RGB Classic Games is a non-profit co-operative devoted to preserving classic games for obsolete PC operating systems.
DOS was the first widespread operating system for the x86 architecture, the most popular family of microprocessors in the world for the last 30 years. Now that Apple has switched to the x86 architecture, almost every new home computer sold in the world today can run a real copy of DOS. The major CPU manufacturers are developing virtualization technologies that help computers run multiple operating systems simultaneously, and DOS emulators have brought the ability to run DOS software to platforms that have never before run DOS. The future of DOS has never been brighter.
DOS is the legacy of home computers. No type of software chronicles that legacy, by pushing the limits of technology, or being more widely used, better than games. To observe the advances in games is to observe the development of every aspect of computer technology, from CPUs to graphics and sound cards to input devices. Changes in the content and genres of games are a window into the popular culture of our society. Games are the reason most people bought computers in the first place!
Games designed for DOS were simple, yet fun. They remind of us our childhoods. They made up the bulk of all computer games for over a decade, and they are disappearing fast. They were published on floppy disks that are degrading with the passage of time, and many were rendered unplayable as new versions of Windows removed support for DOS environments.
One of the primary goals of this site is to preserve the history of DOS games by popularizing them and providing utilities to make them playable so that people can enjoy them, but the ideals of the site go far beyond that.
Historical accuracy and comprehensiveness
Instead of merely hosting the most recent copy of each game, I am compiling an archive of every version of each game, including source code whenever possible, to provide a complete history of the games. I research the status and legality of distribution of each game to provide accurate information and combat software piracy.
Every file on this site came from either the authors, original installation disks or other trustworthy sources. To ensure that all archives are unaltered, complete, legal, and free of viruses, I do not accept emailed attachments from the general public. Zip files are inspected to ensure that they contain all original files, including license and copyright information. Files added by third parties like BBS servers and disk distributors are removed. Each archive is made to be as identical to the original release as possible. Whenever a publisher released a game as a zip file, the original file name is used whenever possible. When a publisher used the same file name for more than one version of a game, it is unfortunately necessary to change the name of one of the archives. In that scenario, a standard naming convention is used which appends the version number in parentheses to the name of the older archive(s).
All downloads are hosted on this website rather than linked to the publisher's download page. I do this to:
- prevent dead links
- conserve bandwidth on the author's site (I assume other webmasters don't appreciate leeching)
- ensure good download speeds
- ensure that the source website won't just disappear some day and cause a great game to be lost to history
A link is also provided to each company's website.
Compatibility and accessibility
Placing the navigation menu at the beginning of a web page forces voice browsers to read all of the options before getting to the content of the page. To comply with W3C accessibility guidelines, I have placed a link at the top of the menu that points to an anchor at the beginning of the content of each page. The link is written in the same colour as the background, making it invisible to visitors with sight! Though far from an expert, I hope that my site is accessible to the vast majority of the world's people.
RGB Classic Games contains only software that is legal to distribute. That means that only software that has been released under a shareware or freeware license, or software which has been officially released into the public domain by the copyright holder.
Why is "abandonware" illegal?
Many people are under the erroneous impression that it is legal to distribute software once the copyright holder no longer sells or supports it. Large organizations like Microsoft, Nintendo and the ESA aggressively enforce the protection of software that, in some cases, hasn't been sold or supported for 20 years. The Copyright Society of the U.S.A. explains how long copyrights last in a very understandable way.
"Copyrights in works created since 1978 will last for 70 years after the death of the work's author. If the work is what the copyright law calls a "work made for hire," created by employees within the scope of their employment, the work will last for 95 years from the work's first publication or 120 years from its creation, whichever is shorter. The provisions on copyrights in works created and published before 1978 are complicated, but, as a general rule, the copyright in those works will last 95 years. Anything first published in 1923 or earlier, though, is in the public domain."
