If you yearn for the days of old Mac OS versions–we’re talking pre-OS X here–then your time has finally come. Software engineer Mihai Parparita has unveiled his latest project: Infinite Mac, which features 42(!) virtual machines that run classic versions of the Mac operating system that were released between 1984 and 2000.
The collection starts with the original Mac operating system, System 1.0, and goes all the way up to 9.0.4. Each VM runs within a browser; when you go to the Infinite Mac website and click a VM, it launches that version of the Mac operating system that’s fully operational. You’re essentially running a classic Mac OS on top of your current Mac.
Each VM includes a set of apps so you can actually create and save files. You’ll find a word processor, spreadsheet app, database program, video games, and more, though it appears that not all of the VMs have the capability of exporting the files to your “real” Mac. For example, I was able to use MacWrite in the System 1.0 VM, but I couldn’t figure out how to transfer the saved file to my MacBook Pro running macOS Ventura in my few minutes with the VM. Later VM versions, such as the ones for System 8 and System 9, have a server called The Outside World for moving files from the VM to your actual Mac desktop.
Paparita has included some nifty features with each VM. A classic Mac display frames each screen, and you can change it before you open a VM. When running a VM, the bottom menu has options to load files and switch to full-screen mode.
There’s also a valuable settings menu, where you can swap the Control and Command keys so that keyboard shortcuts used while in the VM are properly applied–for example, if you turn this option off, Command-W will not close the window within the VM, but it will close your Mac’s browser window, which means anything you’ve done in the VM is lost. The settings menu also has the ability to adjust the VM’s speed, which you might be tempted to do because the VMs can run relatively slowly. But as Paparita notes, some OS functions are timing-based, and making the VM run faster could throw off that timing and cause issues.
Paparita has a blog that details the work behind the project. If you’d like to show your appreciation for his hard work, you can donate a few bucks via GitHub Sponsors or PayPal.
If you have had a real need to run a classic Mac OS (and many of you do, based on the emails I received from the articles about Parparita’s previous System 7/Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 9 projects), this could be an option, but keep in mind that the state of the VMs always reset when you close the browser. For example, if you saved files in a VM, they will disappear when you exit the browser. But even if you don’t have a productivity purpose for these VMs, you can have fun playing Missile Command.