8 Classic Operating Systems You Can Access in Your Browser
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We all love the cutting-edge operating systems of today. But there are times when it’s fun to cast your mind back to yesteryear and relive some of the operating systems of old.

And no, we’re not talking about those of you who still insist on running Windows 7, or worse, XP.

If you want to emulate Windows 95, Mac OS X Lion, and more, you’ve come to the right place. Here are eight classic operating systems you can access in your browser.

1. Windows 95

windows 95 demo

Released in August 1995, Windows 95 was one of the defining operating systems of the decade.

It laid the foundation for the Windows we all recognize today. The Start menu and the Taskbar made their respective debuts, and for the first time, a Windows operating system didn’t rely on MS-DOS for file and disk access.

This Windows 95 emulator runs Windows 95 OSR2. The version did not have USB support and struggled with Pentium.

While running the emulator, you can use the controls in the upper-right hand corner to toggle full-screen mode and to enable/disable the mouse. As with all browser-based operating system emulations, any changes you make will not be saved between sessions.

2. Classic Macintosh

classic macintosh demo

Back in 1984, Apple released its first machine in the Macintosh—later “Mac”—line of products. It was a ground-breaking computer, becoming the first mass-marketed PC to offer a graphical user interface.

This Macintosh emulator runs System 7.0.1 with three early Mac apps—MacPaint, MacDraw, and Kid Pix.

Because the operating system requires significantly fewer system resources than the Windows 95 emulator, it will load in your browser considerably more quickly.

3. Macintosh Plus

macintosh plus demo

Two years after the introduction of the first Macintosh computer, Apple released the follow up: Macintosh Plus.

It had an original price tag of $2,600, proving that Apple’s penchant for exorbitant prices is far from a modern phenomenon. The computer shipped with 1MB of RAM (and support for up to 4MB), it supported up to seven peripherals, and it had an 800KB floppy disk drive.

By 1986, significantly more apps and games were available. This emulation includes Risk, Cannon Fodder, and Shufflepuck.

4. Windows 3.1

windows 3.1 demo

Windows 3.1 hit the shelves in April 1992, replacing the original Windows 3.0.

Despite the similar name, it offered vast improvements over its predecessor. Most notably, the introduction of a TrueType font system turned the operating system into a desktop publishing powerhouse for the first time. Three fonts were natively available—Arial, Courier New, and Times New Roman.

Other features seen for the first time included drag-and-drop icons, mouse support in MS-DOS applications, and the Program Manager app. The theoretical maximum memory limit was an era-busting 4GB, though in practical terms it was 256MB.

Windows 3.1 was replaced by Windows 95, but support lived on until as late as 2008.

The Windows 3.1 emulator offers classic games such as Minesweeper and Solitaire, accessories like Write, Paintbrush, and even access to the Control Panel.

5. AmigaOS 1.2

amiga 500 demo

AmigaOS version 1.2 was first seen on the Commodore Amiga 500.

The 500 was the best-selling computer in the entire Amiga range. Announced at CES 1987, it was released around the world in the spring.

Although it was a multi-purpose home computer, the PC carved out a niche for itself as a gaming machine. Titles such as The Secret of Monkey Island, Lemmings, Elite, and Sensible Soccer won worldwide acclaim.

Specs-wise, the Amiga 500 had a resolution between 320×200 and 640×400, a 32-color screen, and 512 KB of RAM.

This Amiga 500 emulator includes old Amiga apps such as Boing, Robocity, Juggler, Dots, Boxes, Lines, and Speech.

6. PC DOS 5

pc dos 5 demo

At the same time that Apple and Commodore were jostling for market position with their respective Mac and Amiga lines, IBM had swiftly become the manufacturer to beat with its IBM PC range.

The first IBM PCs went on sale in 1981, but this emulation of the PC DOS 5 is running on the 1986 update—the IBM PC XT 286.

The XT 286 had 640KB of RAM, a 20MB hard drive, and 6MHz processors.

PC DOS 5 itself was released in 1991 and marked one of the most substantial DOS overhauls in its history. Perhaps more notably, however, it was the last version of DOS for which Microsoft and IBM shared the full code.

The PC DOS 5 emulation offers three classic games for you to check out: Wolfenstein 3D, the original Civilization, and Monkey Island.

(Remember, it’s still possible to play old DOS games on a Mac 5 Ways to Play Old Windows & DOS Games on Your Mac 5 Ways to Play Old Windows & DOS Games on Your Mac Want to play classic Windows and DOS games on your Mac, but unsure where to begin? Today we'll be looking at all your available options, and how to choose between them. Read More if you’re so inclined.)

7. Mac OS X 10.7

mac lion demo

Mac OS X 10.7—also known as Mac OS X Lion—is the most recent operating system on our list. It only went live in July 2011.

