Rick Prelinger: NO MORE ROAD TRIPS! – Tuesday, May 13 at 6:30PM

Tuesday, May 13  NO MORE ROAD TRIPS!

 Internet Archive, San Francisco 6:30 reception / 7:30 screening

ADVANCE TICKET PURCHASE HIGHLY ADVISED.  Ticket link here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/671840

This is the second Bay Area screening of Rick Prelinger’s new film, which showed last year as a work in progress at SXSW and the SF International Film Festival.  It’s a dream ride through 20th-century America made entirely from home movies, asking whether we’ve come to the end of the open road.

Have we reached “peak travel”? Can we still find fortune (and ourselves) on the highway? Are we nomads or stay-at-homes?  A journey from the Atlantic Coast to California with a cast of hundreds, made from a collection of 9,000 home movies, NO MORE ROAD TRIPS? reveals hidden histories embedded in the landscape and seeks to blend the pleasures of travel with premonitions of its end. The sound track for this fully participatory film is made fresh each screening by the audience, who’s encouraged to recall our shared past and predict the future.

This is a silent movie meant to be shown to viewers who ask questions, make comments, disagree with one another, and generally act like vocal sports spectators or the rowdies in the pit in front of the Elizabethan stage. A project of Creative Capital.

NO MORE ROAD TRIPS! will also be showing at SF DocFest in June: http://sfindie.com/festivals/sf-docfest/

Watch the 66-second trailer:

Posted in Announcements, News | 1 Comment

Let Our Video Go

MetMuseunScroll_DT11631UI / UX Advances in Freeing Information Enslaved by an Ancient Egyptian Model  Or… Why Video Scrolling is so Last Millenniums

In creating an open digital research library of television news, we have been challenged by being unable to reference a current user experience model for searching video. Conventional video search requires users to start at the beginning of video and proceed at the pace and sequencing dictated by content creators. Our service has vaulted over the confines of the linear video storytelling framework by helping users jump into content at points directly pertaining to their search.  But by doing so, we have left some of our prospective users adrift, without a conceptual template to rely on.  That is until this April, with the release of a new user interface.


Treating video as infinitely addressable data is enabling us to do an increasingly better job at getting researchers right to their points of interest. While revolutionary in its application to television news at the scale we are doing it, it does have an antecedent in a prior media revolution — the transition from the age of scrolls to printed books. Gutenberg used movable type to print identical bibles in the mid-1400’s. It took a hundred more years before detailed indexes started appearing at the end of books. The repurposing of closed captioning to facilitate deep search of video is, in some ways, as significant for television as the evolution from parchment and papyrus rolls to page numbered and indexed books.

The value of most major innovations can only be realized when people adapt their conceptual models to understand and use them. Our interface design challenge included helping users make a perceptual leap from a video experience akin to ancient Egyptians unfurling scrolls to that of library-literate modern readers, or the even more recent experience of being able to find specific Web “pages” via search engines.


Our latest interface version helps users cross the cognitive bridge from video “scrolling” through television programs to accessing them instead as digitally indexed “books” with each page comprised of 60-second video segments. We convey this visually by joining the video segments with filmstrip sprocket border graphics. Linear, like film, but also “paginated” for leaping from one search-related segment to another.


When searching inside individual broadcasts, the new interface reinforces that metaphor of content hopping by truncating presentation of interleaving media irrelevant to the search query. We present the search-relevant video segments, while still conveying the relative “distance” between each jump — again referencing the less efficient linear “scroll” experience that most still find more familiar.


The new UI has another revolutionary aspect that also hearkens back to one of the great byproducts of the library index model: serendipitous discovery of adjacent knowledge. Dan Cohen, founding Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of America recently recounted, “I know a professor who was hit on the head by a book falling off a shelf as he reached for a different one; that book ended up being a key part of his future work.”


When using the new “search within” a single program feature, the browser dynamically refines the results with each character typed. As typing proceeds towards the final search term, unexpected 60-second segments and phrases arise, providing serendipitous, yet systematic choices, even while options narrow towards the intended results. These surprising occurrences suggest the diverse opportunities for inquiry afforded by the unique research library and encourage some playful exploration.

Carter_10The Internet Archive is still in the early stages of helping guide online television out of its imprisonment in ancient conceptual frameworks. A bright future awaits knowledge seekers and content creators alike when digital video is optimized for systematic discovery of even short segments. New audiences and new use-cases will be joined with media that has been languishing for too long in digital tombs, mostly unseen and unheard.

