The Internet Archive is taking us back to 1992 with the release of over 1,000 programs and games that run on what was arguably the first truly mass-market color graphical interface: Windows 3.1.
It's hard to imagine the enormous leap that was Windows 3.1 now that even our smart phones run an operating system that is an order of magnitude or two more sophisticated. But it really is a granddaddy of operating systems and its approach still dictates desktop design today.
The OS included for the first time a media viewer – which meant you could view video files on your home computer. It included support for CD-ROMs – which was a huge leap in both speed and storage. It was the beginning of the modern computer.
Unfortunately, as happens all too quickly with computer technology, it is also almost completely obsolete – and in a such a short timeframe that anyone over 30 most likely remembers it. It's the computer equivalent of all of Michael Jackson's records suddenly disappearing.
And so in steps the Internet Archive, which has grabbed everything from the "new" Minesweeper – the game that cost businesses millions in productivity – to Solitaire to the more graphics-heavy Empire II. Over 1,000 games in total.
It has also saved just under 300 shareware programs covering everything from calculators to programs that made fax cover sheets (yes, faxes). These were the days before the internet had even entered most people's consciousness, so no browsers, but plenty of disk duplicators.
You can choose to either download the programs – assuming you are able to figure out how to actually run Windows 3.1 on your system – or you can run it through the Internet Archive's emulator, which does a fairly good job of giving you the 3.1 experience, although its load time is unnervingly fast for those who can remember the OS.
The Windows 3.1 archive joins the MS-DOS archive. And presumably it won't be too long before Windows 95 appears. So if you have an hour to spare in the coming days, take a trip down memory lane with those first decent Microsoft programs. They're rubbish of course, but at the time... ®