Revisiting MS-DOS at the Internet Archive

Wow; I was excited last October when 3D Realms returned with a catalog sale featuring many games from my childhood. Who could’ve guessed that even more games from 80’s and 90’s PC history would be on their way so quickly!

The Internet Archive (a non-profit data collection group from California, mostly known for its website capturing “Wayback Machine”) has recently released a software library of MS-DOS games, featuring many classic and not-so-classic computer games of yesteryear, free to play and updated for use in web browsers. The programming behind the library, which auto-loads a custom version of DOSBOX to boot up the software inside browsers without any plug-ins required is “one of a kind in the world” according to Archive curator Jason Scott and the games, along with the site’s new V2 beta interface is a great way to “start 2015 right.” The games are incredible to see, but almost equally incredible is how they are delivered, so a mega congratulations are in order to the Archive team of staffers and volunteers involved for the Herculean effort of getting robots to open a .EXE file on command without any native hardware.

Excitement aside, it seems more than likely a few games may be removed from the listing before all is said and done considering some are still carrying price tags at formal distribution sites, and even direct from publishers (although perhaps the browser’s inability to save progress may allow for some releases to coexist). The archive seems to walk a curious line between copyright violation and preservation of knowledge in some cases, but many of its inclusions are already freeware to begin with, and many more showcase a corner of video game history effectively lost in time to a generation that would otherwise be unable to access if not for emulated hardware.

I’d sooner err on the side of information, as simply put, many of these MS-DOS games are uncredited, underdiscussed, and undervalued in the industry, even though they were foundational experiences to many; myself included.

Without the archive, how could I pull new screenshots to tell you how I learned about the food chain?

… or how I learned intervals and notation?

… or when I learned about pendulum physics?

… or where I gained my love of 100% completions?

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One Response to Revisiting MS-DOS at the Internet Archive

  1. djdig says:

    I’m wicked excited to play Oregon Trail again!

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