Because software is usually created by a team of people, most PC software falls under the "work made for hire" rule. Since the PC was released in 1981, the earliest date for any game created as a work for hire to enter the public domain is 2076. The earliest date for any game written by an individual to fall into the public domain is 2051 (in the case of an author who died in 1981). That means that no PC game has ever had its copyright expire. The only way for any PC game to have fallen into the public domain at this point is if the copyright holder explicitly released it into the public domain. All other PC software will be protected by copyright in the United States for at least another 31 years.
Changing the definition of abandonware
RGB Classic Games uses the word "abandonware" differently, in order to change the meaning of the word. Most websites define "abandonware" as software that has been "abandoned" – that is, software that is no longer sold or supported by the copyright holder. That kind of abandonware is illegal, but many people believe it is legal, so it's time to change the way the word is used. RGB Classic Games defines abandonware as any software that the copyright holder has abandoned his or her legal rights to. That means that only public domain software should ever be called abandonware. The copyright holders have officially, legally, and verifiably abandoned all of their rights to games listed as abandonware on this site. All such games belong to the public domain, and the copyright holder retains no rights to them whatsoever. It is, therefor, legal to distribute, modify, reverse engineer, or even sell such software. Those games have a red banner and background in game listings.
RGB Classic Games contains no banner ads, pop-ups or pop-unders. I'm morally opposed to harassing advertisements, and I believe that most people don't click on advertisements anyway. I don't want to bother my visitors for the small amount of revenue it would generate.
I have also decided to try to generate some revenue in what I consider to be a morally acceptable way. Some games simply can't be purchased from their copyright holder any more. I've found a few of them on Amazon, which is a reputable business that I have purchased from before. Helping visitors locate a copy of a game that they can't acquire any other way seems like a valuable service rather than a superficial attempt to make money. If you're going to buy the game from Amazon anyway, you might as well help the site by clicking the link I provide so I can get a commission. You don't even have to buy the product that the link goes to! Just click the link for Amazon.com or Amazon.ca and it will take you to the main page. We'll get a small commission on anything you buy, and it costs you nothing to give the site that little bit of support.
Download sites use a lot of bandwidth, so I purchased my webhosting from 1&1. They offer 10 GB of storage, 300 GB of bandwidth per month, and include domain registration, all for $3.99 per month. They often have promotions that make the first 6 months half price for new customers. I have been very satisfied with their service, and it takes this site weeks to use as much bandwidth as it's entitled to use in a single day. I would recommend them to anyone and, if you're going to buy from them anyway, you might as well help the site by clicking this link so that I can get a commission.
Due to increasing costs, I have also allowed a small number of sponsored text links to appear on the navigation menu. I reviewed the websites and found them to be safe. I believe that a text link is not intrusive the way annoying, flashing, sometimes talking(!) banner ads, pop-ups, and pop-unders can be. Your browsing experience will never be interrupted by any of those methods of advertising.
Accountability and transparency
I believe in the principle of transparent accounting practices. All of the site's expenses and revenues are reported on the Donations page for all to see. Most websites claim to have expenses but don't list what they are for and how much they cost. I make no wild claims of having to pay thousands of dollars for bandwidth. The prices I report can be easily verified. This is really what I pay to run this site, and this is really how much money the site has received.
Visitors are encouraged to share their thoughts, memories and experiences, assist one another, and contribute to the development of a RGB Classic Games community in our Forum. I feel that extending the mandate of the site to form a community of individuals who share the site's ideals is important to the nature of this project. I can also personally be reached by email on the Contact page.
Using our resources to actively contribute to the cause
RGB Classic Games isn't just about storing old games on a hard drive. Hundreds of classic games can no longer be enjoyed because their publishers have discontinued them. This site aims to take an active role in the preservation of the DOS games legacy by encouraging copyright holders to make their games available, either for sale or as freeware.
