Midnight Pub

Retrocomputing, a little


I've been doing a little bit of retrocomputing over the holidays. I'm writing this post in Netscape 3.01, running on MacOS 8.1. In an emulator, not on vintage hardware.

Besides the problems you'd expect it to have with the modern web (JavaScript and CSS), it also doesn't handle modern TLS, so I'm having to run it through a TLS-terminating proxy on the ThinkPad that's running the emulator.

Running TurboGopher on MacOS made me really want to acces Gemini from it. My current plan is actually to write a gopher-gemini proxy, and read Gemini from TurboGopher. I have such a proxy about 80% working at this point.

And I'm waiting on one part to come in to get my VT420 working with my Linux machines. It almost works, but no flow control.

Anyway, happy new year, my condolences to everyone going back to work tomorrow (or who had to go back today; or yesterday for that matter).


I love retro computing in general, and despite never really using it back in the day, I have a soft spot for pre-OSX MacOS. It manages to feel retro without feeling clunky at the same time.

And I think it's that clunkiness that prevents me from doing more. Having to set up (or write!) a proxy to do something is, for me, a bit too much. This is doubly true since I don't have the programming chops to do anything like that, although with a more modern, networking-like language (thinking something like Go or C#), maybe it wouldn't be so bad?

Anyway, I thought very seriously about picking up an old PowerPC-based Mac from eBay awhile back, and really the only thing that stopped me was desk space. Well, that and the fact that a CRT would probably use more electricity than my work laptop, M1 Mac Mini, and two monitors combined :)

Have you seen any of the projects that seek to emulate/re-create OSes from that era in a web page?



fwiw, if you do want to go eBay hunting again, a PowerPC G4 Mac Mini with the hacked up Mac OS 9 CD-ROM that's found on macos9lives works very well and doesn't take up much desk space.

It's not a beige box, but given enough of a suntan, it'll come naturally!

The biggest issue I had in setting it up was that it's suggested to get a DVI to VGA connector and plug in your monitor through VGA (either via an HDMI-to-VGA convertor box or natively), since the included Mac OS 9 display ATI drivers don't play as well with DVI as standard VGA.

Some models of G4 Mac Mini also have trouble with OS 9 audio, though I think the problem's limited to the fastest and most sought after ones. The slower the Mac Mini, the better.

I ended up getting my G4 Mac Mini through Mercari, where they're mostly regarded as slow Mac OS X machines. They absolutely rock on OS 9.



Oh cool, thanks for the info! I could wall mount it right next to my M1 mini :D

Is there anything specific you find yourself doing on the OS 9 machine rather than something newer?



I've seen Infinite Mac, at least. I'm pretty sure there are others I haven't tried.



Oh, brave soul :)