UPDATE: A thoroughly modernized version of this utility is available here, via Secret Geometry’s excellent app Cathode. Runs great on any 2008 or newer Mac running MacOS X 10.7 or higher.

Oh, now, this is cool. There’s been a thread over at arstechnica asking for a full-screen terminal app for Mac OS X, and the guys at that forum unearthed the uber-geeky terminal app “GLTerminal”. GLTerminal emulates a 1970’s terminal monitor, complete with flaws in brightness, warped display curvature, and flicker. It even simulates baud rate lag. And! for extra verisimilitude, the character colors can be green or amber.


237 thoughts on “glterminal”

  1. Pingback: Lex Ferenda
  2. Pingback:
  3. Pingback: logjam.
  4. Pingback: SrNaranja
  5. Pingback: ILX DOWN
  6. Pingback: E-Scribe News
  7. Pingback: A geek’s diary
  8. Pingback:
  9. Pingback: My Weblog
  10. Pingback:
  11. Pingback: Fede Aikawa
  12. Hiya, nice app. Something’s wrong with the prefs though, ’cause if I save the settings as default once I’ve set the terminal to display in classic mode, all I get after a relaunch is a big black screen with some green parts on.

  13. Yeah, make no mistake: this app is kind of broken. Prefs don’t save right. Hopefully someone will find the original author (James McCombe) and hopefully he still has the source code to update it for 10.4. The guys in that thread above have just been fixing what they can, but without the actual source code, it’s hard to make genuine improvenings to the app.

  14. Gee, close source software stops you from modifying and improving it. Big surprise. Maybe you should re-implement it so other can improve it as well. Now you’re all going to gang up and suggest YOU LIKE THESE RESTRICTIONS.

  15. funnt, it remains to be seen whether this is closed source software. Someone has to contact the author and find out whether he’ll release the source. This is merely a case of developers not actually *possessing* the source, which has nothing to do with open v. closed source issues.

    Think before you type. It makes the words that come out much more sensible.

  16. Ah, it’s good to know that there is really no application so trivial or frivolous that you can’t provoke a rant from a GPL zealot by exercising your legal and moral right to not release it under Stallman’s terms.

  17. CrackWilding, excuse my english as my romanian is much better, it matters not about source availability, it matters if the software has endowed all users with the freedoms set forth by free software. You seem to misunderstand that free software is not just the source code, it is the RIGHT to change, to distribute and to distribute derivatives under the same license.

    For instance by modifying the binary and distributing it without permission you are breaking copyright law, you were never given this right. If this was truly free software (or Open Source) you would be endowed with this right and you would know you had this right.

    Thus this has everything to do with your so called “open v. closed source” issues.

    Maybe you should read up about free software at

  18. Doctor Memory, you forget that no one was given permission to modify and distribute modifications of this program. There are no licensing documenation accompanying the program, all you have is:

    Note: the application GLTerminal was made by James McCombe. This copy of the bundle has a modified version of the file GLTerminal>Contents>Resources>ClassicTerminalPlugin.bundle>Contents>Resources>VT100CharacterSet.tga in order to facilitate running it under Mac OS 10.4. This is a hack, and should be treated as such. Mr. McCombe doesn’t even know this version of his program exists.

    You are not granted these things, they must be given.

  19. Hey, why not go all the way and add an additional transparency layer that simulates phosphor burn :)

    Excellent app! Been coding all morning at 9600 baud with bad flicker and all and loving ever moment of it.

  20. Hello. I am the original author of this terminal. It was written actually a few years ago as a side project and it got leaked somehow since I never intentionally released it, knowing that it had a lot of unfinished work.

    Given the fact people seem to like this so much, I will try to get time to finish it off and put out a semi-respectable release. Keep an eye on my website over the coming months.


  21. funnt: It’s not as if the world has not already reached the saturation point of FSF zealots.

    Truly free software would not include encumbering, viral licenses like the GPL.

    In this case, it’s not clear that anybody should care. Thanks to Mr. McCombe for offering to finish it up — whether or not he decides to “free” the source (whatever that means).

  22. The last time I saw this app, it was on the computers that Apple had set up for public access at the OSCON convention in Portland a few years ago. I researched it afterwards and couldn’t find any information about the original developer and, at the time, the only mention of it I could find anywhere was a blog posting from another person who had seen it at OSCON. Great to know that it’s working in 10.4.

