Does your Mac also boot into Windows? Mine does, and it’s a pretty great perk of owning a Mac since 2006. But modern Intel-based Macs aren’t the only ones that can dual boot operating systems.
Proof? This Amiga from the 1980s booting up Mac OS 6.0.1, the result of a particularly clever hack from the vintage computing archives.
Usually, when a system like a vintage Mac is seen running on a different computer, it’s done through emulation. Emulation is when you use a faster computer to essentially pretend to be another system. Emulation is comparatively slow, compared to running the same programs on original hardware, but Moore’s Law makes up for it, making it seem just as fast as if it was running on original hardware.
At the same time, though, this means you can only emulate systems older than current hardware. You could never, say, use an Xbox One to emulate a Wii U at full speed. Nor could you see a vintage Mac emulate a vintage PC at full speed: it just doesn’t have the bandwidth to “pretend” to be another system.
So what we’re looking at here isn’t really emulation. Instead, it’s a weird Frankenstein project, in which a vintage Mac’s ROM chips have been connected to an Amiga’s Motorola 68000 processor, which was the same CPU in the Macs back then. It was all accomplished with an old retail app called Amx, “the Macintosh emulator for your Amiga.” The hacker explains:
Worth noting that this is not “software emulation” like how you might run Mini vMac on a modern computer. This setup literally connects two Apple Macintosh ROM chips (from a Mac Plus, in this instance) to the Amiga’s floppy drive, and via some unholy alliance of A-Max controller software + Apple ROM code + the Motorola 68000 CPU in the Amiga (the same chip that powered all the early Macs), this is a “hardware” emulation system. Interestingly, the Mac boot disk I have is too old to be 32-bit compatible, so while it “sees” the full 9 megs of RAM in the Amiga, it can only access 512k of it.
It’s a nutty hack, one that only a die-hard vintage computing fan would try, but it worked: the original Boot Camp Mac of the 1980s.