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The Internet Archive puts Atari games and obsolete software directly in your browser

posted Oct 27, 2013, 5:32 PM by Troy Cheek   [ updated Oct 27, 2013, 5:33 PM ]

The Internet Archive has officially released a tool that will let decades-old software run in your browser, along with a catalog of noteworthy, fun, or notorious games and applications. The Archive team has spent two years creating and troubleshooting a JavaScript port of the MESS computer software emulator, giving users of any modern browser an almost instantaneous way to run anything from Atari games to the very first spreadsheet application. To make it more useful, the group has also launched the Historical Software Collection, which cherry-picks the most important and interesting titles from its archives.

As the Internet Archive notes, preserving old software isn't a matter of just keeping its physical storage safe. Archivists must preserve the data in a format that's more likely to last the test of time, then find a way to emulate it on a modern machine. While the software in the collection was already playable through MESS (cousin to arcade game simulator MAME), JavaScript-based JSMESS makes the process absolutely painless. After all, would you really go through the trouble of installing an emulator just to play one of the biggest gaming flops of all time?