In computing, a legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program, "of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system," yet still in use. Often referencing a system as "legacy" means that it paved the way for the standards that would follow it. This can also imply that the system is out of date or in need of replacement.
Legacy code is old computer source code. It could simply refer to an organization's existing code base which has been written over many years, or it could imply a codebase that is in some respect obsolete or supporting something obsolete. Long-lived code is susceptible to software rot, where changes to the runtime environment, or surrounding software or hardware may require maintenance or emulation of some kind to keep working. Legacy code may be present to support legacy hardware, a separate legacy system, or a legacy customer using an old feature or software version.
While the term usually refers to source code, it can also apply to executable code that no longer runs on a later version of a system, or requires a compatibility layer to do so. An example would be a classic Macintosh application which will not run natively on macOS, but runs inside the Classic environment, or a Win16 application running on Windows XP using the Windows on Windows feature in XP.
An example of legacy hardware are legacy ports like PS/2 and VGA ports, and CPUs with older, incompatible instruction sets (with e.g. newer operating systems). Examples in legacy software include legacy file formats like .swf for Adobe Shockwave or .123 for Lotus 1-2-3, and text files encoded with legacy character encodings like EBCDIC.
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