At its heart, the Internet Archive is an invitation to explore and collaborate. Please, join us in evolving digital opportunities to open knowledge for the benefit of all.

Start by giving our service a whirl, find something important and quote it.  I just did – https://twitter.com/r_macdonald/status/463492832867516416

Posted in Announcements, News | 5 Comments

Announcing: A Brave New Feature for TV News V2.1

The new TV News Archive, launched just over one month ago, was updated today with the addition of a super new feature: Search Inside shows.

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 11.38.14 AM-01

It sounds simple enough for those familiar with the ubiquitous keyboard shortcut Ctrl+F…but it turns out that’s actually only 10% of you! So why use this feature when you’re browsing the TV News Archive of 500,000+ US TV News Shows? Several reasons:

1) More Better Context – The TV New search inside feature enables users to discover a word or combination of words within a show by highlighting the desired term in every segment where it occurs in a show. Furthermore, for every 1 minute segment where a term occurs, all accompanying closed captioning text is surfaced!
2) Less Background Noise – Columns of 1 minute segments that don’t contain a “search inside” term collapse so you can find exactly what you need faster.
3) Remedies the “Refer Problem” - About 80% of the time a user is referred to a TV News show page from a third party search engine, the user’s original search term doesn’t carryover. In other words, you land on a show page with zero terms highlighted, and that’s annoying. While we can’t exactly solve this problem, we can prescribe medication for the pain, “search inside.”

So now you know, go try it out for yourself! Here are just a couple amazing projects made possible by TV News, get inspired and show us how this tool helps you. Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 12.13.25 PM

Why Cable TV Is Dying and Twitter is Winning | André-Pierre du Plessis, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 12.14.53 PM

Tiny Numbers | Bodo Winter, UC Merced Cognitive Sciences 

— the  team

Posted in Television Archive | Comments Off

The Internet Archive Declares Spacewar!

spacewarLike everything else in history, debate rages about when the “first” video game came into being.  Games and demonstrations such as “Tennis for Two” (1958), “NIM” (1951) and “Mouse in the Maze” (1959), played on million dollar equipment for the amusement and experimentation of limited audiences.

One contender in this group is “Space War!”, a 1962 collaboration of multiple students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Playing off the cathode-ray tube of a Digital Equipment PDP-1 (of which less than 60 were sold), this two-player space-battle game has been lauded as a major advancement in computer gaming for over 50 years.

Now, it’s possible to play it at the Internet Archive.

As part of our larger Historical Software collection, there is now an entry for Space War!

sw1This entry covers the historical context of Space War!, and instructions for working with our in-browser emulator. The system doesn’t require installed plugins (although a more powerful machine and recent browser version is suggested).

The JSMESS emulator (a conversion of the larger MESS project) also contains a real-time portrayal of the lights and switches of a Digital PDP-1, as well as links to documentation and manuals for this $800,000 (2014 dollars) minicomputer.

sw2You’re going to need a friend to play – the game requires two human players on the same keyboard. And don’t worry, everyone gets sucked into the star in the center the first few times. You’ve got to have your orbital dynamics down before you’re truly ready to be a space warrior.

With over a half-century of history behind it, Space War! still holds up as a great example of what would become a dominant form of media in the decades since – the space video game.

The Internet Archive continues to add more historical software frequently – bringing the computing past to the computer future. Stay tuned!

Posted in Announcements, News, Software Archive | 6 Comments

Heartbleed bug and the Archive

Bottom line: The Internet Archive is safe to use.

Internet Archive has always been interested in protecting the privacy of our patrons.  We try not to record IP addresses, and when Edward Snowden showed that traffic going over the open Internet was not safe from government spying we turned on encryption by default on our web services.   Unfortunately, some of the encryption software we use (along with more than half the sites on the internet) was vulnerable due to the “Heartbleed” bug; we have upgraded our software to fix this issue.

A bit more detail:  A common piece of code, OpenSSL, was revealed to have a security bug that allowed anyone on the Internet to probe a vulnerable server and read a set of information that happens to be in RAM in that remote process.   This could be used to read a site’s “private key” which would allow a bad actor that could intercept traffic to impersonate a website via what is called a “man in the middle” attack.   If a site’s past encrypted traffic had been recorded, then it might be possible to go back now with the private key and see what happened in those past web sessions.  If you would like a more thorough explanation of “Heartbleed” you can watch a video overview.

