Since Macintosh System Softwsre 1.0 is extremely old, has Apple made it free to download? If so, is there a link to download it from?

I am just curious to try and run it in an hardware emulator and get a feel for the old operating system...

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    You can download a great deal of old software directly from Apple. They have an Older Software Downloads page, but System 6 is the earliest available download. May 9, 2014 at 0:00
  • 3
    Oh the wonders of Google search...
    – Alexander
    May 9, 2014 at 1:26
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    You'll have trouble getting System 1.0 onto a 400K 3.5" floppy, as OS X no longer contains drivers to write to such dinosaurs. I've downloaded the HFS floppy write drivers, but haven't found the MFS equivalent: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macintosh_File_System May 9, 2014 at 15:40

5 Answers 5


No, System 1.0 is not open source and not in the public domain. Apple provided it with the purchase of a Macintosh. The system software was not available for separate purchase.


With MacOS 1.0 you are probably referring to the first version of Apple's operating system.

In 1984, with the release of the first Macintosh (128K), the system was actually not called MacOS but was just Mac System Software.

Apple has called it MacOS since version 7.6.

You can read (and learn) a lot about it on Wikipedia.


About an emulator of the first Mac system. There is one you can use : mini vMac

Unzip everything, start the mini vMac, it will load the ROM and you'll get a blinking floppy with a question mark because it couldn't find the system. To solve it just drag the system image over vMac and the system will start !

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    The author of the page says "I'm not sure if I can legally include links to all of the files that I do in the following section." Is that of concern?
    – mmk
    May 8, 2014 at 23:37
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    You're speaking of this page : www3.nd.edu/~jvanderk/sysone This page is (very) very old. (before 2000). If Apple had really a problem with it, it would not be there anymore. May 8, 2014 at 23:43
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    @mmk These things are often called "abandonware" because the company no longer cares what people do with the software, licensed or not. I believe System 7 was "released" in this way, since you can run it in an emulator in your browser.
    – 2rs2ts
    May 9, 2014 at 14:24

The answer to your question is kind of complex. Here are the bullet points:

  • Apple has never open-sourced any version of the operating system that ran on Macs prior to Mac OS X.
  • Prior to System 7.1 (as it was called at the time), Apple did provide versions of the System software free of charge. System 7.5.3 (and an updater to System 7.5.5) were also eventually made available free of charge, but that didn't happen until years after the fact. None of these versions are open-source.
  • On non-PowerPC systems, the System software depends heavily on the Mac ROMs. These have never been made available free of charge. Also keep in mind that the first version of the System software to run on PowerPC systems was System 7.1.2, so everything before then would need a ROM, and you can't get those.
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    You could add that parts of OSX are indeed free i.e. Darwin. May 9, 2014 at 16:51

Back in the day, many MacOS versions were not sold, but available for free - if you installed it on hardware that shipped with MacOS X (that was in the days of clones that shipped legally with some MacOS version). I think that was true with versions up to 7.5.3, possibly 7.5.5 I've never seen any version before 8.0 for sale. You certainly cannot buy MacOS 1.0 for money.

You'd have to dig out an old license agreement and read it very carefully to see what is actually allowed. Current versions for example allow running the software on "Apple branded computers", while slightly older versions allowed running on "Apple labeled computers" (probably changed because some joker put an Apple sticker on a Dell computer and claimed it was "Apple labeled"). I would say if someone installs it on something that can be called an "Apple branded computer" in 50 years time when Macs are long forgotten, it's probably legal.

Practically, Apple most likely doesn't mind as long as you don't make loud claims that they cannot ignore.


Apple provides a long list of older software, incl. System 6, 7, and 8 here:

archive.org: http://www.info.apple.com/support/oldersoftwarelist.html


software resources

If you're interested in older software, Gamba's site is a excellent resource, as well as Jag's House. You might also register at the Applefritter forums, and the 68k Macintosh Liberation Army forums, or Vintage Mac Software Library and the abandonware site Macintosh Garden.

Check out mess.org

A sister project to MAME is MESS which emulates just about everything.

recommended hardware

If you are very serious, I'd recommend getting a B&W G3 Powermac with the "Revision 2" motherboard (Apple Part No. 820-1049-A), and run OS X 10.5 Leopard. The Disk Utility that came with that version of OS X allows you to initially prepare scsi disks for use with older systems and older macs.

The "Revision 2" units fixed the hard drive controller problem with an improved (UDMA-33) IDE controller that supported the standard IDE master/slave two-drive arrangement. This controller worked flawlessly with any drive within the 28-bit LBA constraint. Most Rev. 2 units shipped with a hard disk bracket designed for two drives (in fact Rev. 1 can hold up to three drives side-by-side, while Rev. 2 can hold up to four drives in two stacks, each with two drives) and also included a slightly updated version of the Rage 128 graphics card. The easiest way to tell if the unit is a Rev.2 is by looking at the CMD chip located on the logic board. The CMD chip on Rev. 1 logic boards is PCI646U2 and on Rev. 2 logic boards is 646U2-402.

emulation in browser

emulation in javascript with JSMESS

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