Retrospecs lets you convert/capture images so that they appear as they would on a variety of home computers and consoles from the 70's, 80's and 90's. It's part camera app, part tribute to the sort of computers I lusted after whilst pouring over copies of Byte magazine as a lad.

For a full list of the current computer and console presets see the updates section.

It's currently only available for iOS (it supports iPhones, iPods and iPads) , but an Android version is planned for 2016. Android version update.

View in the App Store


16th March 2017

The latest version (release 1.24) is now avaiable in the App Store.

New bits...

  • Added Timex Sinclair and Spectrum Next systems. (The Next's ULAplus mode needs work, it must be said.)
  • Added "8-bit Truecolor (RRRGGGBB)" and "24-bit" depth mode palettes and "Inversion", "Miami" and "Miami horizon" custom mode palettes.
  • Created a new "Bayer 8x8 (Adaptive)" dither, which uses a mix of ordered and diffusion techniques to preserve lower intensity areas of the image whilst still retaining the Bayer 8x8 look.
  • Added the ability to toggle/re-order dithers via the settings menu.
  • Tweaked the (still laughably inaccurate) scanline and chroma shift options in the converter.
  • Updated the custom modes list in the converter so they're displayed alphabetically rather than "last added".
  • Attempted to reduce memory footprint during image conversion.
  • Added custom exporter with image size specifier for hi-res output. (Accessible via the gallery/detail view.)

Bug fixins...

  • Added more robust error handling to the palette conversion engine.
  • Fixed a crashing bug relating to the character engine in the custom emulation editor.
  • Added cancel button to bulk photo exporter.

System Presets

The current system presets as of release 1.24 are:

  • Teletext
  • Apple ][ (Low res)
  • Atari 2600 (NTSC, PAL & SECAM)
  • Commodore PET (PETSCII)
  • Intellivision
  • Atari 400/800 (CTIA & GTIA modes with NTSC & PAL palettes and two ATASCII options)
  • ZX80/81
  • IBM CGA (6 variations)
  • BBC Micro (Modes 0, 1 & 2)
  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum (normal, "dim only", "bright only" and duotone modes)
  • Commodore 64 (Low res, high res & CBMSCII modes with two palette options)
  • Colecovision
  • Dragon 32 (PMODE3 in green and buff)
  • Thomson TO7
  • Camputers Lynx
  • Mattel Aquarius
  • MSX (Screen mode 2 and (for comedy value) 3)
  • Timex Sinclair 2068 (6 modes)
  • Sinclair QL (Low res & high res modes)
  • Apple Macintosh (Original B&W 1984 model and two Mac OS 4.2 colour modes)
  • Thomson MO5
  • Amstrad CPC (Modes 0, 1 & 2 in both colour & green screen versions)
  • Commodore C16/+4 (Low res, high res & CBMSCII modes)
  • IBM EGA (Standard and "CGA Colours" mode)
  • Enterprise 64/128 (4 modes)
  • Commodore Amiga (OCS & NTSC - 320x256/200 in 32 colours and 640x256/200 in 16 colours)
  • Atari ST (320x200 in 16 colours and 640x200 in 4 colours)
  • Sega Master System
  • MSX 2 (Modes 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8)
  • Acorn Archimedes (11 modes)
  • IBM VGA (Mode 13h and two Microsoft Windows palette modes)
  • Sega Mega Drive
  • Nintendo Game Boy (four variations)
  • Atari Lynx (16 colour standard and per-scanline modes)
  • SAM Coupé (Modes 3 & 4)
  • Amstrad 464/6128 plus (Modes 0, 1 & 2)
  • Sega Game Gear
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Nintendo Virtual Boy
  • Tiger Electronics
  • Nintendo Game Boy Color (32 colour mode and 12 Type 1 palette modes)
  • Pebble Smart Watch (2 modes)
  • Spectrum Next (5 modes)

Dither modes:

  • Floyd-Steinberg
  • Atkinson
  • Stucki
  • Jarvis
  • Sierra (Standard and two row)
  • Bayer 4x4
  • Bayer 8x8
  • Bayer 8x8 (Adaptive)
  • Horizontal
  • Vertical
  • Diagonal

Custom emulations

To create a shiny new custom emulation, either hold your finger down on the preview image in the converter (which should create a *roughly* equivalent custom emulation for you to begin customising) or select the "Custom" system and then tap "Create new emulation" under the mode tab.

