Internet Archive's Historical Software Archive = Retro to the Max Software in your Browser Collection (Adventure, WordStar, Visicalc, The Hobbit and more)
The Internet Archive’s new Historical Software Archive brings old software to your browser through the magic of JSMESS emulation.
The Internet Archive has protected and preserved old software for a while now; archivist Jason Scott claimed back in April that the organization possessed the largest historical software collection in the world.
Software is so transient, though. It’s sometimes hard to get a program from 2003 to run on a modern machine, let alone a program from 1983. For most people it wouldn’t be worth the trouble to, as the Internet Archive puts it, “track down the hardware and media to run [old software], or download and install emulators and acquire/install cartridge or floppy images as you boot up the separate emulator program, outside of the browser.”
The miracle is now so commonplace that it’s invisible: we have the ability to watch video, listen to music, and read documents right in our browsers. You might get a hankering to hear some old time radio, or classic television programs, or maybe read up some classic children’s books, you’re just a couple clicks away from having them right there, in front of you. Not so with classic software. To learn and experience older programs, you have to track down the hardware and media to run it, or download and install emulators and acquire/install cartridge or floppy images as you boot up the separate emulator program, outside of the browser. Unlike films or video or audio, it was a slower, more involved process to experience software.
Today, the Internet Archive announces the Historical Software Archive, a collection of prominent and historically notable pieces of software, able to be run immediately in your browser. They range from pioneering applications to obscure forgotten utilities, and from peak-of-perfection designs to industry-crashing classics.
Welcome to Historical Software CollectionThis collection contains selected historically important software packages from the Internet Archive's software archives. Through the use of in-browser emulators, it is possible to try out these items and experiment with using them, without the additional burdens of installing emulator software or tracking down the programs. Many of these software products were the first of their kind, or utilized features and approaches that have been copied or recreated on many programs since. (historic software, vintage software, antique software)
A Guided Tour Through the CollectionFor this initial collection, we've hand-selected a few dozen ground-breaking and historically important software products, many of whom started entire industries or pioneered new genres of programs. While they lack the later features and graphics of modern counterparts, these programs were either big sellers at the time or recognized as first of a kind. They are now a single click away in a browser.
Getting to Work
Productivity software has been around a long time, and two of the most prominent examples are Visicalc and Wordstar. Visicalc brought the wonder of the electronic spreadsheet to the world, changing the business world forever. WordStar was one of the leading Word Processing software programs before fading away in the late 1980s. As a bonus WordStar is presented on the now-long-gone Osborne-1, one of the first "Luggable" computers to come out (it promised to fit under an airplane seat!). Check them out in monochrome glory (but don't put any major work in it).
The Road to Adventure
Adventure games are a staple of early home computer software and these examples let you play some of the most famous of these virtual worlds. Akalabeth was the first major computer game by a young Richard Garriott, alias Lord British. Created when he was a teenager and inspired by many games of D&D, it was his first work in a lifetime of RPG gamemaking, including the Ultima series. The Hobbit, a legendary adventure game for the ZX Spectrum, had a level of complication and subtlety beneath the surface that was years ahead of its time - characters lived their own lives, with you sometimes stumbling on the results of their battles or suffering the consequences of their meddling. Mystery House by Sierra On-line was the first graphical adventure for the Apple II, and this version is the public domain anniversary re-issue by the company to celebrate their anniversary.
OMG, this is officially THE Cool Thing of the Day! (And it's kiss my weekend goodbye! ;)