ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Seedy Textfiles —

I got another nice letter today along the lines of “I’m sorry to bother you… oh god, don’t hit me… please, what’s going on with CD.TEXTFILES.COM?” Sure, there’s a lot of people who write to me like I’m the Super and they’re getting no heat, but others write with an overarching deference and politeness. So here’s what’s going on.

When I moved to colocation, everything went except for, and This was mostly, in the case of ascii, because of programming setup, and in the case of bbslist and cd, because I just hadn’t gotten around to it. Later, I didn’t move because there’s no room.

Right now, is rocking along at 216 gigabytes of data. That’s larger than the space on the machine, currently. I know, behind the times, but that’s what the current situation is.

So, some time ago, I thought about getting a little more drive space installed into the main server so I could move up there. But I kept putting it off, because hey, it worked great for me…. I had to put a bandwidth limiter on the site, you see, because it was getting ugly. Way ugly.

The interaction people have with brings great meaning to the term “tentacle rape”. I’ve seen people open fifty, again, FIFTY, 5-0 connections to to yank it dry. I feel like I could go downstairs and watch the server implode like a kid’s juice box while this is going on. And they would do it for days and days and days. Endless attacks on all sides.

Also, because there are well over a million files (I think the number’s around 1,200,000 files or thereabouts), I would always, like, 24 hours a day, have spiders downloading stuff from google, yahoo and the rest. People might say “Hey, you should stop them”, but kind of the “point” of being on the web was people looking for stuff. So if I didn’t have it searchable, I’m being a dope.

Anyway, I got a really nice letter from a guy, and he pointed out an interview in which he said this stuff:

Basically, my site could not exist without That site, I am not kidding, is the greatest website of all time. They’ve uploaded hundreds of shareware and freeware compilation CDs, archiving thousands of games, utilities, applications, and anything else you can imagine. It’s shovelware paradise. The quote on the first page explains it perfectly. “Who knew that the companies looking for a quick buck through the late 1980’s and early 1990’s with “Shovelware” CDs would become the unwitting archivists of the BBS age? No one did, but here we are, looking back, muttering thanks to these souless (sic) con artists as we plunder the very data they themselves took from a time now past.”

“Their data, of course, isn’t categorized and catalogued like my site. You can’t just go to the site and browse through games by publisher or genre, find specific version numbers, purchasing information or declaration of freeware status, links to the author’s website, or read in-depth reviews. is a library. If you’re willing to search it, you can find almost anything.”

“There are very few websites that I trust to take my downloads from. I have to be sure that every zip file is unaltered, meaning that no files are missing, have been added, no config files have been altered, the version number or copyright information hasn’t been hacked or hex-edited in, and no saved games or high scores are present, which is almost impossible to guarantee on other websites. Each file has to be exactly the way the publisher released it, and free from viruses, malware, or corruption. To be sure, some of the zip files on the shovelware CDs have been altered. Sometimes the BBS guy would play a round of the game, then re-zip the file before uploading it to his BBS. Perhaps he or she played the game in order to write the file_id.diz description. So some of the zip files will have high scores or saved games, or add an advertisement for their BBS into the archive. The wonderful thing about is that, having so many sources, I can usually find several copies of each version of each game, and I compare them to make sure that I have an unaltered original. True research requires the citation of multiple sources. Some of the CDs only contain altered archives, so I’ve learned which CDs are trustworthy and reliable sources of unaltered zip files. is one of the few websites that I trust as a source of downloads for my site. Without them, I would be able to offer the most recent version of most games with confidence by taking them from the publisher’s website, but I wouldn’t be able to archive entire version histories, which is what sets my site apart as a preservationist and archival society.

“Like any library or museum, they don’t even know what hidden gems they have in their archives. I found multiple copies of Major Stryker v1.3 on their site, a version which Apogee claimed was never released. My discovery changed the official Apogee FAQ. If you know what you’re looking for, you can find incredible things.”

So that’s really cool. I’m going to go buy a 750gb drive, get that installed in the colo machine and we’ll see about returning to full accessability. Amazing what a kind word can do.

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  1. James says:

    So, based on your previous post about BitTorrent, I’m guessing that there won’t be .torrent files for these things coming any time soon?

  2. Rick M says:

    Wow. Looks like the “Tragedy of the Commons” hit you big time. Here’s to hoping is resurrected, soon. I’m trying to get a copy of PCOPT110.ZIP, which Google sez was at

    You do the world a great service. Keep the bandwidth limiters throttled down…