From Ars Technica
Today, tech archivist Jason Scott announced a new website called Discmaster that lets anyone search through 91.7 million vintage computer files pulled from CD-ROM releases and floppy disks. The files include images, text documents, music, games, shareware, videos, and much more. The files on Discmaster come from the Internet Archive, uploaded by thousands of people over the years. The new site pulls them together behind a search engine with the ability to perform detailed searches by file type, format, source, file size, file date, and many other options.
Discmaster is the work of a group of anonymous history-loving programmers who approached Scott to host it for them. Scott says that Discmaster is "99.999 percent" the work of that anonymous group, right down to the vintage gray theme that is compatible with web browsers for older machines. Scott says he slapped a name on it and volunteered to host it on his site. And while Scott is an employee of the Internet Archive, he says that Discmaster is "100 percent unaffiliated" with that organization.
One of the highlights of Discmaster is that it has already done a lot of file format conversion on the back end, making the vintage files more accessible. For example, you can search for vintage music files -- such as MIDI or even digitized Amiga sounds -- and listen to them directly in your browser without any extra tools necessary. The same thing goes for early-90s low-resolution video files, images in obscure formats, and various types of documents. "It's got all the conversion to enable you to preview things immediately," says Scott. "So there's no additional external installation. That, to me, is the fundamental power of what we're dealing with here."
"The value proposition is the value proposition of any freely accessible research database," Scott told Ars Technica. "People are enabled to do deep dives into more history, reference their findings, and encourage others to look in the same place."
"[Discmaster] is probably, to me, one of the most important computer history research project opportunities that we've had in 10 years," says Scott. "It's not done. They've analyzed 7,000 and some-odd CD-ROMs. And they're about to do another 8,000."