Giving back to the authors
To ensure that these classic games will always be available, I believe that it is important to support the authors in order to reward them for their hard work and discourage them from discontinuing their games. The effort of these individuals is the reason the games exist. To aid them, I provide pricing for games that are still sold and link to the publisher of every game so that visitors can purchase full versions of the games, or buy newer games from the same author. If you enjoy a shareware game, please register it.
French: Sophie Gagnon
German: Maximilian Schaufler
Spanish: Dave Allen
Swedish: Tobias Svenblad
The following people also deserve special thanks for their invaluable contributions to the site.
- Ron Balewski - for answering all of my questions about his games
- Mark Currie - for providing his unreleased Chopper Commando v2.56 and source code
- Michael Feir of Audyssey Gaming Magazine Online - for reminding me that some DOS games fans are blind and recommending accessible games (coming soon)
- "DK" of Activision - for confirming that the Zork Trilogy is not freeware
- Sue Medley of SynTax Adventure Magazine - for helping me find some extremely old copies of Moraff's World
- John Passfield of Passfield Games - for helping the effort to liberate Alien Carnage/Halloween Harry
- Mark Rein, Vice President of Epic Games - for helpful information about Epic MegaGames and putting me in touch with Tim Sweeney
- Jennifer Diane Reitz of Accursed Toys - for giving me permission to post the registered DOS versions of Boppin'
- Joe Siegler of Apogee - for sending me copies of some of Apogee's hard-to-find older games
- Richard Lang of ChessGenius and "LA" of Psion - for helping with the copyright issues to release Psion Chess as freeware
- Sac of The Alien Carnage Halloween Harry Webshrine - for putting me in touch with John Passfield
- Sam Stoddard, author of the Apogee FAQ - for confirming my finding that, contrary to the official record, Major Stryker v1.3 was released to the public
- Tim Sweeney, President of Epic Games - for providing some great background information and correcting an error I made
- Tony Warriner of Revolution Games - for providing the source code, as well as the original engine and installer for Beneath a Steel Sky so that it can be played with or without ScummVM
Email addresses provided to create accounts in the Forum, or to contact me, will never be made available to anyone, nor used for any personal gain. I will never share your information with anyone for any reason, except for a court order.
I've tried to keep the legal stuff to a minimum, but a certain amount is necessary on any site for the author's protection. Some of it is just to make me feel good.
You may download any game and use any resource on this site at your discretion. Links to my site from other websites are allowed and encouraged, although I would appreciate being informed so that I can get a warm fuzzy feeling from it. All text on this site is copyrighted. You may quote any review or any other content on this site on any medium, provided that it is unaltered, and provided that RGB Classic Games is credited as the source and a link or URL to this site is included. In the case of commercial publication, including newspapers, magazines, trade publications, television, radio and movies, you must inform me that my site has been quoted or referenced in your publication or production. This is likewise encouraged. I reserve the right to request a copy of the relevant publication, and to include the article on my website at any time if I ever feel like it, unless we agree otherwise prior to publication. If quoting or referencing my site for educational purposes, such as in an essay or thesis, I would appreciate it if you would inform me, again, for the warm fuzzies. Please do not link directly to any download on this site without my permission, as this uses my bandwidth for the benefit of someone else. Known as leeching, this is an unfriendly web practice.
RGB Classic Games reserves the right to modify or remove any post, or ban any member from the Forum without notice for any reason. RGB Classic Games reserves the right to change the terms and conditions of this site at any time without notice.
Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this site, RGB Classic Games assumes no liability for damages of any kind which may occur as a result of any information on this site or the use of any program or resource listed, including this website itself and all related content. All software is the intellectual property of its respective owner. RGB Classic Games does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of any external website linked to from this site. The opinions expressed in the Forum are the opinions of the post's author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this site. Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that no post contains or links to any illegal, injurious or unauthorized content, while providing no guarantee or warranty of any kind. No computers were harmed in the making of this website. One graphics card got sick, but that's it.
Thank you for visiting the site.