Like the other operating systems we’ve looked at, Mac OS X 10.7 saw a lot of “firsts” for Apple users. For example, it was the first time we saw AirDrop and the Launcher app, and it was the first Mac operating system to ship with the emoji font and FaceTime.

Lion also saw the end-of-the-line for some features. Front Row, iSync, and the QuickTime Streaming Server were all dropped.

Unfortunately, modern restrictions mean the Mac OS Lion emulation is more restricted than the other systems. It’s a CSS recreation, so you can only access the desktop, menus, and some basic system information. However, you’ll still be able to get a feel for what the operating system was like.

8. Windows 1.01

windows 1.01 demo

Released in November 1985, Windows 1.01 was the first publicly-available version of Bill Gates’ operating system.

The operating system is essentially a graphical front-end for MS-DOS. Indeed, Windows 1.01 ran as an MS-DOS program.

Apps on the OS included Calculator, Calendar, Clipboard Viewer, Clock, Notepad, Paint, Reversi, Cardfile, Terminal, and Write. They are all available in this emulation.

Behind the scenes, Windows 1.0 also had its own drivers for video cards, mice, keyboards, printers, and serial communications, and applications.

Which Is Your Favorite Classic Operating System?

All seven of these browser-based classic operating systems are sure to evoke to memories, no matter what your age or when you started using computers.

We’d love to hear which is your favorite classic operating system, so make sure you let us know in the comments below.

And if you would like to learn more about how we got to this point, make sure you check out our article about the history of computers Who Invented the First Computer and When? We Investigate Who Invented the First Computer and When? We Investigate Who built the first computer? Was it in ancient times or the 20th century? Find out who invented the computer, and when! Read More .

Explore more about: Emulation, Nostalgia, Operating Systems.

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  1. Vladhed
    April 14, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    I must be old. I was expecting an article on CP/M, VAX/VMS, VM/CMS, Unix System 7, etc ??

  2. Pflarg!
    April 13, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    Back in '85 IIRR, my buddy got an Apple IIe. I was a stoner then and didn't care for anything about it until he showed us a game to play on it...'Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy'!

    Man! The hours and hours we spent trying to get to the next 'step' or whatever it's called! Stoned out of our heads, lol. It was a blast!

  3. gazoo
    April 12, 2019 at 2:49 am

    I never knew that Windows 1.01 (MS-DOS Executive) included the 'Write' word-processor. Interesting... Never a big fan of Win3.x, in those earlier days but always had a soft spot for 'Write' - it works fairly well in the emulator too!

    I'm sure I would have dismissed it early on (in the mid to late 80s) as being too big and bloated (nearly 200kb in the emulator version) but looking at it now: the thing is absolutely svelte.

  4. SortingHat
    March 30, 2016 at 8:26 am

    How come Basilisk II OR Sheep shaver don't work on Windows 64 bit? I got as far as intilization your disk following the setup guide using the two things on the volume but none of the file show up after launching the OS to actually install it.

  5. Anonymous
    February 10, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Wow. That was pretty nice. It's good to explore the ruins of things you really like.

    • Justin Pot
      February 10, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the tour!

    • SortingHat
      March 30, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Except it's not really *ruined* just no new things are made for it anymore. Ruined means nothing works on it or works very poorly at best.

  6. Anonymous
    February 9, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Typo In The Article Text, **IBM** Is Written **IMB**.

    Cheers.

  7. Ken
    April 10, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Windows 8 sure looks like that Amiga 500 screen shot to me.

    • SortingHat
      March 30, 2016 at 8:27 am

      Perhaps they were playing with one and some hot head made a joke which the manager took seriously and imitated it.

  8. lockwoodv
    March 25, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    I remember Easy Office! It ran from a 720k floppy disk on my IBM compatible Tandy 1000. The poor man's Lotus 123 of the time.

  9. goon
    March 21, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    good because it’s new

  10. rich
    March 20, 2014 at 4:33 am

    Then try this. On chat tonight one participant reported he still does his US federal income tax, and state tax, on an Adam - 8 bits, 64K memory. Why not? Back in the day it was the backroom machine for the H&R Block tax preparation agency. Moore's Law even applies in classic computers; now folks have got them driving current printers, running SSD hard discs based on CF cards, and other neat tricks.

    The software did the job then and can still be set up to do the job now. But it's simple enough for a knowledgeable user to tamper with and adjust to suit, like being simpler and easier to work with.

    Just because Ford brings out a new model of your car doesn't mean the old one stops working. You might not even agree the new one works as well as the old (XP forever!)

    The Amiga is a good, powerful, very user-friendly computer, with a spreadsheet program my wife found highly adaptable to just exactly what she wanted to do the way she wanted to do it. So she set it up to do just that and has every incentive not to change.

