Jason Scott, tech archivist, announced today the creation of a new website referred to as Discmaster which allows the search of 91.7 million vintage computer files obtained from floppy disks and CD-ROM releases. These files include games, images, music, shareware, text documents, videos, etc.
Discmaster allows a glimpse into digital media culture and its evolution. This cultural history is often faced with obscurities regarding incompatibilities in file formats.
Discmaster files are gotten from the Internet Archive, which have been uploaded by thousands of people over the years. The novel site collects all these information and performs a comprehensive search using file size, source, format, type, file date, etc.
‘The value proposition is the value proposition of any freely accessible research database,’ said Scott. ‘People are enabled to do deep dives into more history, reference their findings, and encourage others to look in the same place.’
Discmaster was created by a team of anonymous programmers who made an offer to Scott to host it for them. Scott stated that the website is ’99.999%’ the work of the anonymous group, including the vintage gray theme it is set in. Although Scott works for the Internet Archive, he stated that Discmaster is ‘100 percent unaffiliated’ with the organization.
An advantage of Discmaster is that it has already carried out most of the file format conversion on the back end, which allows the vintage files to be more accessible. For instance, a user can search for vintage music files like MIDI, and listen to them without any third-party tool.
‘It’s got all the conversion to enable you to preview things immediately. So, there’s no additional external installation. That, to me, is the fundamental power of what we’re dealing with here.’
In the Twitter announcement thread of Discmaster, people are already making use of the service to find their lost programs during the 1990s, as well as other vintage files.
‘It is probably, to me, one of the most important computer history research project opportunities that we’ve had in 10 years,’ said Scott. ‘It’s not done. They’ve analyzed 7,000 and some-odd CD-ROMs. And they’re about to do another 8,000.
Using a wide archival net, everything was captured and made available in its original form. ‘The [resources] they are choosing are very specifically compilation and presentation CD-ROMs, like the best shareware discs,’ Scott said, ‘pulling in the ones that were meant to be encapsulated plastic resources of information.’
‘Maybe some people don’t want to go through a pile of old things, Scott said. ‘But if you are somebody for whom going through a pile of old things would really positively affect you, this is Shangri-La.’
By Marvellous Iwendi.
Source: Ars Technica