Some of the Internet Archive’s web services did use the vulnerable version of OpenSSL up until yesterday.    At this point the Internet Archive’s services have been upgraded and we will be renewing our private key in case that was compromised.   On some of our services we have used “perfect forward secrecy” so even if our private key had been taken, and someone had recorded past traffic, and if they cared enough to try to then discover what had been read, they would still not be able to get it.   We will be implementing this on all services in the future.   Qualys SSL Labs has a useful report on our site.

Never a dull day!

Posted in Announcements, News | 12 Comments

Lost Landscapes of Oakland, movie in SF Tuesday April 8

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
6:30 pm Reception
7:30 pm Film

Internet Archive
300 Funston Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118

Please RSVP here

LLS-OaklandJoin film archivist Rick Prelinger for the first-ever East Bay-focused presentation in his lauded series of ‘Lost Landscapes’ screenings: a montage of rediscovered and rarely-seen film clips showing the Oakland of yore, captured by amateurs, newsreel cameramen, and industrial filmmakers. Prelinger, the founder of the legendary Prelinger Archives and guest curator for the exhibition Bay Motion: Capturing San Francisco Bay on Film, has become known for annual ‘Lost Landscapes’ screenings that have happened in San Francisco and Detroit. This program combines eclectic content with vibrant discussion and audience participation.

Please come early to reserve your seat.  Seating is limited and available on a first-come first serve basis.

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Introducing the New TV News Archive

Announcing the launch of the fully redesigned TV News Archive.

This research library, originally released in September 2012, is a free service provided as a way to enhance the capabilities of journalists, scholars, teachers, librarians, civic organizations and other engaged citizens. It repurposes closed captioning to enable users to search, quote and borrow from the Internet Archive’s collection of 500,000+ US TV news broadcasts aired since 2009.

The new interface has been designed to give users better access to this collection, and to provide new tools that enable users to share short clips from any broadcast and track play and share statistics of those clips over time.

Here’s a quick overview of the site’s features; we hope they serve you well.


TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 3 1.38.34 PM

Search transcripts of US TV news shows aired since 2009

  • Search with topical terms to return shows with corresponding transcripts. Remember, you are searching the words spoken in the show.
  • Use the advanced search tool (click the TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 2 1.38.34 PM 3 icon) to specify a network or show name, or sort your search results.
  • Refer to the TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 9 1.38.34 PM 2 “info” panel throughout the site for details about your search results, related topics and other stats.

TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 2 1.38.34 PM

Scan and view show segments

  • Shows are presented in 60 second segments, each with a video and corresponding transcript text.
  • Scroll left and right to scan through segments of a show; search terms are highlighted in transcript text.
  • To search within a show transcript text try Ctrl + F ( TV News Launch Memo-02 + F on mac) to search inside the page. (scrollable transcripts are coming soon!)


TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 3 1.38.34 PM 2

Share and embed short clips (aka quotes) from a show

  • Shareable quotes are limited to 60 seconds. Refine your quote selection by clicking the “Edit” button and dragging the  TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 6 1.38.34 PM 3   handles.
  • Click a social media button TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 14 (or 2x the embed button) to finalize and share your quote.
  • Your quote will be assigned a permalink. You can always come back to see it!


TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 3 1.38.34 PM 3

Track popularity of show quotes shared over time

  • Quotes with a unique start and stop time within a show will be tracked to see how often they are re-shared or played.
  • View a specific quote by saving or sharing its unique permalink, or you can browse quotes from shows on the TV News Archive site by looking for the TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 6 1.38.34 PM 2icon.


TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 9 1.38.34 PM 3

Borrow full shows on DVD

  • Borrow shows (click the TV News_V2.0_Buttons_Final-10 9 1.38.34 PMicon on any show detail page) from the Internet Archive library on a DVD-ROM for 30 days for a $25 processing fee.
  • Internet Archive does not sell or license this content. Please note that this is a copyrighted work and performance, copying, or sale, whether or not for profit, by the recipient is not authorized.


[team pressing the button to launch redesign!]

Cheers, from the TV News Team!



Posted in Announcements, Television Archive | 11 Comments

Archive and ALA brief filed in Warrantless Cell Phone Search Case

On Monday, March 10, the Internet Archive and the American Library Association with the assistance of the law firm Goodwin Procter filed a “friend of the court” brief in David Leon Riley v. State of California and United States v. Brima Wurie, two Supreme Court cases examining the constitutionality of cell phone searches after police arrests. In the amicus brief, both nonprofit organizations argue that warrantless cell phone searches violate privacy principles protected by the Fourth Amendment.

