Malware Museum Puts Beautiful, Classic 80s And 90s Era PC Destruction On Display

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If you’d like to take a trip down memory lane to a simpler time when MS-DOS was still a big part of computing life and most Americans hadn’t begun to “surf the web”, the Internet Archive has put on a display a virtual museum of computer malware from the 80s and early 90s. But this isn’t just a “static” museum where you look at a few screenshots of decades old malicious code; it’s actually interactive.

“Once they infected a system, they would sometimes show animation or messages that you had been infected,” writes the Internet Archive about its Malware Museum. The Internet Archive in its infinite wisdom has included an MS-DOS simulator (which is also used for its collection of MS-DOS-based games) that allows you to demo the malware from the safety of your modern web browser.

And don’t worry, there’s no chance of these digital gremlins breaking loose to wreak havoc on your modern computer — they’ve have been cleansed of any “destructive routines.” 

Some rather inventive examples on display include Disk Destroyer, which claimed to destroy your hard drive’s File Allocation Table (FAT) and then taunted you with profanity-laced insults. Another is Frodo Lives, which would reemerge every year on September 22nd in remembrance of the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings.

The Malware Museum, which was amassed by Mikko Hypponen (F-Secure’s Chief Research Officer) and Jason Scott (a software curator for the Internet Archive), currently houses just 79 examples of viruses that once ruled the PC landscape. That’s just a small sampling of all the malware that was rampant during that period of time in computing history, but there’s enough content there to keep you occupied for at least a few hours.