The current custom emulation options as of release 1.24 are:

Bit depth palettes:

  • 1-bit (B&W)
  • 1-bit (Amber)
  • 1-bit (Green)
  • 1-bit (Atari Blues)
  • 1-bit (Yellow on Blue)
  • 3-bit
  • 6-bit
  • 8-bit
  • 8-bit (Truecolor - RRRGGGBB)
  • 9-bit
  • 12-bit
  • 15-bit
  • 18-bit
  • 24-bit

System palettes:

  • Amstrad CPC
  • Amstrad CPC (Green screen)
  • Apple ][
  • Apple Macintosh (System 4.1)
  • Atari 2600 NTSC
  • Atari 2600 PAL
  • Atari 2600 SECAM
  • Atari GTIA NTSC
  • Atari GTIA PAL
  • Commodore 64
  • Commodore 64 (Pepto)
  • Commodore C16/+4
  • Commodore VIC-20
  • CGA Palette 0 Low
  • CGA Palette 0 High
  • CGA Palette 1 Low
  • CGA Palette 1 High
  • CGA Mode 5 Low
  • CGA Mode 5 High
  • Colecovision
  • Dragon 32 (Green)
  • Dragon 32 (Buff)
  • Enterprise
  • EGA (CGA Colours)
  • Intellivision
  • LCD (Green)
  • LCD (Grayscale)
  • LCD (Simulated)
  • LCD (Pure white)
  • LCD (Yellow)
  • Mattel Aquarius
  • MSX
  • Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Nintendo Gameboy
  • Nintendo Gameboy (Daylight)
  • Nintendo Gameboy (Pocket)
  • Nintendo Gameboy (Printer)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Blue
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Blue (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Brown
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Brown (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Dark Blue
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Dark Blue (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Dark Brown
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Dark Brown (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Dark Green
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Dark Green (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Gray
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Gray (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Green
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Green (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Orange
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Orange (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Pastel
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Pastel (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Red
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Red (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Reverse
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Reverse (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Yellow
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color T1 Yellow (Remapped)
  • Nintendo Virtual Boy
  • Pebble Smart Watch (Colour)
  • Pico8
  • Sam Coupé
  • Sinclair QL (Low-res)
  • Sinclair QL (High-res)
  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum
  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum (Dim only)
  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum (Bright only)
  • Thomson MO5
  • Thomson TO5
  • Voxatron
  • Windows (16 Colour)
  • Windows (20 Colour)

Custom palettes:

  • ABS (Solid)
  • Alien tones
  • Arne 16
  • Arne 64
  • Backlink
  • CMYK
  • Comical
  • Crown protector
  • Dawnbringer 16
  • Dawnbringer 32
  • Desert
  • Engineer
  • Fastball
  • Fasterball
  • Flooded
  • Inversion
  • Matriax8c
  • Megablast
  • Miami
  • Miami horizon
  • Neon
  • Pocket magic
  • Rewind
  • Slow metal

System character sets:

  • Amiga Workbench 1.3
  • Amiga Workbench 2
  • Amstrad CPC
  • Amstrad CPC (partial)
  • Apple ][
  • Atari 400/800 - ATASCII
  • Atari 400/800 - ATASCII (with inverse)
  • BBC Microcomputer
  • C64 - CBMSCII
  • C64 - CBMSCII (unshifted with inverse)
  • PET - PETSCII (partial)
  • IBM DOS (BIOS 8x8)
  • Mattel Aquarius
  • Mattel Intellivision
  • MSX
  • Sharp MZ
  • Sharp MZ700sc
  • Sinclair ZX80/81
  • Sinclair ZX80/81 (partial)

Custom character sets:

  • Arcadian
  • Bars (Horizontal)
  • Bars (Horizontal, filled)
  • Bars (Vertical)
  • Bars (Vertical, filled)
  • Binary
  • Blocks
  • GeometriCam?
  • Glitch
  • Marvellous Road Combatant
  • Marvellous Road Combatant II
  • Military

Once apon a time

The idea for Retrospecs has been kicking about in my mind for a few years – the concept being part preservation/part tribute to the sort of computer systems I lusted after whilst pouring over handed down copies of Byte magazine as a lad. However, I didn't get around to implementing anything concrete until early February '14 when I roughed out some vague proof of concept algorithms.

At the time I was re-skilling between jobs (the goal being to transition between web and native app development), so I abandoned the other bits I was experimenting with and started focusing full time on the app proper. After several weeks intensive graft, the first conversion engine (the "attribute" engine, created specifically with the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in mind) was limping along natively on my trusty iPhone 4.

Early demo version of Retrospecs

Fast forwarding a bit, over the following three months I threw myself into expanding the available conversion engines, added a basic user interface and by Saturday the 7th of June 2014 I'd finally submitted the first build to the Apple App Store.

Since then, I've been back in full time work and so Retrospecs has become a strictly weekend affair - adding new engines and emulations and building out the UI to the extent that it's currently roughly how I initially envisaged it. (Apart from a layer of output filters including phosphor and raster effects - they're still to come. Oh, and video. And an Android version. And all that other stuff lurking on the to-do.)

On top of that, I've also spent many snatched hours of an evening completely failing to attract much of a following for the app, usually by failing to convince people to accept a promo code on Twitter. (Sorry about that.)

As I recently phrased it:

"I think my attempts at marketing are, on a good day, perhaps best described as the distraught thrashings of a drowning man."


The best way to get in touch for quick queries is via Twitter, but if you'd prefer something less transient by all means send an email to: