I just bought a Macintosh Centris 610 and I'm trying to do some C programming on it. But I can't find the terminal and someone told me there isn't a terminal on classic MacOS.

My goal is to have a terminal with a c compiler and vi, and run programs in the terminal. Can you help me get there?

  • 1
    Welcome to Retrocomputing Stack Exchange. Please read the tour. As it stands your question is a bit unclear. Do you want access to a terminal or access to a C compiler or access to the ability to run programs?
    – wizzwizz4
    Oct 20, 2017 at 6:37
  • Hopefully a terminal with a c compiler and vi, and run programs in the terminal.
    – user7008
    Oct 20, 2017 at 6:38
  • 3
    You'll have to install a terminal, Vi etc. because System 7.1 to 8.1 were completely GUI.
    – wizzwizz4
    Oct 20, 2017 at 7:11
  • The Classic Mac OS view: there's no terminal because there's no attempt whatsoever to be UNIXesque — no POSIX layer, no attempt to rationalise everything into looking a bit like a file — and from the very first Mac onwards, the display was a fully-bitmapped glass screen. There is no stdout, there is no stderr. Even in 1984, having a computer pretend to be a teletype in order to fool itself was a kludge. Of all the benefits one acquires from being a UNIX, elegance is not one.
    – Tommy
    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:23
  • @Tommy Hmm, that's interesting.
    – user7008
    Oct 20, 2017 at 15:21

2 Answers 2


You should take a look at the Macintosh Programmer’s Workshop: it provides a C compiler (within a development environment) and a command-line window. I don’t know whether its terminal emulation is sufficient to run Vi though — a classic Mac developer wouldn’t have used Vi.

Resources for developing in Classic Mac OS MPW? has more information about this, along with pointers to various resources (including downloads).

  • 1
    I would strongly recommend Metrowerks CodeWarrior for Classic MacOS development because it is much easier to use the MPW and features a full IDE. Oct 20, 2017 at 14:51

The classic Macintosh does not have a terminal, it’s an entirely graphical environment.

Many small developers used THINK Pascal or THINK C (which became Symantec C++) to develop Macintosh software, Apple’s Macintosh Programmer’s Workshop was popular among professionals and provided a command line and Makefile style environment (though still window and mouse based—more like a text editor with scripting). Metrowerks CodeWarrior succeeded THINK C as many developers’ main environment with the introduction of the Power Mac.

I’d strongly recommend trying some development with THINK C, Symantec C++, MPW, and CodeWarrior before you decide that you need something like a VT52 connected to a VAX circa 1981 in order to do interesting programming.

  • This answer could do without the snide remark towards VAXen. Particularly on a retrocomputing site. Oct 21, 2017 at 3:51
  • 2
    It’s not a snide remark about VAXen, it’s a snide remark about people whose assumption is that programming means writing C in vi on a terminal or in an emulator. Oct 21, 2017 at 6:23
  • 1
    @Sorn on the Mac, having a terminal doesn’t give you access and control... Oct 21, 2017 at 11:50
  • 1
    @Sorn that’s why I said “on the Mac” (this particular Mac). Oct 21, 2017 at 15:40
  • 1
    Exactly: On the classic Macintosh, there is no separate layer of “access and control” that a terminal program would give you. If you’re going to “explore the OS” you should keep an open mind that not everything will be structured like UNIX. Oct 23, 2017 at 0:31

You must log in to answer this question.