Windows 1.0

We show you how your students can experiment with old OSs without the need for additional hardware or complicated virtual machines.

One of the ICT courses we run requires that students have experience with multiple operating systems. There’s also a particular focus on looking at older OSs to demonstrate how software has developed over the last couple of decades.

To facilitate this in the classroom, we have set up a number of virtual machines — a couple of versions of Windows, a Linux variant, and a couple of versions of MD-DOS — and allow the students to play.

While this system works very well, demonstrating how to boot up and switch virtual machines can become a bigger part of the lesson that actually exploring the operating systems.

But this week I came across an interesting solution. Why not use emulated operating systems that run in your browser?

JSMachines features a wide selection of operating systems running entirely in JavaScript within your browser. The OSs on offer include Windows 1.0, Windows 3.0, Zork I, and various IBM PC configurations among others.

The operating systems are fully emulated, and you can even load virtual floppy disks and run a variety of software applications. It’s a great way to step students through the development of some of the worlds most popular operating systems and actually get their hands on without having to provide any additional hardware or complicated VMs.

Windows 1.0

Windows 1.0

Amiga 500 Emulator

Amiga 500 Emulator

Another website features a browser based Amiga 500 emulator. If you want to relive the mid-90’s Atari ST vs Amiga 500 war, of which I and several friends are rugged veterans, this is the site for you. As with the Windows emulators above, you can load in a selection of software, games, and experiment with AmigaOS.

Try the Amiga 500 emulator now.

Mac Plus Running Mac OS System 7

James Friend has put together a browser emulator running Mac OS System 7.  The site also includes a nice selection of abandonware and games for you to play with.

Mac Plus - Mac OS System 7 features every version of Windows from 95 to XP, and several versions of Mac OS. The difference here, however, is that these are not emulated operating systems, just a recreation of some of the basic functions within the browser. The purpose here is to give a flavour of each operating system rather than to emulate the full OS.

Wrap Up

Using these website provides a quick and simple way for students to experience older operating systems and software, with the added benefit that they can access them from any computer with a browser. If you want to get more complicate, like installing an OS from scratch, this solution may not be for you, but for many it will provide a good breadth of experience that they might not otherwise have.

Let me know in the comment if you use any similar sites in your school.


About Author

Profile photo of Karl Rivers

Karl is an award winning Director of IT for the Royal Grammar School Guildford, based near London, England. He has been working in education for more than ten years and founded ClassThink in 2013 to share technology best practice with other schools. In 2014 he won the NAACE Impact Award for support services in schools, and writes edtech articles for Education Executive Magazine.

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