Apple lets MS DOS run on the iPad, but not for long

Apple allowed a DOS emulator into the app store, which allowed gamers to enjoy Windows 3.0 and classic old PC games. But in the blink of an eye, it was pulled.

Asavin Wattanajantra
2 min read

Apple briefly let a few old-school gamers wallow in geek heaven by allowing an MS DOS emulator into the App Store, and then promptly booted it out, shattering the dreams of classic PC fans everywhere.

iDOS allowed programs written for the old DOS operating system to run on on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, including Windows 3.0. It seems to have worked a charm, with the tablet version being particularly worthy of kudos as it surrounded the emulator with graphical representations of a grubby keyboard, Post-its and a floppy disk drive.

But it soon became clear that the app was bowling headlong into a legal minefield, with questions over the legality of running old games included in the app, such as Ms Pacman and Dig Dug. To avoid any problems, Apple simply threw the app out of the store.

Even though there was very little in the way of instruction in how to load up applications, a few people managed to run old programs. In the video below is an example of somebody successfully running Ms PacMan on an iPhone. Their attempt to run Carmageddon wasn't so successful, but it gives you an idea of the process involved.

It did load up Windows 3.0 to run Solitaire on the iPad, Touch Arcade reports, along with Sierra adventure titles, Warcraft 2, and those text-based fantasy games where you have to write a command to play through an adventure.

Unfortunately, that kind of fun has no place in an Apple environment. If you're willing to indulge in a bit of jailbreaking, you can download an app via Cydia called DOSPAD, which is free and does the same thing. Otherwise, you can buy a Spectrum emulator that replicates the experience perfectly, dodgy 8-bit games and all. There's also a Commodore 64 app, but it requires you to buy games for it.

There's very little chance of a Nintendo emulator hitting the App Store -- thanks legal system! -- even though the rules have been relaxed somewhat. If you love your Sega games you'll have better luck, with titles such as Golden Axe and Streets of Rage already ported. That's not the same as a bit of DOS DIY, but it's up to you to decide whether it's worth the hassle of a jailbreak.

Image credit: Touch Arcade