Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.
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
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.
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.
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 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
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
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 if you’re so inclined.)
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
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.