It all started in the last quarter of 1997. I was playing games from the eighties on MAME. Then I thought: why not build my own MAME Arcade Machine, also known as a MAME Arcade Cabinet ?
My MAME Arcade Machine is sure not the first, but it is one of the firsts MAME Arcade Machines ever built. At that time, there was no specialized hardware (such as keyboard encoders, or video cards designed for use with arcade monitors) that could help you build an arcade machine. Also I didn't find many useful schematics on the web, so I designed and built everything myself.
My MAME Arcade Machine is built out of inexpensive plywood, which was painted black.
Here are some interesting details:
it is based on a PC motherboard: from 1997 to 2002 it was a Pentium @ 150 MHz with 32 MB of RAM, and in 2002 I upgraded it to a Pentium @ 200 MHz with 48 MB of RAM
from 1997 to 2002 it was running MS-DOS 6.22 (genuine version). Since 2003 it is running FreeDOS.
the emulation engine is the same since 1998, it is MAME V0.33
the MAME frontend is the same since 1998, it is FeMAME 2.0b
the arcade controls are real arcade controls I bought directly from the importer. Getting the arcade controls to "communicate" with MAME was a bit of a nightmare. In 1997 there was no such thing as a keyboard encoder, like the Ultimarc I-Pac controller. So I used an old keyboard, and I soldered cables right to the back of the keyboard. Look at these pictures:
in 1997 there was no such thing as video cards designed for use with arcade monitors, such as the Ultimarc ArcadeVGA video card. So I used a 1998 PCI S3-compatible video card connected to an old 14 inch VGA color monitor.
the soundcard is a ISA Sound Blaster-compatible soundcard