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Stable release 2014-10-31
Development status Active
Operating system Cross-platform

The Old School Emulation Center (TOSEC) is a retrocomputing initiative dedicated to the cataloging and preservation of software, firmware and resources for arcade machines, microcomputers, minicomputers and video game consoles. The main goal of the project is to catalog and audit various kinds of software and firmware images for these systems.[1]

As of release 2014-10-31, TOSEC catalogs over 280 unique computing platforms and continues to grow. As of this time the project had identified and cataloged 781,347 different software images/sets, consisting of over 4.97TB of software, firmware and resources.


The initiative was founded on 18 January 2000, with the first official TOSEC website going live 18 August 2000, by a Dutch retrocomputing enthusiast using the pseudonym "Grendel".[2]

Whilst the original founder of TOSEC has since ceased his participation, a dedicated team of volunteers continue to expand and contribute to the project.

Project goals[edit]

The goal of the TOSEC project is to maintain a database of all software and firmware images for all arcade machines, microcomputers, minicomputers and video game consoles. In addition to this, the project also catalogs other computing and gaming resources such as software and hardware manuals, magazine scans, computing catalogs, comics and videos.

TOSEC catalogs software and firmware such as:

As well as other computing and games related resources such as:

  • Box Art
  • Catalogs
  • Comics
  • Documentaries
  • Educational manuals and books
  • Guides
  • Hardware manuals
  • Magazines
  • Promotional videos
  • Software manuals
  • Videos & TV Series

Using this data, TOSEC can provide quality assurance and auditing tools for cataloging and validating software images (such as ROM chip images, CD images, floppy disk images etc.) and computing resources (such as manuals, magazines, videos etc.).

The TOSEC database contains detailed information on images of hundreds of thousands of ROMs, EEPROMs, optical discs, magnetic disks, magnetic tapes, document scans, videos and other sundry media and individual files.

TOSEC tools[edit]

As of release 2009-12-27, TOSEC's end user cataloging tools take the form of DAT files that can be used in a number of popular auditing applications such as ClrMamePro, RomCenter, Romulus and RomVault.

As of release 2014-10-31, there are 2,292 DAT files within the TOSEC release pack.

Discontinued TOSEC tools[edit]

Prior to release 2009-12-27 the official TOSEC cataloging tool was the 'TOSEC Information Manager (TIM)', a discontinued freeware application for Microsoft Windows. Much like current auditing applications, it was used for validating and renaming a collection of imaged media against the TOSEC database. TIM compared generated checksums to recorded checksums in the database and renamed (and optionally compressed) the user's matching files to what was recorded in TOSEC. TIM was also used as a distribution method for the official end user databases, and could generate datfiles for ClrMamePro and RomCenter. TIM was officially discontinued 27 December 2009.[3]

Previous tools have also included an on-the-fly custom DAT creation facility generated within the TOSEC website. This was dubbed the 'TOSEC 2.0's Database Generator'.[4]

TOSEC Naming Convention[edit]

The TOSEC Naming Convention (TNC) is a document outlining the strict naming and cataloging rules set out to allow TOSEC renamers to provide a clear, concise and consistent naming scheme for cataloging any image of any system. The document contains conventions that must be followed, as well as detailed definitions and examples of 'flags' that software images can be tagged with.

A TOSEC named image would take the format of:

  • Title version (demo) (Year)(Publisher)(System)(Video)(Country)(Language)(Copyright Status)(Development Status)(Media Type)(Media Label)[dump info flags][more info]

For example:

  • Legend of TOSEC, The (1986)(Devstudio)
  • Legend of TOSEC, The v1.2 (1986)(Devstudio)
  • Legend of TOSEC, The (1986)(Devstudio)(de)
  • Legend of TOSEC, The (1986)(Devstudio)(JP)(en-ja)
  • Legend of TOSEC, The (1986)(Devstudio)(US)(Disk 1 of 2)(Program)
  • Legend of TOSEC, The (1986)(Devstudio)(US)(beta)
  • Legend of TOSEC, The (1986)(Devstudio)(US)[b]
  • Legend of TOSEC, The (1986)(Devstudio)(US)[h]

Note: "Title (Year)(Publisher)" is the bare minimum required for a renamed image.

TOSEC structure[edit]

The project is split into three distinct 'branches':


TOSEC, or sometimes for clarity referred to as 'TOSEC (main)', is the original main branch of the project. It catalogs all the non-optical disc based systems and remains the bulk of the TOSEC database.


TOSEC-ISO is a separate ancillary branch and includes optical disc based systems. This branch contains both optical disc based images (such as DVD, CD and GD based images) as well as the firmware for these disc based systems.


TOSEC-PIX is the second separate ancillary branch and includes computing and gaming resources such as scans of software and hardware manuals, magazine scans, computing catalogs, and videos.

Online presence[edit]

As well as the official TOSEC website and TOSEC forum, the project also has a presence on Usenet in the form of the newsgroup alt.binaries.emulators.tosec. On 1 November 2000, in the charter and proposal [5] for the group's creation, TOSEC founder Grendel described the purpose he intends for TOSEC and its newsgroup.

There are also two official TOSEC IRC Channels on the ForeverChat IRC Network under #tosec2.0 and #tosecdev.

See also[edit]



External links[edit]