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.

Download it today and play a nice game of chess with Professor Falken. NOTE: It’s slightly broken, but the members of that forum have been slowly, slowly fixing the app. In the version linked above, I fixed the key command for full-screen mode (I’ve set it to command-return), but to get GLTerminal working “correctly”, you’ll still have go to “Preferences” (under “Session”?), choose “Renderer” and then “Classic Terminal”.


73 Responses to “glterminal”

  1. Joacim Melin Says:

    App of the year, for sure!

  2. Gabriel Says:

    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.

  3. Jeff Says:

    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.

  4. Jobs Says:

    Why not making a screen saver out of this fabolous app :)

  5. funnt Says:

    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.

  6. link dumpage » » archive » glterminal Says:

    […] Check out the curved terminal here. […]

  7. refiammingo Says:

    when a winXP version ?

  8. CrackWilding Says:

    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.

  9. McGrude Says:

    > when a winXP version ?

    As soon as you’re able to install MacOSX/x86 on whitebox hardware…

  10. Doctor Memory Says:

    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.

  11. Brian Says:

    Awesome - now I can type “4 8 15 16 23 42″ over and over every 108 minutes!

  12. funnt Says:

    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

  13. funnt Says:

    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.

  14. butte Says:

    Actually, you have the right to use and modify any program you own, without getting special permission. See here:

  15. Pinyan Says:


  16. dgregoire Says:

    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.

  17. normalitynet dot com » Blog Archive » OS X terminal app mimics old-timey glass teletype Says:

    […] read more | digg story Explore posts in the same categories: […]

  18. James A. McCombe Says:

    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.


  19. CRT Terminal App for OS X at Binary Bonsai Says:

    […] Now gather ’round kids. There was once, and this is many a year ago, when ones monitor would warp and wobble, flickr and buzz. Aye, I say it be true! And now ye too can have a go on yer feckin’ cinema displays and what not. […]

  20. evil bob Says:

    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).

  21. imagesafari clip blog » Blog Archive » glterminal Says:

    […] Link […]

  22. ironSoap » You Say Potahto Says:

    […] There is a sweet OS X Terminal app floating around that mimics old 70s glass terminals with screen warp, amber text and brightness glitches and everything. Pretty cool even for a relative n00b like myself who didn’t ever have to use any of that hooey. I did use the old Apple IIs though and they had those nasty green screens with the wicked burn in. Mmm… fifth grade computer class. […]

  23. » » archive » glterminal Says:

    […] » archive » glterminal so fantastically geeky I almost died by Black Rim Glasses | posted in running Trackback URL | Comment RSS Feed Tag at | Incoming links […]

  24. luxuryluke Says:

    FR34K1N C00L!!!

  25. luxuryluke Says:


  26. Reid Beels Says:

    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.

  27. Says:

    […] Referer Link […]

  28. stox Says:

    But can it emulate a Model 40 Teletype? ;->

  29. funnt Says:

    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.

  30. Andreas Wacker » Blog Archive » pointless Says:

    […] but nice […]

  31. RiK0’s Tech Temple » Blog Archive » Wonderful Terminal… Says:

    […] […]

  32. blatchdotnet » Blog Archive » links for 2006-02-02 Says:

    […] » archive » glterminal Phosphorus terminal emulator. (tags: cli tools shell macosx apple) […]

  33. doug humphrey Says:

    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!


  34. bons velhos tempos at quintal do xanato Says:

    […] para esses, senhoras e senhores, apresento o glterminal. podem escolher entre monitor verde e ambar (eram lindos!), o delay que seria provocado pela velocidade das ligacoes e a velocidade do refresh. experimentem em fullscreen para voltarem aos tempos de antigamente. […]

  35. michel Says:

    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.

  36. scumbaggery Says:

    Part of me wants to go to the local Apple store, load this up fullscreen on all the shiny new Power Macs and iMacs, and watch all the dirty hipsters go apeshit.

  37. Cafeina » Blog Archive » Oldskool Terminal Says:

    […] Impressionante este aplicativo para MacOSX que emula um monitor antigo, incluindo lag no baudrate que voce quiser, curvatura de tela e glitches visuais. Rodar fortunes nele da ate’ dor no peito de saudosismo. […]

  38. Zaphod Says:

    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 !


  39. Christopher Says:

    LMAO, well done! ;-)

  40. angelday true Says:

    Guys, this is awesome! Author for PREZIDENT!!

  41. dog Says:

    Great site, thanks dudes

  42. Alexander De Large Says:

    Please let me send you money.

  43. Joshua Says:

    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.

  44. Joachim Says:


    Has anybody got it to work on an iBook G4 w. MacOS 10.4?

    I only get a white screen.

  45. Jeff Says:

    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. More importantly, are you going to the Firey Furnaces with me and Jon?


  46. agazso Says:

    Joachim: use classic terminal plugin in renderer preferences.
    BTW it doesn’t save the preferences.

  47. Joshua Says:

    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.

  48. Chris Says:

    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?)

  49. easy Says:

    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.

  50. Someone Says:

    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.

  51. software sux Says:

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

    Also, ADM3A 4EVER.

  52. kaltar Says:

    Best App EVER!

  53. funnt Says:

    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

  54. SomeGuy Says:

    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).

  55. links for 2006-02-03 at Uncalm Says:

    […] » archive » glterminal (tags: mac osx terminal software freeware) […]

  56. poundcommapound Says:

    I like how funnt keeps saying “endowed”.

  57. Jazzman Says:

    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?

  58. Junk Musik » It’s cool things Friday… Says:

    […] 2) THE PAST An application that emulates a 1970’s terminal monitor, complete with flaws in brightness, warped display curvature, and flicker. Get it here. In the words of Brainpool-David: that’s not geeky. […]

  59. Khaled’s Blog » Blog Archive » New week, new links Says:

    […] OS X terminal app mimics old-timey glass teletype […]

  60. doggo Says:

    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?

  61. » Good old unix terminal is back! Says:

    […] The answer is GLTerminal. A small terminal app for Mac OS X: 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. […]

  62. ExtraLife - Scott Johnson’s Comics, Podcasts, Blog, Artwork, Humor and MORE! » Blog Archive » I really want this car / desk Says:

    […] Not sure what the crap I am talking about? See for yourself! (Thanks, Godurn) […]

  63. teezeh dot info Says:


    This is a fullscreen screen shot from GLTerminal. You can also have it in Amber and White if you prefer one of those. From via Michael


  64. Petri Sirkkala Says:

    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!


  65. » GLTerminal Says:

    […] Check it out   […]

  66. Operational Intelligence » Blog Archive » GLTerminal - IT Infrastructure Patterns, Trends, and Indications Says:

    […] wow…this is really kewl! […]

  67. :: retro computer experience :: February :: 2006 Says:

    […] So today, I found a post about glterminal, which apparently uses openGL to emulate the retro feeling of a classic ’70s terminal, in full-screen, including the warped display curvature, flicker and baud rate lag! Isn’t that cool!? […]

  68. dan Says:

    we need more fullscreen apps… I hate the OSX menubar and dock.

  69. Hans Says:

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

  70. The Life Electronic » Blog Archive » Now THIS is cool!! Says:

    […] The relevant threads from Arstechnica are here and here. […]

  71. Tuxie Says:

    Damn cool! I’ll have to install Frotz and play Zork now. :)

  72. Logi Helgu Says:

    This it one of the coolest things…now we just need more console apps to run :)

  73. Joshua Says:

    Doggo… What? We really need some connecting sentences there.

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