Now play 2,500 MS-DOS games on your laptop. Here's how
You don't need DOS, just a browser, to play a retro-cool MS-DOS game.
Clifford ColbyManaging Editor
Clifford is a managing editor at CNET, where he leads How-To coverage. He spent a handful of years at Peachpit Press, editing books on everything from the first iPhone to Python. He also worked at a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWEEK and MacUser. Unrelated, he roots for the Oakland A's.
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If you want to check out what gaming was like before the Internet, here's how to get started playing one of the several thousand MS-DOS games the Internet Archive just made available. You can play for free in your browser through the digital library's emulation system.
The Internet Archive cautions that with some games, emulation may run slower than you'd like. With others, file sizes -- especially for games that came on CD-ROMs -- might be a stress on your browser. And some of the just-available games, it admits, just may not be that fun to play.
But if you're feeling nostalgic for a time when games didn't collapse into a black hole but instead let you cheerfully tend a zoo, pilot a zeppelin, steer a sub, play Star Trek pinball and lead settlers over the Oregon Trail, we've got you covered.
While the trick of playing these games in emulation in a browser looks easy, it requires a significant amount of work behind the scenes to track down and preserve the old DOS games, including, where possible, the manuals that came with them. Here's how to play.