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Mac System 1.0

A site by Dan Vanderkam

  Recently, I was looking around, when I came across something that looked strange. is a site dedicated to macs, and there was a link to a mactintosh emulator there! I was naturally intrigued, and looked into it.

  What I found was amazing. vMac is a program that emulates a Mac Plus. Mac Pluses can run any system between 1.0 and 7.5.5 (try finding a PC that can run operating systems from 1984 all the way through 1996!). Since my PowerBook 3400 runs Mac OS 7.6, I wasn't very interested in running newer systems. So, I looked over the internet, and managed to scrounge up a copy of System 1.0.

  This page is dedicated to showing people just how revolutionary that operating sytem was, and will hopefully also show you just how far the Mac OS has come.

   So, with no further ado, let's begin!

Well, there it is. System 1.0. On your first sweep through this screenshot, there are probably a few things you noticed. Here's what they probably are:

  Those are all big differences. In system 7, one of the more noticable changes was that the folders became much sharper. However, from system 1.0-6.0.8, you were stuck with those very, very round folders.

  How do I explain the screen? Easy. The first macs were all-in-one units; somewhat like the iMac. However, the screens were very small (9 inches), and were black and white only. The resolution, btw, was 520x342.

  Those are the big things that you notice. However, there are many, many smaller things. Here they are.

  Well, as Ricky used to say, "You got some splainin' to do!" Well I certainly do!

  In System 3, the trash can received an overhaul. Well, maybe "complete" is too strong a word. Actually, all that changed was that the lines in the middle of it changed their direction. And now, the trash can looks much nicer than it did before.

  Actually, having a different direction isn't the only thing different about the trash. In system 1.0, if you drag an icon to the trash, it doesn't bulge! Yes, this little wonder wasn't added until system 7. Before that, you had no way of knowing if the trash contained anything unless you opened it.

  Next up are zoom boxes. These were added in system 6. In that version, clicking a zoom box expanded a window so that it covered the entire screen (except for the desktop icons on the right). They didn't get their current behavior until System 7 though. In fact, as we move along in this, I think you'll begin to realize just how humonguos an update system 7 was. Essentially, you can divide the into two eras: Pre-System 7, and After System 7. System 7 changed almost everything. Zoom boxes and a bulging trash can are just two examples. And there's yet another thing that was changed with the trash in system 7! In system 6.0.8 and older, whenever you restarted, the contents of the trash were lost. So much for retrieving documents!

  Well enough with my rantinglet's continue! Next up is the "Empty folder". I personally think this is one of the three most shocking differences between the original system and the latest system.

  Recently, every magazine you looked at had something to say about HFS+ (or Mac OS Extended format as it's officially known). This is merely an update to the Hierarchial Filing System (HFS) that saves space, and let's you do some special things with names. If you think HFS+ was a big update, then you'll be shocked by the filing system that HFS replaced. Here were the rules for it:

  Well, that single screenshot showed us quite a bit about what was different. Now, let's look at some of the deeper changes...

The menus

  Here are the menus in the Finder:

  As you can see, they're very different. As we mentioned earlier, there are only four menus: There isn't a help menu (as in OS 8), or a label menu (as in system 7). Also, the "View by label" and "View by Small Icon" items are missing from the view menu. This is because there weren't labels in System 1.0, and there weren't small icons. Period. There weren't even ones in list views (see the screenshot about a page up).

  One of the neat things about the mac is the edit menu. As you can see, the edit menu in OS 8.5 is the same as it was in 1.0, and it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

  Now let's take a look at the file menu. The first thing you may notice is probably that the Open, Put Back, Close, and Print items don't have command key equivalents. In system 7 and 8, they're O, Y, W, and P respectively. If you press Command-W or Command-Y, nothing happens. Oddly enough though, if you select an icon, and press Command-O, it opens! Also, the "Close All" command appears as a seperate item. In System 7/8, it only appears if you hold down option. Finally, the Eject item appears in the file menu. It's in Special in System 7 and up.