  23. Pingback:
  24. evil bob, your American use of the word freedom is a freedom where everyone else suffers because of you, your freedom is the freedom to take, close, and abuse. The FSF freedom is for the community, for everyone, not just you in your company. FSF Freedom means we play by the same rules, we trade alike and we, the community, always have freedom to what we will to derivatives of property “gifted” to the community.

    There isn’t a lot of point to your pro-BSD/LGPL post other than one side arguing freedom of the individual is more important freedom of community. Which in turn is a very American arguement to get into.

    The fact that you use the word VIRAL to describe GPL code shows that you do not understand how the GPL works. You choose to make derivatives, it doesn’t just happen by accident.

  25. Ah, the model 40 – teletype – that was a GREAT
    terminal, nice wide screen and all

    how about an ann arbor ambassador? those (available
    in both modes) were great, although maybe the old eyes
    would not be able to read the tiny font these days!


  26. intellectual property is not toys !

    if the author add the licence term with its software we would know if a modification AND REDISTRIBUTION is authorized !

    the author seems to be a kind person and he’s not annoyed by that.

    about GPL, no one is forced to do a derivative works of a gpl works
    is it so fair to allow people to take works from nice people and change it in a closed products with LESS freedom to users ?

    noone can force good and nice developpers to put their works under microsoft eula, gpl, apple licence, apl 2, Bsd, mit or whatever terms you imagine the “stallman” want. it’s a free(dom) country.

    about community or zealot : THANKS people distributing THEIR works in terms authorizing YOU to modify, to hack, to REDISTRIBUTE software to ANYONE. Do you imagine how MUCH useful it is ?

    thanks them , praises them, be happy, use the good softwares , proprietary ones, free ones, freedom ones, all good softwares and do not be mean.

  27. This is beautiful.. It brought back good memories and gave me warm fuzzies.. Thats a bit scary. Something about the distortion and the flicker. Brings back the days of excited wonder – when these devices were new (to us) and amazing. And the thought that maybe, someday – I could learn to program one of them, and to make them do something !


  28. Hey! Assheads!

    No one here at LDopa wrote this. We just thought it was funny. Take your TEH GPEL IS TEH GRAET and your OPAN SORES SOFTWEAR SI FRO NERDS arguments somewhere else.

    This site serves some very important functions: making fun of Microsoft, Republicans, and Your Mom. Everything else is incidental. So if you don’t have something to say that’s not a) funny or b) something I can’t read at every other fucking weblog in the world, don’t say it. Alternately, say it, then effectively make fun of me for yelling at you about it.

    Thank you,

    -The Mgt.

  29. Jochim, go to the prefs and select “Classic Terminal”.

    Josh, your comment seems kind of uncharacteristically bitchy. Maybe you and I need to relax and play “Burnout 3” on Playstation 2 for another seven hours.


  30. I’m always uncharacteristically bitchy!

    (semantically analyze that, bitch!)

    I want to go for a hike in the woods. I’ve been cooped up inside with a cold for a week, and the cold’s breaking down, and it’s sunny outside. Wanna go?

    I’ll be in Newport celebrating my Gramma’s 95th birthday. It should be a really rockin’ party. Bjørk’s said she might be there and Goldy’s gonna be spinning. I have it on good authority that Bowie and Eno have both purchased tickets and that Christo wrapped all our presents. Also, we’re playing Twister.

  31. This would be a great little extra to toss into the terminal app options in the next OSX release. Hopefully they’d use this guy’s code rather than rewriting it and claiming it as something new (::cough cough:: Konfabulator, anyone?)

  32. If he chooses not to release the software it’s his right to do so. Buut the only reason I could see is that he thinks that he may make some money out of it. And that’s crazy.

    Anyway somebody may rewrite it. It’s not THAT difficult.

    I could do it in a bit of spare time.

  33. Hopefully they’d use this guy’s code rather than rewriting it and claiming it as something new

    This Guy is currently working at Apple.

  34. Sometimes people don’t release their software because its an embarrassing mess.

    Also, ADM3A 4EVER.

  35. For those with free X distros you can get a similar effect (less features) with xscreensaver e.g.:

    /usr/lib/xscreensaver/apple2 -fast -text -program sh

  36. You really need to set the baud rate to 1200 or 300 to get a real feel for the goodness. Ahh, DecWriters, where the Console always spools (until you have to turn the paper over).

  37. I’ve been looking for something like this app for ages. Unfortunately it’s too slow to be usable on my G3 iBook. Any chance of performance improvements in the near future?