Both cases began when police officers searched the cell phones of defendants Riley and Wurie without obtaining a warrant. The searches recovered texts, videos, photos, and telephone numbers that were later used as evidence. The Supreme Court of California found the cell phone search lawful in Riley’s case, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Boston, reached the opposite conclusion and reversed Wurie’s conviction.

In the brief, the Internet Archive and the American Library Association argue that reading choices are at the heart of the expectation of personal privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. Allowing police officers to rummage through the smartphones of arrestees is akin to giving government officials permission to search a person’s entire library and reading history.

“Today’s cell phones are much more than simple dialing systems—they are mobile libraries, holding our books, photos, banking information, favorite websites and private conversations,” said Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association. “The Constitution does not give law enforcement free rein to search unlawfully through our private records.”

“The fact that technology has made it easy to carry voluminous sensitive and personal information in our pockets does not suddenly grant law enforcement unchecked availability to it in the case of an arrest,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of Internet Archive. “Constitutional checks are placed on the search of, for instance, a personal physical library and these checks should also apply to the comparably vast and personally sensitive stores of data held on our phones.”

William Jay, Goodwin Procter partner and counsel of record on the amicus brief, added: “The Supreme Court has recognized that people don’t lose all privacy under the Fourth Amendment when they’re arrested. And one of the strongest privacy interests is the right not to have the government peer at what you’re reading, without a good reason and a warrant. We are pleased to have the chance to represent both traditional and Internet libraries, which have a unique ability to show the Supreme Court why our electronic bookshelves deserve the same protection as our home bookshelves.”

“In my experience as a former federal prosecutor, a person’s smartphone is one of the things law enforcement are most eager to search after an arrest,” said Goodwin Procter partner Grant Fondo, a co-author of the  brief.  “This is because it holds so many different types of important personal information, telling law enforcement what the arrested person has been doing over the past few weeks, months, and even years—who they have been in contact with, what they read, and where they have been.  Simply because this information is now all contained in a small smartphone we carry with us, rather than at home, should not take the search of this information outside the scope of one of our most important Constitutional protections—the right to protection from warrantless searches.”

Internet Archive would like to heartily thank William Jay, Grant Fondo, and Goodwin Procter for helping introduce an important library perspective as the Court considers these two cases with critical implications for civil liberties.


Posted in Announcements, News | 8 Comments

Wayback/WABAC Movie Party, March 7th at 5pm

logo_wayback_210x77The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, launched in 2001, was named after Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine from the 1960s cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle.  This Friday we are going to celebrate our own time travel machine by going to see a movie about the original.

“Using his most ingenious invention, the WABAC machine, Mr. Peabody and his adopted boy Sherman hurtle back in time to experience world-changing events first-hand and interact with some of the greatest characters of all time.” (see imdb page)

While tracking down your old Geocities page may not have world-changing consequences, we still think it’s pretty cool.

Please join us for dinner and a movie!

March 7, 2014
Dinner at 5pm

Internet Archive
300 Funston Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121

Depart for movie around 6:15 for a 7pm show time at AMC Van Ness.


Posted in News | 3 Comments

Popular subjects in our book collection

We took a leisurely stroll through half a million books today, and we noticed that lots of the books were congregating around some popular categories.  This isn’t an exhaustive list, we just thought it would nice to share a little of the landscape with you.  Click through to download or borrow these books through our Open Library site.

Posted in Books Archive, Open Library | Comments Off

New Software Collection: Making the Business Case

The Internet Archive continues its goal of bringing the same experience of older software that we have with movies, books and audio. This newest collection, just in time for Valentine’s Day (?), is called The Business Case, and is a continually-growing exhibit of business-related software.


Unlike the previous announced collection of entertainment software (the Console Living Room), these programs are all aimed at the early days of home computer ownership, when the reason for spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on these systems wasn’t always very clear cut.  Why drop a significant amount of money for something that beeped and made pretty pictures (or not even pretty pictures)? Well, one reason might be to write, calculate and track financial and business information, as well as utilize word processors for faster correspondence.


Some important facts about browsing and using this collection.

