Holland’s National Archives and National Library have announced the launch of an important tool which could save several old computer files from a digital grave.

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek – national library of the Netherlands – and the Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands are proud to present the world’s first emulator designed for digital preservation: Dioscuri.

Dioscuri is capable of emulating an Intel 8086-based computer platform with support for VGA-graphics, screen, keyboard, and storage devices like a virtual floppy drive and hard drive. With these components Dioscuri successfully runs 16-bit operating systems like MS-DOS and applications such as WordPerfect 5.1, DrawPerfect 1.1 and Norton Commander. Furthermore, it is capable of running many nostalgic DOS-games and a simple Linux kernel. And when you finally open your long-forgotten WP5.1-files you can extract the text from the emulated environment into your current working environment using a simple clipboard-feature.

Hopefully, this work can be built upon. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a national Computer Museum (whether this is virtual or physical) where people could send orphaned files to be rescued?