Early Macintosh emulated in-browser
Published: Wednesday, 17th May 2017
Hello! Apologies for the radio silence, it’s been a busy few months with home, family, and work, but also vintage Mac stuff! Not least of all, I’ve been working on the Internet Archive’s mind-blowing in-browser emulation of early Macintosh software!
In short, the Internet Archive has long been hosting emulated operating systems and games consoles, a project driven forward by Jason Scott, IA archivist and proprietor of textfiles.com and calling on the skills and talents of an army of Very Clever People. Jason has written extensively on all this on his blog over the last few years, so make sure to head over there and catch up on everything. Emulating Macintosh software is the latest step in this project.
For the official line, take a read of this IA announcement. I won’t re-hash all of that, but I will tell you about how I’ve been involved. Some time ago, before I created vintageapplemac.com, I was trying to figure out what to do with the vintage Mac shareware collection I had accrued (What’s that? You don’t know about my vintage Mac shareware collection? There’s 30GB+ of games and apps stored in this very website! Go and explore!) so I started bugging Jason on Twitter, seeing if he’d be interested in getting the software into the archive. Jason being Jason, of course he was and he gave valuable advice. In these exchanges, I raised the notion of “wouldn’t it be cool to get this stuff in an emulator in the Archive, like all the other systems” but, at that time, Macintosh emulation had not been achieved in the relevant systems. Which was a real bummer but there you go. I pressed on and built this site and hosted the shareware and then started plugging it into the archive as downloadable compilations.
Fast forward a chunk of time and Jason dropped me a message with a beta of an in-browser Macintosh emulated system that he’d been developing with some of those Very Clever People he knows. I was invited to join the testing; uploading disk images, experimenting, testing, finding the limitations of what can be done with it. And, boy, it turns out that there’s a *lot* that can be done with it.
The IA system emulates the first generation of compact Macintosh computers, using the pce-macplus emulator. Broadly speaking, if a piece of software will run on any of the 68000 CPU black & white compact Macs, it’ll very likely run in the emulation. What’s real sweet, though, is that it’s incredibly flexible and we’ve found, through experimentation, that it’ll very happily run freshly created, totally bespoke boot volumes. I’ll cover that in another post. For now, take a look at the collection, there’s some fantastic 30 year old software there, ready for you to experience in the comfort of your 2017 web browser.