Unlike the Console Living Room, a lot of these programs are not self-evident. They had complicated instructions, and often utilized massive manuals and accompanying documentation, which is not available for many of the items. Others required the use of a modem or printer, which the emulator at archive.org does not currently provide – they will fail out or give errors if you try and use them.

Additionally, some of these programs are “cracks”, cases where the original floppy disks of the programs have been modified to allow for easier booting, or copying. We included them to bring into sharp focus a real problem: software preservation for the computer programs not lucky enough to be games or famous is spotty at best and non-existent at worst. While the world has thousands of pages dedicated to the history of Pac-Man and Doom (many of them archived in the Wayback Machine), in some cases, the only evidence online that a program ever existed is the modified-for-copying version of a spreadsheet application. In an ideal world, the academic researcher or curious onlooker could experience and understand the context of every program released, or at least get an analogue of the experience. In many cases, this just isn’t possible.

Where we can, we will expand and grow this collection, as well as improve and update the entries already in the collection to reflect the part they played in history. If you are familiar with a given program, or can provide more information, contact Jason Scott at the archive.



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We want your old T-shirts. Really.

Pews, photo by Jason Scott

The great room. Photo by Jason Scott.

The Internet Archive is headquartered in a building that used to be a Christian Science church.  The great room includes a gorgeous stained glass dome, a pipe organ, and graceful wooden pews.  We seat 400+ people in this space to show movies and to host conferences on a regular basis.

The room is beautiful, but those pews are hard on the posterior if you plan to sit there for more than 15 minutes at a time.

Turning tshirts into cushions.

Turning tshirts into cushions.

So we came up with a plan – let’s make some cushions!  That sounds simple enough, but we are thrifty people.

We are taking old T-shirts and recycling them into cushion covers.  We are looking for T-shirts from non-profits or from tech companies in particular, but we’ll take whatever you’ve got.  Any size, any color, just as long as there aren’t holes in the fabric or big stains that may discourage people from sitting on that cushion.

This is where you come in!  Which one of us doesn’t have a bunch of old corporate swag T-shirts sitting in the back of our closet taking up space?  If you’re willing to part with those useless shirts, we’re willing to put them to use.

Drop off your shirts in person, or send your shirts to:

Internet Archive
300 Funston Ave
San Francisco, CA 94118

Have questions?  Email info@archive.org.

Your old shirts could make somebody's butt much more comfortable.

Your old T-shirts could make somebody’s butt very happy.

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Software Wanted: Political TV Commercial Detection and Naming

Volunteers needed:   We have a fabulous TV collection, and the US is going into an election period.    We would like to pull out the TV Commercials, including the political ads, and match them with the other occurrences, and then put names on them.    Then we and others can datamine and surface this information.

We hope we could find all ads so we can know when and were they ran. We would like to not just limit this to political ads because sometimes the ads are the best parts of shows, and many ads are stealthy-political.

To help in this process, we have closed caption transcripts of what is said in US TV as well as full resolution TV recordings.   We also often have a rebroadcast of the same program which would likely then have different commercials.    We do have to be careful with this data so, we would like to run this locally in our virtual machine “virtual reading room“.

We tried the open source commercial detector included in MythTV, but it seemed to leave all the commercials in a commercial break in a block.  Also it was not that reliable.   It needs more work.

This is not an easy project, and do not have a budget (yet) to pay for it, unfortunately, so maybe fame and helping the open world.    If you can help in this project, we would appreciate it.

Please leave a comment on this post or send a note to Roger Macdonald, the leader of the TV News project.

Thank you.

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Archive Tumblr Fun: Announcing a Year of Tumblr Residencies

Last year a group of inspired digital residents created fantastic tumblr’s using the things they found interesting in the Internet Archive.   We’re proud to unveil these projects, one per week, throughout the year. They’ll each be posted at the Internet Archive tumblr and then be accessible at their own URL once posted. Follow the IA tumblr to see them as the project rolls onward! So far, we’ve seen two projects posted.

History of LinuxThis week’s project, A History of Linux Websites, by Steven Ovadia, traces the history of Linux through the screenshots of the web sites of Linux distributions and projects. Looking at the screenshots gives viewers insights not just into the various histories of the various distributions, but also provides insight into the web design aesthetics that guide these distributions. In many cases, the design aesthetic of the web site does not match up against the philosophy of the distribution, making for an interesting tension.