    In fact, she needs two other spreadsheets for two other purposes, so she uses a quirky independent one from a long-discontinued suite called Easy Office, in the XP Virtual Machine on her Win7 Dell, and Kingsoft's free Office competitor for the other. Because they work.

    Why should it be a big deal to look for the tool that does the job you need the way you need it done - and refuse to waste time and money messing around with something not as good because it's new? That's nuts. Sane people choose the answers that work best.

  11. rich
    March 19, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Of course. What's the big deal?

    • Justin P
      March 19, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      It's possibly the coolest thing I've ever heard, is all. :)

  12. rich
    March 19, 2014 at 1:46 am

    My wife has the commercial (Colanto) Amiga emulator running in the XP virtual machine in her Win7Pro laptop. It lets her play with her favourite Amiga graphics programs without firing up her Amiga 3000, which she uses for the spreadsheet on which she keeps the household accounts.

    She also has the emulator for the Adam, the 8-bit computer built up from the popular Colecovision video game. In fact we plan to attend the 27th annual Coleco Adam users' convention in Cleveland (Adamcon 27) in mid-July. Information can be found at adamcon.org which is specific to the Adam community, though the gamers (who are still writing and issuing very collectible new games) also often hang out at atariage.org.

    There is also a large Commodore community that has emulators for the PET, C64, and C128 as well as various Amigas. Start your search at tpug.org.

    • Justin P
      March 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      She still uses still use an Amiga 3000 to keep the household accounts?

  13. David Lee
    March 17, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    This is so awesome! I am going to integrate this into my elementary computer class! Operating System Unit

    • Justin P
      March 17, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      That's cool to hear! Let us know what the kids think, okay?

  14. Debbie
    March 17, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    As a "not real tech saavy" computer user, I absolutely hate Windows 8. I have fought this new computer from day 1. It is at the Geek shop to have Windows 7 put in. They can do whatever they want with Windows 8. (I know what I'd like to do to it.) I do not have a touch screen monitor, what was Microsoft thinking? If I had known Microsoft 8 was such a headache, I would never have bought this new computer.

    • SortingHat
      March 30, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Do you mean Windows 8 vanilla or 8.1 because a lot of changed were made on 8.1 but by then it was pretty much too late. The ship was damaged beyond repair but 8.1 added a lot of features in the box to make Windows 8 smooth and is more compatible with things then 10 which still has the god awful phone apps stuff.

      Win 8.1 has an arrow that allows you to access all your programs at once so you can organize things (yeah) WITHOUT 3rd party software involved or any sort of tinkering but MS failed to advertise that and they only ahve themselves to blame.

      Windows 8.1 is what Vista and 7 should've been. I HATE windows 7 but I only have it because Windows XP is not secure anymore and I refuse to have 10 which does nothing but make computer noise.

    • SortingHat
      March 30, 2016 at 8:24 am

      I honestly don't know why MS couldn't let you edit things in the regular Windows 8. Windows 8.1 is a *fix* but for obvious reasons they are not allowed to say as such.

  15. walyc
    March 17, 2014 at 3:48 am

    What about Norton Commander?

    • Justin P
      March 17, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      I couldn't find Norton Commander running like this, sadly, but maybe someone else here has...

    • Neil Parks
      August 22, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      There are many "commanders" available for current Windows computers. Closest in look and feel to the Norton original is Midnight Commander. It was created for console-mode Linux, but has been ported to Windows. I use it in Linux all the time.

      For Windows, my current favorites are 7-zip and Double Commander.

    • Neil Parks
      August 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      My first home computer was the Radio Shack Color Computer, aka "CoCo".

  16. Anonymous
    March 17, 2014 at 2:02 am

    Each of the systems listed here https://archive.org/details/consolelivingroom have working emulators and games available, as well as links to histories, manuals, etc.

    https://archive.org/details/businesscase does the same for historic non-games, providing emulation of word processors, spreadsheets, and other business and productivity software.

    http://jsmess.textfiles.com has many more systems in various conditions.

    • Justin P
      March 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      This. Is. Amazing.

  17. A G B
    March 16, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    You Do Not Need Any Emulator To Play WOLFENSTEIN 3D.

    ARCHIVE.ORG Has Lots Of Games That Can Be Played Without Any Emulator.

    WOLF Is Just One Of Them - 3 Free Downloads There.

    Enjoy.

    • Justin P
      March 16, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      Do you have a link to any of these?

    • A G B
      March 17, 2014 at 4:04 am

      ARCHIVE.ORG > Software > Classic PC Games > Letter W.

      Sorry, The List Is Greatly Reduced, Now.

      I Still Have The 3 Files I Download 4 Months Ago - The Initial Release Of W3D.

      ARCHIVE.ORG Is Not A Pirate Site, And I Do Not Believe The Links Were Retired On Copyright Grounds, Because The Initial Release Of W3D Was Free - The Sequels Were Commercial, Though.

