The Internet Archive Opens Its Historical Software Collection To AllS

Gamers of a certain age will no doubt scream Oh wow, I remember that! as they click through the Internet Archive's latest project.

The non-profit organization recently launched the Historical Software Collection, with the mission of making old programs accessible (including plenty of games!) that were originally released for platforms like Atari 2600, Apple II, and Commodore 64.

Software itself isn't new to the Archive, but it's spent the past couple of years making these programs playable in-browser. So whether it's E.T. on Atari 2600 from 1982 or VisiCalc on the Apple II from 1979, there's no need to download a heap of emulators to try them out.

Archiving video games can present special challenges, as David Gibson at the Library of Congress has explained so well. But the independent Internet Archive claims to have the largest software archive in the world, and it should be interesting to see how the next few years work out for them.

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges they'll face is copyright. Technically, all of these programs are still covered under copyright law. And I have no doubt that the myriad companies responsible for managing the rights to something like E.T. are figuring out if they should intervene. Hopefully, no one will try to pull these programs. But if they do, it will be just one more example of how desperately broken our current copyright system is. [Internet Archive]