Most Frequent Search TermsThe first, Most Frequent Word Search by Jeff Thompson, is an algorithmic-curatorial project which uses the 250 most-frequent unique words in the oldest text with a date listed in Project Gutenberg – “Old Mortality, Volume 2″ by Sir Walter Scott. Each word is used as a seed for a new search into the Archive. The most common word in the resulting text is used as a new search term. The process is repeated until the search returns no results. The project features a unique original theme with click and drag functionality, allowing users to aesthetically arrange the computationally generated and randomly displayed results, if they wish to attempt to seek their own patterns.

We hope you’re as excited as we are to see each project completed and unveiled after months of hard work by our digital residents. We’ll see you at internetarchive.tumblr.com!

Thank you to Ian Aleksander Adams for making this happen.

Posted in Announcements, News | 1 Comment

Short Video of Brewster Kahle on Bitcoin by Forbes


Forbes did a followup on its “Living on Bitcoin for a Week” and interviewed Brewster Kahle, Founder of the Internet Archive and the Internet Credit Union.


(on the archive)

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Public Access to the Public Domain: Copyright Week

It’s Copyright Week, and many organizations are highlighting the need to make works in the public domain readily accessible. One of the many challenges we face sounds almost paradoxical: works in the public domain are often not publicly available. The Internet Archive hosts several projects to address that concern.

RecapRECAP:  Created by Aaron Swartz and automated by a group at Princeton University, RECAP brings free access to some two million court documents from a million cases.

Google Books: Aaron Swartz collected 900,000 public domain books on Google’s site; we’re currently adding more.

FOIA and Government Documents: The Internet Archive hosts over 160,000 from DocumentCloud, including Freedom of Information Act and other government documents.

Digitization of Public Domain Books: The Internet Archive works with over 500 libraries to digitize public domain books to offer them to the world for free with no restrictions at all. We’re grateful to the libraries that are funding this amazing resource.

fedflix_logoFedflix: This joint venture between the National Technical Information Service and Public.Resource.Org provides free access to 8,700 U.S. government training and historical films such as the film below, Blast Measurement Group in Operation Sandstone.

Posted in Announcements, News | 3 Comments

Servers for the New Year: Thank you!



Year-end donations went past our goal of $1 million (almost $1.3m !) – thank you all for donating.    With this money we can buy the ten racks (10 petabytes, 10,000,000,000,000,000bytes) of server space to store the upcoming books music video and webpages we expect for this year.   (Since we serve from a duplicate as well, we have space for about 5PB of data).  We were greatly helped by a generous 3-to-1 match for the contributions made.

A few stats:   We received thousands of individual donations, the vast majority were under $100, and we received 20 that were $1000 or more.    We received 16 bitcoins which translates to $48k including the match.

The notes you left with their donations were heart warming and motivating.   It is wonderful to see how many people want the full breadth of information available to everyone in the world and are willing to put their effort and money behind it.    Still lots to do, and glad there is such a strong community to make it actually happen.

Universal Access to All Knowledge.

Thank you, and lets rock in 2014!


Posted in Announcements, News | 16 Comments

Still Life, With Emulator: The JSMESS FAQ

The announcements of the Console Living Room and the Historical Software Collection have brought a large amount of attention to the JSMESS emulator that archive.org uses. Naturally, being a relatively new method of playing software in a browser, there are number of technical questions and explanations that people are seeking answers for. This entry is meant to cover the most frequently asked questions and will be updated as new information  becomes available.

What exactly is the JSMESS emulator?

The JSMESS emulator is an ongoing project to port the well-established general machine emulator MESS to JavaScript. The bulk amount of work (emulation, research, coding, testing) has been done by the MESS team over the last 15 years to produce a open sourced, accurate, flexible ability to emulate hundreds of individual computer platforms. It is highly portable and is available for a variety of platforms including Windows, OS X, Linux, and many others.

Isn’t JavaScript slow? Isn’t this incredibly wasteful? Why not use…

The purpose behind utilizing JavaScript as a platform is that JavaScript is a dependable, standardized runtime environment available in essentially all modern browsers. Other solutions tend to work only in one browser, are under litigation/rights issues, or require external plug-ins before use. Should a cross-platform default runtime solution appear and surpass JavaScript, the JSMESS team will revisit the question, but for now, JavaScript is the preferred approach. In short, right now JavaScript Just Works.

The circumstances by which JavaScript became the defacto cross-platform, default runtime environment are fascinating but out of the scope of this FAQ. It is suggested that you read some of the essays about the situation including Worse is Better and The Principle of Least Power.  However we got to this point, it is currently possible to get excellent performance on modern browsers inside of JavaScript for tasks like this emulator.