      Sorry.

    • A G B
      March 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      @Justin P

      ARCHIVE.ORG Had Some Sort Of Glitch When I Replied.

      The Downloads Are There Again.

      Enjoy.

  18. madeuseof
    March 16, 2014 at 5:28 am

    If the guy in this video weren't such a snarky dbag, it might be a little more tolerable.

    • Justin P
      March 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      I shall attempt to be less of a snarky dbag in future videos. I'm learning as I go and really appreciate the feedback.

  19. Janus O
    March 15, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Check this Windows 3.1 online emulator:
    http://www.michaelv.org/

    • Justin P
      March 16, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      It's cool, but I'm not sure if it's an emulator. I think it's just a really faithful re-creation.

  20. Ronny Vranken
    March 15, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    i just wanted to say that i like simulators, was usefull in the time i worked at a helpdesk and there was no remote desktop to help me

    check :

    http://va.zensupport.co.uk/
    http://www.mobilexweb.com/emulators
    https://www.manymo.com/emulators/86/connect
    http://networkoverload.com/
    http://www.chasms.com/
    http://screenshots.modemhelp.net/

  21. Anthony
    March 15, 2014 at 2:30 am

    As a long time MacOS user (I remember the years before OSX) what is shown is not System 7, but System 1 - 6.

  22. Lyle Lengyel
    March 15, 2014 at 1:32 am

    I remember HOVER!!!
    If I recall, on the Windows 98 cd there was another game demo, one where a futuristic spaceship thing was flown through a dark and stormy night, complete with portals and the like. I've really been wondering what game this was...

    • Kelsey T
      March 16, 2014 at 12:34 am

      You may be thinking of "Deadly Tide", a Microsoft game staged under the ocean. Google t and check. In it you piloted a sub that looked like a Battlestar Galactica Cylon Raider spaceship 8)
      I've still got it on CD, and it will NOT play on Vista or Windows 7 without EXTREME modding lol.

  23. Srivatsan V
    March 14, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    There was something amazing seeing that Microsoft logo animation at the boot of Windows 1.01.

  24. Kevin M
    March 14, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    As a pre DOS user I have been around and seen the evolution from the beginning. What a crazy evolution it has been too. Just think, what we think is cool today will be laughed at in less than 10 years and perhaps even sooner...;)

    • Tom S
      March 15, 2014 at 12:47 am

      "Just think, what we think is cool today will be laughed at in less than 10 years and perhaps even sooner…;)"
      Or looked on fondly with nostalgia

    • Justin P
      March 15, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      "This is Windows 8, and I have to say: it's the best thing Microsoft's ever done..."

    • Robert Julian Braxton
      April 7, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      I especially liked Forth - on TRS-80 Model III (also I had two TRS-80 Model I - first with cassette tape program Save and Load for which I bought a case of very short tapes (5 minutes?). Forth was a disk operating system and application like word processing where one could look at the code and learn how. Reminds me of 2005 vintage One Laptop Per Child (from MIT) and its coding in Python. Also, have Altair 1975 with Kansas City BASIC.

  25. Porkus Dinkus
    March 14, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    How about GS-OS 6.04 from the old apple II GS? Shuffle puck rocked on that back in the day.

  26. Ben S
    March 14, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I don't know exactly why, but this is so cool to me. Seeing how far computer has come in just 20-30 years is astounding, and being able to interact with history like this is sweet. I remember having Windows 98 on our first computer - that's as far back as my memory goes. I'll have to try some old versions of Mac OS out - thanks for sharing all of these!

    • D
      March 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      If you are interested in experiencing what I consider one of the more prominent efforts by Apple, search for and install the Macintosh System 7.5 (I believe emulators exist for it, though I cannot recall if they are available for Windows).

      System 7.5 was a leap in OS design unparalleled by Apple itself to this day.

    • D
      March 14, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      The inspiration for Apple in designing System 7.5, of course, was one of the last iterations of the Amiga OS (even if they never admit to such). An emulator IS available for that OS (and runs on Windows).

    • D
      March 14, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      I still use Windoze, but W7 is the last version I am willing to tolerate. I also use Android.

      However, I will be switching to crunchbang linux (for desktop), and freeBSD for workstations later this year, keeping a W7 workstation available for the rare app which does not have an equivalent on the other platforms.

    • Tom S
      March 15, 2014 at 12:46 am

      Linux Mint is for me

    • Mick
      April 10, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      Er I was there at the start and yes Windows 1 was basic but the precurser was called GEM and about all it had was a Rotodex type card file. However the most significant thing that came out of Windows was the standardisation of programe interface with the user. Before it was necessary to learn the individual command keys of each package used. Each being totaly individual. So Wordstar, Supercalc and DBase each had their own quirky command structure.