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Classic games now preserved, accessible on Archive.org
Classic games now preserved, accessible on Archive.org
October 25, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

October 25, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
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    10 comments
More: Console/PC, Indie, Design



The Internet Archive has announced the Historical Software Archive, a curated collection of historically significant older software runnable in a browser -- including many games.

The collection is made possible through JSMESS, a Javascript port of the Multi Emulator Super System (MESS), which enables computer users to play increasingly inaccessible older software from a wide range of platforms. JSMESS ports that emulation to most modern browsers (currently Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer), allowing for exceedingly straight-forward emulation.

"We have the ability to watch video, listen to music, and read documents right in our browsers," says Jason Scott, the Internet Archive's software curator as well as one of the JSMESS project organizers. "Not so with classic software... Until now."

The Historical Software Archive's initial collection consists of a few dozen works, spanning "peak-of-perfection designs to industry-crashing classics." Included in the collection are games ranging from Roberta Williams's Mystery House and Jordan Mechner's Karateka to Atari's famously misbegotten E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, among many other titles.

"Turning computer history into a one-click experience bridges the gap between understanding these older programs and making them available in a universal fashion," says Scott. "Accessibility is where knowledge and lives change for the better. The JSMESS interface lets users get to the software in the quickest way possible."

You can start exploring the Historical Software Archive here.


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Comments


Kevin Fishburne
profile image
Freaking awesome. If someone can find a way to get jsmess to run full-screen then I'll really go nuts. :)

Andrew Kurniawan
profile image
Its a canvas element so you can probably try this.
Once its loaded just paste the below into the web console, then click the fullscreen button that pops up.

var cvs = document.getElementById('canvas');
var e = document.createElement('button');
e.innerHTML = 'fullscreen';
e.onclick = fullscreen;
document.getElementById('canvasholder').appendChild(e);
function fullscreen() {
if (cvs.webkitRequestFullScreen) {
cvs.webkitRequestFullScreen();
} else {
cvs.mozRequestFullScreen();
}
cvs.setAttribute('style', 'width: auto; height: ' + (window.innerHeight + 100) + 'px'); //not getting the right height for some reason on my screen so hacking it... (adjust as required :)
}

Lars Doucet
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Historical preservation is so important. So glad to see it converging with Atwood's Law[1]: "Any application that *can* be written in JavaScript, eventually *will* be written in JavaScript."

[1] http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/07/the-principle-of-least-p
ower.html

Jakub Majewski
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At last! Now we can all experience the mind-numbing glory of E.T. The Extraterrestrial!


...Goodness, I just hope it won't make the industry crash. Again.

David Richardson
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Don't worry, there's a patch available. 30 years is a long time to wait for an update, sure, but better late than never.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Jakub Majewski - Contrary to popular belief, the E.T. game and the Pac-man game for the Atari 2600 were not the cause of the first Videogame Market Crash, but they did symbolize/represent what would be the cause of the crash: bad decisions from higher-ups. The higher-ups of that time must have believed that they could sell any game with just the name alone and regardless of the quality of the game, so the games were done and the supplies for some of those games were greater than the demands for those games. If the Atari 2600 Pac-man was a lot closer to the original arcade game, then it would have done better in sales. As for the E.T. game, I personally liked/like the game, but I can understand the problems and frustrations over the game. Not only the game was rushed by the standard of that time (the game was done within couple weeks), but the game can get frustrating with all those pits that you could easily fall into if you are not careful. Nevertheless, there were games (including 3rd-party games) for the Atari 2600 that were worse than the E.T. game. However, the higher-up(s) did overestimate the sale of a rushed game, causing Atari (which was owned by Warner Communications at that time) to suffer financially. If another crash occurs, it will be due to today's top brass making similar erroneous decisions to the "business" decisions that caused the first crash in the first place and not because of some bad game being made (and there are couple of bad games in these days).

Justin Jones
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Well that and so many crappy clones, over saturating the market. As it only took a single person to make a game at the time everyone and there mother were making them a lot of them very poor quality. Glad Nintendo managed to prevent that.

Jakub Majewski
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Uh, yes, Jefferson, I know that E.T. didn't crash the industry - although it sure served as a potent symbol of the crash. I was merely making a joke in relation to the legend :).

Luke Meeken
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This is a fantastic, much-needed development, especially for educators who can now actually provide students with playable exemplars of important games made for software older than the students themselves. At present the selection is extremely slim, but here's hoping this project intersects with the sizable TOSEC archive on archive.org to really expand the library.

Steve Harrold
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Preservation is important, but I'm not that impressed by JSMESS will looks like much a PoC than something usable.
I've seen way better browser based emulators lately, especially in Flash especially this one : http://www.game-oldies.com

True, Flash is proprietary and "non-standard", but the way to HTML 5 compliance everywhere is a long path...


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