How exactly do you convert MESS to JavaScript? Do you rewrite from scratch?

JSMESS is created by running the MESS source code through a compiler called Emscripten. Emscripten is a project by Mozilla for easy conversion of native applications into JavaScript. While notable effort is being done by the JSMESS team to prepare MESS source code for Emscripten, Emscripten does the lion’s share of conversion and allows the code in JSMESS to be as close to MESS as possible without major revision. This conversion utility’s power and flexibility is now expanding into many other projects, some of them unthinkable even a year ago in terms of speed and turnaround time of the project.

Where possible, the JSMESS team are adding code changes to the original MESS source code or even to Emscripten itself, so that advances in support and function are available to other projects, benefitting all.

I’m having trouble with…

It is helpful to keep in mind that a full speed running JSMESS only went online at the end of August 2013. Because this is all brand-new in terms of interacting with the families of browsers out there, there are going to be incompatibilities, hiccups, speed issues and other situations.

Here are some common solutions:

Generally, we find that Firefox runs the quickest JavaScript (partially due to use of  asm.js optimizations). It is worth connecting to the site using that browser, which is freely available, to make sure that the problem isn’t located somewhere else along the way for you. (The JSMESS team has a priority to make sure it runs on as many platforms and browsers as possible, of course – but we are a small team, so some variations can be missed.) In general, the goal will be to run equally fast on all browsers.

Some people are running JavaScript blockers or filters, and naturally this program will not work at all in those situations. All current browsers have sliding updates, meaning that a new version comes out very frequently. Check to make sure that you were running the most up-to-date edition of your browser. Usually this information is located in the about menu selection of your browser.

It says something about a gamepad at the bottom. I can use a gamepad?

If you have a USB-connected gamepad, it is possible on the SG-1000 emulator to use it with the games. (This will be working on all the platforms, shortly.) To make this happen, go to the loading page, and before pressing the space bar to start the emulation, press buttons on your USB gamepad until the page says it can see the gamepad. Then it should “just work”.

I can’t hear anything!

Sound has turned out to be one of the more difficult issues with JavaScript programs. Different browsers handle sound differently, and the human ear notices tiny differences in sound quality much more than they noticed microscopic slowdowns in video rendering. This is definitely on the list to be improved as soon as possible, as soon as we have the best solution in place.

I’m not sure which keys to use!

We are continually updating instructions with accurate information about which keys activate which selections on a given platform and for a specific program. In general, the arrow keys, and control keys tend to work best, and the number keys sometimes trigger off other options. A team of volunteers has been working on documentation and linking and will continue to.

How can I help?

If you are a developer and care about the state of emulation, consider getting involved with contributing fixes and improvements to the MESS emulator. Whatever changes are reflected in that project with regards to platform support and accuracy will come down the line automatically to JSMESS.

If programming is not your thing, we can always use help with improved metadata, better linking to history, and better context as to the various items are collection. Please contact the software curator at Internet Archive, Jason Scott. He’s at jscott@archive.org.

I wish that you….

We do too. Our commitment is to make JSMESS as good as it can be, and able to run more platforms, with accurate and smooth sound and performance in the browser. We invite people who want to contribute code or other efforts to reach Jason Scott, or to contibute to the linked code repositories in this FAQ.


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A Second Christmas Morning: The Console Living Room


For a generation of children, the most exciting part of a Christmas morning was discovering a large box under the tree, ripping it apart, and looking at an exciting, colorful box promising endless video games. At home! Right in your living room!

The expansion of videogames from arcades, boardwalks and carnivals into the home was a vanguard mounted by companies with names like Coleco, Atari, Magnavox and Odyssey. For hundreds of dollars, you could play as many games as you wanted, for as long as you wanted, on the same TV you watched shows on. The change from the fireplace to television as center of home and hearth began in the 1950s and the home video game sped this process up considerably.

Naturally, these home video games, running on underpowered hardware and not-made-for-the-purpose video screens, were scant competition in the graphics and experience department compared to arcade games. But as they improved, consoles and computer gaming dented and some would argue destroyed arcades as a nationwide phenomenon. Only a small percentage of arcades now exist compared to their peak.

Sadly, the days of the home videogame console being a present under a tree followed by days of indulgent game-playing are not the same, replaced with massive launch events and overnight big-box store stays.

Until today!

