Like Brewster Kahle, Nicola Salmoria, Sarinee Achavanuntakul and other archivists of the computer age, Jason Scott is one of my heroes. He dedicates a large part of his life to preserving the history of the BBS scene, from the amazing collection of vintage textfiles and e-zines, historic audio recordings, artwork packs from the computer art scene, interesting papers and books, a growing list of every BBS that ever existed, a comprehensive timeline, and a work-in-progress documentary with over 200 interviews. (I could write an entire entry about every one of these. Go check them out when you have a chance.)
I briefly chatted with Jason in IRC earlier today about some of his current and upcoming projects. His newest project is CD.TEXTFILES.COM, a collection of over 90 CD-ROMs from the late 1980s and early 1990s. These “shovelware” CDs archived files from the era for easy distribution over fileservers and doors.
Most directories have a FILES.BBS text file, which gives short descriptions of each file. Reading these brings back such a hot flash of nostalgia, it’s like stumbling on all the ephemera of my adolescence on one site.
The graphics archives are a hilarious look back to the years before Photoshop 1.0. The TBBS Carousel’s GIF archives (part 1, 2 and 3), To The Maxx’s categorized GIF archive, and the very retro Swimsuits to the Maxx. Each of the eight “Night Owl” collections from the early-1990s have a GIF and JPG directory. Very bizarre.
There’s legal shareware, games, graphic demos, textfiles, MODs, audio clips, and utilities for the PC, Atari, Amiga, and Commodore 64. The PC-Blue archive is a collection of disk images for IBM PCs from 1983 to 1985.
It’s a treasure chest of pre-Web randomness that would take weeks to explore. Let me know if you find any gems.