Category Archives: Software Archive

Don’t Click on the Llama

WE HAVE ONE SIMPLE REQUEST…. DO NOT CLICK ON THE LLAMA.

Clicking on the Llama will release Webamp, a javascript-based player that mimics, down to individual strangeness and bugs, the operations of the once dominant Winamp, a media player considered to be one of the classic software creations of the 1990s.

To help you avoid this llama, we’ll tell you it’s in the upper right corner of any Internet Archive item that has a music player in it. This means the Grateful Dead recordings, radio airchecks, network record labels like monotonik, and all manner of podcasts now have the capability to be turned into a Winamp-like player that becomes your new default.

(If, by mistake, you click on the Llama, clicking on it again will turn off the Webamp player and restore the default player.)

This all got started because of the skins.

As part of our celebration of all things Internet, the Archive now has a large collection of Winamp Skins, which were artistic re-imaginings of the Winamp interface, that allowed all sorts of neat creative works on what could have been a basic media player. These “skins” were contributed to over the years (and new ones are still created!) and now number in the thousands. In the collection you’ll see examples of superheroes, video games, surreal images and a pretty wide array of pop stars and celebrities.

We have added over 5,000 skins (with many more coming), and then someone had the bright idea to make the Webamp player work within the Internet Archive to show off these skins, and here we are.

Thanks to Jordan Eldredge and the Webamp programming community for this new and strange periscope into the 1990s internet past.

 

Over 1,100 New Arcade Machines Added to the Internet Arcade

The Internet Arcade, our collection of working arcade machines that run in the browser, has gotten a new upgrade in its 4th year. Advancements by both the MAME emulator team and the Emscripten conversion process allowed our team to go through many more potential arcade machines and add them to the site.

The majority of these newly-available games date to the 1990s and early 2000s, as arcade machines both became significantly more complicated and graphically rich, while also suffering from the ever-present and home-based video game consoles that would come to dominate gaming to the present day. Even fervent gamers might have missed some of these arcade machines when they were in the physical world, due to lower distribution numbers and shorter times on the floor.

A somewhat beefy machine and very modern browser will be required to run these games. In general, pressing the 5 key will insert coins, 1 and 2 will start 1 or 2 player games, and the arrow and spacebar keys will control the games themselves.

Let the games… continue!

To visit the new 1,100 additions, click here.

Thanks, as always, to Dan Brooks, for maintaining the Emularity system to allow near-instant upgrading of emulators and additions of new platforms to the Internet Archive collections.

30 Days of Stuff

Jason Scott, free-range archivist, reporting in as 2017 draws to a close.

As part of our end-of-year fundraising drive, I thought it might be fun to tweet highlighted parts of the vast stacks of content that the Internet Archive makes available for free to millions. A lot of folks know about our Wayback Machine and its 20+ years of website history, but there’s petabytes of media and works available to see throughout the site. I called it “30 Days of Stuff”, and for the last 30 days I’ve been pointing out great items at the Archive, once a day.

You won’t have to swim upstream through my tweets; here on the last day, I’ve compiled the highlighted items in this entry. Enjoy these jewels in the Archive’s collection, a small sample of the wide range of items we provide.

