The Internet Archive now hosts thousands of classic Apple II computer games as part of its Apple II Library: The 4am Collection, and all featured games are playable for free in modern web browsers.
The 4am Collection is a hobbyist-driven initiative that has preserved more than 500 Apple II games in their original, unaltered formats, eliminating hacker-distributed trainers and intros as part of the Internet Archive’s preservation efforts.
While the Internet Archive already hosts a significant quantity of Apple II games, many key titles were missing due to advanced copy protection routines employed by various publishers. Though many of these games were successfully cracked at the time of their release, the widespread proliferation of altered, pirated versions made it very difficult to experience these titles in their original form using emulators.
“To understand this achievement, it’s best to explain what 4am (an anonymous person or persons) has described as their motivations: to track down Apple II programs, especially ones that have never been duplicated or widely distributed, and remove the copy protection that prevents them from being digitized,” archivist Jason Scott explained in a recent blog post.
“Off the shelf, the programs would include copy protection routines that went so far as to modify the performance of the floppy drive, or force the Apple II’s operating system to rewrite itself to behave in strange ways,” Scott wrote. “Hackers […] would modify the graphics of the programs to announce the effort they’d put behind it, or remove/cleave away particularly troublesome or thorny routines that they couldn’t easily decode, meaning the modern access to these programs were to incomplete or modified versions.”