Have you ever wanted to play an old video game from your past? Maybe play Pitfall on the Atari 2600 or Super Donkey Kong on a Colecovision? You can all that and more at the Internet Archive.
The Internet Archive (IA) is an online digital library with all sorts of free ebooks / text, videos, audio recordings, software and images. But they are best known for their history of websites from over 20 years.
The IA has a cool archive of websites going back over twenty (20) years. Do a search in the Way Back Machine for Microsoft.com or Facebook.com and you can find their very first website. I actually found one of the first versions of my own personal domain from 1998.
But since these pages are cached versions of the originals, some elements might be missing. Photos, videos and Flash / Java elements have a tendency not to get cached. But it's still fun to see what the Internet looked like a couple of decades ago.
eBooks and Text
With over ten million titles in their library, you would be hard pressed not to find something that interests you. Keep in mind that some these titles are old, but you can still find all sorts of cool publications. Hey, where else are you going to find a copy of Family Computing from December 1983?
The cover of Family Computing from December 1983
The IA even has the ebooks / texts broken down into collections. I found a copy of The Principle of Relativity from 1920 in the MIT Library. There are all sorts of hidden gems here. All you have to do is search through them. And with over 10 million titles, that may take some time.
This is my second favorite collection and I have spent hours going through them. There are films, movies and videos ranging from old-time movies to classic cartoons. When was the last time you saw an old Popeye or Woody Woodpecker cartoon?
And if you're a computer geek like me, you'll just love the Computer & Technology collection. From old episodes of the Computer Chronicles and Net Cafe to made for TV movies like the Pirates of Silicon Valley from 1999. With over 2 million titles, you know I'll be spending more of my free time going through them.
The collections here range from old-time radio programs like Dragnet from the '50's to Grateful Dead concerts from the '70's. The quality of the audio will vary from file to file, but that is to be expected. Some of these recordings are quite old.
Also mixed into this collection you'll find audio books and poetry readings. I even found some recordings from the Spin Doctors and the Gin Blossoms. With around 3 million audio files, there should be something for everyone.
Now I guess that I don't have to tell you that this is my favorite collection of all. The software here ranges from video game consoles from the '70's - '90's to old DOS and Windows games / programs. Most of the DOS games and video game consoles are emulated, so you can play these games right from inside your browser.
The Atari 2600 version of Pitfall
Anybody remember Tucows? Tucows was the place in the '90's to go for shareware / freeware software. Well they donated all of their software titles a decade or so ago to the IA and they are all here available for download.
The Colecovision version of Super Donkey Kong
Now you can download most of the Windows software, but be aware that some of them are 16-bit and will not run on 64-bit operating systems. If you really want to run some of the old Windows software, you will need to set up a virtual machine like VirtualBox running that particular operating system.
This collection is kind of a mixed bag. You have images from the USGS (United States Geological Survey), the Metropolitan Museum of Art and album cover art all in one place.
But the best image collection I think is the one from NASA. Some of the images are quite incredible. If you get a chance, check out the Moon - False Color Mosaic image.
Now before you go checking the IA out, I want to let you know that they are a non-profit organization (501C) and all donations are tax deductible. So if you find it useful and fun as I do, please make a donation.
To get the most out of the IA, it is recommended that you register for a virtual library card. For more information on the Internet Archive, just follow the link below.
Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine