How to use classic Atari, Commodore, and Sinclair software on your Mac

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Running 1980s home computer software on your modern Mac is fun, but can be done in many different ways. Here’s how to run retro Atari, Sinclair, and Commodore software on the latest hardware.

In Part 1 of our series on classic emulators, we looked at running vintage Mac, Lisa, NeXT, and Apple II software on your Mac.

In this part, we’ll look at four more of the 1980’s major home computers: VIC-20 and C64 from Commodore, Sinclair ZX81 and Timex/Sinclair 1000, and Atari 400/800 and consoles.


Another key Silicon Valley company that helped launch the home computer revolution was Atari, which originally started the home video game console industry with home Pong consoles and the Atari 2600 (originally called Video Computer System) in 1977. The 2600, which only lasted five years sold an astonishing thirty million units, which at the time was unheard of.

The Fairchild Channel F, a similar console launched a year earlier, was considered a commercial failure – and only sold 350,000 units worldwide.

Known for being big and bulky, most of the 2600’s flat, black case was taken up by a massive metal internal RF shield surrounding a small central circuit board with a ROM cartridge slot for game cartridges. A smaller board at the top of the case contained power, reset, and difficulty switches.

Atari later licensed the 2600 to Sears, which rebranded it as TELE-GAMES.

The 2600’s killer app was Space Invaders, a port of the wildly popular arcade game. Asteroids, another arcade hit soon followed along with Missile Command, Centipede, and others.

The video game company Activision produced fifty-four game cartridges for the 2600, some of which such as Kaboom!, Barnstorming, and Fishing Derby became the console’s most beloved games.

Later, Atari launched three successive smaller, lighter 2600 models called the 2600 Jr., which was about half the size and a quarter the weight of the original….