In an expansion of the Historical Software Collection, the Internet Archive has opened the Console Living Room, a collection of console video games from the 1970s and 1980s.


Like the Historical Software collection, the Console Living Room is in beta – the ability to interact with software in near-instantaneous real-time comes with the occasional bumps and bruises. An army of volunteer elves are updating information about each of the hundreds of game cartridges now available, and will be improving them across the next few days. Sound is still not enabled, but is coming soon. Faster, more modern machines and up-to-date browsers work best with the JSMESS emulator.

On this day, we bring forward five vintage game consoles:

Atari 2600 The Atari 2600 is a video game console released in September 1977 by Atari, Inc. It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and ROM cartridges containing game code, a format first used with the Fairchild Channel F, instead of having non-microprocessor dedicated hardware with all games built in.
Atari 7800 The Atari 7800 ProSystem, or simply the Atari 7800, is a video game console officially released by Atari Corporation in January 1986. The 1986 launch is sometimes referred to as a “re-release” or “relaunch” because the Atari 7800 had originally been announced in May 1984, to replace Atari Inc.’s Atari 5200, but a general release was shelved due to the sale of the company. In January 1986, the 7800 was relaunched and would compete that year with the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System. It had simple digital joysticks and was almost fully backward-compatible with the Atari 2600, the first console to have backward compatibility without the use of additional modules. It was considered affordable at a price of US$140.
Coleco ColecoVision The ColecoVision is Coleco Industries’ second generation home video game console, which was released in August 1982. The ColecoVision offered near-arcade-quality graphics and gaming style along with the means to expand the system’s basic hardware. Released with a catalog of 12 launch titles, with an additional 10 games announced for 1982, approximately 145 titles in total were published as ROM cartridges for the system between 1982 and 1984.
Magnavox Odyssey2 The Magnavox Odyssey², known in Europe as the Philips Videopac G7000, in Brazil as the Philips Odyssey, in the United States as the Magnavox Odyssey² and the Philips Odyssey², and also by many other names, is a video game console released in 1978.
In the early 1970s, Magnavox was an innovator in the home video game industry. They succeeded in bringing the first home video game system to market, the Odyssey, which was quickly followed by a number of later models, each with a few technological improvements (Magnavox Odyssey Series). In 1978, Magnavox, now a subsidiary of North American Philips, released the Odyssey², its new second-generation video game console.
Bally Astrocade The Astrocade is a second generation video game console and simple computer system designed by a team at Midway, the videogame division of Bally. It was marketed only for a limited time before Bally decided to exit the market. The rights were later picked up by a third-party company, who re-released it and sold it until around 1983. The Astrocade is particularly notable for its very powerful graphics capabilities for the time of release, and for the difficulty in accessing those capabilities.

Access drives preservation – making these vintage games available to the world, instantly, allows for commentary, education, enjoyment and memory for the history they are a part of. In coming months, the playable software collection will expand greatly. Until then, game on!

(Atari photo from Reddit User Kimbleator)
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Dreams Reflected in Bitcoin

Love the dreamers– they make life worth living. Right now many are looking into bitcoin and seeing their dreams in the reflection.  And like all things bitcoin, this is playing out in public view, so we see other’s hopes and fears.  Unfortunately, a technology only fulfills a small percentage of the dreams– but I suggest we keep the dreams in mind and then try to fulfill them next time.  Some wrote up the WWW dreamers and telephone dreamers.

What are people dreaming into bitcoin?

Some dream of riches based on speculation exemplified by the Winklevoss Twins.

Some see it as a local currency that works to help support a community.  A sharing oriented community.  Center of interesting communities.

Some reporters love to write about Big Threats.  And others then get to say “No it’s Not

Some reporters see it as their chance to call the bubble.

Some hate gold and see bitcoin in that light.

Some love gold and see bitcoin in that light.

Some dream of a transaction system that does not take large fees.

Some see a very interesting mathematical and cryptographic system.

Dream of a whole new world of finance based on it.

Some see an analogy to the Internet/World Wide Web, with magazines, trade shows, community driven protocol improvements, multiple clients, and an association.

A system that can built on to build other systems.

Then there are nightmares of loss of control, such as Federal Reserve’s and the Department of Homeland Security’s.

A Venture Capitalist dream of startup riches.

A dream of a system of philosophy with distributed democratic truth.

A monetary system that is truly international, or non-national.

The good things is that some dreams come true.  Happy Holidays!

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