I was chosen n°1 of the scenario, fighting statistically, head to head with David Haywood (Haze). I am also a member of the Dumping Union (dumpers exalted group of hardwares, worldwide for preservation through emulation) and of Recreativas.org ( a non-profit organization, to rescue, document and preserve the Spanish recreations). I´ve had the pleasure of being speaker in the symposium closing ceremony in the Assembly ´09 closing edition (Helsinki, Finlandia) proposed speaker for the reopening of the Computerspiel museum (Berlin), in academic terms with different representatives from European Universities. Discussion panel with the KEEP (preservation and emulation) projects of the European Union. Also, in New York (Tesla Engineering Ring), as well as other worldwide conferences regarding emulation, CPUs architecture and technical inners such as Interrupts, Bankswitching and multiplexing so as to extend the limited resources at that time. Nowadays, living in Madrid, Spain, I´ve been developer of the Holy Grials´emulation, "El Fin del Tiempo" y "Nightmare" (launched in next MAME), and following this vertiginous career of bringing back to life and immortalize death hardware decades ago, preserving it for generations to come to be able to live the same experiences we did long ago.