Books and Texts

  • The Latch Key of my Bookhouse was one of the first books scanned by the Internet Archive in its book scanner tests, and it’s a 1921 directory of Children’s Literature that is filled with really nice illustrations that came out great.
  • As part of our ever-growing set of Defense Technical Information Center collection, we have The Role of the Citizens Band Radio Service and Travelers Information Stations In Civil Preparedness Emergencies Final Report, a 1978 overview of CB Radio and what role it might play in civil emergencies. Many thousands of taxpayer-funded educational and defense items are mirrored in this collection.
  • Also in the DTIC collection is The Battalion Commander’s Handbook 1980, which besides the crazy front page of stamps, approvals and sign-offs, is basically a manager’s handbook written from the point of view of the US Army.
  • There are hundreds of tractor manuals at the Archive. Hundreds! Of all types, languages (a lot of them Russian) and level of information. Tractors are one of those tools that can last generations and keeping the maintenance on them in the field can make a huge difference in livelihood.
  • A lovely 1904 catalog for plums called The Maynard Plum Catalogue was scanned in with one of our partner organizations and it’s a breathless and inspiring declaration of the future wonder of the plums this wizard of plum-growing, Luther Burbank, was bringing to the world.
  • Xerox Corporation released “A Metamorphosis of Creative Copying” in 1964, which seems to function as both promotion for Xerox and a weird gift to give to your kids to color in.
  • In 2014, a short zine called The Tao of Bitcoin was released, telling people the dream of $10,000 bitcoin would be real.
  • The 1888 chapbook Goody Two-Shoes has lovely illustrations, and a fine short story.
  • Working with a lovely couple who brought in a 1942 black-owned-businesses directory, I scanned the pages by hand and put them up into this item.
  • Inside that directory was an ad for a school of whistling that said it taught using the methods of Agnes Woodward, and a quick scan of the Archive’s stacks showed that we had an entire copy of her book Whistling as an Art!
  • The medical treatise Sleep and Its Derangements, from 1869, is William A. Hammond, MD’s overview of sleep, and what can go wrong. Scanned from the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, it’s one of many thousands of books we’ve scanned with partners.
  • Let Hartman Feather Your Nest could be described as “A furniture catalog” in the same way the Sistine Chapel could be described as “a place of worship”. The catalog is a thundering, fist-pounding declaration of the superiority of the Hartman enterprise and the quality and breadth of furniture and service that will arrive at your door and be backed up to the far reaches of time.

Magazines

  • Photoplay considered itself the magazine for the motion picture industry in the first part of the 20th century, and this multi-volume compilation of photos, articles and advertisements is a truly lovely overview.
  • There’s over 140 issues of the classic Maximum RockNRoll zine, truly the king of music zines for a very long time. On its newsprint pages are howls and screeches of all manner of punk, rock and the needs of musicians.
  • A magazine created by the Walt Disney Company to trumpet various parts of Disneyland and its attractions was called Vacationland, and this Fall 1965 issue covers all sorts of stuff about the park’s first decade.

Movies

  • Rescued from a warehouse years ago, a collection of Hollywood movie “B-Roll”, unused secondary scenes often filmed by different crew, has been digitized. My personal favorite is [Western Film Scenes], which is circa 1950s footage of a Western Town, all of it utterly fake but feeling weirdly real, to be used in a western. Don’t miss everyone standing around looking right at you and looking like they agree quite energetically with you!
  • No compilation could be complete without the legendary Duck and Cover, a cartoon/PSA that explained the simple ways to avoid injury in a nuclear blast. Just lie down! It’ll be fine. Please note: This Probably Won’t Work. But the song is very catchy.
  • The very weird Electric Film Format Acid Test from 1990 has a semi-interested model holding up a color bar plate in a wide, wide variety of film and video formats. Filmed just a few blocks away from the Internet Archive’s current headquarters.
  • I snuck in a 1992 interview with the Archive’s founder, Brewster Kahle, back when he was 33 and working at WAIS, a company or two before the Archive and where he is asked about his thoughts on information and gathering of data. It’s quite interesting to hear the consistency of thought.
  • The Office of War Information worked with Disney to create “Dental Health“, a film to show to troops about proper dental care. It’s a combination of straightforward animation and industrial film-making worth enjoying.

