The Internet Archive, the nonprofit best known for its “Wayback Machine” which allows people to browse old versions of websites from years or decades earlier, has launched a new section called the “Historical Software Collection.”
This collection features several old games from a variety of devices. Notable entries included several versions of "Pac-Man" for the Atari game console, classic adventure game "Pitfall" for Atari, and a "Hobbit" adventure game for the ZX Spectrum computer.
This collection of games is easily playable in web browsers via the MESS emulation software that mimics the programming of the original devices the games ran on.
According to the Collection’s site, “we've hand-selected a few dozen ground-breaking and historically important software products, many of whom started entire industries or pioneered new genres of programs.”
Another notable entry is "Akalabeth" for the Apple IIc computer, the original roleplaying game from Richard Garriott, who later went on to create the venerable "Ultima" series. One infamous inclusion is the "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" game for Atari, considered one of the worst games ever made and one of the causes of the video game crash of the early ‘80s.
This isn’t the Internet Archive’s first foray into games. The site has hosted a “Classic PC Games” section for years, with over 5,000 pieces of software for computers specifically, including demos, shareware versions, and freeware versions of games. But with the Historical Software Collection, the nonprofit has begun to highlight complete games from other platforms.
The Historical Software Collection currently only holds 28 titles, but if it follows the pattern of other collections at Archive.org, it may well grow far larger.
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Kelly Ohannessian is a freelance writer and editor. With more than 15 years of experience, she works with a focus on covering the creative aspects of the gaming industry. Her articles have appeared on Medium, Fast Company, Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Gamespot, and many more. Currently, she works as a manager at Brooklyn Game Lab.