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The best browser emulators of old operating systems

Эмуляторы старых ос

Emulation ( eng. Emulation ) in computing - a set of software, hardware, or a combination of them, designed to copy ( or emulate ) the functions of one computing system ( guest ) on another, different from the first, computing system (host) so that the emulated the behavior as closely as possible corresponded to the behavior of the original system ( guest ). The goal is to reproduce the behavior as accurately as possible, in contrast to various forms of computer modeling, which simulate the behavior of some abstract model. For example, modeling a hurricane or chemical reaction is not emulation.

Modern computers and modern browsers have reached peak performance. Ten years ago, an interactive web application seemed like a fairy tale, and now not only games or full-fledged image editors are written in JavaScript, but even old computer emulators and old operating system emulators . We chose the most interesting emulators that will delight lovers of antiquity and all those who are interested in the history of computing technology.


JSMESS - Эмуляторы старых ос

MESS (Multi Emulator Super System, part of the MAME project) is one of the oldest emulators of home computers, game consoles and scientific calculators. It differs in that it supports not one processor or architecture, but about 250 different systems. JSMESS is a JavaScript port of MESS, designed by Jason Scott for the Internet Archive. JSMESS is available on along with an impressive catalog of games and software for various vintage platforms. Interestingly, DOSBox is used as a layer for PC emulation . But if this affects the performance, it is insignificant: you can drive Prince of Persia right now, and it will work no worse than it used to be in the “dvushka” of the pope at work.


PCjs - Эмуляторы старых ос

PCjs is a family of emulators of old processors, including the Intel 8080, x86, PDP-11, and one of the implementations of MOS 6502. DOS, OS / 2 and even Windows. We failed to load Windows 95, but Windows 3.11 slowly started up. By running one of the machines, do not forget to look at the list of available disk images - there you can find collections of rare software and operating systems (for example, Minix and SCO Xenix). Alternatively, you can upload your disk or disk image in IMG format.


PCE.js - Эмуляторы старых ос

This relative of PCjs differs in that, besides x86, it emulates Mac Plus and Atari ST. Perhaps the most interesting, perhaps, is the demonstration of Mac OS System 7 - and not only because the author was not too lazy to add a picture with the classic “Macintosh”. The speed of the system almost exceeds the original, and on the disk HD 2 there are several folders with programs and games. The same site has an IBM PC / XT emulator with Monkey Island, Civilization, and Wolfenstein 3D demos attached to it.


Javatari - Эмуляторы старых ос

If we talk about Atari browser emulators, then Javatari is probably the best one. It, in particular, is used on the Virtual Atari website, where a collection of 550 games is collected. If you suddenly want to have fun programming in assembly language for the Atari 2600, or you just decide to be curious, as the games did before, be sure to check out the website: it allows you to edit the source code and watch the changes on one page.

Virtual x86

Virtual x86 - Эмуляторы старых ос

The buzz around browser emulators began to gain momentum in 2011, when Fabrice Bellard launched the JSLinux project - a Linux PC emulator that runs on his homepage. Since then, the idea of ​​Bellara has been well developed: the Virtual x86 project offers a choice of seven distributions of UNIX and Linux, as well as Windows 1.01, Windows 95 and 98, Kolibri OS and Oberon. Unlike PCjs, this emulator does not attempt to start Windows from scratch and is limited to loading the RAM image. Even for Windows 98, this is only 12 MB, so the process is fast. Alas, all operating systems are cut as much as possible and do not have an internet connection.

Emulators ZX Spectrum

Эмуляторы ZX Spectrum - Эмуляторы старых ос

For those born in the USSR, computer nostalgia is often associated with the ZX Spectrum. So far, the best browser emulator "Spectrum" from what we came across is the already mentioned JSMESS. In addition to it, there are JSSpeccy , Qaop , jBacteria and a few more, but each of them has its own quirks (file upload, sound, control is a rare case when none of these things fail). And of course, you can always give up on the browser and download the good old Fuse.


Since even Windows 98 works in the browser, it means that there are no obstacles that would prevent everything that came before it from being pushed. And they are actively doing it. Our small review did not include the NES emulator with a couple dozen of the attached games, the Radio-86RK emulator and many others. You can find a good list on the website of Frederick Kembus and experiment on your own. There, in particular, there are links to emulators of very old cars like the Z1, UNIVAC and even the Babbage differential machine.