  38. Okay… THIS JUST ROCKS! I’ve used “dumb” terminals for my job, and my first computer… was a 286 with a green monochrome monitor (oh yeah! with a .. Hercules graphics card! w0oT|) Now, my term looks a lot more like I wish my web page looked. Hmm, screenshots are in order.

    Thanks guys, for pulling this thing out of obscurity for us nostalgic old bastards.

    “Daisy [a victim of Sleeping Sickness] went to sleep at 15 and woke up many years later. she, being perfectly sensible, decided she ought to die, since she had literally slept away her entire productive life. the medical profession had, in her absence, decided that all life must be preserved, regardless of worth to its owner, and prevented her from performing the only noble act she was capable of.

    That Oliver Sacks has been portrayed by Robin Williams in a saccharine mass-market tearjerker movie in no way invalidates his life’s work: documenting the entertaining behavior of people with severe brain anomalies.”

    L Dopa fix me, alright?

  39. Pingback: teezeh dot info
  40. Absolutely a ‘must have’ terminal application!

    It really reminds you that you need another 20 years to really appreciate what you now have!

    Thank you a lot!

    I really wish I could somehow give the same fresh feeling to the author of this!


  41. Ultimate thing to do with it:
    watch star wars!
    sit back, get you popcorn and enjoy!

  42. I agree with you the way you view the issue. I remember Jack London once said everything positive has a negative side; everything negative has positive side. It is also interesting to see different viewpoints & learn useful things in the discussion.

  43. Pingback:
  44. I like to think of myself as a smart girl, but there are a ton who are smarter than me. At least I’m not like Dubbya who has called himself “the Decider”. HAHA – That’s so funny!

  45. I plan to buy a new mac and that will be really fun to run this emulator. The real world situation is since my notebook wrecked I’m sitting in the front of a terminal like this with an old CRT and it’s not a ‘cool retro feeling’ for me now but REALITY. ;)

  46. funnt:

    You need to stop idealizing the whole ‘free software’ thing (and please stop pitting it against America, for crying out loud). This is a neat little app that people are using because they like it and it needs fixing but they are unable to get ahold of the original author.

    You’re talking to os x users, here. You don’t need to spit ‘open source’ propaganda at us. We use it daily. And if you want to bring nationalist bigotry into it, that’s fine – as long as I can propose that Romania get it’s internet privileges taken away, as I have yet to see a representative of your (probably) fine country behave rationally online.

  47. Someone needs to build a add-on to iTerm or build a good version of this app. Wasn’t the author going to release the code for this?

  48. Pingback: jwz - GLTerminal
  49. Pingback: Cool OS X App
  50. Pingback: GLTerminal
  51. Pingback: Teknoisme
  52. Pingback: Disorderly Content
  53. Pingback: Unix help
  54. Does anyone how to get the classic view working in OSX 10.5 / Leopard? It displays fine in normal mode, but the classic view is garbled. Probably a font translation problem?


  55. Pingback: Planet RubyOnRails
  56. Pingback:
  57. Pingback: Backlink Checker
  58. Aiee! My favourite app ever, and the text is garbled on Leopard with the classic emulator. Have been trying all sorts of tricks with no success. If anybody ever figures this out, please let us know!

  59. Pingback: DEREFER
  60. Just a quick note to let everyone know that glterminal HAS been unofficially updated for Leopard. The update fixes the garbled text issue and a few other quirks – not all – but most.

    Important thing is: it works again! W00t!

    Here is the link:

    Alternatively, search google for “glterminal leopard”.

  61. Pingback: Maclantic spjall
  62. Pingback: Garoo - Blog
  63. It figures I’d be over two years behind in discovering this fantastic application.

    All I can say now is: thanks a million. I haven’t felt this nostalgic since I first discovered MAME.

    P.S. Wow, was 1200 baud really that slow? I remember when it was the height of technology, lol

  64. Great ! Does it simulate also the sound of the old keyboard with big keys and the smell of former computer equipment ? and the flickering ?

  65. Pingback: Planet GNUstep
  66. […] comes as part of gnome can be made full-screen without much hassle, and for mac os x, there’s glterminal, which will do quite a realistic emulation of a knackered old green-screen (if you don’t mind […]

  67. Pingback: wetwebwork
  68. yeah
    thanks for sharing chatmany people are pay more attention to one's wearing than before, especially a watch.zurnaPerhaps when you went to some place far away chattrou must borrow it from friends <a href=

Comments are closed.