System Software Versions

The oldest System Software version that is currently used very much is System 6. It was released with the early one piece Macs, and with the Mac II series computers. Can run on a Mac with only 1MB of RAM.

System 7 or 7.1 is still frequently used on older one piece Macs, and sometimes on Mac II or LCs, or other older Macs with limited RAM. It was big in the same era as Windows 3.x, and requires a Mac with minimum 2MB RAM.

System 7.5.5 is the highest version of Mac software available free (as 7.5.3, plus the 7.5.5 updater). It is the most frequent compromise between modern compatibility and limited RAM, partly because it is free, and is the latest system software that will run on some Macs. Sits on the timeline with Win95, and in practical use needs a Mac with at least 4MB RAM. PowerMacs need at least 8, preferably 16MB to run this software. It will take about 20 to 30MB of hard drive space.

System 7.6 is the oldest system software that is not available free. It is reputedly very stable, and is the latest software that will run on some Macs. Virtually identical in function and feel to 7.5.5, though some software requires a minimum software version of 7.6 to run.

System 8.1 is about the same age as Win98. It introduced many new features, and 8.1 corrected many bugs from 8.0. It is the last version that will run on 68040 processors, and on certain non-PCI Power Macs. Can run on a Mac with 8 MB and virtual memory, but runs best with 16MB of actual RAM or more, and PowerMacs run best with 32MB or better.

System 8.5 introduced a few more new features, still available commercially.

System 9 shipped with DV iMacs, and has a reputation for being buggy, but this user has not had much trouble with it, though my system, with networking extensions removed, and internet software installed, runs with the System requiring a minimum of 20MB of RAM just for the system. Runs regularly with 25MB of RAM usage. In the class with Win2000.

For the record, I got my new iMac, and loaded on software that we have used on every Mac we ever used, from a 68000 (the slowest) up to this 400MHz G3, running System 6 up to System 9, and most programs still perform flawlessly under the new system and processor...though MUCH faster!

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