Below the fold, I look at why the new oldweb.today is an improvement on the old version, which is still available at classic.oldweb.today
|Teresa Duncan CD-ROMs|
The old oldweb.today used a technique that had been used before, for example to replay the Teresa Duncan CD-ROMs, and that I described in Emulation & Virtualization as Preservation Strategies. The emulators ran in the cloud, composed from Docker images of operating systems and browsers. Although the system worked well, there were practical difficulties, such as the fact that funding was needed to pay for cloud resources. The more popular the site, the more it cost to keep it running. To mitigate this, the site limited the number of simultaneous users.
The new oldweb.today uses the same idea as the Internet Archive's Emularity system. The web page loads an emulator for a computer compiled into WebAssembly, which loads an operating system image, which loads a browser, which loads the content. This is all static Web content, the execution all happens inside the visitor's browser, so no limit on simultaneous users is needed.
|Netscape 4 on MacOS|
- implemented in Flash in 2002,
- archived by the Wayback Machine in 2007,
- running inside Netscape Navigator 4 from around 1999,
- running inside MacOS from around the same time,
- running inside my version of Chromium from 2020.
Does this cover all Flash works? Not yet, but advancements in emulation technology will continue to ensure that Flash remains accessible.Scott has a similar caveat:
While Ruffle’s compatibility with Flash is less than 100%, it will play a very large portion of historical Flash animation in the browser, at both a smooth and accurate rate.Taken together, these show why having a range of different emulators available to replay preserved Flash content is important.
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