Internet Archive Lets You Run Old-School Software In Your Browser

It’s not hard to find old TV shows, movies, and other media classics these days, but software of times past isn’t always as easy to track down, and even if you do find it collecting dust in a closet or drawer somewhere, it can be hard or impossible to read the old media or emulate it. Fortunately, the Internet Archive has developed a solution.

The site announced the Historical Software Archive, which is a repository of “prominent and historically notable pieces of software” that can actually be run within a web browser. Using JSMESS, a Javascript port of the MESS emulator, anyone using Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Internet Explorer can explore a number of older software titles.

Internet Archive Pitfall
Pitfall (Activision, 1982)

IA says that while some of the titles are important because of their success (eg, VisiCalc of 1979), others are notable for their failures (eg, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial of 1982). The list of software isn’t all that long yet--there are 28 so far--but we imagine the list will continue to grow as time wears on.

Internet Archive E.T.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (Atari, 1982)

The Historical Software Archive is important both for the sake of remembering classic titles and also so that upcoming generations of computer enthusiasts and coders can explore tech history in a new way. Kudos to the IA (and all those who developed JSMESS) for this treasure trove.

What’s your favorite title from the list? Any fond (or not-so-fond) remembrances?