Published: Wednesday, 19th July 2017
It’s been a busy time lately on the vintage Macintosh front for me, with a few projects ticking over. In particular, the work I’m doing with the Internet Archive’s Mac software library has been great fun and very productive!
I’ve written about this project in previous entries but, in short, the Internet Archive can now emulate early compact Macs in-browser. I’ve been creating items for this and pushing the limits of the thing and have had some interesting results.
First of all, the emulation works really pretty well and runs software perfectly fine, from Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, to Civilization, via The Oregon Trail, the actual experience of running a game is not far removed at all from using real Macintosh hardware.
Secondly, the emulator is versatile. In theory, it emulates a Mac Plus, SE, Classic or 512, and it should be able to do anything that those machines can. So, I thought I’d see what it makes of higher operating systems than the initial System 6 boot floppy image we were using and, lo and behold, it happily boots a System 7.5.3 image I made. Huzzah! This is important, on a couple of fronts. It means that we open up compatibility to software that insists on a later OS, meaning that we can emulate and preserve live more software. It also means that we’re able to make use of the more mature and developed bells and whistles of the Mac OS as it evolved; better graphics support and so on.
Thirdly, and most interestingly IMO, we can produce totally custom bespoke volumes and the emulator handles them exactly the same as if they were a standard image made from a floppy disk. What I mean is, if we want to present a collection of items we can create a Macintosh formatted disk image of any size, place our collection of files on it, upload to the emulator and, coupled with a pre-made system boot image, we can present in-browser five whole volumes of The Ambrosia Times.
This is really cool, as it gives us so much freedom about what we can present to the world through this emulator system. It means we can really lift our aspirations for what we want to do with it. I’m working on a few things offline that are going to play heavily on this functionality, so keep your eyes peeled!
Finally, HyperCard is fabulous. I’d never really used it until I got involved in this project, but there were a *lot* of requests for HyperCard in-browser so we’ve made it happen, and we’re exploring how we can really deliver the goods with this, and the first HyperCard compilation I made is a good indication of the kind of thing I have in mind.
So, it’s all very exciting stuff and it’s going to get more exciting! Keep an eye on the collection page at the Archive for updates and new items.