Audio

  • We have a collection of hours of the radio show The Shadow from 1938-1939, starring  Orson Welles at 23, at the height of his performance powers, playing the dual main role.
  • For Christmas Eve, we pointed to “Christmas Chopsticks”, a 1953 78rpm record of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” performed to the tune of the classic piano piece “Chopsticks”; one of tens of thousands of 78rpm records the Archive has been adding this year.
  • On Christmas, a user of the Archive uploaded two obscure albums he’d purchased on eBay – remnants of the S. S. Kresge Company, which became K-Mart, and which were played over the PA system for shoppers. He got his hands on Albums #261 and #294.
  • Earlier in the month before the user uploaded those Christmas albums, I linked to a different holiday collection of K-Mart items, a 1974 Reel-to-Reel that started with a K-Mart jingle and went full holiday from there.
  • Before he was a (retired) talk show host, and before he was a stand-up comedian, David Letterman worked and trained in radio. Happily, we have recordings of Dave Letterman, DJ, from when he was 22, at Ball State University.
  • Ron “Boogiemonster” Gerber has been hosting his weekly pop music recycling radio show, “Crap from the Past”, for over 25 years, and he’s been uploading and cataloging his show to the Archive for well over 10 of those years, including all the way back to the beginning of his show. The full Crap From The Past archive is up and is hundreds of hours of fun.
  • The truly weird “Conquer the Video Craze” is a 1982 record album with straightforward descriptions of how to beat games like Centipede, Defender, Stargate, Dig Dug, and more. This album has been sampled from by multiple DJs to bring that extra spice to a track.
  • Over 3,000 shows at the DNA Lounge are at the archive, including “Bootie: Gamer Night“, which combines mash-up tracks and video games. Bootie has been playing at DNA Lounge for years, and puts the audio from one song with the singing from another, and… it’s quite addicting, like games. This night was for the nearby Game Developers’ Conference being held the same week.

Software

  • In 2011, as part of a “retrocomputing” competition, we saw the release of “Paku-Paku”, a pac-clone program which ran in an obscure early PC-Compatible graphics mode that was very colorful and very small (160×100) and was built perfectly for it. You can play the game in your browser by clicking here.
  • Psion Chess is a game for the Macintosh that can play both you and itself with pretty high levels of skill and really sharp and crisp black and white graphics.  It makes a really great screensaver in self-playing mode.

People often overuse a phrase like “Barely scratched the surface”, but I assure you there are millions of amazing items in the archive, and it’s been a pleasure to bring some to light. While the 30 Days of Stuff was a fun way to stretch out a month of fundraising with stuff to see every day, we’re here 24/7 to bring you all these items, and welcome you finding jewels, gems and clunkers throughout our hard drives whenever you want.

Thanks for another year!

Macintosh Collection Hand-Screenshotted… Plus: HyperCard!

The Internet Archive’s emulated Early Mac collection, which was announced last week, has had all its content screenshotted by hand for maximum visual beauty and accuracy.

Normally, we utilize a set of automated scripts that do screenshotting, allowing for a large amount of uploads to be visually described, but the combination of many different permutations of where to click and which folders to open meant we weren’t getting the best shots for each item. Now, they’re doing justice to the unique and interesting early Mac experience.

Like many other cases in computer history, the seeming limitations of black-and-white-only screens on early Macintoshes gave rise to truly beautiful and complicated art, which expressed itself crisply on the 9-inch monitors.

Response to the early Macintosh collection has been resoundingly positive; thanks again to all the volunteers who helped the system work as well as it does. With 60+ titles added and more to come, this is likely to be one of our most memorable and stellar playable software collections on the Archive.

But one more thing….

Throughout the testing process and discussions about emulating Macintosh, a steady drumbeat of requests could be summarized as: “What about HyperCard?”

HyperCard, a hypertext authoring system for the Macintosh, is a legendary environment for creating “Stacks”, which were clickable cards with a wide range of options and features. It is absolutely the inspiration for what ultimately became the World Wide Web.

It was possible to write truly complicated and complete applications in HyperCard, and stacks allowing everything from reference books to games to music – whatever the authors of stacks could come with. It was particularly popular with academics and writers. A great retrospective of HyperCard at its 25th anniversary was written by Ars Technica.

So.. what about HyperCard? Yes, we have HyperCard.

The Emularity Loader utilized by the Internet Archive allows the combining of the content of two items in the Archive’s collections, meaning there can be a “general boot disk” with HyperCard, and then pulling in an uploaded Hypercard Stack.

As of this writing, we’ve added a small number of Stacks to prove the technology, including the “BeerStack” beer-reference, the Adventures of Sean (an interactive cartoon), and a re-created Stack designed by none other than Douglas Adams for calculating the volume of a Megapode nest.

Adding new stacks is relatively complicated, and we’re working on adding more from such sites as HYPERCARD.ORG who have been gathering amazing Stacks for years. If you’re someone who worked on a HyperCard stack in the past, or oversee a collection of Stacks created by others, please feel free to contact hypercard@textfiles.com to receive assistance in adding your stacks, emulated, to the Archive.

