krpalmer: (apple)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I delve back into enough old computer systems that I do seem to let them lie fallow and then return to dig deeper. A big part of this depends on contributions made by other people, though, whether in the form of scanned documents or emulator programs. Pushing past the early 1980s, three different emulator programs for the Macintosh can get me to the end of the 1990s. One of the jumps between them is a bit bigger than the other, though, and it just so happened one single thing fell into that space to get my attention.

"A computer game with a transforming robot in it" did have its own appeal to me, but it's always been hard to get very far into "Thexder." It turned out I was able to use actual hardware to discover I could get several levels further into the Macintosh version, but to do that I had to set my family's Color Classic to the 4-colour mode. So far as emulation and not taking up dining room table space goes, Mini vMac only ran in black and white and Basilisk II couldn't be set below 256 colours. When I heard some work was being done to extend Mini vMac's emulation beyond the Macintosh Plus to the Macintosh II, a big deal at the time for bringing colour to the system, that got my attention; hearing that the sound emulation was "incomplete" left me waiting and wondering about those "source code available" programs that seem to depend on one single person's motivation.

Then, one day I heard the sound emulation had advanced to "rough," and started noticing "variations" of the program being produced for download. Wondering if I could spare someone else the work, though, I looked a bit further into things. To build a custom-configured version of the program, you run a program inside Mini vMac itself, which exports a project to be compiled with more modern software. Wondering about just what version of XCode was best suited to the output, though, had me going back into Apple's archives for a version I could install on the Powerbook G4 I bought used years ago to take on a vacation and which I've kept since then to run another swathe of "old software." All of a sudden, I was turning out versions and getting them to run on my current computer, and then I heard the sound emulation was now "working." In the process, I managed to discover that while arrow keys don't work in MacWrite for Macintosh Plus emulation, they do work on the Macintosh II. Anything beyond "games" might seem an affectation (games, too, if you look at them the wrong way), but perhaps there are a few quirks to the way Mini vMac works that makes it feel simple to operate and appealing. There's a certain familiar simplicity and ease of operation to the old programs, too.
 photo vMac_II_zpsjvzs2wlp.png

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