Let's wind back the clocks a bit so those of you who weren't around for the great iDOS fiasco of 2010. It all started with Apple ever-so-slightly easing up on their approval guidelines which opened the floodgates for quite a few apps (such as the Google Voice apps) that seemed to eternally be trapped in approval limbo. Whether this had anything to do with iDOS or not is debatable, but it seems awfully coincidental otherwise. Anyway, on the morning of October 26th last year, iDOS hit the App Store. It was a shockingly full featured DOS emulator complete with keyboard and mouse support, as well as a basic virtual gamepad, multiple screen modes, and so much more.

The crazy part about iDOS is there seemed to be nearly no limit to what it was capable of. If you scroll down on this story you'll even find someone successfully installing Microsoft Windows, within iDOS, on their iPad. iDOS was quickly pulled, then re-appeared in late January of this year with quite a bit of its functionality stripped. Regardless, people quickly figured out how to load things into iDOS, utilizing utilities like iExplorer and other Mac/Windows programs that allow you to fiddle with the file system of your iOS device. Once again, iDOS was removed from the App Store.

Yesterday, iDOS hit the App Store once again, this time as Aemula Oldies [Free] for the iPad and Aemula Oldies S [Free] for smaller screen devices. There's also the Aemula Gamepad [99¢] which works a lot like the other gamepad apps and pairs with an iPad playing a game. It seems that the functionality has been stripped even further, as all the previous command line access has been traded for a simple menu to load the included games.

The freebies packed in with Aemula Oldies are Mille Bornes, Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle, Duke Nukem, Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion, Scorched Earth, CD-Man, The Catacomb Abyss, Bio Menace, Monster Bash, StarMines II: Planet of Mines, 4D Prince of Persia and CHAMP Kong. They all seem to work decently well, too.

I sort of think third time is the charm for iDOS, err, Aemula Oldies, as I'd imagine that there aren't any holes for slipping other things to emulate in left anymore. Of course, I could be totally wrong on that, so if anyone figures out any tricks, be sure to let us know.

  • Robert McCrory


  • http://twitter.com/DotComCTO DotComCTO

    I've *got* to think that someone will figure out how to restore command line access, right?

  • Troy Mossman

    Oh my god, I played the hell out of Monster Bash over ten years ago. The nostalgia here is irresistible, and it's free! Count me in :D.

  • Ivan Ivanov

    Just bring us the Star Control. Everything else will become insignificant.

    • Anonymous

      Your wish is my command 🙂

      Check out post nr. 486 in the linked thread...

  • Gregz0r

    It would be cool, if we could still side load 'ROMS' and include a .cfg file with the directories for the startup .exe/bin/whatever file and the app's menu would place that in the U.I.
    I'm not botherd about emulating the full DOS experience, I just want to be able to launch games faster.

  • http://twitter.com/ValentinoHAL Valentino Haloska

    Command Line:
    1. Press Reset
    2. Press Y sometimes until you see command line entries
    3. Press N before the command until you reach
    Thats it, the screen is only dark before emucfg runs..

    • Anonymous

      Yup, working here. Just investigating adding new games...

    • http://twitter.com/pjburnhill PJ Palomaki

      Can't get to command prompt to work on the iPad version, anyone know if this is possible in Aemula 1.3 for iPad?

  • http://twitter.com/ValentinoHAL Valentino Haloska


  • http://twitter.com/ValentinoHAL Valentino Haloska

    Oh Oh, i think its a good moment to install aemula now, because i don't believe that they have the permissions to distribute msdos 6.22 system files (typed 'ver' at command line).

  • Anonymous

    Don't know how usefull this is but if you hit ctl c. As in controls break command on some of the games you can get to a limited dos prompt a:>

  • Tom Melbourne


  • Tom Melbourne


  • http://twitter.com/borgqueenx borgqueenx

    So, how do i add games to the list? Any workarounds for that?

    • Anonymous

      It's very easy.

  • Menneisyys Menneisyys

    What I've found so far:

    - games are stored under the Packages directory, in the Aemula Oldies.app file

    - they're listed in the Packages.plist file. I assume you can add any number of games to this file to avoid having to go to the DOS prompt to load your own ones from the command line. (The latter is certainly possible; see Valentino Haloska's post above. BTW – do you know who's called “Haloska” (in a not very friendly way) in Finland? :))

    Now, the games themselves are stored in .pkg files. They're simple ZIP files – just rename them to .zip before opening. They contain a key mapping file (great for mapping buttons to the on-screen joystick) and an .im1 file.