We hope this is the start of a large, quality collection of emulated programs at the Archive around the Macintosh, and thank you for spreading the word about it, and the importance of providing instant worldwide access to historical software.

A shout-out to volunteer Stephen Cole who has taken on the mantle of adding new titles to the Macintosh collection over time, including the ingestion of HyperCard stacks. 

Early Macintosh Emulation Comes to the Archive

After offering in-browser emulation of console games, arcade machines, and a range of other home computers, the Internet Archive can now emulate the early models of the Apple Macintosh, the black-and-white, mouse driven computer that radically shifted the future of home computing in 1984.

While there are certainly predecessors to the computer desktop paradigm, the introduction of the Macintosh brought it to a mass market and in the 30 years since, it has been steadily adapted by every major computing platform and operating system.

The first set of emulated Macintosh software is located in this collection. This is a curated presentation of applications, games, and operating systems from 1984-1989.

If you’ve not experienced the original operating system for the Macintosh family of computers, it’s an interesting combination of well-worn conventions in the modern world, along with choices that might seem strange or off-the-mark. At the time the machine was released, however, they landed new ideas in the hands of a worldwide audience and gained significant fans and followers almost immediately.

The story of the creation of the operating system and the Macintosh itself are covered in many collections at the Archive, including this complete run of Macworld magazine and these deep-dive Macintosh books.

As for the programs currently presented, they are in many cases applications that have survived to the present day in various forms, or are the direct ancestors.

While it is a (warning) 40 megabyte download, this compilation of System 7.0.1 includes a large variety of software programs and a rather rich recreation of the MacOS experience of 1991.

Enjoy this (9-inch, black and white) window into computer history!

Many people worked very hard to bring this emulation system to bear: Hampa Hug created PCE (the original Macintosh emulator program). Experiments and work by James Friend (PCE.js) and Marcio T. (Retroweb) ported PCE to javascript via Emscripten. They all provided continued assistance as the Emularity team approached refining the emulator to work within the Archive’s framework. Much work was done by Daniel Brooks, Phil-el, James Baicoianu, and Vitorio Miliano, with Daniel Brooks putting in multiple weeks of refinement.

Those Hilarious Times When Emulations Stop Working

Jason Scott, Software Curator and Your Emulation Buddy, writing in.

With tens of thousands of items in the archive.org stacks that are in some way running in-browser emulations, we’ve got a pretty strong library of computing history afoot, with many more joining in the future. On top of that, we have thousands of people playing these different programs, consoles, and arcade games from all over the world.

Therefore, if anything goes slightly amiss, we hear it from every angle: twitter, item reviews, e-mails, and even the occasional phone call. People expect to come to a software item on the Internet Archive and have it play in their browser! It’s great this expectation is now considered a critical aspect of computer and game history. But it also means we have to go hunting down what the problem might be when stuff goes awry.

Sometimes, it’s something nice and simple, like “I can’t figure out the keys or the commands” or “How do I find the magic sock in the village.”, which puts us in the position of a sort of 1980s Software Company Help Line. Other times, it’s helping fix situations where some emulated software is configured wrong and certain functions don’t work. (The emulation might run too fast, or show the wrong colors, or not work past a certain point in the game.)

But then sometimes it’s something like this:

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In this case, a set of programs were all working just fine a while ago, and then suddenly started sending out weird “Runtime” errors. Or this nostalgia-inducing error:

654c1e0c-a047-4c82-9b23-72620af9dbf5

Here’s the interesting thing: The emulated historic machine would continue to run. In other words, we had a still-functioning, emulated broken machine, as if you’d brought home a damaged 486 PC in 1993 from the store and realized it was made of cheaper parts than you expected.

To make things even more strange, this was only happening to emulated DOS programs in the Google Chrome browser. And only Google Chrome version 51.x. And only in the 32-bit version of Google Chrome 51.x. (A huge thanks to the growing number of people who helped this get tracked down.)

This is what people should have been seeing, which I think we can agree looks much better:

screenshot_00

The short-term fix is to run Firefox instead of Chrome for the moment if you see a crash, but that’s not really a “fix” per se – Chrome has had the bug reported to them and they’re hard at work on it (and working on a bug can be a lot of work). And there’s no guarantee an update to Firefox (or the Edge Browser, or any of the other browsers working today) won’t cause other weird problems going down the line.

