Microcomputers are celebrating a comeback thanks to products like The C64 and The Mini PET Kit. These options are pretty expensive if you're looking to get back into microcomputing. They can cost hundreds of dollars and in some cases require a lot of technical knowledge.
What are your options if you want to try microcomputers on a budget? Fortunately, it is possible to try out some of these games from years past directly on Windows 10 with special software. Just don't ask us how to get those old computer games online for free.
1. Apple II: AppleWin
The Apple II was one of the world's first home computers for the mass market, which was considered a success. The series sold over 6 million copies over the course of its life, so it's no surprise that many people have fond memories of the machine.
If you want to get an Apple II working again on Windows 10, it's pretty easy to do thanks to a program called AppleWin. As it sounds, you can run pretty much any Apple II hard drive or hard drive on Windows 10 with this program.
The first thing to do, of course, is to download AppleWin from the program's GitHub page. Once downloaded, unzip the program and it is ready to use. It's also portable, so you can load a memory stick with the emulator and some hard drive files and you're good to go.
Click to play a game Hard drive icon 1 Select the DSK file for your game and click Rainbow apple icon to restart the emulator. The game should now start automatically. Remember, if the keyboard seems unresponsive, try toggling Caps Lock as it can sometimes prevent you from typing.
AppleWin also has options for changing the visual and audio settings to achieve the perfect look that you will remember. You can reach the options menu by clicking on Joystick / loudspeaker symbol. The options menu lets you change the input method, add and remove scan lines, and even emulate an old RGB monitor or TV screen.
Download: AppleWin (free)
2. ZX spectrum: backup
The ZX Spectrum, while not as successful as the Apple II, was an incredibly successful device nonetheless, selling over 5 million units. The UK-designed microcomputer has an incredibly distinctive visual style that will be remembered by fans around the world.
There are many programs out there that purport to allow you to play your old ZX Spectrum games, but most of them are cumbersome and expensive. Enter Fuse, a GNU GPL-licensed emulator originally developed for Unix.
Unlike AppleWin, Fuse actually needs to be installed, but it's a fairly lightweight program. You can get your hands on the program on the SourceForge page. Just make sure the box is cleared Associate file types Option if you want to run more than one emulator. Many old microcomputer emulators use the same file extensions.
The first thing you have to do is leave Options> Filters … and change the video filter to 3 times the size if you actually want to watch the game you are playing. You can also try some of the other filters from the same menu if you don't want the game to look exactly like the original.
Running a program is as easy as calling it File> Open and choose your game file. If it's a joystick based game, you have to go too Options> Peripherals> General and make sure a shape of a joystick is selected. You can then remap your joystick controls using a gamepad or keyboard Options> Joysticks.
Download: Backup (free)
3. Commodore 64: CCS64
The most popular microcomputer in history is without a doubt the Commodore 64 with over 17 million units sold. If you were alive in the 80s you probably recognize this distinctive machine.
Similar to the ZX Spectrum, there are many programs that you can use to emulate a C64, but the best is CCS64. You can download it from the CCS64 website.
After downloading and installing, all you have to do is go to run a game File> Load and Run. The emulator even has a built-in C64 BASIC prompt as soon as you open it. So once you are comfortable with the language, just like the good old days, you can start typing code right away.
Instead of a normal menu system, all options in CCS64 are carried out in the traditional Commodore 64 style. So if you go Options> inputyou need to navigate through the menu and set your joystick assignment using the cursor and enter keys. Fortunately, most C64 games can be played via the keyboard due to the way the C64 joystick connections work.
If you find that your joystick assignment is not working, press Alt + F10. This link swaps the joysticks in each port, as some C64 games only work in port 1, while others only work in port 2.
Download: CCS64 (free)
4. BBC Micro / Master series: BeebEm
The BBC Micro was perhaps more popular in the UK but had a decent following in the US thanks to the rapid expansion of Acorn Computers. There was fierce competition between the ZX Spectrum and the Micro during the 1980s, but in the end the Spectrum prevailed.
Both the BBC Micro and its successor, the BBC Master, can be emulated using the same program, BeebEm. You can download a copy of the emulator from the BeebEm site and after installing it you can get started right away.
Running BBC Micro games is a little more complicated than other systems. Most of the game files you come across are hard drive files and can be easily downloaded from File> Run Disc … and select the game you want to play. Band images need to be fiddled around a bit more, however.
First you need to upload your tape file File> Load TapeThen enter a load command. The problem is that while many games load with a general purpose command, there are some that require something specific.
If the following command doesn't work, then you should try to find a manual for your software, as this is usually a detailed description of how to load the game.
PAGE = & E00
Download: BeebEm (free)
Keep playing with nostalgia
By now you should be armed with all the knowledge you need to relive the microcomputer boom of the 80s. With a few disk images and a few line commands, you can now enjoy Lode Runner at any moment.
Now all you need is one more way to get your hands on those old games legally and you're all set. Just don't fall into the trap if you believe demolition is legal.
How to run old games and software on Windows 10
Old PC games and software can have problems on Windows 10. Try these tips to get your old Windows games and programs working on Windows 10.
About the author
(3 articles published)
A games, cybersecurity, and technology writer who has built computers and tinkered with software since he was a teenager. William has been a professional freelance writer since 2016 and has a history of involvement on prestigious websites including TechRaptor.net and Hacked.com
By William Worrall
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