Computer-Legacy.com

A celebration of old computer technology


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Project List

On this page are a list of projects, in various levels of "completion", with a small description and some information about what's happening next with them.


Current Projects

MP3.com Resurrection Project

http://mp3-2003.computer-legacy.com/

Sitrep: The website is up and semi-functional, a lot of work still to be done - see the homepage for that project for more information.

Collaborative: Not currently, but possibly in future

This is a fun project to try and get MP3.com before it became the shell of its former self, back into a browsable and functional state. It's come along well so far, there is still a few more things to do before I can call it quits on this:

  1. Missing artist images - there's a lot of images missing that would be quite nice to re-locate, this would likely mean leveraging the Internet Archive API to query the dead resource links and seeing if they have a copy (it doesn't exist in any of the archives that have surfaced so far)
  2. Link to original audio - at the moment the website is purely static, and so any links to "download" or "stream" the audio do nothing. There's a lot of potential to link these resource links to their respective files on The Internet Archive

The No Commentary Demonstration Video Series

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyPEQCzrQ2t4uL_nr0U_9sg

Sitrep: I now have the capture hardware, just to find time to capture the content...

I have a lot of old software in my possession. Some of it does have genuine value to me or others, but some of it feels a bit excessive. So I began wondering what to do with these piles of CD-ROM's and floppy disks.

One thing I have noticed that a lot of of these old titles, abandonware for lack of a better term, have no current video demonstrations of them working. Something which can not only be interesting in gauging whether something is even worth installing, but also useful if you're making a video essay or some kind of video list and need some footage of the software.

So to achieve this I will be capturing the first 10-15 minutes of a title, with no commentary just the audio from the software, and then uploading it to the Computer Legacy YouTube channel. I will also be looking to sharing the original unedited captures so that other video editors can download them and do with them as they please.

Enabling In-Browser Emulation for Archived Software

I have uploaded a lot of software (of various types) to The Internet Archive which is great. However there are plenty of examples when you may want to just test something without needing to spin up a virtual machine or drag out that dusty old laptop.

The gurus over at The Internet Archive have figured a way to run most software within a modern web-browser, certainly anything that would normally run under popular emulator DOSBox.This means any software that should be able to run under MS-DOS or Windows 3.1x should now be able to be demo'd within a web-browser window.

See my progress here!


Infinite Projects

MusicBrainz

https://musicbrainz.org/user/sound.and.vision

Sitrep: What isn't there to do on MusicBrainz, the train keep's rolling...

Collaborative: Definitely, get yourself over to the MusicBrainz website, sign up and get stuck in!

MusicBrainz for the unaware is an open-source community driven project to capture everything about music; from the performers to releases to events and more. The website explains it better than I ever could, and stays up to date, however if you're someone who is passionaite about music then I highly recommend coming along for the ride. Contributions of any size are appreciated, the community is also rock-solid in helping out newcomers and assisting with any questions you may have.

Some of my personal areas that I am interested with in regards to MusicBrainz are:

Archive.org

https://archive.org/details/@sound_and_vision

Collaborative: Definitely, if you have information or data that is useful to others then head over to Archive.org and sign-up and get uploading

Sitrep: I need more free time

I have been a long time fan of The Internet Archive (sometimes just referred to as archive.org or IA), and over the past 4 so years seen its popularity rise even further (in conjunction with more people becomming invested in Lost Media projects covered extensively on places like YouTube).

I split my time between MusicBrainz and IA work, uploading various articles that I think are interesting and should be shared. Some of my personal mini-projects include:

Teletext Recovery from VHS

http://computer-legacy.com/teletext.html

Collaborative: In so much as you can start recovering it yourself, yes. As for helping me, I need to process my tapes first before I can start taking on more.

Sitrep: I've got the hardware, I've got the software, I understand how it works, recoveries are happening...

A few years ago while doing some recovery of the "audio-visual" parts of home VHS recordings, I wondered about all of the ethereal elements that were part of the television experience in my childhood... things like EPGs, interactive services and the wonder that was Teletext

While struggling to fall asleep one night, I tried to think of topics to research that might put my mind at rest and allow me to finally sleep. Instead of my classic route of "how does pee and poo water become drinking water", I decided to look into Teletext, how it worked on a technical level and if anyone ever had an archive of it. Considering it was such a big part of a lot of peoples television experience back when things were "analogue", surely the providers themselves would have an archive?

Ha! Turns out they don't. Nope, for the most part the Teletext content was generated, broadcast and propmptly overwritten... so that means were in the realms of uber-rare content, right?

Well yes sort of, but there is a light at the end of this tunnel. You see as part of the television watching experience it was common place to also have a VCR at your disposal, my family certainly did. You'd put in a blank tape, and either record what you may want to rewatch later "ad-hoc" or use the magical timer functionality to record a programme between a start and end time. What people didn't realise is that their little VCR's were not only capturing the audiovisual part of the television broadcast, but all the "guff" in the background... including Teletext data.

So this means that every single VHS that exists has the possiblity to contain this information, but the question is - how do you extract it?

I'm not going to get into the who/what/why/how of that question in this paragraph, I'm planning either a video walk-through/webpage when I get my own workflow concrete. But all I can say is the data is there, it can be recovered, and when it is recovered, it is glorious!

Recovering Various Content from VHS

http://computer-legacy.com/vhs.html

Collaborative: Not really.

Sitrep: Just a case of finding time to complete the recoveries.

For years now I have been recovering content from videotape... be that tapes recorded at home or commercially produced, and making that content available online. Of course there are many pitfalls that I have encountered with this, and have tried various platforms. The platform of choice now is The Internet Archive, and if you follow the project page link above you can see what has been recovered and links to view that content.


