Millions of free movies, books, music and other audio recordings, software programs and more are available free – and legally – thanks to a nonprofit organization dedicated to disseminating as much knowledge via Internet as possible.
Fittingly, it’s called the Internet Archive – and like an actual, real-life library with doors and books and other things some might consider antiquities – you could probably get lost here for a significant amount of time.
In short, the Internet Archive was started by a guy named Brewster Kahle, 54. He has a genuine interest in using the Internet as a way to deliver useful information – the kind of stuff that goes way beyond heavy-hitting content such as “23 of The World’s Greatest Cookies” delivered by the likes of Buzzfeed. In fact, the San Francisco-based nonprofit lives by the phrase, “universal access to all knowledge” (Assuming you have Internet access and tech capable of accessing the various forms of knowledge).
Here are some of the great things you can find on the Internet Archive:
The Wayback Machine: This cool feature allows you to travel back in time – at least the Web’s version of time travel. You can see an archived screenshot of a particular website on a specific date. Though not every site will yield results, the number of archived websites has grown from 40 billion in 2005 to about 440 billion currently. Check my example of a 2006 Facebook sign-in page – notice its original intent to connect people at schools and is branded “A Mark Zuckerberg Production.”
Books: The Internet Archive claims to be on a mission to digitize every book ever published and with libraries and colleges backing the cause, the nonprofit is well on its way with more than 8 million books available. And with roughly 1,000 books being added every day, it moves closer to its goal every day. A ton of cool stuff can be found, too. For example, the Library of Congress section alone has more than 145,000 items.
Video: If video is your thing, there’s plenty to be found with more than 2 million items to browse – everything from cartoons and concerts to news broadcasts and classic TV and full-length films, such as George A. Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead.
Audio: The Internet Archive includes more than 2.6 million recordings ranging from news programming and old time radio shows like Dragnet (298 episodes to listen to) to concerts and other music recordings. The Live Music Archive alone contains more than 150,000 items to browse, including many you can download for free.
Images: This is a relatively new part of the Internet Archive with “only” more than a million images ranging from rare maps and astronomical imagery from NASA to photographs of artwork, including more than 140,000 images of art from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Software: The Internet Archive Software Collection boasts of offering “the largest vintage and historical software library in the world.” It includes more than 111,000 items – everything from a collection of floppy disks for Apple II and Apple III computers to newer freeware and shareware programs. As a bonus, you can find and play Atari’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial game – often cited as the worst video game of all time.