Back in 1997 I heard about these programs called 'emulators'. I came across Nesticle, a Nintendo Entertainment System emulator. What memories this brought back. Soon, I discovered other emulators for Super Nintendo, TG16, Genesis etc... Then I heard about some emulator called MAME, the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, that was aiming to emulate every single arcade game ever made. Thinking this was an impossible feat, I never even bothered to download it or check out it's website...
Fast forward to July 2001. I was browsing Slashdot, when I came across this thread. Some guy had made his own arcade cabinet from scratch and was running MAME in it. After reading a bit more I learned that by now, MAME supported over 2500 games! Not only that, but there were people building their own arcade cabinets from scratch just to play MAME in! It took me all of five seconds to say "I took shop class in high school...I can make an arcade cabinet!"
It wasn't too long before I came across the Build Your Own Arcade Controls website. A website completely dedicated to helping people build/renovate their own arcade controls and cabinets. This is where it all began. The site is the ultimate resource for every single aspect of building your own arcade cabinet. Besides the excellent FAQ, there was (and still is) an excellent message board here full of hundreds of very kind and helpful people who are as obsessed with MAME as I am.
Months (and about 20 trips to Home Depot) later I was finally done with my cabinet. It came out better than I ever expected. It's definately one of the largest and most rewarding personal projects I have ever done. In the end, I hade a 'dream come true' of having virtually every single arcade memory at my fingertips...and it's all thanks to the most amazing emulator ever written...MAME.