The Oregon Trail (Screen grab via the Internet Archive)

The Oregon Trail (screen grab via the Internet Archive)

If you were in elementary school in the late 1980s or early 1990s, you might remember spending hours of free time playing MS-DOS computer games. Who could forget the thrill of shooting a bear on the Oregon Trail, controlling an army of lemmings, or chasing down that crook Carmen Sandiego? It was addictive — the kind of thing worth missing dinner for, if you could get away with it.

Now, the Internet Archive has brought nearly 2,400 of those early computer games directly to your web browser. For the first time ever online, you can play games including The Oregon TrailLemmings, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, as well as Street Fighter, Mario Brothers, Donkey KongPinball Construction Set, and Prince of Persia. The archive describes itself as a “software crate-digger’s dream” that allows “instant access to decades of computer history.”

The collection is currently in beta version, so there are still a few kinks to smooth out. “Some of [the games] will still fall over and die, and many of them might be weird to play in a browser window, and of course you can’t really save things off for later, and that will limit things too,” explained Jason Scott, curator of the archive’s software collections, on his personal blog. “But on the whole, you will experience some analogue of the MS-DOS program, in your browser, instantly.”

Laura C. Mallonee is a Brooklyn-based writer. She holds an M.A. in Cultural Reporting and Criticism from NYU and a B.F.A. in painting from Missouri State University. She enjoys exploring new cities and...