Play Early Console Games In The Browser
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Internet Archive allows you to turn the clock back to the 1970s and 80s when to play a game with your family or friends meant gathering around the TV set and playing low res games using a special purpose "console". 

Keeping software alive so that future generations can appreciate and investigate it is a difficult task - so much software so little remaining hardware. The problem with games consoles that were popular in the 80s is that there were so many of them and keeping working versions working just so that a few lucky people can try out the original software doesn't seem the right way to go. An additional problem is that most of the games were sold on ROM cartridges that only plugged into the console they were designed for. 

Fortunately there is another way - the software way. You can use an emulator to run the same code extracted from the cartridges and allow everyone a chance to join in.

Do you recognize any of these consoles?

 

consoleslableed 

 

Whether you do or your don't you can now play hundreds of games that were available for them in authentic emulations that run in the browser.

 

 Play Frogger as implemented on the Atari 2600

 

The Console Living Room is the latest addition to the Internet Archives. Like the Historical Software Collection launched in October 2013 it uses the JSMESS emulator system, which allows direct access to these programs in your browser with no additional plugins or settings.

It provides both the games and online versions of the original manuals, allowing you to discover how the games were to be played and then play them using the same interface but mapped to your browser.

 

internetarchsq

 

While the Historical Software Collection aims to make "culturally important" software accessible, this new section is just for games and aims to be comprehensive, providing emulations of all the programs produced for console systems irrespective of whether they were good or bad. Currently there is no sound in the games although this feature is to be added soon.

So if you are looking for nostalgia or want to appreciate just how far the games industry has come in 30 years head to the Console Living Room, pick the device of your choice and choose a game to play.

intarchlivingroom

 

Of course the big problem is that the many games are still copyright and the companies that own them might well object if they can find a suitable way of making more money out of them or even if they just think they can. How old does a game have to be before it no longer has any commercial value? 

In the future things might get even more restrictive as Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems have to be overcome to allow old software to run. Most of the console games from this era didn't use DRM because the cartridges that they were stored in were assumed to provide sufficient copy protection. DRM and activation mechanisms are going to make digital archeology increasingly difficult.   

More Information

Internet Archive Historical Software Collection

Console Living Room

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Nolan Bushnell and Atari

Nintendo - The Early History

Super Mario - Nintendo Goes Forward

 

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