  On to the Special menu! No other menu in the history of the Finder has changed as much as this menu. It started out with 4 commands, three of which remain. Nowadays, there are three extra items in this menu. However, the special menu has had a few items that have fluxed in and out of existence. Here they are:

Command    What it did    System versions it was in    Set Startup Set the startup drive. In system 4.0 and up, it let you use the mulitfinder, the pre-system 7 multitasking solution Systems 1.0 all the way through 6.0.8. It was replaced by the Startup Items folder. Shut Down Shuts down the computer. Before it existed, you just flicked the switch, nothing more. It was added after system 2.0, and is still present to this day. Restart Restarts the computer. Before it, you had to press the reset switch. It was added in System 6.0.2 (the first public version of system 6), and still exists to this day. Sleep Puts Powerbooks and second-generation PCI PowerMacs to sleep It was added in system 7 on powerbooks, and 7.5 for PCI PowerMacs. Use MiniFinder Installed or removed the selected file in the MiniFinder, which was the forerunner to the Lanucher.` It was added in system 4.0, and was removed in the next major release (6.0.2), making it the most short-lived item ever.

In case you're curious, the MiniFinder was a 4K application (now that's small!) that was a cross between the launcher, the Finder, and At Ease. (It came before all but the finder). Essentially, it was a simpler way to launch programs. Here's what it looks like:

The Apple Menu

  Before System 7, the only things that went into the Apple menu were about boxes and desk accesories, which were significantly different from applications in those days. The apple menu in the finder had One command "About the Finder", which was then followed by the items you saw in every application. There's a lovely shot of it to the right.

  As you can see, it's much smaller than one you'd find today. In fact, the only things in the menu are DAs and the Control Panel. However, you may notice that the Control Panel item doesn't have a submenu arrow next to it. Actually, this nicety was added in System 7.5 by the Apple Menu Options control panel.

  Then again, even if it could have a submenu arrow, it wouldn't. Why? Because it's a DA! Yes, you read that right: It's not a folder. In fact, it's a rather small DA. Here's a screenshot for your viewing pleasure: Yes, this is the complete control panel. No ATM. No Apple Menu Options. No keyboard layouts. No Map, no modem. Only the most basic controls were included in this. Most of these are still around in some form today, and most can be found in the General Controls control panel. Now, to explain the controls...

  On the left is the volume control. That much is obvious. To its right, on the top, are the date and time controls. They work much the same as they do today: You click on what you want to change, and some arrows appear.

  On the top right is the menu blinking control. Whenever you select a menu, from System 1.0 to 8.5, it blinks. This lets you set how many times it blinks, or turn this off completely. Today, it can be found in the General control panel.

  The next one is the most confusing. The two controls are for the key repeat speed, and the repeat delay. Now how many of you would have guessed that? Thank god apple has replaced the icons that represented these with text. These controls have since moved to the Keyboard control panel.

  On the middle-right is the blinking insertion point speed. This let you control how fast the text cursor blinked. It still resides in the general control panel to this day.

  The lower-left control wins second most confusing. This is the mouse speed setting. Yes, that's right, there are only two options. And to think that nowadays you can have an infinite number of settings with ResEdit... Anyway, this resides in the Mouse control panel nowadays.

  Next off is the desktop background. You can draw on the little square on the left, and you double click on the tiny screen to set the pattern. If you click on the left or right on the menu bar, you cycle through the built-in patterns. This existed with almost no changes in the General controls all the way up to system 7.1. It was then replaced by the Desktop Patterns control panel in 7.5, and the Desktop Pictures control panel in 8.0.

  Finally, there's the double click speed. This control is almost identical to the one that is currently used in the Mouse control panel, giving it the honor of being one of the few things that has never been changed.

The rest of the Apple Menu

  I probably should get back to the apple menu. If you've forgotten what it looked like by now, there's another screenshot to the right. First of all, let's talk about the alarm clock. If you chose it, you got a window that looked like this: The little switch that the mouse is over controls whether or not it is expanded. In the expanded view that you see, you can set all time-related info. Click the clock to set the time, the calender to set the date, and the alarm to set the alarm. This setup remained until system 7.5, when it was put in the menu bar by the Date & Time control panel.

  Next up is the "Choose Printer" item. This may sound strange, but yet familiar. It should. This is the forerunner of the chooser.As you can see, it looks very similar, but it has two changes. The info and settings section is gone, and the printers are represented in a list by their names, not by their icons and names (like a finder window). It was probably changed from "Choose Printer" to "Chooser" because the former name was no longer accurate: It was used to choose more than a printer.

  Next up is the Key Caps DA. This has looked the same throughout all system versions, but it's use has changed. Yes, you could still click on the keys in the window to type, but if you held down a modifier key, nothing happened. They keyboard didn't change. This is Key Cap's primary purpose today: holding down option and looking at all of a font's wierd characters. You simply couldn't do this in System 1.0's Key Caps, and therefore it's worth was quite questionable.   Finally, we come to the Scrapbook. This little marvel was an amazing way to store data in system 1.0. You could put pictures and text into it, and you could copy or cut them out. And it always remembered its contents! However, the scrapbook is used less and less nowadays. The only real change to it has been that it now supports movies, sounds, and QD3D objects, as well as the ability to be resized. Oddly enough, it came without anything in it; probably another way to make the system slightly smaller. (Keep in mind that 190K was very large for an age when the largest disk was 400K, and hard drives under $10,000 were nonexistent.


