The Internet Archive adds 2,500 MS-DOS games

October 15, 2019 | 00:05

Tags: #emulation #emulator #exodos #games #jason-scott #ms-dos #retro-gaming #vintage-gaming

Companies: #the-internet-archive

The Internet Archive has announced the addition of a further 2,500 MS-DOS games to its collection, all playable directly in-browser thanks to a JavaScript-powered emulation engine.

The Internet Archive, a non-profit set up with no lesser aim than the preservation of all media digital and otherwise, first launched its Historical Software Archive back in October 2013 with a JavaScript emulation engine dubbed JSMESS allowing for each title to be executed directly in the visitor's browser. Since then, the Archive has only expanded: In 2014 it added arcade games, in 2016 defanged malware samples and Amiga software, then in 2018 handheld LCD games and Commodore 64 titles.

The organisation's MS-DOS collection has received a major boost this week with the announcement of 2,500 new titles, all of which are playable directly in the browser. 'Since our initial announcement in 2015, we’ve added occasional new games here and there to the collection,' explains archivist Jason Scott, 'but this will be our biggest update yet, ranging from tiny recent independent productions to long-forgotten big-name releases from decades ago.

'The update of these MS-DOS games comes from a project called eXoDOS, which has expanded over the years in the realm of collecting DOS games for easy playability on modern systems to tracking down and capturing, as best as can be done, the full context of DOS games – from the earliest simple games in the first couple years of the IBM PC to recently created independent productions that still work in the MS-DOS environment. What makes the collection more than just a pile of old, now-playable games, is how it has to take head-on the problems of software preservation and history.

'Having an old executable and a scanned copy of the manual represents only the first few steps. DOS has remained consistent in some ways over the last (nearly) 40 years, but a lot has changed under the hood and programs were sometimes only written to work on very specific hardware and a very specific setup. They were released, sold some amount of copies, and then disappeared off the shelves, if not everyone’s memories. It is all these extra steps, under the hood, of acquisition and configuration, that represents the hardest work by the eXoDOS project, and I recognize that long-time and Herculean effort. As a result, the eXoDOS project has over 7,000 titles they’ve made work dependably and consistently.'

Scott has picked out some personal highlights from the collection in the announcement blog post, while the full collection can be browsed and played on the main Internet Archive site now.

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