Retro futures

The archives of Word.com, one of the great webzines of the 90s, are online.

Launched in 1995, Word.com was one of the first-ever online magazines. In an era when the word “blog” hadn’t yet come into existence, Word captured individual voices telling honest, funny, weird, sad, and strange tales with a “realness” that, at the time, was nowhere to be found in mainstream print journalism. Stories were showcased by a colorful, weird, and eclectic digital design that won continuous clumsy negotiations with a technology in its infancy.

The proceedings of the Old Bailey, reports from London’s criminal courts in the 17th-19th centuries, are online.

According to John Langbein, the Proceedings are "probably the best accounts we shall ever have of what transpired in ordinary English criminal courts before the later eighteenth century". Although initially aimed at a popular rather than a legal audience, the material reported was neither invented nor significantly distorted. The Old Bailey Courthouse was a public place, with numerous spectators, and the reputation of the Proceedings would have quickly suffered if the accounts had been unreliable. Their authenticity was one of their strongest selling points, and a comparison of the text of the Proceedings with other manuscript and published accounts of the same trials confirms that what they did report was for the most part reported accurately.

OMNI Magazine has been resurrected, along with a collection of images from the old magazine.


The history of Oregon Trail, created by three Carleton College grads in a high school computer closet.

With no monitor, the original version of Oregon Trail was played by answering prompts that printed out on a roll of paper. At 10 characters per second, the teletype spat out, "How much do you want to spend on your oxen team?" or, "Do you want to eat (1) poorly (2) moderately or (3) well?" Students typed in the numerical responses, then the program chugged through a few basic formulas and spat out the next prompt along with a status update.

An interview with Mark Turmell, who worked on NBA Jam, and snuck in a balance cheat:

...But only when the Bulls played the Pistons. If there was a close game and anyone on the Bulls took a last second shot, we wrote special code in the game so that they would average out to be bricks. There was the big competition back in the day between the Pistons and the Bulls, and since I was always a big Pistons fan, that was my opportunity to level the playing field.

JSMESS is an effort to build a multi-system emulator that runs in the browser.