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The best browser emulators of old operating systems

Эмуляторы старых ос

Emulation in computer technology is a complex of software, hardware, or a combination of them designed to copy ( or emulate ) the functions of one computing system ( guest ) to another computer system (host) than the first, so that the emulated 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, unlike different forms of computer modeling, in which the behavior of some abstract model is simulated. For example, the simulation of a hurricane or chemical reaction is not an emulation.

Modern computers and modern browsers have reached peak performance. Ten years ago, an interactive web application seemed like a fairy tale, and now JavaScript is written not only by games or full-scale image editors, but even emulators of old computers and emulators of old operating systems . We chose the most interesting emulators, which will please fans of antiquity and everyone who is interested in the history of computer 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 the MESS JavaScript port, developed by Jason Scott on the order of the Internet Archive. JSMESS is available on along with an impressive catalog of games and software for various ancient platforms. Interestingly, to emulate a PC as a layer, DOSBox is used here. But if this affects productivity, then it's insignificant: you can at least now drive to Prince of Persia , and it will work no worse than when he used to have a "daddy" with his father at work.


PCjs - Эмуляторы старых ос

PCjs is a family of emulators of old processors, including Intel 8080, x86, PDP-11 and one of the implementations of MOS 6502. The main page of has an interesting selection of ready-made configurations and images, including virtual computers with MS-DOS, PC- DOS, OS / 2 and even Windows. Windows 95 we could not download, but Windows 3.11 was slow, but it was started. Running one of the machines, do not forget to look at the list of available disk images - there you can find a selection of rare software and operating systems (for example, Minix and SCO Xenix). Alternatively, you can load your disk image or floppy disk in the IMG format.


PCE.js - Эмуляторы старых ос

This relative of PCjs differs in that, in addition to x86, emulates Mac Plus and Atari ST. The most interesting thing, 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 HD 2 there are several folders with programs and games. On the same site there is an IBM PC / XT emulator with Monkey Island, Civilization and Wolfenstein 3D demos attached to it.


Javatari - Эмуляторы старых ос

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

Virtual x86

Virtual x86 - Эмуляторы старых ос

The buzz around browser emulators began to gain momentum in 2011, when Fabrice Bellar launched the JSLinux project - a PC emulator with Linux that runs on its home page. Since then, Bellar's idea has been well developed: the Virtual x86 project offers a choice of seven UNIX and Linux distributions, 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 it's only 12 MB, so the process goes fast. Alas, all operating systems are cut down to the maximum 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-based Spectrum emulator from what we've come across is the already mentioned JSMESS. In addition to it, there are JSSpeccy , Qaop , jBacteria and a few more, but each of them - with its quirks (downloading files, sound, management - a rare case that does not fail anything of this). And of course, you can always give up on the browser and download the good old Fuse.


Once the browser is running even Windows 98, then there are no barriers that would prevent you from shoving everything that appeared before it. And it actively does. Our small review did not include the NES emulator with a couple of dozens of attached games, the emulator "Radio-86RK" and many others. A good list you can find on the website of Frederick Kembus and experiment yourself. There, in particular, there are links to emulators very old machines like Z1, UNIVAC and even the difference machine Babbage.