I'll never forget being intrigued by the first Mac I ever saw.
I spent my childhood tinkering with Commodore 64
's, Amstrad CPC 464
's and the occasional Amiga
. I was first introduced to IBM compatibles in 1986 and they consumed my life for the next two years. Then in 1988 my family moved to a small town in country New South Wales, Australia, where I was upset to find there were no IBM clones at my new school! Instead there were these tiny computers labelled "Macintosh Plus"
. I was surprised to see that every one of these computers had a mouse—previously the presence of a mouse had been a novelty for me. I curiously switched it on and played with the mouse while the screen displayed a flashing question mark on top of a disk. An older kid then gave me a disk. It was a little 3.5" disk, not like the larger 5.25" 'floppy' disks I was familiar with (I think it was System 3). It booted, and within the next two minutes I was convinced that this was the coolest thing I had ever seen. After that moment, if anybody ever asked me about Macs, I'd say,
"I used PCs for two years and liked it, I used a Mac for two minutes and loved it!"
Nowadays there's not a great deal of difference between the various platforms, not enough at least to make a noise about like the Mac in the eighties.
The multi-platform Mini vMac
emulates a Mac Plus
with the use of a ROM
that you extract from your old Mac Plus using a program called CopyRoms
. Once the ROM has been extracted the resulting file must be named "vMac.ROM" and placed into the same directory as the Mini vMac program. Disks are then inserted into the emulated Mac Plus by dragging-and-dropping disk image files onto the Mini vMac icon or application window (of course the emulated machine won't boot unless the disk image contains an installed system).
It really is incredible how well the emulator works. A nice touch is how the mouse cursor moves seamlessly in and out of the emulator. You'll need to use [Ctrl][M] to magnify the display, and [Ctrl][F] to enter what's called "full screen" in order to trap the mouse cursor when playing games. My only criticism is that compared to my old Macintosh the emulator seems to have a little too much power.
There's no longer the need to save pocket money in order to buy expensive floppies. An archive called Blanks
contains a number of blank disk images of varying sizes that are of course infinitely reproducible. (The floppy drive of the Mac Plus is not
emulated allowing disk images of arbitrary sizes to be used, subject only to file system constraints.)
The best operating system for the Mac Plus is System 6 and luckily Apple has released this OS as freeware. Boot the emulator using the first of two disks called Z-6.0.8-System Startup
. Next drag an appropriately sized blank disk image onto the Mini vMac window and begin the system installation. If needed mount the second System 6 disk image called Z-6.0.8-System_Additions
and copy any of the needed extras.
I was lucky enough that I was able to clone the external 40 MB hard drive
from my old Mac using my SCSI equipped Powerbook
. The resulting disk image works perfectly with Mini vMac. Using this image with the emulator feels just like I'm using my old computer.
There are two applications available to get files in and out of the emulated environment. To export a file, run ExportFl
from within the emulator, then press [Cmd][O] and select the file. A save-file dialogue box will then appear in the host
operating system. To import a file, run ImportFl
from within the emulator, and then drag a file onto the Mini vMac icon or application window. A save-file dialogue box will then appear in the emulated
environment. It is important to realise that resource forks are not preserved in either direction. The file type and creator codes can be corrected within the emulator by using ResEdit
and selecting "Get Info" from the "File" menu. Within Mac OS X the same is achieved by using the Finder and selecting "Get Info" from the "File" menu and adjusting the option "Open with".
If you have lost software due to the failure of an aged floppy disk you'll most likely be able to replace it at the Macintosh Garden
. This site is dedicated to preserving software titles that have been abandoned by their rights holders.
Note that you'll need a stripped down system disk
in order play most games (such as Beyond Dark Castle
). Using a typical System 6 install will cause many games to fail at launch, giving an error message about a large OS occupying memory. I always booted my old Mac from a floppy
when playing games, and from the hard drive
when doing anything else—I use the emulator in the same way.
Lastly, for those who are fussy about the icons that appear in Mac OS X, there are some high resolution icons
for Mini vMac and its associated files available on the Mini vMac website.
Resources Mentioned Above