All this, then, can remind people how strange, how interlocking, and even fragile our web ecosystem is at the moment. The “Web” is a web of standards dancing with improvisations, hacks, best guesses and a radically moving target of what needs to be obeyed and discarded. With the automatic downloading of new versions of browsers from a small set of makers, we gain security, but more-obscure bugs might change the functioning of a website overnight. We make sure the newest standards are followed as quickly as possible, but we also wake up to finding out an old trusted standard was deemed no longer worthy of use.

Old standards or features (background music in web pages, the gopher protocol, Flash) give way to new plugins or processes, and the web must be expected, as best it can, to deal with the new and the old and fail gracefully when it can’t quite do it. As part of the work of the Decentralized Web Summit was to bring forward the strengths of this world (collaboration, transparency, reproducibility) while pulling back from the weaknesses of this shifting landscape (centralization, gatekeeping, utter and total loss of history), it’s obvious a lot of people recognize this is an ongoing situation, needing vigilance and hard work.

In the meantime, we’ll do our best to keep on how the latest and greatest browsers deal with the still-fresh world of in-browser emulation, and try to emulate hardware that did come working from the factory.

In the meantime, enjoy some Apple II programs. On us.

Saving 500 Apple II Programs from Oblivion

Among the tens of thousands of computer programs now emulated in the browser at the Internet Archive, a long-growing special collection has hit a milestone: the 4am Collection is now past 500 available Apple II programs preserved for the first time.

playable_screenshot

To understand this achievement, it’s best to explain what 4am (an anonymous person or persons) has described as their motivations: to track down Apple II programs, especially ones that have never been duplicated or widely distributed, and remove the copy protection that prevents them from being digitized. After this, the now playable floppy disk is uploaded to the Internet Archive along with extensive documentation about what was done to the original program to make it bootable. Finally, the Internet Archive’s play-in-a-browser emulator, called JSMESS (a Javascript port of the MAME/MESS emulator) allows users to click on the screenshot and begin experiencing the Apple II programs immediately, without requiring installation of emulators or the original software.

In fact, all the screenshots in this entry link to playable programs!

playable_screenshot (1)

If you’re not familiar with the Apple II software library that has existed over the past few decades, a very common situation of the most groundbreaking and famous programs produced by this early home computer is that only the “cracked” versions persist. Off the shelf, the programs would include copy protection routines that went so far as to modify the performance of the floppy drive, or force the Apple II’s operating system to rewrite itself to behave in strange ways.

Because hackers (in the “hyper-talented computer programmers” sense) would take the time to walk through the acquired floppy disks and remove copy protection, those programs are still available to use and transfer, play and learn from.

One side effect, however, was that these hackers, young or proud of the work they’d done, would modify the graphics of the programs to announce the effort they’d put behind it, or remove/cleave away particularly troublesome or thorny routines that they couldn’t easily decode, meaning the modern access to these programs were to incomplete or modified versions. For examples of the many ways these “crack screens” might appear, I created an extensive gallery of them a number of years ago. (Note that there are both monochrome and color versions of the same screen, and these are just screen captures, not playable versions.) They would also focus almost exclusively on games, especially arcade games, meaning any programs that didn’t fall into the “arcade entertainment” section of the spectrum of Apple II programs was left by the wayside entirely.

With an agnostic approach to the disks being preserved, 4am has brought to light many programs that fall almost into the realm of lore and legend, only existing as advertisements in old computer magazines or in catalog listings of computer stores long past.

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It gets better.

Easily missed if you’re not looking for it are the brilliant and humorous write-ups done by 4am to explain, completely, the process of removing the copy protection routines. The techniques used by software companies to prevent an Apple II floppy drive from making a duplicate while also allowing the program to boot itself were extensive, challenging, and intense. Some examples of these write-ups include this one for “Cause and Effect”, a 1988 education program, as well as this excellent one for “The Quarter Mile”, another educational program. (To find the write-up for a given 4am item in the collection click on the “TEXT” link on the right side of the item’s web page.)

