Inform - Welcome - Introduction




4. What is the Z-machine? What's Glulx?

The Z-machine is an imaginary computer, created in 1979, which has never existed as circuitry. Instead, an enormous variety of real computers have been taught to pretend to be a Z-machine. The usefulness of this is that Inform's story files (the actual games which players play) run on the Z-machine, so it follows that a Z-machine interpreter is just what you need to play Inform games. The Z-machine was invented by Joel Berez, Marc Blank and others working at the Infocom corporation, so it also runs Infocom's justly famous works of interactive fiction.

Nonetheless, the Z-machine has its limitations, and a different imaginary computer known as Glulx is gaining in popularity. It's approximately true that the same designs can be run through Inform to produce games for either Z-machine or Glulx. (The differences mainly lie in pictures and sound effects.)

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Last updated 30 March 2002. This web site has not been fully supported since April 2008. Information may be out of date. This page was originally managed by Graham Nelson (graham at gnelson demon co uk) assisted by C Knight.