    The latter has the size of the of a standard 1.44 Mbyte MS-DOS disk and contains all games (one by one). (Strangely, the end of the disk seems to be the same for all the games I've investigated – a leftover from an adventure game.)

    I've tried reading the disk image with two image handlers so far (http://www.altap.cz/salam_en/features/unfat.html and http://www.winimage.com/download.htm ). Neither were able to do this; that is, the IM1 files are encrypted in some ways. It's not WinImage's password facility, which simply encrypts the compressed file but can't do the same to the uncompressed one.

    I've compared the header of a standard (empty) 1.44 Mbyte virtual disk file produced by WinImage. The headers are vastly different. I'll try to just copy the first some/several hundred bytes from WinImage's version to that of Aemula and vice versa to find out whether it's encrypted header that makes WinImage unable to read the image and, then, to alter and save it. After all, the latter is our goal to add new games as the emulator doesn't seem to have any way of accepting non-diskimage based files, unlike iDOS. At least I haven't found anything related to adding plain .EXE/.COM files, let alone data files and/or complete dictionaries.

    If it remains impossible to make images recognized I will (you can) also try injecting files directly in the file image by not using standard disk image editors at all but updating the FAT12 table yourself and injecting the binary file in the image. It isn't very hard – I've done this a lot back in Miha Peternel's C64 emulator times when (in September 1993) there were still no .d64 disk editors and, therefore, I had to write mine. I seriously doubt direct injection is needed as it must be a comparatively easily changeable part of the IM1 files that has consistently been made incompatible with current, standard disk image editors – the rest of the file seems to be a completely good FAT12 virtual file disk.

    Unfortunately, the unpacked pkg files under /Library/Private Documents/ have encrypted IM files too; that is, we can't “attack” from there.

    In the meantime: make sure you make ALL your friends etc. download this emulator. As soon as I (we) find a way of hacking it, Apple may remove it from the AppStore (again). Download it NOW!

  • Menneisyys Menneisyys

    Posted my hacking-related findings to http://forums.toucharcade.com/showpost.php?p=2063289&postcount=6 (it's still awaiting moderation here).

  • Menneisyys Menneisyys

    I can't log to FaceBook and can't post links with the current user account. Come to the thread "iDOS 2.0.1 is available (Pulled again)" for the discussion of the hack.

  • Anonymous

    Guys, I've managed to hack games into the emulator. (Took me some 3
    hours to find out this all.) See the discussion starting at  the above-mentioned thread for
    more info & my tutorials.

    (Why can't I log in to Facebook to use my regular account to post comments - with links?)

  • http://twitter.com/ValentinoHAL Valentino Haloska

    About Aemula Command Line: Take some time to read:

  • Anonymous

    NOTE: in the meantime, I've managed to fully crack the protection. Please follow the discussion in the linked thread.

  • http://twitter.com/ValentinoHAL Valentino Haloska

    About meaning of names in different countries 🙂 There are names with bad meaning somewhere. BUT - I did'nt spend any comments about 'Menneisyys Menneisyys' :-))))))

    • Anonymous


      Well, after all, "Haloska" is just a nickname used for Tarja Halonen (president of Finland) by some people 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Guys, major leapfrogs in the meantime! Now, hacking is easier than before! Check out the latest achievements at http://forums.toucharcade.com/showpost.php?p=2063482&postcount=468 ; don't forget to follow the link at the bottom.

  • Anonymous

    BTW, TouchArcade folks, let's not announce (on the frontpage) that the emulator is hackable. Sure, iMAME, the hackability of which has been frontpaged here some days ago, still hasn't been removed, but noone knows what Apple does to it in the near future. No one wants to see the same happening to AO, particularly because it has a brand new emulation core.

    (The also-hackable Spectaculator and Manomio's Commodore 64, while out for at least half a year and generally known for hackability, haven't been frontpaged in this regard.)

  • Shane Rubans

    Damn, I'd kill for Scorched Earth but it looks like it's only on the iPad version. Bugger.

    • Anonymous

      Strange it isn't included - it works just fine on Retina-screen devices. Please see post nr. 498 in the linked thread for my tutorial on adding the game.

  • Joshua Bell

    um, i dont have any function keys???

  • http://www.facebook.com/CreeperGabe Gabe Miceli

    Can you at least update it so the numeric keypad is there? To play Mille Bornes, you have to use a mouse or a numeric keypad.