ScummVM was born on September 17, 2001, at 5:57pm GMT+1. The program was meant as an interpreter that could play classic LucasArts point-and-click adventure games such as Monkey Island, Sam & Max Hit the Road, and Day of the Tentacle in a virtual machine (VM).
As for the name, “SCUMM” was the “Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion,” itself a reference to the first LucasArts game that relied on the company’s proprietary game design tool. Expanded and revised through the years, SCUMM helped LucasArs build a huge line of popular adventure games in the 1980s and 1990s, but the DOS-based games became increasingly difficult to play on modern systems.
ScummVM addressed this problem. Little did its earliest developers know, however, that it would grow far beyond its origins, taking on a life of its own as more than 100 people contributed a million lines of code over the next decade. Today, ScummVM has become almost a general-purpose adventure game interpreter that can run on nearly any architecture. How did an ever-changing group of volunteers manage to do it—and avoid being sued out of existence?