These extensive write-ups shine a light on one of the core situations about these restored computer programs.

As 4am has wryly said over the years, “Copy Protection Works!” – if the copy protection of a floppy disk-based Apple II program was strong and the program did not have the attention of obsessed fans or fall into the hands of collectors, its disappearance and loss was almost guaranteed.  Because many educational and productivity software programs were specialized and not as intensely pursued/wanted as “games” in all their forms, those less-popular genres suffer from huge gaps in recovered history. Sold in small numbers, these floppy disks are subject to bit rot, neglect, and being tossed out with the inevitably turning of the wheels of time.

This collection upends that situation: by focusing on acquiring as many different unduplicated Apple II programs as possible, 4am are using their skills to ensure an extended life and documented reference materials for what would otherwise disappear.

Classifying Animals with Backbones title screen

Already, the collection has garnered some attention – the “Classifying Animals With Backbones” educational program linked above has a guest review from one of the creators describing the process of the application coming to life. And a particularly thorny copy protection scheme on a 1982 game of Burger Time went viral (in a good way) and was read 25,000 times when it was uploaded to the Archive.

In a few cases, the amount of effort behind the copy protection schemes and the concerned engineering involved in removing the copy protection are epics in themselves.

Speed Reader II 091286 screen 3 - main menu

As an example, this educational program Speed Reader II contains extensive copy protection routines, using tricks and traps to resist any attempts to understand its inner workings and misleading any potential parties who are duplicating it. 4am do their best to walk the user through what’s going on, and even if you might not understand the exact code and engineering involved, it leaves the reader smarter for having browsed through it.

This project has been underway for years and is now at the 500 newly-preserved program mark – that’s 500 different obscure programs preserved for the first time, which you can play and experience on the archive.

Get cracking!

Algernon title screen

(The usual notes: The “Play in Browser” technology used at the Internet Archive is still relatively new, and works best on modern machines running newest versions of browsers, especially Firefox, Chrome and Brave. Javascript (not Java) needs to be enabled on the machine to work. (By default on all browsers, it is.) The manuals for many of the programs are not directly available in many cases, so some experimentation is required, although educational programs often worked to be understood without any manuals for the use of their audiences. Thanks to 4am for housing their collection at the Internet Archive and the many individuals on the MAME and JSMESS teams who have made this emulation possible.)

Internet Archive Does Windows: Hundreds of Windows 3.1 Programs Join the Collection

Microsoft Windows was, to some people, too little, too late.

Released as Version 1.0 in 1985, the graphic revolution was already happening elsewhere, with other computer operating systems – but Microsoft was determined to catch up, no matter what it cost or took. Version 1.0 of their new multi-tasking navigation program (it was not quite an “Operating System”) appeared and immediately got marks for being a step in the right direction, but not quite a leap. Later versions, including versions 2.0 and 2.1, finished out the late 1980s with a set of graphics-oriented programs that could be run from DOS and allow the use of a mouse/keyboard combination (still new at the time) and a chance for Microsoft to be one of the dominant players in graphical interfaces. It also got them a lawsuit from Apple, which ultimately resulted in a many-years court case and a settlement in 1997 that possibly saved Apple.

Meanwhile, the Windows shell started to become more an more like an operating system, and the introduction of Windows 3.0 and 3.1 brought stability, flexibility, and ease-of-programming to a very wide audience, and cemented the still-dominant desktop paradigms in use today.

In 2015, the Internet Archive started the year with the arrival of the DOS Collection, where thousands of games, applications and utilities for DOS became playable in the browser with a single click. The result has been many hundreds of thousands of visitors to the programs, and many hours of research and entertainment.

This year, it’s time to upgrade to Windows.

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We’ve now added over 1,000 programs that run, in your browser, in a Windows 3.1 environment. This includes many games, lots of utilities and business software, and what would best be called “Apps” of the 1990s – programs that did something simple, like provide a calculator or a looping animation, that could be done by an individual or small company to great success.

