ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

The MS-DOS Showcase (And The Ascension of Version 2) —

2,400 MS-DOS games and programs have gone live on the Internet Archive. The full collection is here and the games-specific section (basically all of them, for now) is hereBut wait before you click on those two links.

That’s the headline, and based on the thousands of plays that this collection has already gotten, a pretty well-known thing if you were looking for it. Considering the Internet Arcade has dragged in over 5 million people, this new collection will probably bring in a flood of its own. Welcome.


Let’s talk about what makes this different than the other playable software libraries I’ve been putting up.

First, I really worked hard to have only fully-functioning programs up, or at least, programs that gave viable, useful feedback. Some of them will still fall over and die, and many of them might be weird to play in a browser window, and of course you can’t really save things off for later, and that will limit things too. But on the whole, you will experience some analogue of the MS-DOS program, in your browser, instantly.


Next, this is the first time I’ve successfully bridged metadata with Mobygames, the game information database which has been running for many years and recently returned to private management. My scripts yank in metadata from the entries, and place them in a relatively sane way into the descriptions. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good. Best of all, if someone overhauls the entry on the Mobygames site, I can see about pulling in the improved data into the Internet Archive item over again. So it’s still a one-way pipe, but it’s a fast one-way pipe, and the games make much more contextual and informational sense now.

Anyway, here’s the next big deal – I want you to start really getting into the Version 2 interface of the Internet Archive. So, go here:


This is a way to go directly to the Version 2 of the Internet Archive’s interface. In the upper right, there’s an exit beta button, so you can always pull the rip cord.

The Archive introduced v2, or “the Beta Interface” late last year. It was slow, stocky, and freaked people out. But folks got the idea, mostly – it was taking a site that had only incremental changes for 13 years, shaking the whole story up, and re-imagining the whole thing as a visual and browsing collection, as well as a way to dig deep into the materials.

Since last year, it’s gotten faster, slimmer, has added a bunch of features, and continues to become better to use. But it needs feedback, which is why I’m pushing you at it.

Enjoy the games, and check out all those beautiful screenshots! Play a few programs, note how you get around to things, and talk about what works and what doesn’t work for you. There’s a feedback button – use it. The goal is that you will be able to do everything you can do with the old interface with the new, but that you’ll have so much more happening on the new one. And remember, v2 works across all of the Archive… all the collections are out there, be they movies, books or audio, and the new interface has cool ways to interact with them as well.


As for the software library itself… many titles will stick around – some will go, or change, or be replaced. This is still brand new territory, and with the addition of the MS-DOS programs so far, this no-plugin in-browser experience is one of a kind in the world. I’m working just as hard as the V2 devs are to make everything work, and it wouldn’t be worth my time if I didn’t have people trying it out, commenting on it, and making use of it.

So please, let’s start 2015 right – in CGA and with a brand new way to use the Internet Archive.


Categorised as: computer history | Internet Archive | jason his own self

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  1. Karl Andrews says:

    I would like to add a few things: Rogue ( BSD liscense ), and Empire. ( well Empire proper is a commercial enterprise, but the early MS-DOS Port ec fists, and my keyboards ‘ecss’ key is broken.

  2. says:

    I generally like the v2 of the internet archive. I don’t understand why there is no easy way to navigate to the software library (and thus, to the MSDOS library.) There are huge buttons for both the Internet Arcade and for the Console Living Room under software, but plenty of great stuff is hidden/impossible to find in the beta.

  3. Chigüire says:

    You are my best friend from now on.

  4. John says:

    Nice library but there a lot of games are missing.

    • Mmmbacon says:

      Always one, every damn time. We are witnessing literal software miracles here. This is the blood, sweat, and tears of a LOT of good folks who are donating their time to GIVE this to you free???!!! And for that, you actually take the time to leave a comment complaining that you weren’t given EVERY free game at once, just some. Amazing……

  5. smerckel says:

    Many thanks to you and the development team for all of their dedication and hard work on this project. It’s definitely a labor of love, and is appreciated by so many people.

  6. Asterisk says:

    The thing I’m not sure I understand is the lack of download links for most of the actual game content. I can’t imagine that any supposed copyright liability could be avoided simply by restricting the manner of consuming the content to a web browser — distribution is still distribution, right? In-browser emulation is a great way of exposing these classic games to people who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to them, and I’ve got to compliment the work you and the team have done with this and with JSMESS; however, for those of us who prefer a more authentic classic gaming experience, and have our own local DOSBox configurations (i.e mine is set up with proper video aspect correction, MT-32 emulation, etc.), and don’t want the overhead of a web-browser dependency, it would be nice to be able to get to that directly from within this collection.

    > And remember, v2 works across all of the Archiv

    Unfortunately, I find v2 somewhat unusable, given the inherent dysfunction of the Pinterest-style layout and the unsuitability of using the “load more content automatically when the user scrolls to the bottom of the page” method instead of pagination when attempting to navigate large sets of data. I certainly applaud the desire to make Archive’s content more accessible, though, even if this particular implementation goes in the opposite direction.

    • Todd says:

      I don’t think anyone would ever claim that a universal in-browser representation of emulation via javascript is superior in any way/shape/form to a dedicated rig made to run such software. The point of this is to archive and allow this software to be experienced by anyone in the world who wises to using universal standards.
      The hope is in 30 years from now, I can demonstrate Carmen Sandiega to my grandchildren in a few clicks;
      a history teacher could do the same with the Oregon Trail.
      A computer science student could learn the history of program design by “living through it”

      In 30 years, your super charged Mame/DOSBox/SCUMMVM/etc… rig probably won’t exist.

      This will.

      • Asterisk says:

        I don’t know what ‘rig’ you’re referring to; MAME, DOSBox, and ScummVM are all software — open-source, no less — and are indeed the very applications that have been ported to JavaScript to enable the in-browser emulation used at Any user capable of accessing is likewise able to freely obtain local, native binaries of these emulators, and any computer capable of executing the in-browser emulation will be capable of running them natively. Additionally, because of the much lower overhead required to simply run the emulators natively, many computers that wouldn’t be able to run in-browser emulation will still be capable of running the emulator binaries directly.

        I’m complaining about the lack of download links preciesly because of the *greater* constraints on exclusively in-browser emulation that make it accessible to *fewer* people, and make it *more* likely that changes to the code of the *larger* set of external dependecies — including the web browser’s code base and the ongoing availability of the website that hosts the software — will make these games *harder* to access in the future.

  7. mort says:

    The one thing I’d like to see with the v2 design is an optional “list” view where you can just see a big, plain old text list, sortable by columns (title, developer, release year, etc). It would certainly aid in discovery of titles. That said, this is awesome!

    Oh and Leather Goddess of Phobos 2 has the wrong file. It’s an Amiga MODplayer. 😉

  8. Mikethephilosopher says:

    I had an EE Degree before the web was born and appreciate the effort to retain some of the early pre web games. This is all part of history that is fundamental to the understanding of where we are now. Thanks.