System 8 runs again – in macOS 10.15

Do you fondly remember System 8, and the days of Mac Quadras with their Motorola 68K processors? Would you like one for free now? Felix Rieseberg, with the assistance of many others, has released his free macintosh.js, which is a virtualised Macintosh Quadra running System 8. The purist might be ever so slightly offended to know that not only is this implemented almost entirely in JavaScript, but it runs in Electron. This allows you to run it in Windows and Linux too, if you really must.

It’s quite a hefty app at nearly 900 MB, but once started up runs a lot quicker than most Macs of the day. Although its author describes it as a “toy”, he does himself a disservice. If you have the slightest interest in the history of the Mac, or in human interface design, it’s completely compelling. It comes pre-loaded with a bunch of game demos, including Oregon Trail, Duke Nukem 3D and Civilization II, but sadly not Crystal Quest. There are also several tryout versions of Adobe apps like Photoshop 3, Illustrator 5.5, and Streamline 3.1.

If you’ve got compatible Classic apps available in Stuffit archives, you can transfer those across using a shared folder too. Trying this with uncompressed apps wasn’t successful, though, because macintosh.js didn’t recognise their modernised and flattened format.


I’m off now to find some suitably Stuffited copies of some of my old apps. I may be some time.

macintosh.js is properly signed and notarized for modern releases of macOS, and runs a treat in Catalina. It’s available from here. Thank you, Felix and friends: I have at last found an Electron app which is outstanding.