Compatibility card

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The Z-80 SoftCard, an early CP/M compatibility card for the Apple II family

A compatibility card is an expansion card for computers that allows it to have hardware emulation with another device. While compatibility cards date back at least to the Apple II family, the majority of them were made for 16-bit computers, often to maintain compatibility with the IBM PC. The most popular of these were for Macintosh systems that allowed them to emulate Windows PCs via NuBus or PCI; Apple had released several such cards themselves.[1]

Compatibility cards by system[edit]

Apple II[edit]

IBM PC compatibles[edit]


By Apple[edit]

Apple's first DOS Compatibility Card for the Centris/Quadra 610 with an Intel i486SX processor

By other manufacturers[edit]

  • Dayna Communications released the MacCharlie for the Macintosh 128K and 512K
  • AST Research released the Mac86 as a PDS expansion for the Macintosh SE, giving it DOS compatibility through a 10 MHz 8086 processor. It was followed up by the Mac286, which added a 286 processor through the Macintosh II's NuBus slots. After AST left the Mac market, the rights to both were sold to Orange Micro.
  • Orange Micro's OrangePC series of cards were the spiritual successor to the Mac86 and Mac286. These cards provided support for 386, 486, and Pentium processors, up to a 400 MHz AMD K6-2 processor in the final model. Orange Micro also released the PCfx!, a cut down OrangePC board with a 200 MHz Pentium soldered on.
  • Reply Corporation's DOS on Mac series of cards added a 486/5x86 (up to 100 MHz) processor and DOS compatibility to Centris, Quadra, Performa, and Power Macintoshes through a PDS expansion; later models supported PCI-based Power Macs and Pentium processors up to 200 MHz. This technology was acquired by Radius in 1997, who began selling the cards under the name "Detente."[3]



An open box for the Risc PC x86 card
  • In 1992, the company Aleph One released the 386PC, an expansion that added a 20 MHz 386SX processor to the Archimedes for running DOS applications. Licensed versions of these cards were soon made by Acorn for the A3020 and A4000; these official cards were available with both 386SX and 486SLC processors.
  • An updated DOS compatibility card with a 40 MHz 486SX (underclocked to 33 MHz) was available as an upgrade for the Archimedes' successor, the Risc PC.[4]


  1. ^ 7200
  2. ^ 7300
  3. ^ 4400 and 7220


  1. ^ "Card Manuals". Archived from the original on 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
  2. ^ "Installing a DOS Card Into 68k Macs (Not Supported by Apple)". Jag's House. Retrieved 2021-12-05.
  3. ^ "Reply Home Page". Archived from the original on 1997-12-10. Retrieved 2021-12-05.
  4. ^ "Acorn RISC PC 486 co-processor" (PDF). Personal Computer World. June 1995.