September 1991

Macintosh emulation nears

by Dan Lavin

Albuquerque, NM: NeXT users may soon be able to run Mac software using a Mac emulation program, if its developer maintains its resolve to run the gauntlet of Apple's legal department.

NeXTWORLD obtained a copy of a Mac emulator, code-named Executor, developed by Abacus Research and Development (ARDI), which is based here. The program completely emulates a Macintosh window with pull-down menus, graphics, and mouse actions. Executor does not emulate the Macintosh Finder, however, so programs must be launched from a command line. Nor does Executor support System 7.0, color, or sound in its current version.

Clifford T. Matthews, ARDI president, said that Executor will be shown at UNIXopen in September and could ship in 1991, depending on legal and financing issues. Matthews claimed that the company followed stringent clean-room procedures in duplicating the functionality of the Mac ROMs without viewing or using any of Apple's code. "We've done things right, but we do anticipate legal action regarding look and feel," Matthews said.

Previously, efforts to clone the Macintosh have met with staunch legal challenges from Apple.

"If this could pass a legal challenge, which I doubt, there is no question that it would boost NeXT's position in the world," said Tim Bajarin, executive vice president of Creative Strategies of Mountain View, California.

There are thousands of programs on the Macintosh, and only a hundred or so on the NeXT.

NeXTWORLD tested the pre-beta software successfully with several Macintosh applications, including Microsoft Excel and some public-domain programs. Although loading Mac software on the NeXT machine required running a series of installation programs from the UNIX command line, Matthews said that installation will be automated in the shipping version.

Matthews claimed that the shipping version of Executor will run software at Macintosh II speeds on a 68040 NeXT. ARDI expects to price Executor at about $700. Limited versions to run only one program, such as Excel, may be marketed for less than $100.

Created by Stone Design's Create(tm) at 2005-08-20 23:23:39 -0500