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One of the Internet’s Oldest Software Archives Is Shutting Down

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In a moveNew Mexico State University announced its impending closure, marking the end of a era. Hobbes OS/2 archiveon April 15, 2024. The archive has been an important resource for over three decades. IBM OS/2 operating SystemMicrosoft Windows, and its successors.

In a statement to The Register, a representative of NMSU wrote, “We have made the difficult decision to no longer host these files on hobbes.nmsu.edu. Although I am unable to go into specifics, we had to evaluate our priorities and had to make the difficult decision to discontinue the service.”

Hobbes is hosted by the Department of Information & Communication Technologies at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In the official announcement, the site reads, “After many years of service, hobbes.nmsu.edu will be decommissioned and will no longer be available. As of April 15th, 2024, this site will no longer exist.”

New Mexico State University did not respond to our inquiry about the history of Hobbes’ archive. The Hobbes archive was first mentioned online in this record. 1992 Walnut Creek CD-ROM collectionThis gathered the contents of the archives for offline distribution. Hobbes is one of the oldest online software archives, at least 32 years old. University of Michigan’s ArchivesYou can also find out more about the following: ibiblioUNC is a great place to learn.

Archivists, such as Jason Scott at the Internet Archive, have come forward and said that the files on Hobbes were safe. Mirrored elsewhere. “Nobody need worry about Hobbes. I’ve got Hobbes covered,” WriterScott on Mastodon, early January. OS/2 World.com is also available. Published a statementMaking a Mirror But it is still noteworthy whenever an old and important part of internet history dies.

Hobbes began as an FTP site. “The primary distribution of internet files were via FTP servers,” Scott tells Ars Technica. “And when FTP servers went offline, they were also mirrored in subdirectories on other FTP server.” Companies like CDROM.COM/Walnut Creek were a way to get the items on CD-ROM, but they also made the data available for download at http://ftp.cdrom.com.

The Hobbes website is a digital time capsule that is priceless. You can still locate the Top 50 Downloads pageThe archive contains thousands OS/2 games, applications and utilities, as well as OS/2 builds for the Thunderbird email client. The archive contains thousands OS/2 applications, games, utilities and documentation dating back to the launch in 1987 of OS/2. Running across OS/2 has a certain charm WallpapersEven the archives’ 1990s Update Policy is a historical gem—last updated on March 12, 1999.

The legacy of OS/2

OS/2 was a joint project between IBM and Microsoft. It was intended to replace IBM PC DOS, also known as “MS-DOS”, in the form sold by Microsoft on PC clones. OS/2 struggled to gain popularity against Windows despite its advanced features like 32-bit multitasking and 32-bit processing. The IBM-Microsoft partnership ended Windows 3.0 has been a huge successThe OS strategies of the two companies diverge.

Iterations such as the Warp seriesOS/2 has a strong presence in niche markets requiring high stability such as ATMs, and the New York subway system. Today, its legacy lives on in specialized software and in newer version (like eComStation) maintained by third-party vendors—despite being overshadowed in the broader market by Linux and Windows.

Even if the archive is mirrored elsewhere, a loss like this is a cultural blow. Hobbes was reportedly close to disappearing before, but received a stay. In the comments section of an article on The Register, someone named “TrevorH” Writer“This isn’t the first announcement that Hobbes will be closing down. It was saved the last time after many complaints and several students or faculty members came forward to continue maintaining it.

As the final shutdown approaches in April, the legacy of Hobbes is a reminder of the importance of preserving the digital heritage of software for future generations—so that decades from now, historians can look back and see how things got to where they are today.

This story was originally published on Ars Technica.

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