Backward Compatibility - Examples


  • The NTSC color broadcast system was engineered by RCA to be backward compatible with black-and-white NTSC television sets.
  • Most DVD drives are able to play standard CDs.
  • Most Blu-ray players can also play standard DVDs and CDs (although this feature is not compulsory in the Blu-ray standard).
  • Numerous video game consoles are backward compatible and are able to play the games created for predecessor consoles:
    • The Atari 7800 is backward compatible with almost all Atari 2600 games.
    • The Game Boy Advance line, except for the Game Boy Micro, is backward compatible with all Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.
    • The Nintendo DS and the Nintendo DS Lite are backward compatible with all Game Boy Advance games.
    • The Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo 3DS XL are backward compatible with most of the Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi software. However, the 3DS and its predecessor the DSi lack the Game Boy Advance slot found on the DS and DS Lite, causing certain titles to lose functionality when played on the systems. The Guitar Hero: On Tour series is incompatible with the DSi and 3DS because of this.
    • The Wii is backward compatible with all games from the Nintendo GameCube, due to its being based on the PowerPC, the same base as the latter; however, a "Family Edition" model released in North America and Europe in late 2011 removes GameCube support.
    • The Wii U will be backward compatible with all games from the Wii.
    • The PlayStation 2 is backward compatible with most of the original PlayStation library.
    • Initial PlayStation 3 models are backward compatible with most PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games. This is provided by the inclusion of the original Emotion Engine chip that is built inside the PS3. However, subsequent models removed this and the "Graphics Synthesizer" GPU, thus removing support for PS2 titles, but still able to play most original PS games.
    • The PS Vita is backward compatible with PSP games, Minis, PlayStation and Neo Geo games downloaded from the PlayStation Store.
    • The Xbox 360 is backward compatible with some Xbox games via software emulation.
  • Microsoft Windows contains application compatibility shims to make the platform compatible with most software from earlier 32-bit and 16-bit versions (e.g. Civilization (circa 1991, designed for Windows 3.0) running on Windows Vista).
  • The Intel versions of Mac OS X from versions 10.4 (Tiger) to 10.6 (Snow Leopard) have Rosetta, a binary translation program that allows applications meant for use on PowerPC Macs to run on Apple systems that use Intel processors. (Newer OS X versions, do not contain Rosetta and thus cannot run PowerPC applications.)
  • Microsoft Word 2000 was backward compatible with Word 97 because it could read and write files in Word 97 format, with the understanding that features unique to Word 2000 would not appear in Word 97. At the same time, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and OneNote, both 2007 and 2010, are also backward compatible with their 97-2003 file formats and features in the same manner.
  • Several computer operating systems have various methods of running software originally designed for older versions or other OSs:
    • Windows NT and successors have various subsystems to run legacy applications. MS-DOS and Win16 subsystems (only on i386) can run some applications for those platforms, and it has an OS/2 subsystem for running CLI OS/2 applications.
    • With the introduction of Windows 7 (Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise editions), Windows XP Mode enables full compatibility with older programs supported under Windows XP via Microsoft Virtual PC.
  • The modern Nikon F-mount SLR camera lenses from the late 1970s - present (its design dates back to 1959) can function on the newer Nikon DSLR cameras with some limitations.
  • Lenses for the Canon EF-mount, introduced with the company's EOS family of film SLRs in 1987 and used to this day on Canon full-frame and APS-H EOS DSLRs, can function fully on the company's APS-C DSLRs that use the Canon EF-S-mount (although their angle of view will be different on the smaller APS-C sensor).
  • PCI Express 2.0 is backward compatible with PCI Express 1.1.
  • The IBM 7080 transistorized computer was backward compatible with all models of the IBM 705 vacuum tube computer.

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