  As you probably know, the copy command received a major overhaul in OS 8. It showed not only the number of files and percent done, but it showed the time elapsed, and estimated time remaining. They could also copy in the background. The same went for emptying the trash.

  After using this kind of copy command, you probably thought that the copy command in System 7 stunk. Well, I have just one thing to say about that: get real. If you think that's bad, check out this graphic display of system 1.0's copy command in action!

  As you can see, it doesn't even tell you how many files will be copied, let alone a status bar indicating progress. Then again, that wasn't much of a problem considering no copy was over 400K, and they were rarely even that. In addition, most people would find it rather hard to copy an unrememberable number of files at a time when only 400K of space is available.


  One of the things that we take for granted nowadays is the fact that most fonts are smooth at any size, and are extra-smooth when printed. Few people realize just what a long history this fact has however. In fact, none of the six fonts that shipped with the original mac looked good in more than six sizes. As you can see from the picture of Microsoft Works 2.0, it just looked bitmapped at any other size (the logo at the top of this page is another example).

  However, through a long string of events, such as the introduction of Adobe Postscript, ATM, TrueType, and more to come, this has been fixed. However, all these font formats have become somewhat of a pain. Therefore I make my attitude clear on this issue: If you can view it and it prints, and it doesn't crash your computer, then leave it alone for crying out loud!

  This has to be about the least commonly seen dialog nowadays. Just thought you'd enjoy it.

  This is especially funny for two reasons. First of all, system 5.0 never existed (typical Microsoft ignorance). However, they weren't totally out of line. System 5.x did exist. Second of all, nowadays, it's considered a major feat to make your application compatible with System 6!

Look familiar? Aside from the lack of scrolling credits, it's the exact same as it's been up until OS 7.6. Talk about continuity! Unfortunately, Apple killed the tradition with a new COLOR picture in 8.0. The nerve of some people...

Back to reality

  I think I'll end on this little screenshot that shows that not even the simple little System 1.0 was exempt from crashes:

  Actually, I think that the Bomb dialog in System 1.0 actually looks better than the one in 7.x and 8. Then again, System Bombs will be a thing of the past with 8.5. Even though we hate them now, I'm sure that we'll miss them in the future. I'm serious!

  Now that would be quite a stumper at a mac gathering. "What is the button that almost always appears disabled in the system bomb alert when Finder 1.0 crashes?" I wonder how many people you could stump with that one!

Closing Notes

  I'm sure you're just itching to try out system 1.0 yourself. Well, just for you, I've provided all the links you need. Just download all the files, visit all the websites, and you're done! You'll be happily running the equivalent of a Mac Plus on your computer.

  Oh yeah! If you get caught up in Mac Nostalgia, and want to make a page dedicated to another system version, be sure to tell me, so I can put a link to it on this page!

vMac Files and Web Pages

  I'm not sure if I can legally include links to all of the files that I do in the following section. If anyone who reads this has any knowledge about this, e-mail me.

 the vMac web page.

 the vMac for Mac OS application.

 the Mac Plus ROM. (Required to run vMac)

 system software version 1.1 disk image.

 the Apple History web site

 the Old Mac System quiz.

  Well, that pretty much does it. It's been fun, and I'd appreciate it if you tell me what you think of this site, and what you'd like to see added/removed/corrected/changed.

  AOL domain disclaimer: Even though my address ends in, this does not mean that I use AOL as my primary ISP. I actually use the University of Notre Dame, which hosts this site. I only use aol for e-mail, since ND only offers one pop3 e-mail account per user, and that users's not me.

Site History

  10/20/98  Fixed some mistakes in the quiz, and added a "defacing the about box" comment. Also added the "Made with..." pictures at the bottom of the page. MacAddict Magazine put a link to System One Headquarters on their page! I also got some feedback, and have updated the site accordingly. Also, Mac OS 8.5 has been released, making System One even more a thing of the past.   9/17/98  Added the super-easy to cheat on Old System Quiz.   9/15/98  Changed the title to a bitmapped image in the "Venice" font. Fixed a few spelling mistakes, and clarified several thoughts.   8/10/98  Finished writing this page, and uploaded it.

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