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Travelling back in time
Those of us who grew up with computers have witnessed great change: from the hulking tower PCs of yore to the pocket-sized smartphones of today and from blinking green screen cursors to 4K graphical displays.
For those old enough to remember wrestling with a command line or battling Windows’ blue screen of death, it’s never been easier to relive those early memories of computing.
These virtual trips down memory lane come courtesy of emulators that run directly in the web browser: offering the chance to experience everything from the birth of personal computing in the early 1980s to the golden age of Windows in the late 1990s.
Here are some of the classic operating systems you can run in your browser.
IBM PC-DOS 1.00
The release of the command line DOS, or Disk Operating System, coincided with the birth of personal computing and the beginning of Microsoft’s rise in the world of PCs.
The OS, a rebranded clone of the CP/M operating system, was provided by Microsoft to IBM for its first PC, which released in 1981. However Microsoft retained ownership of MS-DOS, which went on to run on the myriad IBM PC clones created by rival companies.
This emulator runs IBM PC-DOS 1.00 on an IBM PC (Model 5150) with a monochrome display.
PC DOS 5
Introduced in 1991, this release ushered in significant changes to DOS – improving how the OS used memory. It was also the version of DOS that was integrated into OS/2 2.x and later Windows NTs.
This emulator offers a 286 IBM PC compatible machine running PC DOS 5, as well as the games Wolfenstein 3D, Monkey Island and Civilization to try.
(Mac OS) System 7
Released in 1991, System 7 was the main Macintosh operating system for six years. The OS improved on its predecessor’s interface and added support for virtual memory, personal file sharing, QuickTime and QuickDraw 3D.
This emulator is running System 7.0.1 with MacPaint, MacDraw, and Kid Pix.
Windows 98 offered a refinement of Windows 95 – introducing simplifications such as the Quick Launch toolbar, Active Desktop and ability to minimise a window by clicking its toolbar icon.
This Windows 98 emulator needs a browser with support for Flash and takes a while to start.