Completed Projects

Not much here immediately, but stuff's coming, I promise!

Flashpoint

BlueMaxima's Flashpoint is a community driven project that is very much still alive at the time of writing this (late 2022), and if you have memories of Flash based web-software (be it games, apps or other interactive gubbins) then you should check it out!

I was part of Flashpoint's recovery team, and worked on a number of titles (namely those from the BBC) getting them into the datbase.

I ended up leaving the project after about 6 months due to other life commitments, but my time in that project was great and if you're wanting to get into the world of digital archiving then it's a great place to start.

I check in now and then to the various release notes posted on the Discord server and am glad to see how things are progressing.


Future Projects

Note to self: this is not to become a dumping ground for pipe dreams!

Archiving Electronic Toys

The idea for this was seeded by a tweet I saw on Twitter one day... I can't find it now so if you're that person have a gold star.

The idea with this is to look to purchasing a selection of electronic toys from a car boot/charity shop, taking them apart (carefully) and working out how to extract the binary code from their chips to a digital file that can be stored somewhere, and then possibly one day emulated?

I'll probably start with fast-food freebies (McDonalds, Burger King etc.) first as they're small and probably quite simple internally... then move along to other things later. How this will eventually work out I don't know, but watch this space.

The Old Mobile Phone Project

This is more so that I can get rid of them, to make space so I can buy more crud.

Old mobile phones are kinda neat, but also kinda stupid. They're also not well archived, and from what I can gather, not really emulated. In the old-days before iOS and Android white-washed everything, there were a lot of variations of mobiles. Each one had its own "OS", and with that ringtones, wallpapers, screensavers, themes, apps and games.

The idea with this is to try and make archives of the data on the mobile phone (OS included) so that maybe one day someone much smarter than me could possibly emulate it in a web browser... until then I will have to keep these various bricks in a storage tub..


Abandoned Projects

The hall of shame is this way...

Computer Legacy v1

When I registered this domain in the heady days of college, I was a very green retro nerd who wanted to share his love of old computer software that no one has thought about (possibly ever) on the internet.

To try and achieve this previously I had setup a free-to-use wordpress account and named the "blog" something atrocious like Dans Warez or something (which of course instantly put me onto some kind of craplist somewhere) and things got a bit spiky quickly. Finding my time on the free-to-use blog platform as "restrictive" I looked into the wonderful world of hosting my own damn website. I'd had a few little websites here and there over the years, but nothing "proper".

So I got about finding a suitable content management system and began to make my website, Computer Legacy I'd call it as it's all about old ass legacy computer crap. The idea was the website was going to be a two-pronged approach of providing system requirements, a database, screenshot gallery and mini-reviews of various bits of freeware, shareware and other types of gratis software for Windows systems, preferably between 1990 and 2008. Things started well, but quickly I wanted to do more and more with the website ("scope creep") and burnt my self out.

I tried to reignite the website many times over the years but constantly fell short. Eventually I realised that there were already better and more mature websites that were achieving my goals with more collaborators (one of them being the Shareware collections on The Internet Archive; so I set about closing down computer-legacy.com as I knew it and putting more of my work into The Internet Archive; which I'm glad to say, still happens.

You could in theory call this website v2, and has since been resurrected to act as an almost "container" for all my wonderfully weird projects, which are all in some way still related to old computers and old computer crap.

Advertopia

I have been amused and strangely obsessed with old advertising and promotional for as long as I can recall.

Possibly something that MegaCorps burnt into my puny brain by bribing me with silly bits of plastic in my cereal, or pointless mail-in surveys... but they're something that just gets me going.

Advertopia was a project to try and catalog a wide range of advertising and promotional items from all around the world in multiple mediums... video, audio, print and physical items. This would be a monumental task, and although I learnt a lot by creating the basic framework for a collaborative website, I ultimately lost interest before I had really even begun. I still have a great admiration for the world of adverts of days-gone-by, and upload any content I find to places like The Internet Archive.

Filmogs and Bookogs (FKA Bibliogs)

Ultimately my work in these projects was for nothing. Side-projects created by music-data "behemoth" Discogs following a user survey, these projects aimed to do for VHS, DVD, paperbacks and hardbacks what Discogs did for Vinyl, CD and cassette.

Involved from an early beta stage, most of my time was spent with the Filmogs project with a bit of dabbling with the Bookogs project when I had the urge.

Sometime in 2020 Discogs pulled the plug on a lot of hard-work (not just by myself, but a lot of individuals) because ultimately the websites weren't generating immediate revenue.

Most annoyingly a lot of the data submitted to either project has been irrevocably lost (to my knowledge at least), as Discogs seem to consider that data to be "theirs". So I doubt any of my hours of work will ever be recovered.

What I learnt from this lesson, which many should take heed of, is that most "MegaCorps" seem friendly and nice on the surface, but when you get down to it - unless the websites turning massive $$$ they couldn't care less about you, or your efforts.

Ultimatley for the greater good, this behaviour pushed me to work on completely opensource projects wherever I can, with the full understanding I can take copies of the work I submit and keep them for myself if ever the worst happens.

Discogs is still an invaluable resource for a lot of individuals (including myself) but I will never put any more effort into helping their closed-source website, and they should never be considered to be part of any kind of "community", ever.

As for what came after? For Bookogs, there are many databases out there but the one I recommend people look into is BookBrainz, part of the MetaBrainz project. As for film stuff, no one has taken up the lofty gauntlet to try and create FilmBrainz yet...