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Move over MacOS Big Sur – Mac OS 8 is back!

MacOS
(Image credit: Felix Rieseberg)

If, like us, you've found yourself yearning for simpler times during 2020, a new app has arrived that might just be for you. A Slack developer has released a working Mac OS 8 emulator, letting you relive 1997 on any modern machine running macOS, Windows or Linux.

The emulator features a host of retro programmes, including a bunch of early Adobe apps such as Photoshop 3, Premiere 4 and Illustrator 5.5. Today's MacBook Pro might be our best laptop for graphic design, but there's something strangely enjoyable about running a 20 year-old OS on a machine designed for the latest cutting-edge apps.

According to Felix Rieseberg's GitHub page, the emulator, named macintosh.js, works surprisingly well. "Bear in mind that this is written entirely in JavaScript," he adds, "so please adjust your expectations." There are of course limitations – there's no way of getting online using the emulator. "The web was quite different 30 years ago," Rieseberg notes.

What Rieseberg did manage to include is the software from a 1997 Macworld demo disc, including Oregon Trail, Duke Nukem 3D, Civilization II, Alley 19 Bowling, and Dungeons & Dragons (all the essentials, then). That's alongside the working demos of Adobe software which, spoiler alert, aren't quite as powerful as their 2020 counterparts – don't throw out that Creative Cloud plan just yet. 

While extra apps can be installed (he managed to get Encarta working), Rieseberg says  you probably should't use the software to try to run any "serious" applications". "This is a toy," he says. "It's a quick and easy way to experience a bit of nostalgia if you're not trying to do anything serious with it." Many Twitter users (below) have been loving the trip down memory lane.

Like these retro iPhone icons, macintosh.js is a fun window into simpler times, as well as a fascinating glimpse into the design decisions that went into older software – in today's world of minimal UI design, we can't help but smile at the colourful, pixellated world of Mac OS 8. If you're looking for a machine that will handle whatever tasks you throw at it here and now in 2020, check out Apple's Back to School sale

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