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Indeed, the colorful and unique look of Windows 3/3.1 is a 16-bit window into what programs used to be like, and depending on the graphical whims of the programmers, could look futuristic or incredibly basic. For many who might remember working in that environment, the view of the screenshots of some of the hosted programs will bring back long-forgotten memories. And clicking on these screenshots will make them come alive in your browser.

screenshot_00 (2)screenshot_00 (3)screenshot_00 (4)When they focused on it, a developer could produce something truly unique and beautiful within the Windows 3.x environment. Observe this Role-Playing Game “Merlin”:

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But on the whole, the simple libraries for generating clickable boxes and rendering fonts, and an intent to “get the job done” meant that a lot of the programs would look like this instead:

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(Then again, how complicated and arty does a program to calculate amortization amounts have to be?)

Windows 3.1 continues to be in use in a few corners of the world – those easily-written buttons-and-boxes programs drive companies, restaurants, and individual businesses with a dogged determination and extremely low hardware requirements (a recent news story revealed at least one French airport that depended on one).

Many people, though, moved on to Microsoft’s later operating systems, like Windows 95, ME, Vista, 7, and so on. Microsoft itself stopped officially supporting Windows 3.1 in 2001, 15 years ago.

But Windows 3.1 still holds a special place in computer history, and we’re pleased to give you a bridge back to this lost trove of software.

If you need a place to start without being overwhelmed, come visit the Windows Showcase, where we have curated out a sample set of particularly interesting software programs from 20 years ago.

As is often the case with projects like this, volunteers contributed significant time to help bring this new library of software online. Justin Kerk did the critical scripting and engineering work to require only 2 megabytes to run the programs, as well as ensure that the maximum number of Windows 3.1 applications work in the browser-based emulator. (Justin thanks Eric Phelps, who in 1994 wrote the SETINI.EXE configuration program). db48x did loader programming to ensure we could save lots of space. James Baicoianu did critical metadata and technical support. As always, the emulation for Windows and DOS-based programs comes via EM-DOSBOX, which is a project by Boris Gjenero to port DOSBOX into Javascript; his optimization work has been world-class. And, of course, a huge thanks to the many contributing parties of the original DOSBOX project.

Making Your DOS Programs Live Again at the Internet Archive

MSDOSSince the beginning of the year, the Internet Archive has been making a large amount of DOS-based games and programs run in the browser, much like our Console Living Room and Internet Arcade collections. Many thousands of people have stopped by and tried out these programs, enjoying such classics as Llamatron 2112 or Dangerous Dave. With countless examples of DOS programs going back spanning 30 years, there’s lots of great software to try out and experiment with. Here’s a great place to start.

If you want to just try out the software, we’re done here. Go into our stacks and have a great time!

However, some people have asked about adding DOS software they created or which they have which isn’t part of our collections, and especially how to make these programs boot in a window like our currently available programs do.

This is a quick guide to getting your DOS programs up and emulating in the browser. If any of these instructions are unclear to you, please contact the Software Curator at jscott@archive.org.

Please note: these instructions are for DOS programs, not Windows programs.

First, you should register for your Internet Archive library card if you haven’t already.

getcardNext, you should upload your DOS software as a .ZIP file. It is important that your program and any support files be inside a single .ZIP file and not uploaded separately.

uploadWhen you upload, you’ll be asked to fill out all sorts of information about your program. Be sure to be as complete as possible, including the description, date of creation, who the author or authors were, and so on. You’re the curator of this software – help the world understand why they should look at it!

Set the “Collection” to Community Software.

Finally, at the bottom of this upload screen, there is an add additional metadata option.

metadataAdd these two metadata pairs:

  • Set “emulator” to “dosbox”.
  • Set “emulator_ext” to “zip”.

Finally, and this is very important … inside the .ZIP file you uploaded is the program that starts the program running. It might be an .EXE, .BAT or .COM file.  For example, if your ZIP file has a single file in it, called LEMON.EXE, then that’s the program that “starts” your program.

  • Set “emulator_start” to this program.

After double-checking your work, click on “Upload and Create your Item” and the system will upload your program to the Archive, and if all goes well, your program will be emulated in our pages after a few minutes.

Again, if you have any questions or experience any issues, contact Jason Scott, the software curator at the Archive, at jscott@archive.org.

Let’s bring the DOS prompt back! And let a thousand programs bloom!