|OS:||Windows, Dreamcast (Bleemcast)|
|Official website:||Official site|
Bleem! (styled as bleem!) was a PlayStation emulator released by the Bleem Company in 1999 for Microsoft Windows and Dreamcast. It gained notoriety for being one of the few commercial emulators to be marketed during the PlayStation's lifetime, earning the ire of Sony and thus becoming the subject of a lawsuit.
First released in 1999, Bleem! was initially developed by David Herpolsheimer (president) and Randy Linden, with Will Kempe, Scott Karol, Sean Kauppinen, Bryan Stokes, and Paul Chen, later of Rovio Entertainment, joining the team following its commercial release. The emulator's name stood for "Best Little Emulator Ever Made!", perhaps in reference to its ability to run PS1 games at full speed even on low-end computers.
Bleem! was written in X86 assembly, allowing them to incorporate precise optimisations, with low-level and real-mode routines besides the use of the host PC's graphics hardware. While this allowed the emulator to run most if not all titles on a modest system of the day, this came at the cost of long-term compatibility with newer operating systems. At the time, Windows NT kernel-based operating systems were usually marketed towards enterprises and servers, and as most home computers ran on Windows 98, Bleem! felt that there was no need to support NT.
A version of Bleem! for the Dreamcast was released alongside the Windows version, taking advantage of the Dreamcast hardware for enhanced graphics and the MIL-CD exploit found in the Dreamcast BIOS. The emulator was originally intended to be able to run every single game in the PlayStation library, but as it was determined to be infeasible, "Bleempaks" were proposed, along with PS1-style controllers (since the original Dreamcast gamepad has fewer buttons, necessitating workaround button mappings), but neither saw release due to technical difficulties.
Ultimately, three boot disks were released, though a beta has since surfaced on the Internet. Intrepid hackers were able to create Bleemed games — discs of a PlayStation title with the Bleemcast! emulator built in. ISOs for many of these discs circulate on file sharing networks.
Two days after Bleem! started taking preorders for their emulator, Sony took umbrage and sued the company for unfair competition and copyright infringement. Bleem! won the suit on all counts, in that their way of reverse-engineering the PS1's inner workings was done lawfully, and the use of PlayStation game screenshots were deemed fair use. A protective order was issued to "protect David from Goliath".
This ended in a Pyrrhic victory however, as the lawsuit forced Bleem! out of business due to legal fees. Despite this, the case established a precedent legitimising console and computer system emulation - no emulator author has since been sued for copyright infringement.
- Rhodes, Tom. Best Little Emulator Ever Made!. Best Little Emulator Ever Made!. Escapist Magazine